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Interview: Franz Job

Interview: Franz Job

Interview: Franz Job

By on - Photos by Niculai Constantinescu - Comment

"We are carnival people. The music we play and listen to must be happy and danceable"


Franz Job

Sing and dance to Franz Job

One of the best albums in 2009 was Franz Job’s debut Babylon is Dead. Two years has gone by and now he’s back with the Curtis Lynch produced EP Rebel Lover Boy. United Reggae had a chat with this London resident with roots in the Caribbean island of Tobago. 

Franz Job was born in London by parents who had just emigrated from the Caribbean islands of Trinidad & Tobago. But Franz did not stay long in England. His parents felt that they could not ensure a sufficiently secure upbringing.

“My folks moved me to Tobago before I was a year old to live with my grandparents. There was strong racial tension in London at the time, so therefore they moved me away. I know it was a tough decision for my parents,” says Franz over the phone from London.

Church choir is the foundation

On his debut album 'Babylon is Dead' Franz sings about the small town of Charlotteville, the place where he grew up. He has always been singing and learned to play guitar at the age of thirteen.

Church was always present, partly because his grandfather was an organist and choir master.

“I was probably in church more than any other youth on the island,” laughs Franz and continues:

“Church music in the Caribbean is quite different from that in Europe because it has so much energy. For me it was natural to start with music.”

Reggae is the only music Franz has recorded on album, but it was the calypso he learned to play at an early stage. In Tobago, calypso was played on every street corner when he grew up.

“Reggae was also played on occasion, especially on Saturdays when people moved out speakers on the street,” he explains.

Calypso is still popular in Tobago, but people are also listening to dancehall and roots.

“We are carnival people. The music we play and listen to must be happy and danceable,” explains Franz.

Influenced by 70’s roots

Franz Job'Babylon is Dead' – Franz’ debut album – is reggae deeply rooted in the legacy of groups like The Wailers and Black Uhuru. Franz says he cares about the past and pay tribute to the reggae that was produced in the 70’s and 80’s.

“I grew up in the countryside, where people are down to earth and cares about and learn from history. The country is quiet and very different from the city. That is probably why my music sounds like it does,” says Franz and continues:

“I want to show my roots and where I come from.”

At the age of 17 he moved back to London to educate himself and to try his wings in the music business. After a few years he met sound system operator and record store owner Gladdy Wax. Franz got a job in the record store and worked in parallel writing music.

Different sound from Conscious Sounds

It was Gladdy Wax that introduced him to producer and engineer Dougie Wardrop, the mixing engineer on 'Babylon is Dead'.

Dougie Wardrop is best known for his tough steppers-sound and his work with the Bush Chemists, Centry and singer King General. A type of reggae quite different from what Franz does.

“Gladdy had a very good sound system in his shop and Dougie would come by and test his productions there. We became friends and began to work together. I think I’ve managed to get a completely different sound from the Conscious Sounds studio than others have,” says Franz.

Hooks up with Curtis Lynch

Franz’ latest recordings are done in collaboration with another producer and engineer – Curtis Lynch. Both reside in London, but Curtis had never heard of Franz until he went to Germany.

“Curtis called me up after I returned to London from my annual trip back home to Tobago in July in 2010. Rocket Sound and El Presidente International Sound from Hamburg in Germany played my debut album Babylon is Dead to Mr Williamz while he was in Germany for a show, and he told Curtis about me,” explains Franz, and adds:

“Curtis had a good vibe about him when we first spoke, and he sounded very serious about what he was doing. His approach to his music is similar to mine.”

Franz Job

Fearless new EP

The first riddim from Curtis Lynch that Franz voiced was Pass the Kutchie, which led to the song Special Lover, a track included on the newly issued EP 'Rebel Lover Boy', described by Franz as fearless.

“I say a lot of things that are not often said on records these days. Plus, every song has a different style and a different brand of word phrasing, so I guess it's kind of interesting and unique also,” he says, and gives an example:

“Living in the Land of Glory [A Million Miles Away] tells the black Caribbean story in Britain, particularly in London. Every black artist that rises from these shores of late seems to just deal with the business side of things and not with any serious stand on any issue that affect black people in this country.”

“Sing and dance to our own story”

Franz’ recipe is to marry danceable music with real life frustrations and get the people who suffer from these frustrations to dance to them.

“If they do, in a matter of time, they will eventually realize that the greatest thing to do is really the easiest thing to do - and that is to unite. All we have to do is sing and dance to our own story,” he explains, and adds:

“At night I work in a bus garage, just like the ordinary man. I see his will, his determination and strength to work and feed his family. And his bright eyes that shine with hope for his children. I also see his tiredness and beaten-up feeling, and wanting to escape from it all. I feel the same feelings and that is why I shout about them. It's simply important to me.”

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