26 avr. 2022The secret history of dancehall and reggae in Luxembourg and the man behind it
Unbeknownst to many Luxembourgers, Roc, aka Claude Larosch, has been busy building up musical ties between the Grand Duchy and Jamaica for a number of years now, working on award-winning songs by some of the biggest names in dancehall and reggae. His latest track, People of the country, promises to be an instant hit, featuring Julian Marley, son of legendary reggae star Bob Marley, alongside renowned recording artist Charly Black. We sat down with the producer just days after the song was released to find out more about the project, his record label JamBerchem Empire Music and the close ties Luxembourg has with the land of reggae.
Roc got into dancehall and reggae at an early age. “I started DJing when I was still at school,” he begins, “I would do half-hour or hour-long sets in clubs. At that time that kind of music wasn’t too big in Luxembourg.” A couple of years down the line, he set up his own studio and started recording music. Everything really took off when he met Jamaican artist Charly Black and produced the song Desire with him in 2014, which won the audience award at Luxembourg’s Video Music Awards. Their next collaboration Party Animal became a huge hit in 2017, catapulting them to international fame. “It’s really thanks to Charly Black and Crawba Genius that I’m in the position I am in right now,” Roc notes, who also acts as their manager in Europe.
Roc, Charly Black and Crawba Genius
In fact, Jamaican-born Charly Black loves visiting Luxembourg and considers it as a base for his European tours. “He even wears the Luxembourg t-shirt I got him one time to official events!” laughs Roc. The Grand Duchy also got a shout out from Julian Marley during the video shoot for People of the country. Unsurprisingly, though, most people Roc has met in the dancehall and reggae business don’t know Luxembourg is a country at all. “They usually think it’s part of France or Italy,” he adds. Conversely, as Roc points out, not many Luxembourgers know about the international reach their country has in terms of dancehall and reggae; “In Luxembourg we speak about music all the time, but people here have no idea that we’re producing music that people listen to all over the world.”
Roc and Crawba Genius originally got the idea for People of the country during one of the Luxembourgish producer’s trips to Jamaica during which he recorded his own single One with the support of the Oeuvre Nationale de secours de la Grande-Duchesse Charlotte. The goal was to create a true reggae tune with one of Bob Marley’s sons. And so, the song was born, co-written by the two singers Julian Marley and Charly Black and co-produced by Crawba Genius and Roc. The track was then mixed and mastered by Roc and his team at Jamberchem Empire Music Studios back in Luxembourg.
On the video shoot for People of the country
The message of the song is a positive one, calling for peace and unity in these troubled times of war and segregation. “It’s a song for the people,” emphasises Roc, “It speaks directly to the citizens of Jamaica and calls on them to find their voice and fight the injustice the country currently faces.” The video itself was filmed in the ghettos of Kingston in collaboration with the local community. “The best part of the project was shooting the video,” adds Roc, “It felt like the whole thing came together there in Kingston.”
As he works with more and more Jamaican reggae artists, Roc has found his music adapting and changing. He increasingly produces songs with a message, not just tracks to dance to. Perhaps this has something to do with the local ethos; “In Jamaica, there are a lot of things that are more important than money. It’s like what Bob Marley said to someone who asked him if he was rich. He said “Possession make you rich? I don’t have that type of richness, my richness is life, forever.” People there tend to respond like that, they value what they have.”
Roc and Charly Black
Back in Luxembourg, the future of dancehall and reggae looks bright, with more and more evenings dedicated to the genre emerging and the biggest artists in the business giving performances; “Sean-Paul is coming in July, that wouldn’t have been thinkable back in the day!” Roc himself will continue to champion dancehall and reggae music with a wave of new releases, including a new album by Jamaican popular recording artist Tiana, an EP by popular musician Kalado and a new single called Always there for me by international superstar Busy Signal and reggae singer Kananga, co-produced with Crawba Genius, dropping in May 2022. “We have so much stuff coming out this year, it’s as if 15 years of work are finally paying off,” concludes Roc, “I’m happy with the ways things are already, everything that comes after this point is just bonus.” Spoken like a true Jamaican, we’d say!