Webcam Hi-Fi is one of the finest Rootsdubprojects coming out of France. Way down in the south of the country there is a house on a hill where music, echoes and singing can be heard. There seems to be no better place to produce warm sounding dubpieces. Fredread is the man behind Webcam Hi-Fi – doing all of this with passion and recording artists like Madu Messenger, Kenny Knots, Earl 16, Carlton Livingston, Humble-I, Ranking Joe, Tony Tuff, Jah Marnyah and others! He answered our questions via email......
First of all, I would like to know how the name “Webcam Hi-Fi” came up?
I use dis name since a long long time now...perhaps more than 10 years... I used to play wid many different bands and at dis time fi all my musical work Iman was doing alone I used dis name: WEBCAM. WEBCAM HI-FI was born as Iman decide to stritcly involve myself into dub & reggae music and stop the others projects. According to my opinion and to my eyes at dis period a WEBCAM was like an eye on the world. The way to communicate wid everybody around the world. It means sharing and exchanging knowledge...It sounds a likkle bit strange fi a name fi dub & reggae music but Iman feel irie wid dis name cause everybody rememba it easily. Very different than many others including words like Jah Lion or Roots...
How do you pick the artists for voicing your tunes like Roberto Sanchez from the Basque Dub Foundation on “Things And Time” from your latest release? Are there any personal criteria for choosing them?
Honestly it’s sometimes hazard. On dis “give a help” riddim fi example I released a vinyl 10” wid Jah Marnyah it was TDSR06 and when he listen to dis tune a breda of mine called Itist told mi Fred you should contact Roberto Sanchez from LONE ARK to record a vocal on dis riddim. Here’s the story! Iman is now really closed to Roberto Sanchez, I visited him 2 times in Santander (Spain) he lives near the ocean, and he’s got a very nice studio and vintage equipment. Roberto can play all instruments except horns and he’s also a really great singa. At the beginning I was a big fan of BASQUE DUB FOUNDATION, one of the finest roots dub & reggae bands in Europe.
We share the same view of dub & reggae music wid Roberto. He’s more than a singa on one of WEBCAM HI-FI’s riddim. Fi di others vocals I recorded, I’m also really closed since a long long time wid Steve Vibronics (SCOOPS) and that’s why I recorded Madu Messenger, Parvez, Echo Ranks, Ranking Joe, Tena Stelin, Anthony John and Kenny Knots. Fi Earl Sixteen the contact was wid NO MORE BABYLON anotha big roots dub & reggae band from France. I know Kiko the singa fi a long time and I released a vinyl 10” wid him too. It was my second vinyl 10” TDSR02.
Sometimes I get in contact directly wid artist that Iman really apprecilove like Tony Tuff (original African Brothers), Ranking Trevor (original veteran DJ from Thompson Sound) and Linval Thompson. I met Carlton Livingston wid Sirhill from Control Tower Records. Wid Zion UK it was wid a sound system called EQUAL BROTHERS I was working as a sound technician fi a dubplates session...
I definitively apprecilove roots singa from the 70’ or the 80’ wid conscious positive and rasta lyrics. Dub & reggae music is also solidarity love sharing resoning a very militant music wid a social history and background and a DIY attitude. Music from the sufferers from the ghetto.
When I was a youth and still nowadays names like Linval Thompson, Brigadier Jerry, Johnny Osbourne, Prince Allah, Willie Williams, Fred Locks, Yabby You, Mykal Rose, Mickey Dread, Don Carlos, Pablo Gad, Martin Campbell were my favorites.
If asked, who the biggest upcoming artist is, that recorded in your studio recently, who would you pick?
Recently I recorded a vocal from Ranking Trevor - one of my favourite DJs as I told you. I did not record him by my studio but I was in contact wid him for a longtime and I was really happy. I will release a vinyl 10” on TUBE DUB SOUND RECORDS wid dis tune. I tink in april 2010... In the future I’ve got a project perhaps wid Linval Thompson wid Roberto Sanchez from Lone Ark cause they backed him in Europe fi a someting like 10 shows last spring. Winston Francis also cause Kiko from No more Babylon told mi there’s a possibility. Dem also backed Winston Francis. I really apprecilove Lyrical Benjie from Holland too and it’s one of my idea to record him.
