Music

The Frenchie connection

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Friday, November 30, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


IN the early 1990s, most French youth who were into Jamaican music favoured roots-reggae acts like Burning Spear, Culture and Israel Vibration. Not Paris-born Fabrice Allegre, though; he was drawn to hardcore dancehall.

With not much hope of making it as a dancehall producer in his homeland, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1988 and started a record label in London five years later. That company, Maximum Sound, turned 25 this year.

Known as Frenchie, Allegre celebrated the milestone with a flurry of studio activity. He produced songs by Kabaka Pyramid and Capleton ( Hold up Your Arms), Romain Virgo ( Now) and co-produced Contradiction byAlborosie and Chronixx.

Hold up Your Armsis on State of Emergency, a rhythm compilation album released this month by Maximum Sound.

Allegre was in Jamaica recently, hanging out at dancehall hot spots like King Jammy's studio in Waterhouse. He reflected on his label's silver anniversary in an interview with Jamaica Observer; and he stressed that his approach to music is not much different than when he started.

“The process of making a song is still the most exciting thing for me. When you choose this business it's a passion before anything else — from the rhythm-building to the voicing, mixing and mastering, then promoting something you had the vision to create from scratch. It's still amazing to me and I feel privileged to have been able to live from what I love for the past 25 years,” he explained.

During that period, Allegre was involved with some of dancehall's biggest projects including Mr Vegas' blockbuster hit, Heads High, as executive producer. He co-produced songs such as Sweet Jamaica, a hit for Vegas and Josey Wales; produced Stronger by Fantan Mojah; and worked with producer Steven “Lenky” Marsden on the massive Diwali rhythm.

Being accepted in Jamaica, however, is among his greatest accomplishments.

“I have been involved whether as an engineer, producer, executive producer, manager and even A&R in a lot of big songs. Anytime I hear them play in a dance or on the radio around the world, it always gives me a good buzz,” he said. “I remember walking in a Stone Love dance and hearing one of my songs getting the biggest forward for the night — that was a pretty high point!”

Shortly after moving to the UK, Allegre cut his teeth in London reggae circles as an engineer at Fashion Records, one of the country's top independent reggae labels. He learned the production ropes there working with artistes like Alton Ellis and Buju Banton, who encouraged him to start his own label.

The music business has changed significantly since Allegre launched Maximum Sound, the dancehall scene being no exception. The compact disc has been replaced by digital medium, and music downloads have resulted in a precipitous decline in music sales.

Allegre points out that technology allows producers outside of Jamaica to get their music to Jamaican radio disc jockeys and sound system selectors in the blink of an eye. But there is also a downside.

“It's definitely not easy in Jamaica when your label is based in Europe, for all sorts of reasons, the main one being financial. For years, I used to concentrate only on the UK and Europe (because) only a few songs I produced did well in Jamaica because the artistes promoted them, like Stronger or Sweet Jamaica,” he said. “As a producer it costs a lot to push songs in Jamaica; it's more beneficial for an artiste, especially nowadays.”

Maximum Sound has a busy slate for 2019. Allegre plans to step up promotion for the State of Emergency which has songs by Anthony B, Jah Izrehl and Mortimer. He also produced the track, Play That Song, for Duane Stephenson's upcoming album.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Flirting while in a relationship is disrespectful.
Yes
68%
No
11%
It depends
21%

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT