Jonathan, am I right in saying the story of Booboo'zzz All Stars started in a club in Bordeaux?
Jonathan 'Jouby' Joubert (guitar/vocals): "Yes, absolutely… Booboo'zzz is a reggae club that was established in 2005. We started playing there when the club was still located in Biscarosse Plage way before there was even talk of Booboo'zzz All Stars. But we grew quite close to the manager of the club and when he decided to relocate to Bordeaux, he asked us to put together a collective of musicians and become the club's resident band. Of course we said yes, and we called on a variety of musicians from different French reggae bands to join the project, a bit in an effort to create our perfect reggae dream team. Not much later we started playing a reggae bash every Tuesday, pure jam sessions with us backing different vocalists each time. That lasted for two years, but then in 2015 the club closed its doors in Bordeaux and moved to the seaside town of Seignosse. All of a sudden we found ourselves without a place to organize our reggae bashes, but we felt we just had to continue with what we had been doing, backing different vocalists and have them do reggae versions of well-known songs from rock, pop, hip-hop or soul history, which had become our trademark over those two years. We took to the studio of our drummer (Stéphane 'Nimal' Garcia Tudel, red.) called Born 2 Groove, and started doing monthly recording sessions, which we also filmed using multiple fixed cameras. Each month we invited another vocalist and in 2016 we started to broadcast the filmed recordings on various social media channels. When we'd done twelve, we realized it wouldn't be a bad idea to compile all those songs and create an album. We the signed with Baco Records, as they'd just asked us to accompany Volodia on tour."
As you just mentioned, almost all of the members of Booboo'zzz All Stars were already active in other projects before joining the band. What happened to these other bands?
Jonathan 'Jouby' Joubert: "Well, let me take myself as an example… For about a decade I was a member of a vocal trio called The Jouby's - we were the vocalists one of the tracks on the first album we did with Booboo'zzz All Stars - but because I simply couldn't find the time anymore, we decided to put that project on indefinite hold. Between what we are doing with Booboo'zzz All Stars and backing artists like Volodia, there just isn't any time left. That being said, our drummer still plays with Tom Frager, we've got Wyman Low on guitar who's still pursuing his solo project as well, and Olivier (Lerole, red.), our keyboard player, is also a member of Alam and Train's Tone."
Booboo'zzz All Stars is all about doing reggae versions of well-known songs from pop, rock, hip-hop and soul history, but how did you go about picking the songs you wanted to adapt?
Jonathan 'Jouby' Joubert: "Well, of course we were spoilt for choice, but we chose the majority of the songs in function of the vocals, as we could adapt almost everything except for the melody and the lyrics. If we take the pop songs we did as an example, we unearthed some tunes that would suddenly sound quite bluesy or soulful when "translated" to reggae. We stumbled on quite a few hidden treasures. Another thing we did is opt for a balanced mix of well-known and lesser known songs, older classics but also quite current hits. I think that's part of the project's strength. To be honest, we didn't invent anything new here, as veterans like Ken Boothe or John Holt were already doing this in the nineteen sixties. In function of the songs in question we contemplated on which singer would be best suited to a certain vibe or energy. That being said, there were also a number of artists we absolutely wanted to work with, like Max Livio and Flox to name two, and in those cases we looked for songs suiting their voices."
Will your next album be in the same vein?
Jonathan 'Jouby' Joubert: "Absolutely… We continued our monthly recording sessions and video shoots, so we're already working on a follow-up album. For the first new track we invited Merlot, vocalist with Baobab, who recorded a reworking of Etienne Daho's 'Le Premier Jour Du Reste De Ta Vie'. Maybe that in a more distant future we might still go a different way, perhaps playing our own compositions, but I think we'll definitely continue to work with guest vocalists like we've done until now. We'll see what happens!"