Valentine’s Day has passed and so did it’s blues. But the blues don’t always have to be lonesome harp playing and bottleneck moaning. Over the last couple of weeks, I sat down with Frenchie and found out how a little boy from a small town in France became one of the leading phenomena in blues music today.
Kevin Sciou AKA Frenchie is the latest breed of Blues aficionados this century had bought us, Born and raised in southern France in 1980, grew up listening to his dad’s old records consisting of early Chess and British Blues innovation.
His obsession with the guitar started from a very young age when he was first exposed to sounds of Country Blues unique guitar picking. The leading figures of the genre were the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, LeadBelly, Blind Willie Johnson to name a few. Once he was introduced to the genre there was nothing that could hold him back and follow the footsteps of his hero’s.
At the age of 19, he became a guitar advocate whose style is certainly versatile from Rock, Blues, country and Americana. Traveling throughout the states while playing and recording with the likes of Shooter Jennings and sometime Bekka Bramlett who often collaborates on his solo work as well as scoring a position with Country’s current national treasure Jack Ingram in Nashville early 2010, that’s also where he officially started using his infamous nickname Frenchie. When asked about the story behind the name he said, “That’s what Americans call French people “Frenchie’s!” but not until I started playing with Jack Ingram that it stuck around. Jack would introduce me to people as Frenchie and I never bothered correcting him! Plus it’s easier to remember than Kevin.”
Co- Founding “Redneck Social Club” with his former Stragunn bandmate that was said to be “As if LMFAO meeting Johnny Cash.” The band is a fusion of Honky Tonk mixed with hip-hop together, the type of music they produce is often referenced as Hick/ Hop.
Devoting most of his time playing live around southern parts in the US and recording when finding a chance. He is pretty much a busy man, to say the least. Right now Frenchie is releasing an EP with his Blues Destroys called “Up Yer Booatch” via Noisetrade website.
(For more information the link to his work is posted down below.)
So when asked to whether I can run a piece about him, he humbly accepted. Kevin AKA Frenchie has been such a kind soul by sharing some of his time to sit down and a have a conversation about his career in music, growing up and his own personal insight on the blues. So Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of Richmond University, I present to you Kevin Sciou AKA Frenchie
RT: First things first, Thank you so much for doing this, I’m super excited to have an opportunity to sit down and talk to a fellow blues enthusiast.
Shall we begin?
Can you please start by introducing yourself?
KS: My name is Kevin Sciou aka “Frenchie,” and I was born in Southern France (Nimes to be more precise), in 1980.
I moved to America (Los Angeles) in 2001 with nothing but my guitar, a change of clothes and $200 in my pockets. My dream was to hopefully get something going, like joining a band, and start a career in the United States! America is the birthplace of The Blues and Rock ‘N’ Roll music genres that I was so dearly passionate about. Luck turn my way when I met Shooter Jennings (son of Waylon Jennings) and got offered a position in his band (called Stargunn) as their lead guitar player! This was my opportunity to get things started. I have since become an American Citizen and currently reside in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Stargunn lasted two years before parting ways and I have since enjoyed a fruitful career as a prominent “Hired Gun” for different artists (ranging from Rock to Country to Blues/Red Dirt). I’ve lived in Texas, Tennessee, and traveled all over the continental U.S. many times over.
Throughout my American career I’ve never stayed too distant from my main love, THE BLUES.
My current project is called “Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers” which consists of myself on Vocals/Guitar and my friend Brother Pete, on drums. I write all the songs & we mainly tour the Texas/Oklahoma scene for now…
RT: I love how you narrated your life in couple of paragraphs, amazing! Now tell me a little bit about your childhood in France, how vibrant was the music back home and school? How was the playground like? Where there any hip albums that everyone extensively talked about.
