Roadster Interviews – Eric Appapoulay
Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals, Mandolin
Eric Appapoulay’s presence in Yusuf’s musical journey started at around the time that Yusuf re-entered the Western musical mainstream with his Another Cup album and he has been an essential part of the live band ever since. Eric describes himself as an “eclectic multi-instrumentalist” and has lent his talents to a wealth of artists such as Nitin Sawhney, Neneh Cherry, Lionel Ritchie, Daniel Bedingfield, and Plan B but is probably best known to Yusuf fans for his delicate guitar playing and soulful backing vocals.
Born in London to Mauritian parents he grew up surrounded by a wonderful variety of musical styles that ranged from Sega (the traditional music of Mauritius), Calypso and Reggae through to the more popular Western genres of Blues and Rock.
In addition to his work as a performing musician, Eric’s musical career has developed into production and songwriting. He has co-written songs with the likes of Paloma Faith and even Lionel Richie and he produced much of British MC/singer Plan B’s number 1 award winning album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks.
In addition to his musical qualities, Eric’s calm, thoughtful personality and gentle demeanour make him hugely popular with the whole team that support Yusuf.
– How did you come to be working with Yusuf / Cat?
I did some shows with Pete Adams, Yusuf’s Musical Director, around 2005/6 while I was working as the Musical Director for Daniel Bedingfield’s band. Pete and I hit it off straight away both personally and in a musical sense. He called me in 2006/7 to ask if i would like to join Yusuf’s band and I, of course, dived in head first and haven’t looked back since!
My first show was on the BBC’s “Later with Jools Holland” program performing “The Rain” on backing vocals. Then we did some TV shows in the US and Europe and a private concert at the Kodak theatre in Los Angeles, Yusuf’s first show in the US after 30 years.
– What’s your favourite Yusuf / Cat song to play?
“Ruby Love” because it is so much fun to play and such a great song.
– Could you list some of your main musical influences?
Roberta Flack, Randy Crawford and the Crusaders, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley
– How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making music from about the age of 8, I started copying my dad who taught me some chords on the guitar. He used to rehearse with his band in the garden shed once a week playing the traditional music of Mauritius (Sega) fused with Disco, Blues, and Rock!
– What are some of your favourite pastimes away from music?
Yoga, swimming, hiking, cycling, and reading.
– Could you describe your idea of a perfect Sunday?
A perfect Sunday would be chilling at home with the family: watching a good movie, eating great food, dancing to Afro-Beat and singing at the top of our voices.
– What’s it like working with Yusuf / Cat?
It’s like meditation, a spiritual experience.
– Could you tell us a bit about The Synergee, your personal musical project?
The Synergee reflects my diverse musical heritage. It’s a fusion of Sega and Reggae (Seggae) and in the near future I hope to develop it into a fusion of Sega and Samba!
– For the gear-heads out there could you tell us what musical equipment you use?
My main electric guitars are a Fender Stratocaster and Fender Telecaster. I also use a Gibson Les Paul Custom and Gibson 335. I like to run them through a Marshall JCM 2000 amp. My acoustic guitars are a Gibson J200 and a Gibson Songwriter. I also have an excellent Paul Beuscher Nylon string acoustic and a Gretsch Dobro.
– Do you have a nice anecdote about working with Yusuf that you’d like to share with the fans?
As a joke during rehearsals for the 2016 US tour, during a run-through of “Novim’s Nightmare”, I made a plan with Kwame (a fellow Roadster). We were usually positioned back stage left but had wireless packs for our guitars but I thought it would look good for a change in the set if we came forward during the instrumental section of the song. I said to Kwame “You go up and stand to Yusuf’s left I’ll stand to his right and see if he notices before the song ends”. Yusuf got quite a shock as he was singing but then burst into laughter. Afterwards, he said he thought it was a good idea and made it part of the show. We had great fun on that tour and there was lots of good interaction between the three of us.
Thank you Eric for sharing a bit about yourself and what it’s like to work with Yusuf. I’m sure I speak for all of Yusuf’s fans when I say that we wish you and your family much happiness.
– Hallam Kite