From Dub With Love: Fredread’s Webcam Hi-Fi Spreads the Message of Roots Reggae
Dub and reggae were never meant to be entertainment, it’s a weapon without compromise –Lister Hewan-Lowe
From his self-built and roots-minded hillside home and studio in Southwest France, Frédéric Luneau, aka Fredread constructs deep, mindful reggae that reaches an international audience with its powerful message.With Jamaican roots-reggae and dub roots as his inspiration, Fredread creates music with a positive “outernational” message backed by a powerful rhythm section, sharp skanking guitars, twinkling horns and flute, and heavy dub vibes.
Over the years Fredread’s recipe of tradition and modernity backed by strong Rasta convictions has established Webcam Wifi and his Tube Dub Sound Records as respected messengers of reggae’s true purpose: to entertain, unite and educate. With 25 years of underground musical activism, Fredread is now embarking on a new level of promotion and activisim with the second Webcam WiFi album “Feeding My Faith”, the 15th release on Tube Dub Sound Records. “Feeding My Faith” comes after the highly acclaimed album “Livity is My Temple” which was acknowledged by the international dub scene where singers such as Horace Martin, Joseph Cotton, Dan I, Parvez, Madu Messenger appear.
Once more, the riddims admirably feature singers from various horizons: From El Fata’s (born Niger and living in London) rub a dub to Kiko (singer of No More Babylon), from Lyrical Benjie’s mysticism to Ras Zacharri’s Jamaican singjay, the coming together of 3 Bulgarians singers from Roots Rocket crew Zafayah, Jahmmi Youth & Sen I to Faye Houston (singer in the English band Resonators produced by Manasseh) from the German Mighty Howard (Dubmatix / Irie Ites Music Germany) to the Jamaican veteran Trevor Junior, all together contribute towards the excellence of this new album.
Since 2004, Fredread has produced numerous riddims and singers such as Kenny Knots, Earl Sixteen, Anthony John, Carlton Livingston, Tony Tuff, Ranking Joe, Nya Azania, Roberto Sanchez, Jah Marnyah, Ranking Trevor, Trevor Junior and many more. WEBCAM HI-FI represents over 200 gigs worldwide, of course in France but also Mexico, England, Finland, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Portugal, Holland, Switzerland alongside King Shiloh, Mungo’s hi-fi, Jah Rej from Jah Works, Kanka, Junior Cony, Jonah Dan, Dub Addict, Brain Damage, Vibronics, Blackboard Jungle, Adrian Sherwood.
Inspired by the work and message from those legendary people such as King Jammy, Soljie Hamilton, Sly & Robbie, Dennis Bovell, Lloyd Bullwackies Barnes, Channel One and Roots Radics, Fredread continues the tradition and sets himself as a defender of the roots, rock, reggae and dub culture along with contemporary current producers such as Dubkasm, Twilight Circus or Lone Ark.
Outernational reggae music & original dub from the hill seen!
MundoVibe: When did you first hear reggae and dub and how did it impress you?
Fredread: I first heard reggae music when I was 15 years old I think. Dub came after. When I was 7 years old my parents offered me toy drums for Christmas. Then I received as a gift a turntable when I was 12 or 13 years old.
I didn’t learn music. I’m a DIY musician and sound engineer.
Reggae was popular when I was a youth I listen to of course Robert Nesta Marley, Burning Spear… even if I grew up in the countryside west south of France. The Clash were like a revelation too. At the end of the 70′s beginning of the 80′s in England punk, rock and reggae music were united fighting against racism and social difficulties. Margaret Thatcher was leading the country.
Roots rock reggae music was real Aswad, Steel pulse, Misty in Roots, The Clash, Stiff little fingers, Ruts DC, Don Letts…The Clash worked with Mickey dread, Lee Perry.
One of my best friends lived in Paris, we often went to sound system sessions and concerts when I visited him. The ’80s were into rub-a-dub and I still like it a lot. The beginning of digital style too, in particular King Jammy in Jamaica and singers like Pato Benton, Macka B in UK.
Reggae was a synonym of social involvement, fighting against injustice, liberty, positive attitude, peace, respect.
My father worked for 15 years in west Africa too. My mum always said to me reggae music and Africa is the link between my father and me. I’ve been to Africa many times and my father was passionate ’bout Africa as I am. Maroons in Jamaica, black people in West Indies generally came from Africa. This history deals with slavery, suffering.
