“We all have different talents and united we stand”
Meet the French Caribbean musician who has finally found his voice.
After years of experimenting with music, Fabrice went back to his roots to discover his ideal musical vision. Now, successfully writing and performing what he describes as Red, Gold & Green Folk, he’s enjoying a style all of his own; and entertaining Kuwait in the process!
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers:
I am a French Caribbean songwriter, producer and singer.
I have worked for different brands, music labels, artists, movie makers and I also produce my own projects.
2. Tell us where you were born, where you were educated and how you came to be a singer and composer?
My father is Italian and French. He met my mother, a black African mixed with French and Indian from the Arawak tribe in Guadeloupe. I was born and raised in Guadeloupe where my parents got married. It’s a small Caribbean island which has a French region. This means we speak French, pay in Euro, have French passports and so on. I moved to France at the age of 13 because my parents wanted to live in the South of France.
3. Tell us about your childhood. Did you do music at school?
I had a great childhood between the sea and the mountains. My brother and I did lots of sports with our dad, from scuba diving to judo and from windsurfing to trekking. It was such a peaceful life. My mother has 11 siblings so we were always with someone from the family somewhere on the island, sharing love and laughing.
Music was everywhere. It’s not something you specifically study at school in those islands but we played, danced and laughed every weekend in the back yard. The family would organise jam sessions every Saturday. Some of my uncles were professional, my mom still sings Gospel and my dad used to play harmonica and guitar. When you are a kid you take an instrument or a piece of wood and you try to follow the adults.
4. What came first? Songwriting, singing or composing?
I started writing songs when I moved to France. I suddenly felt very lonely. I am the older brother and I needed to speak to someone and tell things that you cannot tell to your parents. My guitar was there to listen.
5. Was it a conscious choice to do the music, lyrics and composing all yourself?
Composing all by myself was not something conscious. I just started to write some poems and to paint. I was having fun. I was playing. It was just a way to express myself. In fact, when I used to play, words would come instantly. It’s still the same now. I just play and after a while I have a song. I don’t know why or how, it just happens.
6. What are some of the hardest things about creating your own music?
It was sometimes very difficult to choose songs and throw away others that you liked but you can’t put all of them on an album, for various reasons. It’s also very hard to do it all by yourself because you focus on the sound take, the mix, the part you play, production, arrangement, your voice and everything else in the same day. When I finish an album I am truly exhausted
7. Which instruments do you play yourself?
I play bass, acoustic and electric guitar, cajon, djembé and keyboards (but not like a piano player). In the studio I can play several times so it’s fine at the end. I also play small funny things like kalimba, shaker or melodica.
8. When and how did you land in Kuwait?
I came here in 2013. I needed a change after different tribulations. I have been a musician and a teacher for years. Life as a musician is not that easy and most have another job. I specialize in Literature and I also have a Masters to teach the French language to foreigners. The French Institute of Kuwait contacted me about a job and I came for a new experience in the world.
9. Where do you get your inspiration for writing your songs?
I don’t really know. I think inspiration is a long process of maturation. A mix between all that you have learned, heard and read, year after year. I really work hard. I am curious about a lot of different subjects and I spend time every day reading about history, psychology, science, astrology, music, sports and so on.
10. How would you describe your music in your own words?
Red Gold and Green Folk.
11. When did the idea of a recording come up? Tell us about your first music album. How has the journey been since then?
I was 18 years old. During the summer I was working as a roadie to make money and be able to watch bands for free. The guy who used to make the sound heard a demo tape that I did in my bedroom. He had a professional studio and asked me if I wanted to record, just to have a good quality sound. Of course I said yes. Then he sent one song to a contest called MIDEM and I won 1st prize. So I started to record. He taught me how to use his studio so that he didn’t have to be there to help me and we have stayed in touch after all of those years. He is a very gentle, humble and talented man.
