Deeper Than Daft Punk:

A Love Letter to the French Touch

Rewinding the disco-driven filter house that linked Phoenix, St Germain, Fred Falke, Alan Braxe, DJ Falcon, Bob Sinclar and more


When Daft Punk made their breakthrough in the mid 1990s it was not in isolation: they were, in fact, part of a wave of splendidly sophisticated and fearsomely funky French house acts, in what came to be known as the French Touch.

For a time, the term was everywhere: compilations, club nights, magazine articles, radio shows and more, with many of the main players picking up unlikely major label deals in the aftermath.

And then, around the 2000s, the bubble burst. Daft Punk moved on to global fame, via endless club play of “One More Time,” a synapse-burning LED pyramid live show, and Kanye West samples. But what happened to the rest of the French Touch bunch in the 20 intervening years?


St Germain

In many ways the French Touch actually started with St Germain, aka Ludovic Navarre. His wonderful Boulevard album was released in July 1995, some 18 months before Daft Punk’s Homework, and went on to win massive critical acclaim, at a time when most British music fans still thought of France as an unfathomably awful land of Johnny Hallyday and Anglo pop rip offs. As such, it paved the way for the likes of Motorbass and later Daft Punk.

St Germain’s jazz-influenced and noodling deep house sound was about as French as filterless Gitanes. Oozing Left Bank cool and ineffable sophistication, Navarre’s music stood a step removed from the disco-y filter house that would later become associated with the French Touch name.

Daft Punk connection: Todd Edwards, who would go on to become a trusted Daft Punk collaborator, working on “Face to Face” and “Fragments of Time,” came to the world’s attention thanks to his classic remix of St Germain’s “Alabama Blues,” a song that was a staple of Daft Punk’s early DJ sets.

Major label deal: Navarre signed to legendary jazz label Blue Note. But the label has had to draw on jazz levels of patience in waiting for some new material.

Where are they now? Good question: St Germain would go on to release 2000’s excellent and slightly more immediate Tourist album, tour, and then… nothing for a good 15 years. Or at least very little: a few singles from Tourist, a co-production for Soel in 2003 and a remix of Gregory Porter’s “Musical Genocide” in 2014, prompting High Five magazine to ask the same year “Where on earth is Ludovic Navarre?” Their conclusion? We don’t really know.

Listen to: Todd Edwards’ “Alabama Blues” remix, or “Rose Rouge,” Tourist’s stunning opening track, which distilled Navarre’s wayward magic into something approaching a hit single.


Motorbass

Étienne de Crécy, Philippe Zdar

Another act without whom French music might have remained permanently untouched: Motorbass — aka Philippe Zdar and Étienne de Crécy — formed in 1992 and have just the one album to their name, 1996’s Pansoul.

But what an album: it combined scuba deep house with techno, funk, disco, hip-hop (the scratching on “Flying Fingers”) and unlikely musical samples (the harps on “Ezio”) in a way that was incredibly fresh and overwhelmingly European, without turning its back on dance music’s American roots.

Daft Punk connection: Motorbass remixed Daft Punk’s “Around The World” in 1997, for the Motorbass Miami Mix and Motorbass Vice mix. The results, it pains me to say, are not quite as brilliant as you might expect.

Major label deal: Not exactly: Pansoul was released by PIAS but reissued by Virgin France in 2003.

Where are they now? Motorbass has been in mothballs since the duo’s Daft Punk remixes. But the band’s constituent members went on to become key figures in the French Touch.

Étienne de Crécy would release the Super Discount long player in 1997, an album that swiped the critical French Touch crown by rounding up collaborators such as Air and Alex Gopher, currently on its way to 200,000 sales. The album also includes a collaboration with Zdar under the pseudonym La Chatte Rouge. de Crécy continues today, with volume 3 of Super Discount released in January and touring the concept around the world.

Philippe Zdar, meanwhile, would form Cassius — another key French Touch act — with Hubert Blanc-Francard (Boom Bass). They have remained active ever since — their 2010 single “I ❤ U So” would be sampled by Jay-Z and Kanye West on “Why I Love You” and the band are apparently working on a new album.

