The Frenchie Connection
Maximum Sound is a highly respected reggae/dancehall label, with many best-selling albums and big rhythms to its credit. These were mostly recorded in Jamaica by one of the few European producers to gain recognition in reggae’s homeland.
Frenchie’s love of the music started from rifling through his brother's record collection. A little later, as the eighties drew to a close and computer rhythms were setting dancehalls ablaze, the teenager from Paris headed for London where he became apprentice engineer at Fashion's A Class studio. It was there he learnt his craft and worked on hits by Cutty Ranks (The Stopper), General Levy and Top Cat, among others. His apprenticeship encompassed dancehall, roots, lovers’ rock, crossover and even old school reggae, since legends such as Augustus Pablo, Horace Andy and Junior Delgado were all regulars at A Class.
In 1993, he launched Maximum Sound and began producing tracks featuring local and international reggae acts, including current Gorillaz' star Sweetie Irie. Frenchie’s love of sound-system fuelled remakes of rhythms such as Chill Out, Waiting In Vain and Sensi Addict, and also spawned the hits that put Maximum Sound on the map. He’s continued to delve into his dub box with deadly effectiveness ever since, as witnessed by remakes of Barrington Levy's Here I Come (Intercom) and more recently, Tenor Saw’s Praise Jahoviah.
By the mid-nineties he was working in Jamaica with top-flight Jamaican names such as Sly & Robbie, Dean Fraser, Richie Stephens, Mr. Vegas and Red Rat – also Stephen “Lenky” Marsden who often collaborated with him. Frenchie assisted Lenky with two of his biggest-selling rhythms to date including Diwali, which powered international hits by Sean Paul (Get Busy) and Wayne Wonder (No Letting Go.) He’s also executive producer of two Mr. Vegas albums for Greensleeves, including Heads High. Frenchie’s tracks feature on numerous albums by artists like Fantan Mojah and Junior Kelly, whilst those appearing on his own label include Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Capleton, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, T.O.K, Sean Paul and Vybz Kartel. Such names, together with promising newcomers, can be heard on one-rhythm albums such as Jumbie, Blue Steel, Fowl Fight and World Jam – the latter being a rival version to Damian Marley's Welcome To Jamrock.
In the meantime, Frenchie continued to spearhead the resurgence of reggae back in his native France with hits by Raggasonic, who sold more than 500,000 albums there. He also produced albums with Daddy Nuttea and Big Red; recorded tracks with France's No. 1 rap group NTM and collaborated with Neg'marrons, who had a Top 20 hit with Tout le Monde Debout, featuring Mr Vegas. More recently, he’s worked with sensational French rap group 113, whose album went gold after he’d teamed them with Buju Banton.
As more traditional reggae style songs became popular, he compiled the best-selling Biggest Reggae One Drop Anthems for Greensleeves and embarked on a trio of highly acclaimed albums by Anthony B. He also produced albums with Jah Mason and Lukie D, whose two sets – incorporating a rich mix of soul, gospel, r&b, reggae and dancehall – have been described as the singer’s best-ever work. His latest solo artist album is Luciano’s United States Of Africa, which heralds a sensational return to form by the Messenger.
In recent times, Frenchie has been working with artists like Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Alborosie, Jah Cure, Sizzla, Capleton and Gyptian, who represent the cream of today’s Rasta singers and dee-jays from Jamaica. Newer rhythms such as Zion Train, Jah Powers, Vineyard Town, Party In Session and Blood Dunza display skilful mastery of the contemporary roots idiom, which has now culminated in two volumes of Bobo Revolution – albums packed with killer root tunes - that one reviewer called “the best such compilations on the market.”
Biography by John Masouri 2010
Artist Photography ©Tim Barrow