Frederick Roussel is a singer, songwriter and producer. His musical style is somewhere between Outlaw Country, Hip Hop and rock n' roll. Some of his protest songs are speaking out about a range of contemporary issues such as the war in Iraq, and attitudes expressed by different sides of the political spectrum. Most of his songs are written from the point of view of a character or group of characters and sometimes contain irony or uses of sarcasm in order to emphasise a certain point. His influences include Leonard Cohen, The Doors, David Bowie, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan as well as in general Hip Hop music in particular West Coast.
His official entry in the world's music scene initially began at the end of 2008 with the song Nuclear Man about the then president George Bush and the war in Iraq as well as the war on terrorism itself. Some of his music is available for download, please watch this space for further info.
What follows is a description of some of his songs.
Faith In The Justice System has an upbeat, dance tempo, and features the recurring line “I got some faith in the justice system”. Faith In The Justice System protests against the inequality of opportunity individuals are offered, and suggests that a powerful elite is able to resist being punished or prosecuted for a crime, due to corruption within the system.The song is told from the perspective of one such rich criminal, played by Frederick Roussel. .
20 Gigabiters protests the corruption and greed of some computer companies and technology companies, online companies, online services, mechanical instrument companies, and companies who claim someone needs to upgrade their equipment or software. This is not always strictly necessary, and instead is used by companies in order to make more money out of someone whom would otherwise be fine without paying for something additional to what they already own. The song is also a protest against the wide-spread idea that buying expensive computers will improve an individual’s creativity. Musicians who can’t afford expensive equipment are often forced to be resourceful and this can result in something more original than something produced with excessive equipment.
The line “I can’t keep up, I can’t keep up” is repeated to show the feelings of one consumer who cannot cope with the demand of technology companies and trends who keep telling him he must upgrade, he must be up to date, he must be “now” when he is still “then”. The song has a hip hop feel and the bassline is very prominent throughout.
The song is minimalist in production, which reflects upon the subject matter of the lyrics.
State Control protests against certain types of governments which try to manipulate society into functioning like a machine. It is told from the perspective of a working-classed taxi driver who decides that even though he is poor, he is fed up of certain people blaming the rich, when he has seen some governments act in a way which is extremely corrupt, using the same tax money to fund surveillance operations, build large data-bases and act in an intimidating manner towards its citizens, attempting to police people’s every move. The song was inspired by the activities of the government in Great Britain, during the mid to late 2000s. State Control also protests state corruption and a person having to deal with the state wherever a person goes. The song has a pop-rock feel and sounds in part like David Bowie.
Wrap This Up protests against the attitudes police have towards people who have been killed, and whom they regard as a statistic. The line "let's wrap this up now baby" refers to the dead body. The song is told from the perspective of a corrupt policeman, who may or may not be involved in the killing of the people he "discovers" are dead. The song also has other characters such as the news reporter who illegally taps somebody's phone.
McPeace is a protest against war, in particular the war in Iraq which has been widely condemned and criticized by both the left and the right of the political spectrum particularly in Europe and America where the war was strongly promoted and supported by politicians.
The song has a country feel, and consists of an acoustic guitar and many different voices, some high pitched, some male, some female and some baritone, all performed by Frederick Roussel. The song has the tone and feel of an old slave song, with a repeated chorus and verse.
Republican Convention Speech is a speech delivered from the perspective of an old Republican politician who is trying to speak to a group of youths about what could happen should they overturn the system. He starts out by dismissing their concerns for the poor and begins to pick apart their arguments using his humor and wit, but as the rant goes on it becomes apparent that he too is flawed and lacking in sense. The song combines rap with country music and consists of a rhythmic acoustic guitar with a slight reverb effect on it and a country singer / rapper / political speaker, performed in one take by Frederick Roussel. The song has a combination of spoken word and sung phrases.
Nixon Freestyle is about the Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy debate of 1960 which won Kennedy his presidency, but which embittered Nixon, who would come to power later. The piece, which was fully improvised, has Frederick being both parts and switching back to Nixon once JFK is killed.