Zdar would also become a star producer for other bands, contributing to Phoenix’s United and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix albums, as well as Two Door Cinema Club’s Tourist History, OneRepublic’s Burning Bridges and Drake’s Nothing Was the Same.

Listen to: Motorbass’s “Flying Fingers” and “Ezio,” Super Discount’s “Le Patron est Devenu Fou” and Cassius’s “1999 (Long Version).” And as a bonus, how about Skream’s devastating remix of “I ❤ U So?”


Phoenix

You probably know Phoenix as the nonchalant Coachella festival headliners that they have grown up to be. But when they first started off they were widely considered to be part of the French Touch, thanks not just to their Daft Punk connections (more on that later) but also to “Heatwave,” their second single, which was released in 1999 by Source, the most French Touch of record labels.

“Heatwave,” for anyone who has grown accustomed to the band’s later modern rock albums, might come as something of a shock: it is essentially a piece of vocal-free nu-disco that could slip easily into the set of your local opening DJ. It doesn’t sound much like a band at all, in fact, and would later be taken into the charts by Italian dance act DB Boulevard, who re-recorded it and added a vocal as “Point of View.” DB Boulevard, incidentally, would later go on to similarly rework another French Touch classic, DJ Falcon’s “Unplugged,” for their 2002 single “Believe.”

Phoenix’s experimentation with house music didn’t quite end there, either: Le Knight Club (comprised of Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Éric Chedeville) would remix the band’s 2000 single “Too Young,” while “If I Ever Feel Better,” from the same year, would be remixed by Todd Edwards and Daft Punk associates The Buffalo Bunch.

Daft Punk connection: Phoenix’s Laurent Brancowitz was in the group Darlin’ with Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. In fact, it was a review of a Darlin’ track in Melody Maker, which described their music as “a daft punky thrash” which inspired the robot duo’s name. In 2010 Daft Punk made a guest appearance at Phoenix’s Madison Square Garden show.

Major label deal: For the band’s first three albums they toiled away on EMI, Source and Astralwerks to little reward outside their home land. Then they hit pay dirt in the U.S. with 2009’s Grammy-winning Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, released by Co-op and Glassnote. EMI, you imagine, were quietly seething.

Where are they now? The album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was followed by Bankrupt in 2013, which made number four on the U.S. charts. The rest of the year was spent touring.

Listen to: “Heatwave,” of course. And the Buffalo Bunch’s so-stupid-it’s genius take on “If I Ever Feel Better,” renamed in a stroke of brilliance “If I Ever Feel Better, I’ll Go To The Disco.” It still causes dance-floor anarchy today.


Alex Gopher

Alex Gopher (born Alexis Latrobe) is the hidden jewel of the French Touch, a man whose work seems to pop up everywhere, that is, if you pay close enough attention.

A case in point: Gopher appears on all three Super Discount albums; his “Gordini Mix” EP was remixed by former Orange collaborator Brakes On (of Air); and he’s remixed everyone from Kraftwerk to Sly & Robbie.

Admittedly, that is being slightly harsh on Gopher’s solo career, which dates back to the Gopher EP in 1995 and has taken him to labels such as Disques Solid, V2 and Kitsuné over the course of five albums and 30 12-inches. But Gopher has always seemed more utility man than musical star — and we suspect he prefers it that way.

Daft Punk connection: Strangely, for someone who has worked with as many artists as he has, there isn’t much of a connection to Daft Punk. In fact, they might be the only French Touch act he hasn’t been involved with at some point. However, serial Daft Punk collaborator Romanthony (vocalist on “One More Time” and “Too Long”) did remix Gopher’s 1999 single “Party People.”

Major label deal: Gopher released four albums with semi-major label V2, the last of which apparently reached 146 in the French charts.

Where are they now? Still busily producing away, with the No Drop EP released by Go 4 Music in 2013. His most recent remix was of Hermanos Inglesos’ “The Fast Lane” in 2014 and he also collaborated on Étienne de Crécy’s Super Discount 3, released earlier this year.