How important is the cultural aspect of reggae and how do you practice it?
Reggae music is really a strong cultural music with a strong message. That’s the difference between many other kind of musics. The message is part of the music. Reggae music is a popular music, created by sufferers, struggling everyday. A total commitment.
I practice this cultural aspect everyday. Ital vegetarian food, the way I live in the countryside, I built my wooden house by myself on a hill, in west south of France. Growing some vegetables, rainwater harvesting, wood heater, etc …. Respect yourself and the others, consciousness, not too much noise and pollution. Communion with nature.
These are my choices I made many years before. Being an actor of my life and not sustaining it.
When I play as WEBCAM HI-FI during live sessions, it’s very important to spread the message too. Education is the key. Reggae music is more than entertainment.
Being honest, friendship, solidarity, these are words of my mouth.
French reggae doesn’t have a lot of recognition. What is the French reggae scene like?
Actually the sound system scene is growing up since something like 5 years. A lot of youths come to dances. It’s more into UK stepper style. A lot of fans coming from the free parties or electro music appreciate these dub sound system events cause of the very heavy sound and bass. Many people produce riddims and release vinyls in this UK digital stepper style. There’s also a very active community coming from French West Indies. On the other hand many French reggae bands sing in French so they are popular in France but really difficult to have an international recognition.
Some bands are really talented according to my opinion like No More Babylon or Tu Shung Peng. They used to back some jamaican artists.
Anyway dub & reggae music is popular in France, there are a lot of big festivals during summer, regular sound system sessions, forums on the web, vinyls distributors, producers.
How did you develop your musical style, what were the influences?
I really love dub & reggae music and in particular dub as it is a special work for a sound engineer. King Jammy, Channel One Studio, Roots Radics, Steven Stanley, Sly & Robbie, Soljie Hamilton, Dennis Bovell, Lloyd Bullwackies Barnes, are some of my influences. But of course too many names to be named! Sound engineers were considered as musicians to build dubs. They used mixing board as an instrument. I follow this way ina traditional style. My work is like a tribute to my favorite period of dub & reggae music between the 70′s and the 80′s. An homage to these people with my personality.
What has been your journey as a musician?
I’m not a great instrumentist! I know how to play a likkle drums, bass, guitar, percussion, keyboards but my job is sound engineer. I started learning it when I was 18 years old. At this period there were no schools to learn this job. So I started buying a 4 tracks tape recorder then a couple of microphones… I was the only one to own this equipment in my area, so I worked a lot to record local bands.
I also played in many different bands before from rock to electro dub. I started playing guitar in a rock band as there was nobody interested into dub & reggae music around me! Then a band called BAD BRAINS that were playing hardcore and reggae with rasta convictions was the second revelation after The Clash. Reggae music was definitively into my heart.
What is your approach to production?
I usually start my riddims with drums, then finding some chords I like. I’ve got a small book where I write my ideas. After I should find an idea for bass… Sometimes with computer for ideas but I always record everyting with live instruments after. I should create many riddims at the beginning to choose those I prefer after. When I’ve done this choice with the riddims I decide to record singers to voice them. Sometimes it’s obvious this riddim will be for this singer.
Horns, pecussions, arrangements are recorded at the end generally.
Finally when everyting is on my hard drive I mix with an analogue mixing console, vintage effects delay, echo, reverb, phaser… Ina traditional style.
Tell us about the vocalists and musicians you collaborate with? What is their impact on your music?
I work with different musicians since years: Ras Martin for example plays sax during recording sessions and live sessions too for a long long time. He’s responsible for horn arrangements. Zigo (Greenyard Records / Dub Inc) plays drums sometimes, Fabio plays trombone, Tooney Roots from I-plant and I-Grow Records plays several instruments. He’s my neighbour now as he also built his house 15 kilometers far from me. Roman Weeding dub lived one year next to me too 4 years before we toured together in Europe 25 shows. Many brothers came on the hill to my recording “huge studio” as I called it with humour. I met them on the road, it’s the result of real friendship.