The song suggests that the mafia had helped elect Kennedy and that perhaps Nixon had been jealous and wanted Kennedy to disappear. The performance was unplanned and Frederick was improvising throughout. The song consists of a rhythmic acoustic guitar which sounds brooding and hypnotic and bounces slightly, while Frederick displays considerable vocal ability and intelligence, being able to choose the right words and rhyme perfectly, sometimes saying something which produces the next line and so on. Few singers in contemporary popular music, particularly the current top 10, have such an ability and mostly rely on an over-produced, mechanized sound. This is an example of music in the moment, as opposed to music set in stone and rehearsed prior to the recording session. The song also mentions the fact that James Brown the popular musician labeled the ”Godfather of Soul” had voted for and supported Richard Nixon.
Soldier’s Revenge is about a soldier who decides to go and pay his local politician a visit, but who comes wearing his uniform and is hoping to have a duel. The politician who is playing golf decides to challenge the soldier, and then the politician tries to persuade him and argue against any dissent. The song is at first told from the soldier’s point of view and then switches to the point of view of the politician, implying perhaps that the politician’s cunning and charm has won over the otherwise bloodthirsty soldier. The line ” You all think you’re civilized but I can’t stand your civil lies” refers to the way veterans are treated sometimes by society, after they face extreme conflict, and how unhappy they feel about their new found “civilized” existence. The soldier has had to face horrors that the politician has never had to face, and people in society are shocked that the soldier finds it hard to pretend he has never had to be in such a situation.
The song fuses Country with Hip-Hop drums, and has a strong feel of rhythm where the vocal mixes with the beat and goes double-time as the song progresses.
Mafia Freestyle is about the Italian American mafia’s rumored involvement in behind the scenes of certain motion pictures, its rumored hijacking of trade unions, and how the mafia is rumored to have orchestrated various entertainments and how it has been rumored to make various political moves in secret in order to create and sustain romantic myths about its nature. The song was improvised and has Frederick singing and rapping simultaneously to a 1980s style hip hop / disco beat, which sounds like it was created during the early 1980s’ transformative era from electo orientated disco music into the beginnings of hip hop.
The Night Club protests the culture of post-disco music which in turn inspired the current wave of dance music celebrating material wealth and fame as well as the celebrity culture of celebrating people who are famous without a specific achievement to their name. The people involved in this culture and musical art form and trend can be seen to reject any sense of social responsibility or political thinking, for a life of endless partying and celebration for its own sake, which in a war-time context, can be seen to be selfish, and irresponsible. The song also protests the idea of ignoring politics in a time where great social injustice is taking place. Artists of the 1960s were very political, whereas mainstream pop of the 2000s focuses mainly on material excess or personal life issues such as dating or depression.
The song also suggests that the youth are deceived by music industry executives and club owners who would rather they were not educated about anything beyond the surface value of something and instead choose to bombard them with what can be seen to be superficial marketing schemes.
The song is a combination of disco music itself, latin music and brooding atmospheric acoustic guitar led rock. The song is performed in the style of a pop artist such as Britney Spears but juxtaposes this style with something darker in order to make its point lyrically and musically.
Frederick Roussel usually combines music and words in order to express a point of view with both the instrumentation and the vocal style of delivery.
20 Dollars protests the Iraq war and communicates the sentiments of some protesters who feel so strongly and so hurt that they see the oil as nothing more than the blood of the people who live in Iraq being sacrificed in exchange. The comment “20 dollars a barrel” was something which powerful media owner Rupert Murdoch stated about the war on Iraq -he said that the best thing to come of it would be “20 dollars a barrel”, despite perpetuating the now apparent myth that “weapons of mass destruction” were the true reason to invade the country.
The song is fast and is sang in an r&b pop fashion, consisting of a first singer who then morphs into another character both performed by the vocally diverse Frederick Roussel. The second singer sounds like a man from the jazz age, or somebody on Fox News reading a broadcast out to people. Frederick combines humor with a strong subject matter in order to help listeners who would otherwise find it difficult to understand or confront, as he does in many of his songs.
Golden Goose consists of a group of tea-party activists and anti-tax protesters saying that “my golden goose” (my business, or service or industry) “doesn’t lay taxes” or “national health” or “welfare programs”. This refers to the reactionary right-wing opinion of Obama’s high taxing of people who earn over a certain amount, and the tea-party movement which sprang up soon after his initial election. The voices in the song are of people who are singing the same thing in a group protest situation. The song combines black comedy with dark country down-beat hip hop style music which suggests a degree of horror or unease.
