Easy Riddim Maker (E.R.M.), Olivier Gangloff aka Piment / Electric Rabbit is a drummer for nearly 20 years, multi-instrumentalist, and talented arranger and sound engineer. Romain Ferrey aka EasyMode – is a sound engineer and dub man. Together, in their recording studio in Strasbourg, eastern France, they simply created an album for their idol. Ten blazing riddims, traditional, with a hint of modernity to remind everyone that the reigning king of dub reggae, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, still has the midas touch and at almost 80 years old, still has plenty to say.
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, known as the father of reggae and inventor of dub, initiator and visionary, discovered Bob Marley and many other legendary figures in the Jamaican reggae explosion of the 1970’s. Now 76, he has invested heavily in HUMANICITY, an album which revives the golden years of the Black Ark Studio. The collaboration with Piment and EasyMode was symbiotic – during the recording in his studio, Lee Perry improvised all the lyrics for the 10 songs. He sang with the aggressiveness of the early days, the melancholy of a difficult time, and the humor of a rich and eventful life.
This unlikely pairing produced an album of depth – humanistic and contemporary – hence the evocative title HUMANICITY. The music and lyrics form a true meld with the listener, allowing for a truly emotional experience. The recording and mixing was done by E.R.M., and mastered by Jay Franco (Studio Sterling Sound / New York). This album feels fresh and charged with energy, as if ‘Scratch’ was just waiting to play Upsetter again.
1. Tell me about Easy Riddim Maker?
The two people at the head of ERM are Olivier Gangloff aka Piment/Electric Rabbit and Romain Ferrey aka EasyMode.
Electric Rabbit :
I’m originally from Strasbourg and a professional drummer with 20 years of experience. My background in music style is absolutely varied with traditional from Africa, Cameroun, Congo, Burkina Faso and more like Caribbean music, Rock, Pop and Reggae.
I’m a sound engineer from Paris. After quitting university, my experience started with several French bands. I was not very fond of the city life and decided to move to Strasbourg where I met Piment.
2. Talk a bit about your initial project with Bim Sherman. How did this come about? How did you contact Adrian Sherwood?
The project for the Tribute album was born a year ago. To start with, as usual, it was just an idea and some riddims. Bim Sherman’s songs are beautiful but unfortunately not very well known by the public.
But when Mr. Fred, the guitarist from Yeallow, heard the first demos, the project really begun. It was him who contacted Adrian and scheduled a meeting during our last tour in England.
At this point, all of the instruments are done and the voices are the only bits missing. We are now deciding who is going to sing.
3. How much input did Adrian Sherwood have on that project?
Adrian welcomed us in his home very kindly. He fully opened is house and shared with us his music and his experience. He was motivated by the project from the beginning and gave us the go ahead. He’s truly amazing! Despite being a busy man, he spent all day with us. On top of this, he is finding the time to give us some crucial informations to finalise this project in the best possible way.
Because of Adrian, we thought that the Lee Perry’s project was possible. Besides, everything is possible, you only have to try.
4. So you went from relative unknowns, making beats in your basement, to working with a roots legend? Talk a bit about that experience.
It is true that we are no one in comparison to Lee. However being a drummer for more than 20 years, i’ve played with lots of bands – including the reggae ones and i was lucky enough to tour Europe many times and the US.
We set up the Studio Grenat 4 years ago in Strasbourg where we work with many artists on a daily basis for their album’s project. Thanks to this framework, we were able to create the album with Lee.
At the beginning, it was a crazy dream. Then it became reality, thanks again to the teamwork and the support of our friends. We met Lee for the first time at the recording session and it was a magical moment. We knew his work pretty well but we’ve never had the opportunity to work so closely with him. It was a perfect collaboration. I am quite sure he enjoyed doing these songs and it is perhaps the strength of this project.
We saw him again at the photo shoot for the album and it was absolutely hilarious. Next step will be on stage and on tour. We’ll keep you posted.
5. How did the Lee Perry project get started? Who’s idea was it?
Last winter in the studio. I recalled that there was not much work. We were motivated by the recent meeting with Adrian Sherwood which showed us that everything was finally possible. A few recorded riddims, a motivated team, a couple of phone calls from our manager and there it was..
Honestly, i had this project in my heart for a very long time. Lee Perry is an icon to me, and i’ve been listening to his records since i can remember. I knew that sooner or later i would attempt this project. And that time came, just the perfect time.
6. Discuss what the album will sound like, that is always the unknown with Lee Perry. What does he bring to this project?
The idea was to stick to the Black Ark Studio’s sound as much as possible. A root sound with effective riddims. We voluntarily left a tiny amount of digital and that’s why all of the drums parts were done by Electric Rabbit. To be clearer, this album is very organic: no dancehall !
Lee Perry invested himself fully on this album. He used his sense of humour, his rage, his passion with so much emotion. We have 2 songs: Diplomat & Aristocrat which are emotionally powerful that it can be hard sometimes to play them without being overflowed. His voice is a fully fledge instrument and his groove is unbelievable.
7. Does Perry produce any of the tracks? Is he still making riddims?
Lee Perry did not produce any tracks at all , nonetheless 2 songs are his which we remixed. There was “Blackboard Jungle” which we renamed “4th Dimension” and “Shuffle” whom Lee wrote for Bob Marley and originally called “Rebel’s Hope”.
All the others tracks were composed and recorded by ERM at the Studio Grenat in Strasbourg.
8. I recently spoke with Perry on tour with Subatomic Sound System and Dubblestandart. Are there plans to tour behind this album? If so, just in Europe or the states also?
Yes, indeed. The tour will begin at the end of the year in Europe. Our booking agents (ITB & Reggae News) are actually dealing with the details for next year. Europe and the US are definitely on the cards !
The best to follow our news is to stay connected on our website www.easyriddimmaker.com and our Facebook www.facebook.com/easyriddimmaker.
9. Are you working on anything right now that we should look for?
ERM is working on several projects at the same time. Apart from the Bim sherman’s tribute, we are also working on a french roots reggae album which sounds a bit like Serge Gainsbourg. We also have another Pop-Rock album in the pipeline, not to forget all of the other musical projects that we are involved with.