Concerning vocalists it depends on who’s is touring Europe for Jamaican singers. Sometimes a brotha give mi a call and says for example « Fred ! Ranking Joe is by my studio in UK have you got a riddim and do you want to record a tune ? ». Sometimes I met vocalists around the world when I play live. Sometimes I contact them on internet just because I really apprecilove their voice since years. Sometimes I exchange some studio work with a vocal. There’s no rule. I’m close to many others producers in the world and we are always in contact: Steve Vibronics, Roberto Sanchez Lone Ark… We share the same passion and view ’bout dub & reggae music. It’s a small world!
Is there a local scene where you live? Please describe.
There’s absolutely no local dub & reggae scene where I live ! I live on a hill west south France as I told you. There’s a very small village with 300 inhabitants down my hill. The biggest town is 25000 people, it’s 25 kilometers far from my house ! There are a few pop or rock or blues bands that’s all ! Some youths are into dubstep or electro music.
Reggae is very international, how do you feel about its influence around the world?
Reggae music is outernational of course. It’s amazing how a small island like Jamaica created a so popular music known everywhere in the world. There’s some good reggae music coming from everywhere in the world. I like traveling and I notice that reggae music is a real strong link with everybody. It’s a music with conscious lyrics written by sufferers. In Africa people feel closed to reggae music. Robert Nesta Marley was like an ambassador he popularized reggae everywhere in the world. It’s a nice feeling according to my opinion to talk and hear ’bout reggae music everywhere in the world. I love it.
Is the message of peace and love still strong in reggae?
Of course this message is still strong. It’s one of the most important ting. Reggae music can’t exist without this message. Never give up in this world of disorder and war where a lot of people don’t know their neighbor. It’s a world of individualism and selfishness where money and bizness rule. We should try to find different way of life. Harmony and respect with nature. Personally I try to chose who I want to support when I buy someting for example.
Love is the answer as peace and education. Each one teach one.
Too many lyrics written ’bout it : « Faith can move mountains / Twinkle brothers »…
What is your opinion of the music coming from Jamaica now? Has it lost its soul?
I went to Jamaica 3 years ago for the last time. I love this island it’s a really beautiful place. Really nice people. Reggae is everywhere every time. From rocksteady to dancehall. Veteran singers like Tony Tuff or Trevor Junior I produced do not record a lot of tunes in Kingston. They work with European or USA producers. Some of dem emigrated to USA like Carlton Livingston or to UK like Earl Sixteen. Actually the youths in Jamaica are looking to USA for music. They are more into hip hop and dancehall even if there’s still some cultural rootical producers in Jamaica. Actually Bushman or Luciano for example are really great singers with conscious lyrics. They do not forget what foundations are. Anotha important ting is there’s only one radio Irie FM in Kinsgton and if you want to be popular you should be played by this radio.
Poverty and ghetto life mek some youths looking for success and easy money.
I’ve been to Rebel salute festival organised by Tony Rebel and veteran singers play between 5pm to 1 am like Courtney Melody, Horace Andy, Mykal Rose and then until 8 am it’s all ’bout dancehall stars Vibz Kartel, Elephant Man, Bounty killer.
It’s also very difficult to record some live musicians in Jamaica. Only a few recording studios like Harry J or Tuff Gong record some live riddims with instrumentists. Nowadays computers mek it cheaper. Money is one more time the barrier.
You utilize lyrics on most of your songs. How do these get created, who writes them?
Generally singers write dem lyrics. It’s part of dem job ! I ask for conscious lyrics if necessary. But it happened I wrote some. I wrote « Foundations» for Sista Syreen I produced on my TDSR10 vinyl 12 . I also wrote some for Anna our live session singer. I like it, writing lyrics is not a problem for mi.
Your style of reggae utilizes space, with deep bass and very harmonic vocals. It’s very listenable and appealing. What is your approach to creating this music?
This is roots rock reggae music. Deep bass, harmonic vocals. These are the foundations. Reverb and delay or echo help to create space as panoramic left/right. Arrangements are very important with percussion, melodies to emphasize some parts of the vocals, horns of course.
When the basic riddim is finished I record a singer and then it’s ’bout fineness.
Trying to catch the attention from people listening to the tune. Meking it sounds betta. On an anotha hand I should be careful cause less is more sometimes…
You have 25 years of involvement in reggae, as producer, promoter, activist and record lable owner. What is your motivation?