KS: Yep! My childhood in France was pretty typical besides the fact that music was a big component of the family life at home, and it eventually seeped into every aspect of my young life as well. My dad is a product of the sixties and he, himself, grew up with the music of the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Animals just to name a few and also a plethora of other English/American bands that derived from the Blues Boom scene of that era. What made a difference for me is that he dug deep to find out who wrote what and discovered the real Black American Blues that had inspired the bands he loved! So by the time I was born, he had an extensive collection of records (a couple thousand), and taught me the origins of the music I was listening to. I started playing guitar when I was twelve (circa ’92), and at the time there was a Blues Revival that was sweeping across France, thanks to the success of guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn. I attended a lot of Blues Festivals. A lot of bars also had cover bands and by age thirteen I was playing pretty much every weekend!
As far as in school, all my friends were into rock bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses, Soundgarden and whatever was popular at the time in High School! I loved it too but I kept the Blues for myself mostly…
RT: Playing in bars by the age of 13 that must’ve been surreal and probably had a huge impact towards your career today. Speaking of playing young in bars, are you familiar with Gary Clark Jr early days? He would go out and play gigs at night with an X on his hand to prevent bar tenders from serving him drinks. It leaped into my mind when you said playing bars at that age,
KS: Very familiar with Gary Clark Jr. indeed! And yeah in America, you gotta be 21 to drink. They don’t mess around with it either!
RT: Fast forward back why the hell did you keep The Blues to yourself?
KS: The truth about “keeping it to myself” is only because I only stayed in High School for a year, before dropping out! Haha. I was more of a recluse since I’d skip classes to go practice guitar… didn’t have time for casual chats, I was on a mission!
RT: Now we know a little bit about your childhood and musical. Let’s talk about moving to LA and a subject to be in a band and meeting Shooter Jennings.
KS: So my meeting with Shooter back in L.A. is quite unique. I was living in a Hostel on Hollywood Blvd and I found myself one night at an after party that I stumbled upon. There was a jam session happening with local musicians and I got up on stage to play (an Allman Brothers tune). Shooter’s drummer happened to be present in the room and approached me afterwards and introduced himself…
To make a long story short, they were looking for a guitar player and I happened to be at the right place at the right time. Shooter came out to meet me (must’ve been about 4AM at that point), and we clicked right away! I got the gig that night and it was a game changer for me. And it all happened just a month after my arrival in the States.
RT: So within a month of your arrival to LA in 2001 Rock was the leading phenomena at that stage with clubs such as the Viper room hosting numerous of acts including alterative rock/ folk if you like Elliot Smith. So the crowd was pretty much segregated at that stage. So life in the Blvd was?.
KS: Yeah we would play the Viper Room (even scoring a residency there), The Whisky A Go-Go, as well as the Key Club. Life in Hollywood as you can Imagine was getting wild when you think that I was now in a popular L.A. Rock band and barely old enough to legally drink! I had a fake Driver’s License though to get in the clubs…
As far as giving you details, I’ll let people work their imagination!
RT: During your course with Stargunn you met Shooter’s father who is an “Outlaw Troubadour” as I like to call him Waylon Jennings. In what I have read online of your experience meeting Waylon you said, “He gave me the confidence to do what I’m doing today” were there days of “this isn’t going anywhere I don’t think I can do this anymore? And being in a very competitive atmosphere was your encounter with the musician boosted your level of confidence as you mentioned?
KS: Well Yeah, Meeting Waylon was a life changing experience and gave me the confidence to do what I do. I did have my highs and lows over the years but we all do, right (Women, Money etc…) But music was always a constant for me. And whether I was playing on a big stage or in a small club, playing guitar always brought me joy… that’s why I’ve always been able to sustain throughout the years. And life in America is just plain crazy at times, trust me!
RT: The drummer you refereed to who introduced you to Shooter is Lex am I right? After the band disbanded you both ended up forming a band that is “Redneck social club” I can’t get over the name, how the hell did that come up?
KS: Yes his name is Lex! We both reunited in Nashville in 2010. That’s when we started the “Redneck Social Club.”
