Social Encore: Roman returns to music
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Kolohe Kai fans, rejoice! Nearly two years after the release of “Love Town” and the band’s subsequent split in 2011, lead singer Roman De Peralta is back with new material and plans for reunion gigs.
In Hawaiian, Kolohe Kai means “fun-loving water,” and the band’s songs truly reflected that spirit through its upbeat reggae tunes on their debut album, “This is the Life.” Just a few months after their sophomore release in March 2011, however, word came that the band had parted ways.
Many fans were confused. Why did a group that had only been together for two years and was nominated for three Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 2010 decide to stop performing?
For De Peralta, who founded the band at the age of 17 and composed all the music on Kolohe Kai’s first two albums, it was about knowing there was something bigger out there for him to experience.
“From 17 years old, I got thrown into touring,” he said, pointing out he was very grateful for all the success he gained doing something he loved with people he considered family. “I just needed a break from music.”
De Peralta decided to travel around the world, volunteering and trying his best to spread positivity in every way. He was able to taste different foods, experience different cultures and meet new people. Some, like an African refugee named Adam he met in Israel, made an impression on De Peralta and inspired him.
“Adam lost (the) majority of his family and I spent a lot of my time telling him about having a positive outlook on life and that one day things will get better,” he said. “Slowly, I was able to see his whole life change through his changed persona and demeanor; it really showed me that that everyone should have hope in life.”
His whole experience of bringing hope to people’s lives made traveling worth it and De Peralta decided to continue that momentum through music. “Paradise” was written and recorded by De Peralta under the Kolohe Kai name and released via his new independent label, RKD Inc., on Tuesday.
Knowing he would have to perform the music live, De Peralta said there was no one else he thought could portray his songs better than his Kolohe Kai ohana. You’ll see Jasmine Moikeha on vocals, Kolomona Wilson-Ku on keys and saxophone, Imua Garza on electric guitar and vocals, Kahale Morales on bass and vocals, and Luke Daddario on drums.
The first single off “Paradise” is the title track, which De Peralta said was his favorite because it emulated the quality of people he surrounded himself with while he stepped away from music.
“Seeing how positive the people around me are and having them be so encouraging, that is some sort of paradise,” he said. “Paradise means so much to different people.”
Out of all the tracks on the album, “Paradise” definitely puts everything into perspective. The lyrics, “why don’t they lie, why don’t they cry / I now know why / they can see paradise,” make you think about the people he helped and are happy they have their health and the company of each other after escaping war. It makes you think about the parents who don’t complain about having to work long hours because seeing their child be able to receive the education they never had is their definition of paradise.
De Peralta admitted the positive people, the aloha and the surf make him proud to be from Hawaii.
“Traveling makes you appreciate home and Hawaii will always be my home,” he said.
The song “Good Morning Hawaii” gives you that essence. “When She Smiles” gives you a giddy feeling. You can’t be mad or negative when someone genuinely smiles at you.
“He`e Roa” means “long wave” in Tahitian, and De Peralta said that song was inspired by a five-week trip to Tahiti. It starts with a slow melody that describes the feeling of waiting for the right girl by using metaphors of waiting for a wave. The song’s upbeat sound then brings you a joyful feel when you find the perfect swell by comparing it to the feeling of finding someone you enjoy spending time with.
Since the album is about spreading positivity, “Stinky Air” addresses negative people. De Peralta said everyone is going to experience bad people at least once in their life and as much as we can’t avoid people like that, there is one thing that we can control — our reaction.
De Peralta said some songs, like “Start Trying,” talk about the trials and tribulations of his past experiences with relationships and love. Everyone can relate to the frustrations of trying to revive the spark that started an intimate relationship. The steel tempo of “Start Trying” made me smirk, shake my head and revived memories of those exes who didn’t put in the same effort into the relationship as I did.
“Half Way” talks about two people in love who can’t physically be together because she is in Hawaii and he is Tahiti. With every relationship, whether intimate or not, it’s a two-way street and both people need to meet in the middle in order for it to work.
“On The House” resonates with a pop sound that talks about unconditional love. As I listened to it, I got messages of how materialistic things won’t mean anything; all you need in this life is love. The grass will be rich with color where you water it and you need to put your past hurts behind you because you don’t want pass up a good opportunity of what possibly could be true love.
“The Right Thing” talks about making the right decisions and about doing good. It’s a song that has a basis of encouraging the younger generation that they are the future and they have options to make this world a better place.
“My Last Page” tells a story about a grandma reflecting on life that seems to be passing her by. As much as she wants to slow down, she knows the chapters of her life’s story are reaching their end.
The song was written in memory of De Peralta’s favorite aunt, Loretta Lopez. Lopez had a son who was musically inclined but died suddenly. Lopez treated De Peralta as if he was her son and knew he had a musical gift. She even gave him a guitar that once belonged to his cousin.
“I always played for her when I would go to Kauai,” he said. “She always told me that I needed to keep the music alive in the family. I know I’m going to do that for her.”
“Paradise” reflects maturity and gives you different perspectives on life. De Peralta said he wanted this album to inspire people. With music like this coming from a 22-year-old, I’m looking forward to what he has to sing about on future albums.
“When people listen to this album, I would want them to realize how much we need to appreciate our life, to never take life for granted every second that goes by and to follow you heart,” he said. “Everyone has their own thing that they appreciate and look forward to. I hope that one day everyone will get to that point where they see life as a paradise.”
De Peralta will be joined by his Kolohe Kai bandmates at a release party in April. Tour dates are also scheduled for the western U.S., New Zealand and Australia. Download “Paradise” online via iTunes.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.