Daft Punk & 7 Other Great French House Acts: From Dmitri From Paris To Justice
With all the fanfare surrounding their comeback smash “Get Lucky” and this week’s release of Random Access Memories, it’s easy to forget that French house ambassadors Daft Punk have been around for nearly two decades. Thanks to a sound that’s always been ahead of the curve (and robot helmets to mask any wrinkles), the duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter seem positively ageless more than 15 years after they first wowed us with their debut, Homework. That they’re still managing to surprise and influence the international pop scene is a testament to their distinctive retro-futuristic groove!
That groove, however, wasn’t created by Daft Punk alone. French House (or French Touch, as the sexy call it) has its roots in the clubs of Paris, where DJs and dance music disciples found inspiration in old Europop and space-disco records and mashed them up with state-of-the-art beats. Basically, when it came to making booties bounce along the Champs Elysee, Daft Punk didn’t act alone! So get your Gallic groove on and pay tribute to the forebears of French Funk with our terribly chic playlist below. Tout le monde danse maintenant!
Stardust, “Music Sounds Better With You”
The grandaddy of all modern dance records, “Music”’s hot-dogging bassline, filtered beats and rhythmic samples proved absolutely irresistible to the club-going throngs of 1998. Deftly cutting up Chaka Khan’s “Fate” like a line of coke in a Studio 54 balcony, Stardust’s producers (Alan Braxe and one-half of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter) rode the success of their one hit into a thousand mash-ups, most famously with Madonna’s “Holiday” for her Drowned World Tour.
Dimitri From Paris, “Rock This Town”
Actually a native Turk, Monsieur Dimitri began his career on French radio by turning 1960s movie samples and jazzy soundtracks into pop singles like “Une Very Stylish Fille.” A disco devotee at heart, he soon evolved into a producer and remixer nonpareil for artists like Bjork, Bananarama and Little Boots, and continues to break out the beats with uplifting, retro-flavored stompers.
David Guetta, “Love Don’t Let Me Go”
A Paris club DJ making it big as a superstar producer in the American charts is one of the more exciting pop music events of recent times, but David Guetta was setting the music world on its ear long before his production of the Black Eyed Peas’ blockbuster “I Gotta Feeling” gained him Stateside fame. His soulful house sound was already in play with big-room anthems like 2006’s intense “Love Don’t Let Me Go,” featuring frequent collaborator Chris Willis.
Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay became Grammy nominees for this quirky little number, a bubbly mish-mash of kids’ choir vocals, Michael Jackson references and layers of strings that can only be described as “le camp français.” After the success of “D.A.N.C.E,” Justice went on to release their critically-acclaimed second opus, the perfectly-titled Audio, Video, Disco.
Bob Sinclar, “I Feel for You”
A dealer in designer beats and European flair a la David Guetta, DJ/remixer/producer Bob Sinclar infuses his own hands-in-the-air anthems with more “peace and love” than “sexy chicks.” Hits like “World, Hold On” and “Love Generation” provide enough feel-good vibes and classic disco touches to negate the need for chemical ecstasy on the dancefloor. Well, almost.
Cassius, “Cassius 99 remix” (radio edit)
This breakout hit came early in the French House movement, when artists like Daft Punk and Cassius were just beginning to push the boundaries of electronic dance music. Fast, funky and filled with a maddening amount of samples, it shimmied up the UK and US dance charts and paved the way for a full-on French House invasion.
Air, “Kelly Watch the Stars”
Technically not house music, electro-pop artistes Air nonetheless created a stir with their own signature sound, something akin to the Carpenters meeting synth pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey at a Kraftwerk concert. Bouncy singles like “Kelly Watch the Stars” were airy and danceable — not a million light years away from future Daft Punk singles like “Digital Love”