Listen to: The Billie Holiday-sampling track “The Child” is probably the peak of his solo career (and has an excellent video); Dimitri from Paris and Bibi’s “Disco Around the World mix” of “Party People” is described by one YouTube commentator as “gayer than Liberace,” which can only be a massive compliment; and Air’s remix of “Gordini Mix” is so brilliant they borrowed it for the re-releases of their own Premiers Symptômes EP.

Gopher’s work on de Crécy’s original Super Discount album — “Super Disco” and “Destockage Massif,” — is stunning, too.


I:Cube

I:Cube — Parisian producer Nicolas Chaix — emerged at roughly the same time as Daft Punk, his first two 12-inches being released in 1996, and the two traded remixes early in their careers (see below). Given their youth and similarly Parisian backgrounds, you can see why I:Cube and Daft Punk were often mentioned in the same breath early on.

But the two acts’ debut albums, both released in 1997, while ostensibly cut from the same cloth, actually sounded pretty different in tone. Daft Punk’s Homework, released by Virgin Records, was abrasive, funky and minimal; I:Cube’s Picnic Attack, released by stalwart Parisian house label Versatile was more considered — a subtle, enchanting beast, taking from disco and funk but filtering these influences through jazz and electro. It was wonderful, in other words, but unlikely to trouble big club rooms or mainstream radio.

Daft Punk connection: The robots remixed I:Cube’s 1996 track “Disco Cubizm,” distilling the original version’s jazzy origins into a swaggering monster of a house track that still gets played today; I:Cube returned the favor, remixing “Around The World” into something more cosmic.

Major label deal: Not a bit of it. I:Cube has stuck with Versatile for all his career. Versatile, run by frequent I:Cube collaborator Gilbert Cohen is another key label for the French Touch, releasing music from Joakim, Pepe Bradock and Julien Jabre, among others. It also released Cheek’s brilliant “Venus (Sunshine People),” a French Touch anthem of the highest quality.

Where are they now? I:Cube continues producing and DJing to this day. His 2012 album M megamix was an attempt to reinvent the format, packing 24 short tracks into an hour-long segue. It comes highly recommended.

Listen to: Daft Punk’s remix of “Disco Cubizm” is the obvious place to start, but don’t forget the brilliant original. “Mingus in My Pocket” is the highlight of Picnic Attack, while “Adore,” taken from the 1999 album of the same name, is everything 1,000 chill out acts aspire to.


Fred Falke / Alan Braxe

Alan Braxe is one of the most well-connected men in the French Touch. His debut single “Vertigo” came out on Thomas Bangalter’s Roulé records in 1997, sporting a remix from the man himself which completely overshadowed the actually-pretty-decent A side.

Braxe then joined Bangalter and vocalist Benjamin Diamond in Stardust for a one-off single, “Music Sounds Better With You,” a global hit in 1998. Following that he hooked up with bass player Fred Falke in the logically titled duo Alan Braxe and Fred Falke. Benjamin Diamond, incidentally, had his own solo career, with three albums to his name. It is probably best represented by the Todd Edwards mix of “Little Scare.”

Braxe and Falke’s debut single, “Intro,” released on Braxe’s own Vulture Music label in 2000, became a cult classic, just as the French Touch seemed to be on the wane. The duo went on to produce a run of storming singles, which brought a very early 80s synth melodicism to the French house sound, most of which are compiled on excellent 2005 album The Upper Cuts (attributed to Alan Braxe and Friends).

Daft Punk connection: For Braxe — see above. Falke, meanwhile, remixed Random Access Memories’ “Give Life Back to Music” in a filter style.

Major label deal: The duo’s 2004 single “Rubicon” was released on Virgin. It didn’t do a great deal of sales. But given how involved Braxe and Falke would later become with major label artists, you can’t imagine Virgin particularly minded.

