Oh dear Lord, the good old days…You might have heard people calling it French House while others would call it tech funk or even filter house. These terms are probably familiar to you but the most popular one is French Touch.
« We give a French touch to house »
It was the slogan printed on the back of a jacket created in the 90’s by Éric Morand for the Fnac label. British journalists popularized the term and contributed to the spread of the movement.
This French house of the late 90’s early 2000’s, remains a sound that holds a certain cliché to it.
In quick words, French House is made with a good disco tempo, a slight sad vocal gimmick, usually, a black female voice that repeats the same phrase throughout the track, as well as filters. Lots of filters.
A brief history:
Laurent Garnier, Motorbass or Cassius, those are names that should mean something to you and probably heard of. That is because, from New York to Tokyo, from Milan to London, they made the world dance and were on the front page of magazines. French rock has never really managed to get out of its borders, but it’s in the late 90’s- that the DJ’s and house producers started to breakthrough.
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Philippe Cerboneschi “Zdar” composed with Hubert Blanc-Francard “Boom Bass”. They became the inevitable Cassius duo but also became a household name in the French electronic music scene as soon as their debut album came out. Mixing hip-hop, house and funk.
Two sparkling helmets, no eyes to look at and barely a metallic hand to shake…More than a band, Daft Punk is a concept: a pair of robots that have been reigning over electronic music for more than 20 years.
In the early 90’s, the two accomplices, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel formed their first group. Advised by Daniel Vangarde, Bangalter’s father of Bangalter, Darlin’ (the name of the group at that time) released their first record. It is in the legendary bible of the music press, Melody Maker, that a journalist refers to this first record, and qualifies their music as “daft punky trash”. The name is found, the legend is on the march.
By 2005, the sound of French Touch had been watered down by mainstream pop and hits such as “Confessions On A Dance Floor” by Madonna were ruling the era. For the pioneers, the golden age was well and truly over.
“I remember going to a record store, listening to 200 records, and all of them were shit,” Recalls Zdar. “French Touch became a recipe, and it got too easy – just like punk.”
That being said, legends remained, Daft Punk are still in shape (even though their last productions were released on 2013), successors such as Justice and Breakbot have managed to restore the French reputation, and labels such as Ed Banger, make sure that things keep moving forward. But those are just a few names who made the French House scene one of the most prolific hot spots in the world. DJ Mehdi, Bob Sinclair, Busy P, Simian Mobile Disco, Digitalism…The list is long. They were all part of that second generation that hatched the world.
The rise of the new school.
The next French House generation.
The tender age of French Touch may have gone, but it surely left an enduring imprint in today’s music generation. It’s time for the rise of a new generation, more digital, savvier, with great access to production tools, to digital distribution and self-promotion that has led France to a new wave of House Music fever. From independent record labels, to music collectives, music events or DJ’s and producers; everyone is demonstrating that the French house scene is surfing the wave again.
The French Touch sound got a port side blow and was capsizing. But them French garçons don´t seem to rush ahead to find the next formula to make them feel noticed. Plenty of young producers have emerged in France. At the forefront, a bunch of them seem to work magic in what they do.
Part of the recent renaissance of young French House producers is Folamour, an artist with a deep love for all music. His passion is demonstrated across the many edits, remixes and original records he produces, and his recognition along the international scene has become a reality and his name is one of the most wanted performances for festival acts.
Bellaire for example, represents the brand new generation that we love, full of energy and most importantly with the goal to replenish house music. This French talent has been producing sound for quite a while and he’s been reaching ridiculous numbers on the streaming platforms. (Over 6 million hits on YouTube for his track Paris City Jazz)
“I started the Bellaire project about 3 years ago, it’s very close to my heart! The event that initiated my launching was the release of the track “Paris City Jazz”.”
Singer and producer from Paris, Larry Houl is another musical nugget from our generation. Also a DJ, his musical selection varies between house, disco, funk, jazz & soul. Since its creation, Larry Houl has been producing via SVO and under his own name. In 2016, he released his first songs including “Acid Berber”(D.KO Records), followed by “Objectif Andromède” in 2017 with its label UnderGroove Records. In 2020 he arrived to theBasement Discos with a brilliant EP who called the attention of Mixmag, who uploaded one of the tracks to its YouTube channel.
Also from the capital of France, we have Martin Alix. This young producer’s music is much influenced by the French Touch era. His love for house disco can be shown and for sure brings an uplifted and joyful atmosphere to the dancefloor. His previous productions have been released by Nervous Records and Eton Messy, and he recently debuted in theBasement Discos with three magic groovy bombs in a way every clubber desires.
Another one to look for is Lyon-based producer and DJ Mangabey. Someone driven since childhood by a growing passion for jazz and African-American music, he’s been distilling his groovy house for several years all over the world, with amazing releases in some of the top notch record labels in the scene like Toy Tonics, Boussole Records, Sundries or Apparel Wax.
French Touch had its time but is still showing through todays’ incredible artists which are claiming their part of attention through their music. Names like Le Hutin or Vitess are gaining popularity due to his high quality productions. Others like Crowd Control, Maxye, Majuscule, Deborah Aime La Bagarre, Wikett, Zeleke, Willowman, LOG, Kamêon, Tomaas All or Le Bon Groove keep raising the French levels up due to their constant releases in record labels around the globe. But also record labels are screaming to be recognized while keeping the French sounds emerging. Just to name a few that deserve a shout out are Happiness Therapy, Pont Neuf Records, De La Groove, D.KO Records, Imported Recordings, Boussole Records, Cracki Records, Egregore Collective or Le Bon Son Records, whose amazing underground essence is keeping the French Touch alive, despite the passage of time.
theBasement’s radar has been beeping at this flourishing new music scene, and it will not stop staring at the exciting French wave that is taking place at the moment. Good energies, great music, and amazing talent united in this exact moment of time. Good job y’all!
French Touch had its time but it still looks in shape. Vive la France!