The idea of an album came years after that. I was a sideman, playing mostly in Reggae bands and Rap bands, still recording original songs but I thought I hadn’t found the original and personal style I was looking for. Then I came back to my island and met some new musicians. After a few months I decided to make a record. It went well because La Sacem granted me a price and also money to develop my project. Then La Fnac and Virgin Megastore advertised it as the young talent of the month. It was great! With four musicians from Guadeloupe we were touring everywhere in Europe to promote this record, opening shows for Keziah Jones, Alpha Blondy and Ismael Lô.
But I still thought I hadn’t found the exact direction I was looking for so I split from the band. It was a meeting with David Rubinson after a show in Paris that helped me a lot. Sometimes simple sentences at the right time find their way to your subconscious. I decided to do it all by myself and stick to my vision: Red Gold and Green Folk, my current style. The first album I did was the start of the right journey with the right musical vision. I was 38 and I still create this type of music.
12.What kind of message do you want to tell with your songs?
The kind of message that Bob Marley and Bob Dylan spread – we are human, we should be treated with equity; we are weak but together we can be strong if we can respect one another’s beliefs.
13. Tell us about your last album ‘Back to Roots’. How did you compile and select all of the songs for this album?
I wanted to work again with some of the musicians from Guadeloupe that I worked with 15 years ago. That’s why it’s called Back to Roots. I also wanted to work with people I had met in Kuwait and I mixed it all up with vibes in my style. Now I know exactly my sound. People from different cultures are most welcome. It was easy to select the songs. If when I played one, my son was running to the studio with a smile or dancing, I would keep the song – simple! He has good taste, I trust him even though he is only 20 months old!
14. How did you select the musicians to collaborate in this album?
I work with people full of spirit. If someone can be a friend, he can play on my music. I am not in the business any more. I am just trying to have fun and to create energy with some beautiful souls. We all have different talents and united we stand!
15. What’s your current main project?
I have collaborated with a movie maker who shot something with Nicolas Karabatic, the best handball player in the world. I’m currently working on an advert for Matahi, a natural energy drink made with baobab.
16. Are you already writing and recording songs for your next studio album?
I am writing songs but only the root, guitar and voice, melody and harmony. I will record it in August. First I need to play those songs on stage this summer to see if I am comfortable and if they make me fly.
17. How do you see the current music scene in Kuwait?
Four years ago, when I met my actual partners, the scene was really small. Then month after month came a new scene and new musicians. There are more and more shows and a lot of interesting musicians in every style. As I am also a teacher, I am happy because I found an evolution. I would just like some of them to be less American and more rooted to an original style but it’s the globalization effect and it took me twenty years to find my style. Music is a part of me so I am very happy for those people who play and those who listen. I love to play and I listen to a lot of music every day.
18. Your message for our readers and your fans in Kuwait?
I am still here and I am already missing you now I know it’s the end of the season here!
19. How has your experience been performing live in Kuwait?
It was great. Reactions and behaviours are totally different here. People who come to my shows are very well educated, smart, open minded and curious. A bunch of beautiful people. I feel blessed; do you know another Frenchman who has performed for four years in Kuwait? That’s awesome! A beautiful experience. Of course it’s different than in Europe but my mind and my arms are wide open to embrace the change and new ways to think, to give and receive.
20. Where else have you performed in the region?
I have played in Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and I hope to play in Bahrain soon because they have contacted me several times.
21. Your message for us at CP magazine:
I love you all! Keep on grooving.
22. Lastly, is there any advice you would give to young songwriters and artists who are trying to break into the business?
Work. Listen. Perform. Work. Learn from the past. And don’t try to be anyone else but you. Don’t forget to turn mistakes into something beautiful. Stop showing off, focus on the music first. I say that because I used to show off until one of my mentors asked me if I thought I was a genius! I came back to Earth quickly! But it’s ok to have fun as long as it helps the song, not your ego. The most important thing is the song. We’re all gonna die but some songs will stay forever. Peace and much love.
Photo credits: Hamad AlAinati (@7mdphotography)< Back