Where are they now? Where aren’t they now? Both separately and as a duo Braxe and Falke have become go-to remixes for all sorts of acts, from Jamiroquai (as a duo) to Britney Spears (Braxe) to Lenny Kravitz (Falke). Falke has also branched into production and songwriting, working (sometimes with British super production house Xenomania) on acts including Sarah Harding, Will Young and Alexandra Burke.

Falke released his debut solo album Part IV in 2011 and in 2014 collaborated with Tiësto and Ellen Lea on a single called “Calling on Angels.” Braxe released his first original production in six years in 2013, with “Moments in Time” for Scion AV, a collaboration with The Spimes. The EP features a remix from another erstwhile French Touch hero, DJ Falcon.

Listen to: Thomas Bangalter’s “Virgo remix” of Braxe’s “Vertigo” is a must. And all the more so when some clever person added the vocal from the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” on top. “Intro” is also classic and I have an inexplicable weak spot for the duo’s remix of Test Icicle’s “What’s Your Damage.”


DJ Falcon

Another very well connected man: Falcon is Alan Braxe’s cousin, a former Virgin Records A&R and — much like Braxe before him — recorded for Thomas Bangalter’s Roulé label. That Roulé release, 1999’s four-track EP Hello My Name Is DJ Falcon, remains his only solo work but its quality is such that it was initially thought to be the work of Bangalter himself (whose solo work on Roulé should be investigated as a matter of extreme priority).

Hello… doesn’t reinvent the wheel: it consists essentially of chopped up disco samples, filters and drum machines. But the same element that would prove so uninspired in the hands of many lesser French Touch producers were gold in the hands of DJ Falcon, who has that incredible knack of knowing what sounds good where.

Daft Punk connection: After the release of Hello… DJ Falcon teamed up with Thomas Bangalter as Together, producing two 12-inches of such mind-bending quality that it almost makes me wish Bangalter would ditch de Homem-Christo and shack up with Falcon full time (sorry Guy-Man).

Those two records — “Together” and “So Much Love to Give” — take house minimalism to new levels, consisting of little more than a couple of extremely well-judged samples. But everything about the two tracks is perfect: nothing could be added or taken away, and you wish they could last forever. The latter song, incidentally, “inspired” aptly-named U.K. dance act Freeloaders, whose 2005 single “So Much Love to Give” reached number nine on the U.K. charts. It was also covered by Fedde Le Grand in 2011.

Major label deal: Nope. Although he did remix Cassius’ “La Mouche” for Virgin Records.

Where are they now? “So Much Love to Give” was released in 2002, at which time Falcon became a popular figure on Europe’s DJ circuit. But there was no more music to come until the release of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in 2013, which featured a Falcon co-production on closing track “Contact” (it was generally considered to be an updated version of an unreleased Together track from the early 2000s). In the meantime Falcon worked as Daft Punk’s official tour photographer.

He’s now said to be working on an album with Alan Braxe, having remixed a track from his cousin’s Moments in Time EP, and he’s busily DJing again.

Listen to: Anything and everything: Falcon’s discography is incredibly small and it is all very much worth hearing. If short of time, though, “Together” by Together, and “Honeymoon” from Hello… should be the first port of call, the latter’s phone call interference breakdown three minutes in still a stroke of innate genius.


The Buffalo Bunch

Play Paul, aka Paul De Homem-Christo of the rarely photographed Buffalo Bunch

Among all the acts here, The Buffalo Bunch — sometimes known as We In Music — are probably the least known, with no hit singles to their name, and no album releases. What’s more, their crudely funky production style — all chopped disco samples, infuriating vocal loops and wandering bass lines — probably won’t endear them to fans of St Germain-style jazzy house or I:Cube’s deep tech.

And yet the Buffalo Bunch are among the most fun of all the French Touch acts, their music eminently danceable and their remixes plucked from the very top shelf, transforming the likes of Phoenix and Bebel Gilberto into unlikely dance floor beasts.

What’s more, the group occupy a unique position in being the only act to have recorded for both Thomas Bangalter’s Roulé records and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s Crydamoure label, an impressive Daft Punk one-two. Roulé released the brilliant Buffalo Club EP in 1998 (actually released by one-off Roulé sub-label Scratché, but let’s not quibble), while Crydamoure put out the duo’s “T.I.T.T.S.” / “Music Box” single a year later.