A**Hole is a humorous satire on someone becoming famous and becoming obnoxious. The song features a loud banging crunching snare drum and beat which accompanies a singular guitar and vocal.
Abortion Song argues that abortion isn't necessarily a positive choice, and that human beings are worth bringing into the world. It is also a protest against the culture of pornography and "slut" phenomenon of recent years whereby female performers and role models decide to use sexually explicit acts in order to sell music. The song is critical of these same women who consider themselves to be standing up for women's rights. The song states that abortion is not an issue of religion or of women's rights, but is to do with nature.
Spy On Me is about surveillance, and the Patriot Act which was used often as an excuse to spy on innocent citizens. It protests against what many see as the big brother state mentality of certain Western governments who then accuse Islamic countries of being “unfree”.
The song sounds like an Indian snake charmer song, consisting of a high pitched Frederick Roussel singing “Spy on me / Baby put a wire on me”. The song is an interlude and is not one of the more prominent ones on the McPeace album.
You Little Bully is about an individual who has spoken out against an injustice being attacked by the establishment. Sometimes individuals can be unfairly criticized by powerful organizations and media outlets due to their bringing to light something which may harm the reputation of their business or cause. The song features a slow New York hip hop style beat and wah wah effect guitar, which is cut occasionally in order to signify the start of the chorus.
The song has a rhythm and feel common in reggae, though here the production is muddy and more rugged.
Civil Wrongs is about the powerful figures within the American business community during the time of Richard Nixon’s presidency, some of whom criticized the civil rights movement. The song is told from the perspective of one such individual who has been rendered far less powerful than he was before the civil rights movement came into being. The song fuses country with hip hop and features a sample of Frederick’s voice from Nixon Freestyle, impersonating John F Kennedy. This time it has been “scratched” and is repeated over the beginning of the track before the verse begins.
Arabian Knights is about some US soldiers who are going into Iraq and encountering the culture, and concerns the clash between 2 civilizations. The soldiers are showing off and being macho and trying to assert their authority over people who have a completely different way of life. The song is sung from the perspective of some soldiers played by Frederick Roussel. Half the song was improvised in the moment, and the song was produced in a way that does not try to cover up any mistakes or over-produce it into a mechanized product. This is intentional, showing instead the power of improvisation and intuitive music making, which does not play a major part in modern contemporary popular music any more. The production of the song includes sounds which sound like a military radio, so as to present the atmosphere of a soldier covered Middle Eastern desert.
Global Scare is about the widespread panic and paranoia surrounding the global warming debate, with some people denying the existence of such a thing and others creating propaganda which attempts to try to convince citizens to support work in order to stop what they argue is man made climate change.
The song is really a one line joke in the form of a Scottish singer pitched up high, and singing in an old fashioned traditional folk way warning of the global warming coming to “blow your house away”. The song is a protest against the spreading of hysteria surrounding a public issue, which can do more harm than good, despite its original intentions to stop the effects of climate change.
Automobilio is about an old corrupt politician driving around being wild and reckless. The song wasimprovised. Musically the song resembles a rock n’ roll country based song but has lyrical qualities of a hip hop song with a consistent beat and continuous looped guitar which rolls, much like an automobile itself. The song begins with Frederick in character singing as an old man, but during the song Frederick Roussel becomes several characters, morphing out of character and then back to being this corrupt politician character. The song is something which becomes more than one song as it changes, all due to Frederick Roussel’s creating a new chorus or verse before developing the song live into something else. The song was performed in one take live without any lyrics, a considerable achievement given it lasts over 5 minutes long.
Speed Racer is about the relationship between driving and youthful rebellion. It refers to the frustration of being young and wanting to rebel against a life of boredom and conformity to social norms.
Cut Out Your Tongue is a protest against attacks on free speech by undemocratic regimes. The song consists of one line “cut out your tongue” which is chanted over a hypnotic rhythmic drum break. The song has similarities with British Dance group Massive Attack.
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