When did you first take an interest in music?
As a practitioner when I was in my late teens just before graduating from high school. As a listener, however, I was interested in music from the very moment some idiot dressed in white smacked my bum in order to get me to breathe.
What inspired you?
The “what” was a desperate need to be noticed and admired, especially by basketball players. More importantly, however, would be the “who”.
I was inspired by a mellifluous mix of legendary folks like Tito Puente, Machito, Chubby Checker, Cal Tjader, The Ronettes, Louis Jordan, Cachao, Eddie Palmieri, Laura Nyro, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Elvis Presley, Pete Terrace, Joe Cuba, Lionel Hampton, New Swing Sextet, Joe Bataan, Willie Colon, Jimi Hendrix, La Lupe, Johnny Colon, Johnny Horton, Freddie & The Dreamers, John Coltrane, Judy Garland, Bojangles, Stevie Wonder, Santana, Mott The Hoople, Sammy Davis Jr, Sun Ra, Herman’s Hermits, Morgana King, Louie Armstrong, Miles Davis , Mongo Santamaria, Herbie Hancock, The Miracles, Drifters, Cantinflas, Grand Master Flash, August Darnell, Stony Browder, Cory Daye, Lori Eastside, Mandrill and Nina Simone just to name a few.
I like to add that initially I hated The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but eventually they won me over; the Stones with their use of maracas in Sympathy for the Devil and The Beatles with their talcum powder.
When I first got into the hustle a lot of the youth bands I played with were playing the same old standard or top 40 songs every other boring group was playing. This nauseated me more than an ignorant babe who refuses to kiss me because I have big lips. In order to change up the groove I suggested that we pen our own compositions. Now many if not all of the songs we wrote absolutely sucked, however, we had a combined ego stronger than a greedy man’s handshake so as far as we were concerned our jams were Bacharach-esque.
As a self-taught musician with talent across many instruments, what advice would you give to others who are learning on their own?
OMG you just went Groucho Marx on me and said the secret word, “talent”. Here comes the duck, however, I am out of “benjamins” so as a substitute I will pontificate.
One often hears that God has given everybody some kind of talent. I don’t know who did that survey but I met many folks without talent and I’m one of them. There are billions of bodies inhabiting this planet and there isn’t enough talent to go around. By talent I mean all kinds of talent not just the creative kind like dancing, painting and making sex tapes, but also the “E=MC2” type of talent.
I compare talent to babies. Everybody thinks that their baby is beautiful and the honest truth is that there are a lot of “Annies” out there: in other words ugly thumb crushers. In addition, most of the bambinos who are beautiful eventually end up ugly. That is why when people see an elderly person who is genuinely physically beautiful they react as if a miracle just happened.
Same thing with talent. There are too many people who think they got it going on but basically they are relegated to shower performances. Of course there are people who are mega talented but don’t have the craziness or passion to make a big deal about it. They make peace with being complacent and invisible. They are sincerely content with asking you if you want fries with your order. I envy them.
I am not talented. With all due respect to the Great Divide but He or She totally ignored my ass when it came to giving out gifts. You see a talented person is able to accomplish let’s say a task in one day where as someone like me would take a year to accomplish the same task if at all. Stevie Wonder is talented where as I am basically a stubborn wanna be who was able to do a fairly decent job of becoming a bona fide professional entertainer or at least do a good job of faking it.
I can preach some more but let me get back to your question regarding giving advice to those learning on their own. First of all, if everybody self-taught themselves it would put a lot of good musicians out of work as well as create a lot of bad musicians who will not be able to get work.
My advice would be not to do it. If you can afford it get a teacher or go to a music school as a foundation. While that is going on then on your own learn from records, videos, live music and especially just go crazy on your own. Do whatever and hope to make mistakes because much knowledge comes from fucking up.
How did you come to meet the other members and join Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band?
This used to be embarrassing, but now that I qualify for senior discounts I don’t care what people think unless of course it prevents me from getting laid or more importantly paid.
I met one of the original members in the waiting room of a massage parlour located in the former Commodore Hotel in Grand Central area of NYC. We got to talking politics and he invited me to audition for the band providing I pick up his tab. Next thing I knew, I was shaking my knees and wearing old clothes formerly owned by dead people. Strangely enough the aforementioned member got fired shortly before our record debut. It sort of reminds me of the Pete Best tragedy.
Nobody cares about that… The group is now basically an oldies act consisting of Peter Pan, three monolithic gyrating blondes and occasionally a cassette tape. They’re mainly doing the 80’s nostalgia circuit using almost the exact music/stage template I and original “Coconut” Adriana Kaegi help create mucho moons ago. Well to be fair to myself, fans do appreciate my contribution but promoters, booking agents and the act itself are not clamouring for the mesmerizing comic foil. I don’t blame them; the act is effectively entertaining without me so why incur an added expense. Of course with me it’d be a funky fiesta of the highest calibre.
Now what people really want from me is to know if I have any dirt on the “Coconuts”, the band or Kid Creole himself and I do and I am going to save it for my next book. There is one member I am especially fond of, so I’m just waiting for the person to die before writing it so as not to create any consternation for the person.
Can I ask why you changed your stage name from Sugarcoated Andy to Coati Mundi?
For the same reason people get tattoos, I got bored. I’m about to change it again.
You’ve also done some acting, including being in a few of Spike Lee’s films, Who’s That Girl and Miami Vice. How did you move into that from music?
In a nutshell even before entering music I had been a ham. I always had the acting bug. I performed for aunts and uncles as well as appear in school plays. This eventually paved the way for the animated and theatrical music performances I am loved for. One day a producer named John Nicolella (RIP) caught a show and loved my engaging persona on stage. He then asked me to appear in one of his productions. Eventually this production turned out to be Miami Vice.
What have been the most special moments to you in your music career?
Performing a sold out show at Carnegie Hall with the most influential people in my life sitting in the audience; my mom and dad may they rest in peace.
You’ve chosen It’s All About The Money for readers to listen to. Can you tell me what inspired that song and what it means to you?
The song is from my last CD called Dancing for The Cabana Code in the Land of Boo-Hoo. The inspiration and meaning is revealed in the song title, lyric and accompanying video.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
I’d be happy to mention four things. I am in the process of completing two records; one a jazz record called Blue Mundi and the other a compilation of unreleased music that I composed for films. I’m also in post-production on an independent short film that I directed and wrote that stars a homeless person. If I didn’t suffer from height deprivation it would have been a feature.
Finally, I recently completed a memoir book about how my life was saved by Facebook. I was going to write a book about the power of positive thinking but then I remembered that I don’t do fiction. The memoir will probably get rejected by hundreds of literary agents assuming I will send it out. When you love something that might be looked upon as a turkey you get very protective because every day becomes Thanksgiving Day.
Future? Thank you for the compliment. Get a paying job and quickly because my mortal coil is starting to shed.
Where can you be found online?
My website CoatiMundiWorld.Com. From there you will find links to other online sites like Facebook. I’m not a big enough celebrity to be on Twitter so don’t look for me there. If I change my last name to Kardashian then yeah I will be tweeting to the point of obliterating my privacy.