It began as a side project for us to have fun. Drinking and writing music when I was not touring on the road!
The goal was to get songs cut by other artists. Lex was working as an Artist Rep for a label called “Average Joes’ Ent.” and they were specializing in the Hip-Hop/Country genre, also referred as “Hick Hop.” Their biggest artist was a guy named Colt Ford and when we offered him some of the songs we wrote (fully produced), the label freaked out and offered us a record deal instead!
So what started out as “Fucking around” type of project eventually turned into a legitimate deal!
As for the name, Lex came up with it. He’s born & raised in Texas; thus making a Redneck! We just added the social club part, had a good ring to it.
RT: Now at that time in Nashville, you were touring with Jack Ingram? Now that’s a completely different approach to what you were doing. Initially, which was blues/rock then Americana. Was the experience any different from where you set of from? Then again the genre is not far off the blues either rock it’s basically Roots music. But how was the experience like? What were the challenges if there were any?
KS: Yes I was touring with Jack then.
The thing about my career is that more often than not, I had to take what I could when I could. So when Stargunn was over, either I was going home to France or I kept going. I decided on the latter. But I didn’t have the luxury to take my time and wait for the right gigs because of my immigration status. I was for years under the work visa program, before I eventually got my green card (leading to my citizenship).
If I was without a job when it was time to renew my paperwork’s, it was a one-way ticket guaranteed back to France! So the road and the opportunities it brought, dictated my choices in my music career… talk about having the Blues!
RT: I’m glad you got what you wanted at the end. Patience is key as I always say. Now throughout this whole conversation your emphasis on the guitar, how it helped you shape your career is quite undeniable and I love that. With your past experiences in the music business working with different musicians in the industry bought out so much where it lead me towards your work, that is “Table Scraps Vol.1 and 2” Whenever there is an opportunity to talk about music especially the blues, I would say if you want Prog vocals mixed with proper country blues picking then Frenchie is your man
KS: Yes, great description of my style!
RT: So what is the blues to you?
KS: The Blues to me is more than just the musical form in itself. The Blues is the life that we all lead, whether we are music inclined or not! It’s the hardships of life (Women, Job, Money etc..) but also the happy moments in life.
But In my particular case, I found the music!
And through the Blues art form, I found a way to feel something, in a way that only this music can do. It gave meaning to my life early on, and brought me on this crazy journey of mine, all the way to the roots of it all…
The American South!
And whether I will play Country or Rock or any other genre for a living,
The Blues is where my heart is.
RT: Beautifully illustrated, but how does the future of the blues look like in your point of view? Considering the vastly never-ending evolvement of music throughout the years? Do you think people will still pick up an instrument and play Robert Johnson?
KS: Well, I think that The Blues is here to stay. Is it gonna be a mainstream form of music? Well probably not. But then again, that’s not the point.
And yes I believe that right now, there’s a twelve year old somewhere in the world discovering Robert Johnson like I did when I was twelve, you know? Maybe through Spotify or on YouTube.. Even maybe through a friend who knows about it! And whether this kid lives in Texas or in Southern France (wink wink), there will be future generations to carry the torch, we have no other option but to believe it!
Now let me sum up this conversation; we briefly talked about your childhood and early upbringing alongside your musical influences. Later on, the conversation led us down towards you impressive career in the industry and finally thoughts on the blues as whole? Did I manage to forget something?
KS: I think so! Unless you have more questions..
PS: I’ll be releasing a 5 song EP on Noisetrade in a few weeks.
RT: Wonderful, Thank you so much for your time and patience it’s been a long conversation, a very good long one actually and really looking forward for your release!
Any last words you’d like to share before we conclude the interview?
KS: My last words would be to always believe in yourself and pursue your dreams no matter what others say…
Life’s too short!
For more information about Frenchie’s work visit Noisetrade website: http://noisetrade.com/frenchieblues
And finally catch up Frenchie with his latest ventures on Instagram at @Frenchieblues