player on the French electronic scene, artist Kiko lays down tracks
that it is said pay homage to the key influences he has encountered
along the way. Meeting early 80s styles and contemporary electronic
production techniques, he combines Detroit Techno energy, Chicago house
groove and Hi NRG/Italio Disco vibes, breathing life to these in producing
his debut album - Midnight Magic. This was an album that was
a long time in the making though, from the opening of his record shop
(Ozone) in his native Grenoble (1995), through a series of releases
that allowed him to form collaborations with the likes of Oxia
and Jack de Marseille.
this time performing in some of the biggest clubs at home (France) and
internationally was allowing Kiko to hone his craft of shifted
tempos, unexpected breaks, hypnotic and minimalist melodies. Numerous
production credits would rein down and for a prominent DJ on the French
club scene life seemed good, when in late 2000 he appeared to distance
himself from the turntables and parties that had brought so much to
his music. The reason for this became clear as he focused on the producing
of a series of EPs, that would later become the afore mentioned
released in France through the Goodlife label in October 2001, it later
became available with a full UK release appearing in June 2002. Atomicdusters
Nic Caesar of The Funkaholics gets a ground level perspective
of this release before talking with the artist himself about all things
music, read on...
Kiko - Midnight Magic (Pias/Goodlife)
Midnight Magic is a collection of quality tracks, laced
with electro/techno sounds and beats, skilfully crafted together to
produce a retro yet futuristic feel. The retro elements are utilised
in unpredictable ways and are blended superbly with spacey synths and
There are four tracks that I think deserve special mention. 'Monique'
is the second track on the album. It begins with rolling loops of
beats and bass giving way to Battlestar Galatic vocals. But the
element that fuses these together is a funky little guitar riff which
sits astride the track and whips you into action. I played this track
at a house party recently and it went down very well! 'Flash' is
a beautifully programmed track, taking you up and down, back and forth
whilst grooving all the way. A harmonic melody, jumpy techno beats and
delicately placed breakdowns and drops take you from one place to another
without you questioning why. The loops stick like glue in your brain!
'Running in the City' ups the tempo bringing revolving synths
and ghostly vocals into play. A futuristic sounding guitar loop leads
you into a final crescendo of looped metallic beats and spoken vocal.
Hyperactive! Finally, to my absolute favourite track of the moment 'Just
Blue'. Superb reverberating, stabbing bass complimented by a mesmerising
fusion of electro/techno beats. A real groover, this one will get any
educated dance floor jumping. A monster brain eating musical jaunt!
This album is funky yet hard edged in places. Silky sounds sit well
with metallic beats and subconscious vocals drift throughout. Futuristic
flashes and galactic bass jump out at you periodically. Masterfully
combined with all the other elements this album leaves you with a sweet
and sour echo in your mind that is original and unique.
There is a temptation to try to compare Kiko to the more familiar names
of french dance music in the UK such as Daft Punk. However Kiko achieves
a symphonic contemporary sound without being blatant or 'pop'. Don't
get me wrong, I love Daft Punks music, but their more recent productions
to me are more brand name Cola as opposed to Kiko's vintage plonk,
it appeals to a different musical palette. 9/10
And so to the interview, Ill leave you with Nic and Kiko, enjoy;
NC: Some people in the industry say dance music is in decline. How
do you see the industry now and in the future?
Kiko: It's not easy in France, we haven't got any specialist
national radio and people are 'absorbed' in reality TV shows, like Star
Academy, THE LOST [similar to Big Brother] which manufacture its own
stars, makes its music and sells lots of units - which compete with
dance music.. people buy and listen to this shit.. it's disappointing!!
I don't know what's going to happen, but it isn't a good sign at the
moment... we still have independent labels... they are still here!!!!
NC: What advice would you give to artists and DJs that are looking
promote their music to prospective labels?
Kiko: Send your demos to labels, but try to identify the style
of the label first [it's useless to send a trance track to a house label
for example], and don't forget to include a biog and your contacts!!
NC: Artists such as Daft Punk and Bob Sinclar have had a lot of success
in the UK over recent years. What is your view of their music?
Kiko: Daft Punk I love!!! If house music is where it is now,
its because of them, while Bob Sinclar haven't done anything revolutionary,
he has exploited the music tendencies and attracted to him common people
[who are different from the electro and techno public]
NC: How does the French dance music industry view them?
Kiko: Daft Punk are viewed as innovators, we had pre daft punk
music and post daft punk. Proof that they made a mark! While Bob
Sinclar is more into the 'star system'... but he is nothing spectacularly
new. He evolves in a different musical world... Is he good or bad? I
NC: What are your key influences musically?
Kiko: A mix between Italo-electro and Techno!!
NC: What was the main focus/inspiration for you when writing your
Kiko: I find my inspiration in the day to day life: situations
in parties, in what I listen to, in what I read, in my family life,
my friends... I lock myself in the studio and listen to classic Detroit
music or old Italo tracks!!!
NC: What, in your opinion are the best clubs in France/Europe?
Kiko: In France, the Rex club in Paris is the best club... not
because it's in Paris but because the sound system is good and because
of the line up organised by great people like Fabrice [DV2]. In Europe,
I would say the LOFT Club in Barcelona... Goodlife has a monthly residency
there, I play with Oxia, The Hacker, Antony Caretta... it's big...
NC: How do they compare to UK clubs?
Kiko: I haven't had many occasions to play in England, but for
what I have seen it's different. In England people like to party, like
in Spain actually!!! They don't care about appearances they come to
NC: When will we be able to see you perform in the UK?
Kiko: I'm hoping to come soon and promote the album Sinema.
NC: Much has been said about your 'style' of music. How would you
Kiko: It's hard to describe your own music style... I leave everyone
the freedom to give it its own definition according to what they feel,
but if we should give it a name, I'd call it: Italotronique.
NC: You have had good reviews for your album and singles. What is
the next step for you?
Kiko: I have 6 tracks on my own label Hotbanana, which will be
released under different collaborations. I am working on a more
techno track for my label Ozone Records.
As for Sinema, the next single 'Confusion' is about to come out. the
album 'Love Emulator' comes out in June through Island in the UK.
My single Italomatic just came out in PIAS UK, including
a remix from The Hacker. I am working on different EPs and remixes such
as 'Freek Funk' from Luke Slater on Novamute.
NC: On the subject of 'Italomatic', it appears to borrow heavily
from the eighties sound, but represents a fresh take on the sounds of
that era. What styles or elements of current dance music do you think
will influence the producers of the future?
Kiko: Whaoooua, I am not a medium... but I think through artists
collaborations we'll see new things, hear new sounds... but lots need
to be done!!!
So with Kikos immediate future mapped out, it only leaves for
you to consider what is to lie in store for dance music? But with Midnight
Magic rated so highly here at Atomicduster, why not take a look
while your making up your mind.
- Nic Caesar (The Funkaholics)
Transcript - Nick James, with thanks to Isobel
at Pias for translation