Daft Punk connection: Genetic. The Buffalo Bunch consists of Raw Man, aka Romain Séo, and Play Paul, aka Paul De Homem-Christo, brother of Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Both Raw Man and Play Paul also released individual 12-inches for Crydamoure.

Major label deal: We In Music’s two releases, Now That Love Has Gone and Grandlife, were apparently licensed to Virgin France.

Where are they now? The group’s last single was “Grandlife” in 2001; their last remixes — or so it seemed — came a year later, with the “Buffalo Bunch Night Train Remix” of Audio Bullys’ “We Don’t Care” and two remixes of Bebel Gilberto’s “Close Your Eyes” — the “Buffalo Bunch/We In Music Remix” and the “Buffalo Bunch’s War Orchestra Mix” — which are both sneakily addictive.

Then there was nothing under the Buffalo Bunch name until 2010, when the duo remixed Jamaica’s “I Think I Like U 2” as if the last decade hadn’t happened. A good thing, I think.

Raw Man released a single as Priors, alongside Modjo’s Yann Destagnol (see below), in 2009, entitled “What You Need,” its harmless French Touchiness earning a Pitchfork review.

Play Paul has been busier, releasing music for labels including Defected, International Deejay Gigolo Records and Vendetta Records under a variety of names, including Syndicated People (a “hooligan house” project, for anyone who remembers the two weeks in 2003 when that was a big thing), Paul Homem Christo, Play de Homem-Christo and The Migrants. He’s also teamed up with Leicos and Nicos Mrcos for singles and remixed a steady stream of artists, including Van She and Yuksek.

Listen to: “Buffalo Club,” from their Roulé release, is probably their best original track. Their remixes for Phoenix (as mentioned above) and Bebel Gilberto are also well worth the time of day, particularly if you’re in the mood for mindless dancing.

Their solo work for Crydamoure, while not as strong as their work as duo, is also worth a listen: its tough filter disco sound epitomizes the dumb as rocks, fun-but-clichéd LCD French Touch sound. Try Raw Man’s “Lovers” or Play Paul’s “Holy Ghostz.”


Bob Sinclar

Even before he hit commercial paydirt with “Love Generation,” Bob Sinclar (a “playboy-esque alias” for producer Christophe Le Friant) was a controversial figure in French dance music. His debut album, Paradise, featured a soft porn cover and his description of his music as “peace, love, and house music” is unlikely to endear him to many deep house fans.

Then there was the hoo-hah over “Gym Tonic,” Paradise’s closing track, which is billed as a “Thomas Bangalter mix” but has been the subject of debate ever since over who actually did what and the extent of Sinclar’s involvement in the track.

But he’s here for two reasons. Firstly Sinclar’s early productions, at their best as on “In The Ghetto” or “Ultimate Funk,” are heartfelt, funky and soulful, sometimes adding full garage vocals to the French Touch mix in a move that was rare among his contemporaries. And if Sinclar sometimes descended into cheese — well, frankly, the French Touch could be cheesy. Daft Punk sampled Barry Manilow on “Superheroes,” for crying out loud.

Then there’s Sinclar’s Yellow Productions label, founded with DJ Yellow, which proved another of the key labels of the French Touch era, putting out music from Sinclar, Dimitri from Paris, Kid Loco and Salomé De Bahia (her “Outro Lugar,” produced by Sinclar, was a Parisian classic of the time).

Sinclar’s work on the Africanism project, too, while strictly post-French Touch (the first Africanism album was released in 2001) is also notable for bringing African acts in the French House fold.

Daft Punk connection: Sinclar probably won’t thank us for mentioning the “Gym Tonic debacle.” So how about the fact that he remixed Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You?”

Major label deal: Strangely enough, no, even though he sold vast arena-fulls of records. “Love Generation,” which hit number one in Australia, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic and top ten around Europe, was released by Defected and Ministry of Sound Australia.

