I spent much of the past week rattling my brain for the topic of my next Mic Drop article, and I do my best brainstorming to the Daft Punk live album, ALIVE 2007. If you ask me, there is no greater export from France than electronic music during the early 2000’s.
It dawned on me that fans of modern electronic music, be it house, techno or otherwise, owe a lot of what they enjoy to the revolutionary French artists of the 21st century. Today we take a deep dive into the vast world of French electronic music, who made it a notable movement in the late 90’s, who dominated the decade in the 2000’s, and what aftershocks continue influencing artists during the 2010’s. Of course, I’m starting with:
What is there to say about this dynamic duo that hasn’t already been said? Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo have been cutting up dancefloors across the world for DECADES, and are considered by many (including me) to be some of the best to ever do it. They still can be found in the public eye today, collaborating with everyone from Pharrell Williams to The Weeknd to Kanye West.
Their debut 1997 album HOMEWORK and its 2001 follow-up DISCOVERY are in my opinion their finest works. HOMEWORK comes in at 75 minutes of stellar French house with pulsating rhythms and retro garage style club hits. Not to mention key songs including “Around the World” and “Rollin and Scratchin”. My personal favorite,“Phoenix”, is guaranteed to have you up and dancing no matter what.
DISCOVERY is an institution of modern electronic music, demonstrating the modern club potential of flipping disco samples from the 70’s and 80’s into something totally fresh and exciting. It’s incredible to see an album so rooted in the old school yet sounds so futuristic.
Ohhhhh yeah, baby! If you like your electronic music LOUD, FAST, and full of ROCKIN’ PUNK ENERGY, then look no further than Justice’s debut album, CROSS, released in 2007 on Ed Banger. Self described as an “opera-disco”, CROSS is jam packed with flipped disco samples, gigantic abrasive beats, and just the right amount of indie rock flare to keep anyone looking for a good time entertained.
Their subsequent releases held the standard, notably their live albums and the followup to CROSS, AUDIO. VIDEO. DISCO. However, listening to “Genesis” through to “D.A.N.C.E” all the way to “One Minute to Midnight”, you realize that Justice perfected bombastic French electro in a way very few artists could ever even try to. CROSS is lightning in a bottle and by far one of my favorite electronic albums of all time. Always abrasive, but never dull.
Remember the “Facebook Story” interlude from Frank Ocean’s Blonde? Well, the man talking happens to be French producer SebastiAn! While he has production credits on that album and has worked with many other musicians as a producer and remixer, his solo material reflects a lot of similar intimacy balancing as that interlude. He never keeps his guard down for long, and while some of his songs groove and gyrate and welcome you into his world with open arms, he’ll follow those up with some pummeling beats, sampled screamo vocals and distorted guitar. He’s never afraid to keep you on your toes.
SebastiAn is an artist who has been honing his craft for years, and while he only has one studio album under his belt, he’s built a reputation for himself thanks to fiery bangers and heart melting bouts of warmth and bliss. His 2011 album, TOTAL, on Ed Banger Records, features amazing highlights, including “Arabest”, “Love in Motion”, and of course, the stellar “Embody”.
Danger makes techno music for the Hotline Miami crowd. His music is all about aesthetic, everything sounds retro but futuristic at the same time. Like you’re running across rooftops in Tokyo… and it’s raining… in the year 2089. Maybe there’s flying cars, I don’t know. The point is, Danger makes really cool music. It’s atmospheric and creates a really ominous and mysterious tone, while still being incredibly danceable and fun.
I’ve been following him for a long time now, and it has been really exciting to see him grow as an artist. He just released his second LP, ORIGINS, earlier this year, but if you ask me, his first 3 EPs are where it’s at.
So, where do we stand today? Well, Daft Punk still continues to put out amazing albums, with 2013’s RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES showing the duo incorporate live instrumentation and full on funk disco expeditions into their typically digital sound. Kanye West has featured the music video for Justice’s “Stress” on his website. Sebastian has done string arrangements and spoken interludes for Frank Ocean, and Danger opened for Porter Robinson and Madeon in 2016 on the Shelter Live Tour.
I’m attaching a playlist with more great French artists to check out! Listen, enjoy, and don’t forget to do the D.A.N.C.E.!