Parisian Walkways

A keen 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 80’s 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.

Around 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 EP’s, that would later become the afore mentioned LP.

First released in France through the Goodlife label in October 2001, it later became available with a full UK release appearing in June 2002. Atomicduster’s 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 robotic vocals.
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, I’ll 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 to
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 can't judge
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 Album?
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 party!!
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 describe yourself?
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 Kiko’s 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 at Goodlife and Pias while your making up your mind.


Interview - Nic Caesar (The Funkaholics)

Transcript - Nick James, with thanks to Isobel at Pias for translation


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