Where are they now? Sitting on a pile of cash in the Playboy mansion? Or more likely off in the studio working: Sinclar has been incredibly prolific, with seven studio albums to his name and a busy DJ schedule. His most recent single, “Forte” with Italian singer Raffaella Carrà, was released in January 2015, making five in the Italian singles chart.

And did you know he did a single with supermodel Gisele Bündchen last year? An energetic cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” Me neither. But it reached #27 in Spain and #31 in France. On the one hand, it seems the logical conclusion of Sinclar’s playboy image. On the other, it is truly an awful piece of music.

Listen to: “Gym Tonic.” Just to have an opinion on it. “In The Ghetto” (both original and Ian Pooley remix). Then leave it there. Seriously.


Modjo

By the year 2000 the French Touch was pretty much dead. It wasn’t so much that the supply of great music had finished — 2000 saw the release of Tourist, Together and Intro — but the idea of a specific French house music scene, united by a disco-influenced sound, no longer seemed relevant.

Both Together and Intro would showcase a more synth-based, minimal French sound, while Daft Punk’s Discovery, released in 2001, would change the game by throwing metal guitars and vocoders into the mix. These influences would go on to shape the next wave of French producers, who started to emerge around 2003 thanks to Ed Banger records, a label run by former Daft Punk manager Pedro Winter.

But there was still room in 2000 for the release of a French Touch commercial classic, a song that would feature on French Touch compilations from now until Doomsday: “Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” by Modjo.

The song was not exactly original — in fact, alongside Phats & Small’s execrable “Turn Around” and The Supermen Lovers’ actually quite palatable “Starlight,” “Lady” would form part of a Stardust-inspired mini wave of disco guitar-ish filter house hits. But nor is “Lady” a disgrace to the French Touch sound, riding a Chic sample and impassioned vocal that was pure Benjamin Diamond. Nile Rodgers has even been referencing the song in recent Chic live sets.

For all their success — and “Lady” would go top 10 across Europe — Modjo (Parisian producer Romain Tranchart and vocalist Yann Destagnol) never really seemed part of the inner French Touch circle (although they did once remix Air).

Maybe it was because they were latecomers: “Lady” was their first record, although Tranchart released a single as Funk Legacy in 1998. Or maybe their sound was a little too derivative. But the closest they would get to the French Touch mafia were remixes from Alex Gopher and Play Paul on 2002 single “No More Tears” and from The Buffalo Bunch / We In Music on 2001’s “Chillin’.”

Daft Punk connection: Not a great deal, other than the above remixes from The Buffalo Bunch and Play Paul. Although that has not stopped various bedroom producers making bootlegs mashing “Lady” to various Daft Punk songs.

Major label deal: They signed to Barclay / Universal, although their one and only album, 2001’s Modjo, didn’t exactly set the charts on fire.

Where are they now? The album was followed by the release of several singles taken from it, with “No More Tears” in 2002 limping to #91 in the Swiss charts and “On Fire” going nowhere, despite a nifty Armand van Helden remix.

They then embarked on solo careers, with Tranchart going on to remix Shaggy and Mylène Farmer, while Destagnol worked with the Buffalo Bunch’s Raw Man and apparently released “a very Queen-esque album, titled The Great Blue Scar, reaching some success in France”.

Listen to: “Lady,” of course. Although you’ve doubtlessly already heard it. “Chillin’ Con Carne (Por Favor Mix by We In Music vs The Buffalo Bunch)” isn’t bad either.


Circling the Scene

Air: The Versailles duo were often lumped in with the French Touch scene, thanks to early releases on Source, geographical proximity and an appearance on Super Discount. But their music had little to do with the bump and grind of house music, beyond Étienne de Crécy’s “Stein House remix” of “Modular Mix.”


Black Strobe: Led by producer / DJ / Parisian music kingpin Ivan Smagghe, who compiled the pivotal 1997 album French Fried Funk alongside Erik Rug, Black Strobe’s debut single “Paris Acid City” was a classic of the time but left behind by the band as they went on to pioneer Electroclash.


