“I’ve never played in France,” Fred Falke marvels on a phone call from his studio in Toulouse. “I know it sounds weird, but I never get any requests from France.” This comes from a guy who, along with his sometimes collaborator Alan Braxe, helped define early-21st century post-Daft Punk house music from France.
So why haven’t the French asked him to DJ when so many of his records have been soundtracking filthy nights amongst dance floors across Paris since 2000? Who knows and who cares? It’s their loss. Falke would rather use his studio in Toulouse as a bat cave. He retreats there to craft his thick, deep house tracks, which exploits his training in classical piano and his later days as a bass player in various “crappy” bands. It was as a bass player that music really began to touch young Fred Falke.
“When I started production,” he reminisces, “I was attracted to house music because you hear these bass lines. People were using samples from all these old funk and disco records and I was like, ‘Wow, these bass lines are so bumping.’ I loved that. It pushed me into house.”
Allow me to elaborate on the sound of Falke’s creations. There’s a type of music with a sustained synth line that sails deep into your skull, and tends to clatter around the synapses from 2:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. It’s as funky and sleazy as an AVN Awards afterparty... at a leather bar. You don’t even notice that the beat has hit you until you’re doing dance moves you had no idea you were capable of, your face is pointed directly at the sky (waiting for a burst of pure sunshine from the gods?), and you have this really insane smile plastered across your everloving face. You’re dizzy and giddy all at once. Sometimes people call this type of music “filter house” because it frequently utilizes an effect on the production board that makes the songs sound like they’ve been “filtered” through an audio-sieve. This is the type of music Fred Falke has nailed for 15 years or so. He produces it, he remixes songs to have it, he DJs it, he revels in it. And the sleazy nature of it is preternaturally French.
Falke and Braxe broke out in 2000 with “Intro,” a filter-heavy party track that liberally sampled The Jets’ ’80s pop classic “Crush on You.” Falke and Braxe took the song into plush, exuberant territories, and revealed a deep respect for Western pop music. Released on Braxe’s Vulture label, which was home to Stardust’s anthemic “Music Sounds Better with You” (1997), Falke and Braxe became household names on the scene. Now Falke is in a career stride, taking on remixes for U2, Katy Perry, La Roux, Sugababes, Robyn, Goldfrapp, and Grizzly Bear, and turning them into his own vibrant disco-pop club music.
Falke’s Part IV was released in December on fellow French disco purveyor Kris Menace’s Work It Baby imprint. The opening track, “808pm at the Beach,” delivers all the good feelings and happy energy of early-aught Parisian raves, bookended by samples of oceanic waves.
“I don’t have bad memories regarding being on beaches,” laughs Falke. “You always have a nice time when you’re around the ocean, whether it’s in the morning, sunsets, having drinks for lunchtime. It’s very relaxing, isn’t it?”