There’s something happening in France right now. You could call it a revolution. After a slight lull in innovation from a country renowned for pioneering electrifying dance music, all signs are once again pointing toward Paris. Thanks to a clutch of record labels that are cultivating world-beating artists, the French are back with a vengeance.
One of the figureheads of the new French wave is Brodinski, whose Bromance label is causing a real storm across dance music. “Without sounding arrogant,” he reckons, “I think France is on fire right now. I'm really happy to see so much energy in my country.”
We’re happy to see that energy too. Cast your mind back some six years and you’ll remember that the music smashing dancefloors everywhere was coming straight from France. Ed Banger was at a peak and Justice were conquering the world. Not only that, but Daft Punk had released their seminal ‘Alive 2007’ album. The country was revered across the globe. But as the electro explosion ran out of gas, people moved on and France started to fade.
“I think French labels are mostly overlooked and slept on nowadays,” says Teki Latex, head of Sound Pellegrino. “Except for maybe a few very recent exceptions, it's hard for a French artist or label to get attention from foreign press and when we do, it's often through the prism of the first two generations of French Touch. It's hard for foreign journalists not to compare us right away with filtered house or electro, even though it's really not the sound that's coming out of the French underground nowadays.”
Labels like Teki’s Sound Pellegrino and Brodinski’s Bromance are bringing France out of the shadow cast by Daft Punk and Justice and are heralding a new generation of artists and ravers dedicated to breaking down barriers.
The current breed are dropping the most eclectic mix of dance music the country has ever seen. Join us as we look through the labels that are leading the new French wave.
Brodinski may have been tearing things up for a while now but his fledgling label Bromance is still a newbie on the scene. This doesn’t mean that it’s still in the building process, far from it. The label has progressed leaps and bounds since the first EP, which included tracks by the man himself and best pal Gesaffelstein. Bromance’s hard hitting techno, joyously mischievous electro and modernist trap and electronica is something that’s pushing the label and its artists firmly into the limelight. Brodinski, Gesaffelstein and Club Cheval have made such an impression that they have just been snapped up by EMI France and they’ll all be releasing debut albums through the imprint. Label parties worldwide are always a sell-out and with the likes of Louisahhh!!!, Monsieur Monsieur, Jacques Lu Cont and Kaytranada all releasing top notch EPs, their vision knows no bounds. With sub-label Bromance US recently conceived, their world domination is now in full swing.
Party Fine is a label you may not be totally familiar with but one that, with time, will blossom into something beautiful. Its founder is Yuksek, who needs no introduction. A staple of the French music scene over the last ten years, Pierre Alexander Busson has finally turned his eye to label management after years of successful releases and collaborations. Only two releases deep, the label is already starting to establish itself with a blend of indie and electro music, featuring releases by Yuksek, The Magician and remixes courtesy of Sam Tiba and Get A Room. Although not strictly electronic music, Party Fine’s policy is based around its title. To provide great party tunes for a new generation of ravers.
Conceived by Teki Latex and Orgasmic back in 2009, Sound Pellegrino has always strived to put out a well thought out blend of house, techno, bass and everything in between. As true purveyors of forward-thinking dance music, this label is perhaps the most ambitious of the bunch. The label has garnered releases from artists such as L-Vis 1990, Para One, G.Vump and Bok Bok and its status is only growing. The music policy merges scenes and genres to create something truly unique, as explained by Teki Latex: “It's the act of curation that helps create tying all these different artists and different sounds together to make the Sound Pellegrino vibe. As far as mission statements go, Sound Pellegrino is about building bridges between scenes and generations of electronic music.” With a brand new compilation packed full of innovative and intelligent records by some of underground dance music’s big dogs, it’s easy to see why Sound Pellegrino has gained such a strong reputation so quickly.
The brainchild of three truly talented Frenchmen, Marble started out off the back of another French label, Institubes. Once it closed due to the music industry pressures and declining record sales, Surkin, Bobmo and Para One, three of the labels stalwarts, left to start a new venture. Marble was born and in its relatively short lifespan it’s released some stunning albums and EPs. Other than the three main men, Canblaster, Das Glow, Feadz, MYD and Sam Tiba have all had records out on the imprint and like it’s predecessor, the music policy is not tailored to one sound. As its website says: “We champion challenging musical projects as much as abrasive and universal examples of beautifully-crafted mass music.” and with that in mind, a summer relaunch and new compilation on the horizon, Marble is another Parisian label making serious waves.
Some of the most interesting and diverse music to come out of France within the last few years has come from ClekClekBoom. Originally started in 2007 by Ministre X and The Boo, the label was an outlet for ‘Brazilian Baile Funk king’ DJ Sandrinho and it wasn’t until 2011 that the imprint restructured to released from other artists. Here we welcome in the likes of French Fries, Bambounou, Coni and Sana and this is where things hot up. A fortnightly ‘Boomcast’ showcases mixes from the biggest DJs in the world such as Claude VonStroke, Dark Sky and Scratcha DVA and bass inspired ‘Paris Club Music’ compilation came out earlier in the year which shone a light on the diverse sounds that the label is pushing.
One of the more underground of the French labels, located firmly in the nation’s darkest corners, Zone is a true flag bearer of four-to-the-floor electro and techno. Its often uncompromising and gritty sound is one that sets it aside from the others. It’s home to the likes of Maelstrom, The Hacker, Remote and Gesaffelstein, all of who have released some mightily terrifying bangers. Zone club nights all over France at venues such as Social Club in Paris and Magazine Club in Lille are wild events that cover all bases of electronic music. Label manager David Rimokh talks about the scene in France and how the time is now for intelligent dance music coming from the nation: “It's true that today for some irrational reason something is going on in France. To be honest, I was a bit bored with French electronic music in 2006/07 but now there are so many good artists and different records emerging like the new Jackson and His Computer Band! Also Clement Meyer, Maelstrom, Darabi, Paradis and Crackboy.” he says. With such a smart approach to peak-time floor fillers and one of the true sounds of the French underground, we’re really excited to see what darkness Zone conjure up next.
Although not strictly a new or an even kind of new label, a rundown of the imprints that are dominating from France would not be complete without a mention of Ed Banger Records. 2013 sees the label celebrate its 10 year anniversary and what a 10 years it’s been. Justice, Mr Oizo, Feadz, Breakbot and Busy P are now all household names in dance music and that’s been down to hard work and pushing a sound that they truly believe in. Although the no holds barred electro sound of 2007-2009 may not be as prominent in 2013, it’s not something that phases Busy P or the Ed Banger crew. They are fully aware of the evolving sound and with this they’ve adapted with the times. Signing Boston Bun and his thick and heavy house sound was a stroke of genius, not to mention Cashmere Cat and Laurent Garnier remixes that don’t even glance towards the electro phase. Ed Banger has changed with the times and still manages to be as relevant today as it was when it started things up 10 years ago.