Vive La Dance: 10 House Champions from the New French Underground
Vive La Dance: 10 House Champions from the New French UndergroundOctober 27, 2021
From the boroughs of Paris to the hills of Lyon and the oceanside clubs of Marseille, France’s rich house music scene has been adorning dance floors around the world for decades. Pioneered by acts like Laurent Garnier, Cassius, Fred Falke, Étienne de Crécy, and Thomas Bangalter (even before he put on the mask), French house music has endured numerous transformations over the years.
The beginnings of French house in the late ’90s and early 2000s gave rise to labels like F Communications, Kitsuné, Ed Banger, and the musical goliath that is Daft Punk, who turned French touch into a global phenomenon.
The techno bug bit France hard in the 2010s. But the nation has been blessed with a renaissance of young French house artists who are shaking up the scene, bringing decadent disco, heady funk, and wholly original jazz and soul elements into their productions with sleek deep tech and minimal undertones.
Here are 10 artists leading the charge.
Hailing from Marseille, Wilkko and Olivier of duo Dub Striker have become a familiar fixture of the house scene in the South of France. As frequent guests at venues like Baou and Baby Club in their native city, along with showcases in cities all over France, Dub Striker’s deep and expertly crafted grooves always ensure classy vibes for the floor. Determined to awaken the “long too neglected” French house scene, Dub Striker is doing the deed with supreme style, putting out records on labels like Hustler Trax, Happiness Therapy, Kerri Chandler’s Madhouse Records, and most recently on their young record label, DON’T NEED A MILLION. It’s a house music bromance of the highest order. So throw on their tracks and feel the love!
Sample master Madcat first came to prominence in 2017 after earning a degree in sound engineering and linking up with Pont Neuf Records — one of the French house scene’s most dedicated and pioneering imprints. Things accelerated for the Parisian artist following the release of his single “Heard It,” which racked up millions of views on YouTube. Blending his penchant for hip hop and funk with grainy beat structures, talkative guitar and sax riffs, bubbling basslines and more, Madcat’s sound and stage presence is as soulful as soulful gets.
Rising French DJ and producer Marina Trench has been making serious headway in clubland with her marvelous and tight house style. First hitting the scene back in 2019 with the release of her debut Signature EP, which featured remixes from Kerri Chandler and DJ Deep, Trench’s tracks have been picked up by labels like Deeply Rooted, Nowadays Records, and Wolf Music Recordings. Following the release of her impeccably groovy Over There EP on Dam Swindle’s label Heist Recordings earlier this year, she dropped another phenomenal EP, this time self-released, titled Free Mind. With her excellent skills behind the decks and her music’s breezy cadence, Marina Trench continues to prove herself as a vital part of France’s underground house scene.
There are few electronic music producers in the whole of France that are as prolific as Sweely. Based in the city of Lyon, Sweely’s commitment to sharing new original productions via his SoundCloud and YouTube pages has earned him a loyal following and releases on labels like Chineurs de House, Lobster Theremin, its sub-label Distant Hawaii, and Automatic Writing. The techy shuffle of his grooves, the generous swing of his drum patterns, and the seemingly endless bank of blipped-out one-shots that fill his arrangements make Sweely one of a kind in the global house scene. When performing, Sweely prefers a live setup — using Ableton and jamming on his APC 40, MPC, and Elektron drum machine, making him all the more unique. A Sweely session is indeed something to behold. Take a gander here and check out one of our favorite tracks from the French maestro below.
Another one of Pont Neuf Records’ wunderkinder, Parisian DJ and producer Cosmonection has been serving up starry-eyed house arrangements to the masses since first signing with the label in 2015 for their debut compilation, Habemus Paname. His subsequent releases on labels like Dansu Discs, Delusions Of Grandeur, Beats Of No Nation, and Shall Not Fade all share the same shimmering allure and jamming synth approach that makes his deep and Balearic sound such a joy to behold. His 2020 Talamanca EP is a perfect example of this, especially his collaborative track “La Selva” with fellow french house all-star Tour-Maubourg (who gets a necessary honorable mention in this list). And his remix of saudade’s “Sonha” on Pont Neuf’s recent Collections compilation demonstrates Cosmonection’s mastery of atmospherics, which gives his productions the edge they need. So we suggest you blast off and make your Cosmonection as soon as humanly possible.
Hailing from Marseille, DJ and producer Christophe Adl (AKA Bwi-Bwi) was first spotted in 2017 by Luke Solomon, who picked released Adl’s first single, “Insight”, on the famed Classic Music Company imprint. He’s since gone from strength to strength, releasing on imprints like Kuroneko, Light On Earth, Sure Cuts Records, and Lüüd Discs, which dropped his debut EP, Canto Souleu, earlier this year. Translated as “singing in the sun,” Canto Souleu lives up to its namesake — a sprightly four-tracker with rigorous breaks, swimming acid lines, and balmy percussion. Bwi-Bwi also aims to help bring change to the world through his love of the dance floor, throwing shows as often as he can to raise money for various social and environmental charities via his Paradis Fiasco events. Good music and a good party for a good cause.
Victor Tescaro (AKA Vitess) is a force to be reckoned with in the new Parisian house music scene. Whether operating under his Vytamin, Grand V, Flamant Rouge, or Vitess aliases, the result always remains the same: sneaky acid lines, crisp breaks, busy synths, and effortless basslines. With releases on labels like Houseum Records, EWax, Dansu Discs, Pont Neuf Records, Unknown To The Unknown, and more, his most recent Splitter EP on STRCTR stands as his strongest to date. Featuring remixes from the likes of DJOKO and Janeret, the four-tracker is a no-frills excursion of brilliant deep tech and house. The fierce and potent sounds of Vitess stand at the head of the pack, leading France’s new house music revolution into the 2020s.
A fresh face who’s already making serious waves in the French House circuit, Belaria is a core member of Friendsome — a record label and collective based on gender and transgenerational equality in dance music. Consistently delivering a potent mix of sharp acid and warm disco in her sets, Belaria is all about bringing balance to the dance floor. She recently started her production journey, releasing her first single, “Morning Disco Tonic Bongo,” on Chineurs de House‘s latest Producer Day compilation. With such a strong showing fresh out of the gate, we can’t wait to hear what she cooks up next.
Xavier Dusclaux (AKA Armless Kid) first rose to prominence in the Parisian house music scene after linking up with the Copie Blanche and Chineurs de House labels and collectives in 2015. His viscid and infectious sound has found a home on imprints like Hustler Trax with Marrakech Sunset, and Classic Music Company with the Jado Jador EP. His sound has only grown in popularity since, gaining support from artists like Karizma, DJ Harvey, The Black Madonna, Voyeur, and Fred Everything. One can always expect the highest energy levels from Xavier when he hits the decks, with gems aplenty blaring out over the speakers.
ODEN & FATZO
Armed with their rich sound palette and epic live performance setup, the house music trio Oden & Fatzo are dance floor players of the highest order. Mixing uptempo house with elements of minimal, breakbeat electro, jazz, funk, hip hop, and UK garage, Oden & Fatzo compose their forward-thinking arrangements with an intergalactic mentality and aesthetic. In addition to running their own Saké Records imprint, the trio has released on labels such as Moscow Records, Salty Nuts, Locus, Pitch Records, and more, bringing their happy-go-lucky cosmic swing to every record they touch.
Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s North American Editor. Find him on Twitter.