Was there anything unusual about the recording of that track/album?
Yes! Return of the Kool was my beacon call to the world that Sean Ardoin+Zydekool is back and ready to knock ya socks off with more kool music. I recorded it in stages. I came up with the basic tracks and laid all the vocals. Then I got on the phone and called my dream band members. I took my rig — Macbook Pro, Audiobox 44VSL and Presonus Studio One — to bassist Marc Pero (Papa Grows Funk) and we recorded all the bass parts in a few hours in his living room. Then I got my cousin, Trey Ardoin to lay some guitar parts. Two songs on the CD feature dream band members and worldwide artists: Kevin Camp of Israel and New Breed fame and Jeremiah McConico who plays guitar with Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, New Breed and other A-list artists.
Do you have any memories of the recording sessions that stand out?
The people I enlisted to make memories on this session had never played zydeco before. They were really wanting to be respectful of the genre and be as authentic as possible. I pushed and stretched them while making them comfortable with the fact that what I was doing was a new thing. So, really, they were setting a standard! The fact that I was able to have those monster players on my project was humbling and exciting. I’ll never forget it. At Marc Pero’s house before we started, he said, “Which bass you want me to use?” He starts pulling bass after beautiful bass out of the closet! I settled on two of them, I couldn’t just use one!
What was your favorite song off the record? Why?
“Our Love.” It is a powerful and funky love song that grabs you at the outset with the rolling piano intro and then climaxes with the distorted guitar riffs and chanting vocals in a breakdown towards the end. I just like the way the song plays out; it’s pleasing to me.
Looking back on that album, was there anything that made it special or different from your previous records or records you have made since?
I always try to do new and fresh sounds on each album I do. This one is no different.
I wanted to incorporate the synth sounds and vocal melodies I’d been hearing on pop radio and fuse them with pumping zydeco funk beats. I believe I accomplished that. For example, I’ve been told that “In Here Tonite” makes you feel like you’re zydeco dancing in a club in South Beach in Miami!
This CD is special because it’s the first CD of a new genre, that my cousin Andre Thierry and I started in 2013, called alternative Creole. It’s a powerful mix of zydeco, pop, rock, R ‘n’ B, funk, reggae and whatever else we’ve been influenced by in our musical lives. We’re gonna take it to the world. The project I’m working on now is going to be just as different as Return.
I’d taken a hiatus from touring starting Jan. 1, 2006. In 2009, I released the first-ever Christian zydeco CD, How Great is Your Love, and it got rave reviews and is still doing really well for me. Return of the Kool is my first secular CD since 2004’s Strictly for the Dancers. I never said I wouldn’t ever play secular music again but people tend to only be able to see you one way. This CD is the first of many to come. It let my old fans know that I’m back with my signature Zydekool sound and it introduced me to the newest crop of zydeco fans.
I’m really excited to be back and, like I say in the song, “In Here Tonite”: “… It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from me, kinda emotional, I hope you understand, ‘cuz every time will be like the first time, when I got you high on the first line. Two fingers in the air! Buckle up! We’ve got a long ride, I’ve got a lot of stuff, I make you feel it from your head down to your toes, ‘till the sun comes up!