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Meet Jayan Bertrand of Seafoam Walls in Little Haiti

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jayan Bertrand.

Jayan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Before I started making music, I was a visual artist. It was said that I was great at what I did but something wasn’t satisfying me in the field. Music caught my attention and reignited the passion that I once reserved for art. From there, I was able to perform locally and draw the flyers for my own shows. I merged the two passions and continued to pursue others. I ended up teaching myself drums, bass, and some keyboard (still a work in progress).

Seafoam Walls is a band I started in 2014. It started as a concept of comfort and contemplation. Over the years, unfortunate circumstances and stints in four other bands led me to the realization that comfort is a lot like perfection — it can be pursued but ultimately cannot be reached.

On a tour with one of my old bands, I picked up a camera. From there, another door into the art world was presented to me. I started to document my time on tour and eventually returned home to do the same at other shows. Before long, I got a better camera and I never left home without it. Now, I film and edit videos of nights out, bands, and friends.

All these forms of art make me feel great inside but nothing compares to the feeling of comradery, compassion, and companionship of a fellow human. Art is a vehicle that drives my actual passion — helping others. I have my mom to thank for instilling that in me. I continue to question and denounce oppressive tactics and systems in search of a better life for everyone.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Most of my artistic journey has been marred with financial issues. The thrill of playing live, drugs, and drinking made that easy to forget until I had to pay for one of those three things or until one of those pushed me further into debt. It feels like the cliché of a candle burning at both ends.

My smoking habit started in my senior year of high school (2011). Trying to stay motivated in college with courses that I felt weren’t stimulating enough was definitely a challenge. I began fearing that this institution was trying to sell me an education rather than help fulfill me, so I stopped showing up. Some days, I wonder about a program out there that is more suited to my needs but it’s hard for me to trust that an institution selling educational services actually cares more about their student body than raking in profits.

I was able to quit smoking after a recent trip to Haiti. When I returned, I tried to find work and I landed an interview in Hollywood. On my way back from the interview (which I didn’t get called back for), I ended up in an accident that totaled my car.

All this has happened so far and I was still in somewhat of a good mood because our efforts in the local music scene landed Seafoam a slot on one of Miami’s largest festivals — III Points. We were playing the same stage as some of the artists I looked up to. Things were running smoothly through the early part of the day. We got the green light after our soundcheck and suddenly, my guitar cut out. All my bandmates looked just as confused as me

We still tried our best with what we had but it wasn’t what we were prepared to show at such an event.

So, in total, I dropped out, lost a new car, remained jobless for the rest of the year, and nearly bombed in front of a huge audience because of cheap/failing gear. I think about some of the people privileged enough to be back on their feet when this much gets thrown at them. I also think about the people that have been through worse and have persevered. All of this was enough to throw me into depression and substance abuse for the rest of that festival’s duration.

I had to learn that I was usually using these substances when I couldn’t find anything to do or dwelled on situations too long. I turned to basketball, calisthenics, and more time with family to sharpen my mind and body so that I may eventually drop the bad habits.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I like to think of myself as a multidisciplinary artist. I make music, visual art, and now, I’m working my way into filmography. It wasn’t hard to be recognized in these fields because artists from all disciplines could be found in the underground scene and the mutual support is all there. I’ve met some of Miami’s best musicians, sculptors, painters, and videographers through the music scene.

When it comes to music, I crave originality. It’s hard to come across when some artists are motivated by money. When that’s the language the world speaks, it leaves little room for passion. I think that passion can breed innovation and inspire people to find their individual calling rather than following a lucrative one. Sometimes, I feel like I’m swimming upstream in my pursuit of a career in any art field.

I’m most proud of how self-sufficient I’ve become. I’m all about cutting out the middle man and versatility. It’s more convenient to turn to others for services but it personally feels more satisfying to know that I was able to achieve the closest thing to what I envisioned.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
I can’t remember anything specifically that rings a bell but I loved all the family parties at my aunt’s house. Most of my childhood was spent there and I grew up with two of my favorite cousins (one of which currently plays drums for Seafoam). My cousins and I were always breaking or dirtying things. The feeling of love, happiness, and blissful ignorance was definitely a highlight of the family gatherings.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Alexis Casas, Coltrane, Natalie Foucauld

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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