Kavinsky: See also Justice, SebastiAn, etc — Kavinsky is more from the second, Ed Banger-led wave of French house producers, who emerged in the early to mid 2000s with a sound that was notably more electro and rock influenced than the disco-fied French Touch. His first single, “Teddy Boy,” was released in 2006, but he achieved mainstream success when his 2010 track “Nightcall” (produced with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo) was featured in the film Drive.


Pepe Bradock: One of my favourite producers, Bradock started off in the decidedly French Touch-esque Trankilou alongside Guillaume Berroyer aka Ark. Their “Atom Funk” (often credited to Bradock alone) is a classic piece of disco-y, filtered house, before the band split and Bradock went off into far weirder, darker territory.


Demon: Much like an underground Modjo, Demon’s 2001 single “You Are My High” will remain on French Touch compilations until time immemorial. He also worked with Alex Gopher (as Wuz) and remixed Daft Punk’s “Face To Face” (not very well, sadly).


Dimitri from Paris: His 1996 debut album Sacrebleu sold 300,000 copies worldwide and was Mixmag’s Album of the Year. But its mixture of jazz, soundtracks, lounge and a touch of house — together with a dose of French humor — was a real one off even for Dimitri, whose subsequent releases moved towards deep disco house. Dimitri is still very active today.


Laurent Garnier: Garnier is the preeminent French DJ of his generation and has released some brilliant music to boot (notably “Crispy Bacon”). Plus his FCom label released St Germain’s “Boulevard.” But he’s probably more associated with techno than house.


DJ Gregory: He may have remixed Cheek’s “Venus” but DJ Gregory’s success came mainly post-French Touch, thanks to tracks like “Block Party” (part of the Africanism project) which brought Latin and African influences to the house music mix.


David Guetta: Guetta was arguably part of the French Touch scene, thanks to his busy DJ schedule in the mid 90s and his management role with Paris’ posh Les Bains Douches club. He has since gone onto EDM domination.


Jess and Crabbe: The duo’s 1999 debut single “The Big Booya” was massive in the rowdier Paris clubs and they went on to remix Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” on the ill-fated Daft Club album. The duo’s love of rave and hardcore made them slightly unusual for the French Touch, however.


Kid Loco: See Air — Kid Loco is a massively talented French producer who happened to emerge in the mid 90s. But his lush, laid-back style has little to do with the French Touch funk. Have a listen to his brilliant remix of Pulp’s “A Little Soul” anyway.


Le Tone: Hip-hop influenced French producer Yann Larret-Menezo produced music that was so childlike and kooky that it was either the best thing you’d ever heard or a reason to tear your own ears off. And sometimes both — as on his best known track, 1999’s “Joli Dragon.” He signed an improbable deal with Creation Records in the U.K.


The Micronauts: Their 2000 single “The Jag” was a classic, sitting somewhere in between Daft Punk and the Sheffield bleep sound. The band’s Christophe Monier continues producing to this day, remixing Madonna’s “Hollywood” in 2003.


Mr. Oizo: Was Mr. Oizo French Touch? Probably not — even back in the late 90s his sound was always that little bit weirder and dirtier than his compatriots. But it would be wrong to write about French dance music in the 90s without mentioning his “Flat Beat” single from 1999, one of the oddest songs ever to top the European charts. Since then, he’s only got stranger, recording for Ed Banger and Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label.


Erik Rug aka Dirty Jesus: Erik Rug was a link between the Parisian and English deep house scenes in the mid 90s, recording for Manchester’s Paper Recordings as Dirty Jesus. His “Don’t Fuck With My Shit” track for Paper is a deep disco classic.


Cosmo Vitelli: Cosmo Vitelli — aka Parisian producer Benjamin Boguet — signed to Disques Solid, home to Super Discount, as well as releases from Alex Gopher and Air. His oddly-named “We Don’t Need No Smurf Here” shared some of the oddball French humour of Super Discount or Dimitri From Paris and he remixed Daft Punk’s “Face to Face” (again, not very well).


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