No Mercy singer Marty Cintron on Europop producer Frank Farian and why we love '90s pop

The US singer will appear in a new documentary about the German producer

A documentary series about pop music producer Frank Farian is in the works, according to one of his proteges.

Speaking to The National before a Dubai Opera concert on Friday, Marty Cintron, lead singer and sole member of former Europop trio No Mercy, says he will appear in the series that examines Farian’s Midas touch over his four-decade career.

"Not many people today really know who Frank is and what he achieved in the industry. It's pretty crazy how much he did," says Cintron.

"It's made by a production company based in Germany and it will be a six-part series which will really go into his work. I will probably be on it because Frank wants me to and a few other acts he worked with."

Farian, 80, will have a lot of options to draw from.

After failing to make his mark as a solo act in the 1960s, he did the next best thing and recorded hits and promoted them by hiring musicians for public performances.

This was how Boney M and Milli Vanilli were formed and ruled the charts through the 1970s and 1980s.

Farian wrote, produced and, in many cases, sung a majority of the tracks while the hired help did the song and dance routine on stage.

While such a move proved relatively successful for the performing artists, it wasn't so for Milli Vanilli.

In what remains one of the most ruthless acts in pop music, Farian chose to publicly out the duo, made up of performers and professional dancers Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, as lip synchers – thus ending the group in scandal – rather than give in to demands for them to sing on future albums.

Cintron’s contributions to the series will focus on the next phase of Farian’s career, when he helped lead the 1990s Europop scene by creating and producing hit groups such as La Bouche, Le Click, Eruption and No Mercy.

The No Mercy formula

Where La Bouche and Le Click anthems Sweet Dreams and Call Me subscribed to Farian’s vision of layering soulful vocals over tightly coiled dance beats and surging synths, No Mercy was where the maestro recorded his most organic sounds.

This was thanks to Cintron, whose parents migrated to the US from Cuba, being an accomplished flamenco guitar player.

“I first met Frank in Miami in 1992 before the band started and back then I was a big fan of the Spanish guitar,” Cintron recalls.

“At the time, I was hanging out with the Gipsy Kings before they really exploded on the scene and they showed me all these guitar techniques. I went on to infuse that into the No Mercy sound.”

While Cintron was a key player in the recording sessions, Farian was in charge of proceedings.

"The thing with Frank is that he was formerly a cook before he started singing and that's how he approaches the studio in that he has his hand in everything," Cintron explains.

"He is hands-on in the console, he does the songwriting, the lead and background vocals and the mixing.

“But at the same time, he also leaves us in the studio to kind of finish the song or for us to come up with something new which he would then go on to rearrange."

That approach is responsible for Cintron putting his mark on No Mercy’s biggest hits Where Do You Go and Kiss You All Over, which features his sensual guitar flutter over the euphoric dance production.

“It is a formula that went on to work,” he says.

“It also, I feel, helped bring a bit of the Latin sound to a new audience and I feel we played our part in that before Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez and now Maluma took it into a cool new direction."

A happy career

While Cintron may have not achieved the relative commercial heights of those names, he is content with his enduring career.

“It’s not that there is a revival of '90s pop music, it has always been there,” he says.

“Before Covid, I have been touring non-stop and I recently played a show in Budapest, Hungary. And in all these shows I just see people smiling and really enjoying the happiness the music from that era really embodied.

“I look forward to sharing those happy moments now with all of you in Dubai.”

No Mercy performs at Dubai Opera on Friday, September 10. Concert begins at 9pm; tickets from Dh195 at dubaiopera.com

Updated: September 6th 2021, 1:20 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one