Dub & Reggae music is my life. I’m still irie to wake up every morning to work by my recording studio. As I do everyting alone there’re so many tings to do with my label TUBE DUB SOUND RECORDS or WEBCAM HI-FI.
Organizing shows, buying flights, giving calls, website, selling vinyls, promotion, artwork, it’s more than creating riddims and recording.
I’ve got no time enough if I would like to do everyting that is on my mind, I would need 2 lives!
I try to live my dreams modestly. You know the life I live is the one I was dreaming ’bout when I was 15 years old so I can’t complain even if the road is a hard road to travel.
I went to the university when I was 18 years old and I’ve got some degrees as social worker and psychology so it’s definitively a choice to be 100% into dub & reggae music. Even if I work as sound engineer for theater, festivals and venues. I mek some mastering and mixing for different producers in my recording studio to earn my life too.
Your record label Tube Dub Sound Records has released a number of highly praised releases. Tell us about the label, who are its main artists and what is its direction?
The main project with TUBE DUB SOUND RECORDS is to release WEBCAM HI-FI productions. DIY and being independent is my way. I collaborated with bredren like I-Plant or Weeding Dub on some releases. Actually Sirhill from Control Tower is helping me to press vinyls and for distribution too. There are 15 references on TUBE DUB SOUND RECORDS vinyl 7, 10, 12, LP and CD. I produced tunes with Kenny Knots, Tena Stelin, Anthony John, Horace Martin, Earl Sixteen, Dan I, Joseph Cotton to name a few. It’s generally productions even if sometimes it could be collaborations. We can exchange services. It’s promotion for them in Europe and in the whole wide world as WEBCAM HI-FI is touring the world. Perhaps a chance to be played on radios and of course by sound systems. Bizness used to work like this in Kingston Jamaica a lot of singers were standing in the queue in front of the recording studios asking for riddims to record a tune.
Where did the name Webcam Hi-Fi originate?
I use the WEBCAM name since a long long time for every project I was working on alone cause I was playing in many different bands. HI-FI was added with sound system. Years before WEBCAM was like an uncommon word someting like an eye on the world. A possibility of joining and seeing people everywhere in the world like a link an idea of unity.
”Feeding my faith” is your second album as Webcam Hi-Fi. Tell us about how this project came together and what the concept is.
« Feeding my faith » is WEBCAM HI-FI second album. Since May 2012 it’s only available as LP limited numbered copies 180Gr heavyweight vinyl and as digital download with 3 bonus tracks. It’s more into 2 steps or rub a dub riddims popularized by Roots Radics. Singers on this album come from different countries we often met them on tour like El Fata and Faye Houston from Resonators in Lonton, Roots Rocket crew in Bulgaria, Mighty Howard cause I mixed for Dubmatix, Lyrical Benjie from Holland is one of my favorite singer in Europe so mystical rasta lyrics, Kiko is my breda from No More Babylon…
Trevor junior from Kingston Jamaica is my link there when I recorded tunes with Tony Tuff. He’s Lacksley Castell regretted young brotha. His hit « I & I time » was on a Lloyd Parks riddim Sly & Robbie played on this release.
It’s a traditional showcase album where every vocal tune comes with his dub. Front cover photo I took it during our tour in Mexico. It’s the result of 2 years. Flute has been played by Mathilde who is Ras Martin (sax) sister, picking and lead guitars by my longtime breda Ben black G…
You tour frequently in Europe, what is touring like for you? What will the tour for “Feeding My Faith” be like?
We will play in two weeks with Israel Vibration then Madrid and Barcelona Spain and the main project will be our east Balkan tour from the 19th november to the 15th of december. It’s a common tour with Glass-X who is into dubstep. It’s 25 shows we will play Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kossovo, Serbia and Croatia.
WEBCAM HI-FI live could be different from DJ set alone to 3 people with Ras martin sax and Anna vocal. Depending on budgets and disponibilities… Since years I played with different MC’s and singers but it’s our actual line up.
Any message to direct foward your fans, new and old?
Biiiiig up Mundovibe seen. Give thanks to Jah for inspiration & guidance. Heartical thanks to the singers and musicians and everybody who support us around the world. Respect to all producers, bands, sound systems and radio presenters who kept this traditional roots rock reggae music alive over decades. Dubbin’ is a must !
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