Ready to rock again

Robert Joseph and his daughter Anastasia jam a Hindi reggae number at their Veve St studio in Lautoka. Picture: FELIX CHAUDHARY

FIJI’s first Indian reggae band is getting ready to hit the local music scene again after a hiatus of 22 years.

Tru-Vybs, a group out of the Sugar City which first took its one-drop sounds to the streets in 1987, is making a comeback.

Group founder and drummer Robert Joseph said the decision to emerge out of retirement was all part of “God’s plan”.

“I believe that everything happens in his time and I believe the time is now right for Tru-Vybs to pick up from where we left off in 1997 when I decided to take a break from music,” the 63-year-old shared.

Joseph said Tru-Vybs’ first public outing as a live band would be on June 22 at the Tanoa International Hotel.

“We are going to perform at my aunt’s 90th birthday celebration and it is a huge deal for us because all our family members from around the world will be there.”

The new-look Tru-Vybs will feature Joseph on drums, his son Francis as lead singer and bass player and Jake Pickering as lead guitarist.

But without a doubt, the inclusion of his daughter Anastasia Robins Joseph on keyboards and vocals will be a big drawcard.

“I am so excited to be a part of dad’s legendary group and to carry on his legacy,” the 18-year-old former Pundit Vishnu Deo Memorial College student shared.

“Dad taught me how to play keyboards about two years ago and it just came naturally from the first lesson, so I am really looking forward to my first public performance and to be playing keys beside dad will be a big thrill.”

Joseph said the aftermath of 1987, musicians and groups began to write and release music which captured what the common man was going through at the time.

He said in Suva City, bands like Exodus gave birth to songs such as The Youth of Today while Roostrata gave Fiji timeless classics like Young Generation and Fiji Time.

“And here in Lautoka City, everyone was looking for something that was Western and that’s when I decided to put together Tru-Vybs.

“We got our name from Lautoka lawyer, Faizal Koya and everyone liked it and that’s when we decided to go for it.”

Led by Robert Joseph on drums, the band also featured one of Fiji’s most adventurous guitarists at the time — Karuna Gopalan.

“I was the drummer, financier and music director — all rolled into one.

“And I could do it because I was a civil servant at the time and I was able to buy our instruments from Courts.

“I got another Lautoka boy called Aseri to play bass guitar and George Low was our keyboard player and sound man.

“We had a good thing going until Karuna left in 1990 to go to Australia.

“It was a big blow for the group because Karuna was our lead guitarist and lead singer.”

Joseph kept the group going for another six years before calling it quits in 1997.

“It was a huge challenge to keep the band going and to feed and house them but I managed to do it and Tru-Vybs made an impact in the Western Division and across the country.

“We began to venture into Hindi music and I can proudly say we were the first Indian reggae band in Fiji and made a name for ourselves with both the English music lovers and also the Hindi speaking community and now in 2019, we are ready to do it all over again.”

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