Champagne, Croissants & Pressed Vinyl: The Rich, Satisfying Legacy of French House. (Music History)

I’ve been to France about 2 or 3 times. Each of those times, the journey took place in the summer months. And each time marked one of those travelling errors in judgement you don’t find out about until you make the mistake yourself. So I’m going to tell you now. Don’t go to Paris in the summer. It’s full of tourists. All of the Parisians, are acutely aware of this fact, so they leave town. The architecture and food remains, but not the vibe. France is the place that gave us baguettes, croissants and champagne. But it’s also the birthplace of cinema. It’s an epicenter for fashion. There is a thriving art and music scene. I was hoping to find the real Paris. Like in Killing Zoe*; one of my all time favourite cult movies.

Well, maybe not exactly like in Killing Zoe. I could probably do without the heroin, bank robbery and subsequent blood bath. But you know, it would have been pretty sweet to have discovered an underground jazz bar filled with unwashed, unsavoury characters. Instead, it was long lines of trigger happy Japanese with small cameras and Americans with oversized waistbands and baseball hats featuring various sports team franchise logos. When I finally came home, I still enjoyed French culture in many forms. Including music. Who can forget that first bit of imported sunshine in the form of polished, re-worked disco, brimming with funk positivity and steeped in coolness?

Two years before Cassius had released the above track, French House didn’t really arrive on the scene so much as it exploded thanks to Daft Punk‘s revolutionary Home Work album, first released in 1997.

Another iconic album had, in fact arrived a year earlier than the robotic duo’s. In 1996, Dimitri from Paris‘ debut album Sacrebleu dropped. The playfully titled album featured tons of campy, fun samples from classic lounge, bossa nova tracks and films. Listen to it today and it still sounds fresh.

After a long struggle with bland, and decidedly nauseous Eurodance, producers like Dimitri from Paris and Daft Punk made continental dance music cool again. The wave of French House was no flash in the pan either, it lasted into – well, it’s still around isn’t it? It’s now an established genre with labels like Ed Banger continuing to press records resulting in some international hit makers like Justice.

But it wasn’t all too cool for school, slickly produced stuff. There was some deliciously weird material coming out too. Who could forget Mr. Oizo’s Flat beat? That signature, peculiar bassline is still unmistakable and catchy.

Nowadays, there’s plenty of talented up and comers like Cherokee, Zimmer and Darius off relatively newer label Roche Musique.

If you consider yourself a French House afficianado, Cuepoint’s Ben Cardew has a piece that outlines some of French House’s many original creators, their respective legacies, and where they ended up over the years. It’s an excellent, in-depth piece with lots of content. Check it out here. In the meantime, I remain convinced that the real Paris exists somewhere, and one day, I intend to find it.

* Ironically, the film was shot almost entirely in Los Angeles, with the exception of the opening and closing credits.

Above photo pictures artist Zimmer, courtesy of Roche Musique on Facebook.

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