Brian R '17

HerCampus got the opportunity to interview Brian Royes, one of the new members of the Amherst acapella group, the Zumbyes. This is your chance to learn about one of the gentleman who will be serenading you around campus with his angelic voice.   Brian reveals his singing background, the good and bad of having an accent, his home country of Jamaica and more!



HC:  Where are you from?

Brian: I'm from Kingston, Jamaica in the West Indies.  I've lived there all my life, all eighteen years.


HC:  How long was your flight here?

Brian:  It was two flights. I flew to Florida first and that was about an hour and a half.  Then it was another three hours to Connecticut.  Then an hour drive to Amherst—my mother and I rented a car.


HC:  Have you traveled this far before?

Brian:  Yup, my brother lives in Pennsylvania and another brother lives in Montreal.  So the distance did not feel that long especially since I have flown even longer distances to places like California and London.


HC: How many siblings do you have?

Brian:  I have one sister and two brothers, like I mentioned.  They are all older than me. I'm basically the baby of the family.


HC: If I may ask, what is your ethnicity?

Brian:  My mom is Chinese, not full Chinese, probably about seven-eighths Chinese if you want to get technical.  My dad is pretty much a hybrid too because his mom is Jewish and her ancestors come from Portugal.  My grandfather's ancestors came from Scotland, France, and England. So I am a mix of European and Chinese, and because we have lived in Jamaica for many generations we are also Jamaican.  Even though Jamaica doesn't have a set “race,” everyone there identifies with a race external to Jamaica. The national motto of the country is “Out of many, one people.” This means we draw from many ethnicities, but we come together and we embody what it means to be Jamaican. 


HC: Do you speak more than one language?

Brian: Yes.... I say that with some hesitation because I am not a native Spanish speaker but I do speak Spanish. This is based on what I learned in school and talking to friends.  I would say I'm quite proficient in Spanish and English.  English is my native language.  I also speak Patois (Patwa or Patwah). In Jamaica, we have a few trying to establish this as a language but I just consider it a dialect of broken English.  Because I don't consider it a language, I wouldn't say I speak three languages, I would just say two.


HC: Your accent, how has that played a role in your Amherst experience?

Brian: It's definitely been an interesting point of discussion. Every time I meet someone new they always say, “I'm trying to place your accent, what is that?” It really opens doors for me to talk about home.  I feel like I talk about Jamaica too much but many people say they enjoy hearing about it. To me it's nothing and it makes me think about the different cultural intersections here... me speaking to you is one of them.  The only drawback is that I will say things and it will hit a cultural wall. The other person won't know what I have said and they will nod and pretend like they do but they don't. That happens a lot.  I sometimes try to down play the accent to open communication.


HC: Have you connected with any other West Indian people?

Brian: Yeah.  There's two other Jamaican kids here and I talk to them a lot. There's also another person here from Trinidad and Tobago that I speak to from time to time.  It's nice to meet people who share similar culture.  Personality and interests definitely drive a friendship more but culture can be a great place to start.



HC: What's the average temperature in Jamaica?

Brian:  It's about 29 degrees Celsius, which is 88 degrees Fahrenheit.  The temperature doesn't change much back home.


HC:  What about the weather? Raining? Sunny?

Brian:  It's basically always sunny. It can be pretty windy and it can rain occasionally.  The rain occurs usually during the summer months because it's really hot and—as you know—the hot air rises and then it rains.  There's also a hurricane season which is the summer periods leading up to the fall.