You say on your Myspace-site that your influences range from the 70ies Dubstyle coming out of Jamaica to the digital dubrevolution of the 90ies. Who would you say are the most important mentors of Webcam Hi-Fi?
Dis question is very difficult to answer! I came from rock originally wid bands like Bad Brains who were rasta and playing hardcore & dub & reggae music at the end of the 70’. It was the same period as the punk revolution in UK and I also was a real big fan of The Clash. Punk & reggae were linked – The Clash and Mickey Dread fi example. They were united against racism and fighting fi social rights. You could see at the same show The Clash, Steel Pulse, Misty in Roots, Aswad. Incredible!!! Don Letts was playing punk hardcore and dub & reggae music as a DJ. Back to your question: Sly & Robbie, King Jammy, Black Roots, Dub Syndicate, Mad Professor, Dry & Heavy, Twilight Circus, Dubkasm, Nucleus Roots are my most appreciloved artists and mentors.
You are devoted to Dub. Where do you see the biggest potential in this genre?
What is very interesting wid dub & reggae music is, that it is outernational. It’s really incredible that a small island like Jamaïca created a so popular kind of music. Actually you could hear really good stuff from anywhere and that’s what mek mi feel irie.
Next to producing fine dubtunes you are also leaving the studio to do shows as a soundsystem. What do you like most about performing your material live?
Iman apprecilove both part of the job. Working by my studio is my original work cause I started as a sound engineer when I was 18 years old. I’m not a real great instrument player even if Iman play guitar, keyboards, percussions on my riddims. I built myself my house wid wood here in the west of France on a hill and I feel really irie working at my studio. Ital way of life, gardening, silence, nature, peace in my mind are very important fi mi. On the other hand a sound system is definitively my way, even if Iman played wid several live bands before. Sound system is the true original way to promote dub & reggae music in Jamaïca. I spent one month last January in Jamaica and when di Iman come to sound system you could feel the heart of original dub & reggae music. It’s popular and people from the ghetto were dancing and forgetting the troubles in their life. That’s what I like wid sound system. The place where you can share wid massives. It’s the best way to express myself. No social differences no matter the race and the colour of your skin - everybody is ina dance.
You've been cooperating with the producer I-Plant also coming from the south of France. How did you guys meet and what binds you together?
Tooney Roots from I-Plant is one of my best breda. He originally come from Paris but we live really closed now. I will also help him to build his own house wid wood 15 km far from my house. That’s also dis dub & reggae music. It’s very important fi mi we share the same way of life DIY. We are involved in protecting the nature, vegetarian food, helping Ifrica wid an association called Survive in France. I’ve been many times in Ifrica - Gambia, Senegal, Ghana... Tooney Roots is a very talented musician and sound engineer. Each one teach one as we used to say.
Are there any projects in the pipeline right now that keep you busy? What is to be expected next?
I’m actually mixing WEBCAM HI-FI’s album that will be released in october. 9 new riddims live instruments : bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, horns and vocals from every part of the world : Germany wid Ras Seven, Italy wid Dan I, UK wid Madu and Parvez, Crotia wid Vanya from Radikal Dub Collective, Jamaïca wid Horace Martin, Spain wid Roberto Sanchez and Benjammin, France wid Bethsabee (beautiful female voice), Tony Roots, Senykan from Ifrica Cote d’Ivoire...and dubzzz!!! It will be available on CD and vinyl. Big work a gwan.
Are there any plans to come and play in Germany in the near future?
It will be a pleasure to come and play in Germany. We had been on tour during 3 months february, march and april in Europe WEBCAM HI-FI + WEEDING DUB + HUMBLE I + ZION UK. We visited 7 countries: France, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Bulgaria. We spent some really good times togetha. I tink I will try to find some shows and sessions in november to promote WEBCAM HI-FI’s album. I’m in contact wid a guy in Berlin at Raw Temple who’s interested, I could also ask Ras Seven fi trying to organise and find us a couple of gigs... And any propositions are welcome! If you’ve got any idea, it will be a pleasure one more time to come to Germany.