From the early 90s right up to the release of his latest album Made In JamaicaBob Sinclar has paid his dues and cemented his status as the king of genre-bending Parisian dance music. From the massive Gym Tonicto his seminal work with Thomas Bangaltar, Bob's music played a huge part in the rise of the filtered disco movement. His numerous remixes across the board and his various international projects, spanning work with the cream of the US crop to a full on Afro-beat project have prevented him ever falling into any pigeon holes or becoming predictable in any way over his ten-plus years at the top of his game.
With his new album a raggae-house affair, featuring callaborations from Shaggy, Queen Ifrica and Steve Edwards, it, as would be expected from Bob, sounds nothing like anything else he's done whilst still somehow retaining a distinct Bob Sinclar vibe. Don’t Panic held him down for brief chat from across the Atlantic where he's already getting into producing his fifth studio album.
You are always pretty diverse with your influences, what attracted to you to the reggae sound for the remix album?
Made in Jamaica started out a side project between me and the legendary reggae producer Sly&Robbie. I wanted to make a 'best of' with all my songs remixed into original roots reggae. The idea was to try and re-discover my old songs with a different mood, very Peace and Love. There are also two unreleased tracks featuring Shaggy and Ben Onono on the album. The key was my first trip to Kingston with Gary Pine, the singer on Love Generation. We wanted to try to bring my music into another world.
You've hooked up some pretty impressive guest vocalists and co-producers for the album, had you had this in the pipeline for a long time? I can see the idea surfacing during the whole Africa thing.
I have been regularly visiting Jamaica since I was five years old now and have met many amazingly talented artists, always constantly working. It's a pleasure to be there because of the creativity of the place. I just wanted to take the best of that sound and their culture and mix it with my own dance music sound. We have a huge African community in France and I'm sure it shows as a great influence in my music. I love mash ups and I created Project Africanism along with DJ Gregory to represent that and give our DJs something different to play in their sets. It was always DJ and club oriented at first, then the concern with it being radio friendly. It's great that you're doing real collaborations instead of just layering vocals over something made for the floor like a lot of people seem to be doing these days. I'm guessing with someone that's been into things for as long as you have going to other countries and these sort of diverse collaborations are necessary to keep the music interesting, to your perceived audience and yourself also. I love all kinds of Dance Music from Hip-hop to Disco. I love the vibe of this music as something just to dance on, don’t intellectualize anything. The emotions I have in a studio in creating a song are like a drug, searching constantly this moment of happiness, the moment where I will find the key of this Puzzle. I love to see people happy on the dancefloor singing the song with a smile on their face.
What was it like living day-to-day in Jamaica to mix the album, did you enjoy the island, the people?
It took a full three days to even get started on any music because we couldn't understand each other! When I arrived at the studio they had a synthesizer set up for me, they didn’t know that I wanted to make music the way they used to do it back in the 80s. I got the legendary dream team: Sly Dumbar on Drums, Robbie Shakespear on Bass, Micky Chung on guitar, Sticky Thompson on percussion, Robbie Lyn on Keys. As I was leaving my hotel I also bumped into Grace Jones! I got her to come by the studio as Sly and Robbie are her friends but we didn't end up getting anything down, it was good to meet her though as she's always been so iconic.
A few house and dance people have been making big waves with collaborations with huge commercial artists of late, is this something you're shying away from or are we going to see Bob Sinclair with P Diddy or Beyonce, etc?
I would always want to be more fresh, never associating with big name producers and stars just for the sake of the name. I only look to do collaborations with artists I truly love. Of course a lot of big US artists are calling European producers now, it looks like the way to go but I was never into giving my sound over to pop artists. I am first and foremost a DJ, not a studio producer, as a DJ I am an artist myself. I am open to any collaboration if the vibe is right but the vibe is all that matters to me, not fame or commercial success.
We're looking forward to the videos for these tunes as your videos are generally pretty awesome, what should we be expecting?
Image is extremely important today, the CD is dying and Youtube has exploded. Since the start of my career I have played around with my image, creating a funny and sexy sort of character. I always put a lot of thought into the artists I work with on videos and photoshoots. Having said that, this album was never supposed to be an overtly commercial project so I am not going to be doing tons of videos. I'm doing one with Shaggy for I Wanna which is going to be a Miami club type thing with all the girls and the rest, and for Rainbow of Love with Ben Onomo I want to do a Roger Glover style 80s animation thing.
What direction are you looking to take next?
I am working on my fifth Studio album now, back to basics this time it's totally dancefloor oriented. Why not to come back to French Touch? And 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and back, back, back...
Bob Sinclar: Made in Jamaica
Interview with the king of Parisian dance music
Written by Seun Mustapha / 04 Oct 2010 - dontpaniconline.com