Ten Fingerz and Basile de Suresnes’ label has made a big impact in a short space of time
Normally a label would need to be more than half-a-dozen releases deep to warrant a Label Of The Month feature in iDJ. But to be fair, the half-dozen releases that have issued forth from the Frappé Records studios so far have all been pretty impressive – so when we heard a rumour that a certain Monsieur Garnier was also a big fan (although the guys themselves, with pleasing modesty, are keen to downplay the fact) we figured we might as well grab them for a chat sooner rather than later.
Born at the start of 2020 and specialising – mostly – in funk- and disco-infused house music from French artists, Frappé Records are on a mission to put the French house scene front and centre of the world’s attention, just as it was in the ‘French touch’ era of the late 90s and early 00s.
And here’s what they had to tell us about it…
When was the label set up, and why?
“In January 2020. We’d been DJing in Paris for a while and wanted to take our music to the next step, so we decided to set up a label to produce and release our music and that of artists we like.
“We founded the label together, decide together what sort of releases we want to produce, pick the artists and the tracks together and argue about it all together. We’re like an old couple really, but with decks and vinyl!”
How many people are employed by/involved in running the label?
“Just the two of us.”
Describe the label's music policy?
“Passionate about electronic music and its French ways, inhabited by the energy of the dancefloor, and motivated by the desire to produce artists with a rare sense of groove and a signature sound.
What have been some personal highlights so far?
“First, we could talk about our second release Roller Cluster. We signed an artist we’ve been loving for many years… Art of Tones. Just getting him to work with us on this EP was a victory for us, and it’s gone on to become out biggest-selling release so far.
“And more recently, organising our first Frappé night at the famous Rex Club Paris in November.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your backgrounds before launching Frappé?
Ten Fingerz: “I’ve been DJing for a really long time, I started in 1995 and have never really stopped since. I’ve lived abroad (in Scotland) for a few years and was running a monthly night in a small club in Edinburgh between 2003/2006. I almost stopped playing when I arrived in Paris in 2007: I was working in media as an executive, didn’t have time for music and was about to drop out. Then I split up with my long-time girlfriend and met Basile and we started organising parties together.
“That was somewhere around 2014. I’m a DJ before anything else. Music production I’ve started seriously only a couple of years ago when we decided to start the Frappé project. I’m still learning a lot of things and Basile has helped me a lot with it.”
Basile de Suresnes: “When I was a student, I was going out a lot, and these were my first experiences dancing to electronic music in Paris. I decided to do a gap year after three years at uni, and I went to Manchester. At this moment I remember, I bought the book Electrochoc by Laurent Garnier, and I discovered all his life and how he began at The Haçienda in Manchester… and I discovered the city at the same time.
“I think something powerful in my mind happened at this moment, and I fell in love with all the history of electronic music and the energy of a dancefloor. I came back to France a few months later full of energy with one only idea – I want to make people dance! – and I met this guy called Ten Fingerz in a café. He taught me DJing on vinyls, and we organised parties together. At the same time, I started making music. Years later, here we are!”
You launched the label in May 2020, when most of the world was in coronavirus lockdown. That must have presented a whole range of difficulties, surely?
“Well, we actually launched the project in January 2020, and our first record Fête En l’Air was planned for release in the week France shut everything down – that surely was one of the worst moments we had. When you have such a shit start, things can only get better really!
“It was finally released in May 2020, when things started slowly to open up for summer, but it didn’t last very long before everything shut down again. It was hard for the whole industry, but for newcomers like us it was definitely a blow not to be able to go out and play our music, introduce it to people. And make money from live gigs too, as it’s really hard to monetise on record sales when you start.
“But we decided together to keep going, focus on making our music, making new projects and releasing new records: we’ve released six EPs over the last 18 months and the pandemic probably helped us in a way, as it was a time when a lot of people got real quiet, but we didn’t. We’ve tried to keep believing in our project and we’re always amazed to see how well people have welcomed it and the amount of support we got. So thanks to everyone who has helped us get by.
Any particular feedback that you’ve been pleased about?
“We get our promos across via Fatdrop and that’s given us the chance to be noticed by a few DJs we’re big fans of, such as The Blessed Madonna, Mark Farina, Âme or Jus-Ed, who have all left lovely feedbacks on our VAs. We were a bit gobsmacked they did actually.
“And we also had an opportunity to send the Frappé catalogue to Laurent Garnier, who we totally adore and who is a massive influence for us: he was super nice about it and sent us a lovely mail of support. We can’t thank him enough for this. It happened in April, when we were feeling like the pandemic was never going to end and were at a bit of a low point motivation-wise: it really touched us and helped us believe we had to keep pushing and wait for better days.”
As far as I can make out, until the Afrodisiaque EP pretty much every track you signed was by a French artist… is that corrrect? And what about going forward: will you continue to sign non-French acts or was that EP a one-off?
“Actually, it’s not totally correct: we signed a track by Northern Irish producer Mark Blair on our fourth V/A, French Kiff, which came out in May. He was the first non-French artist to be featured on a Frappé record and this was also his very first vinyl release! He’s made millions of listeners on Spotify, so we’re very pleased to have brought him on the format we love for the first time.
“For Afrodisiaque, we first tried to work with a few French artists we had in mind, but for different reasons it didn’t work out. Then we realised that the other producers we wanted to work with were mainly non-French: we’re suckers for good music, so we just went with it and are delighted we did! Floyd and Raoul have produced amazing tracks for this one. Meeting Floyd in Paris for our release party at Djoon was also a great moment for us.
“In the future we’re gonna keep the focus on the French scene, but as we’ve already done feel free to work with anybody as long as they make music we like and believe in our project.”
As a French label and French producers, how do you feel about the whole ‘French touch’ phenomenon, looking back? It put France on the house map for most people and certainly it helped launch a lot of careers (such as Lludovic Lorca’s) but there were a LOT of naff cash-in efforts… is it a legacy you wear with pride, or can it be something of an albatross around the neck?
“First, we are BIG FANS of the French Touch era, and we used to play a lot of records from Crydamoure, Bangalter, Bob Sinclar, Etienne de Crecy etc… it’s obviously a central element in electronic music history in France and in the world, and a lot of artists have been put forward at this moment. It’s not a bad or a good thing, it’s just a fact. When you make music, usually you want people to listen to it.. and sometimes it works! As for Ludovic LLorca aka Art of Tones… nowadays he is just one of the best producers in France in our opinion, so we’re not sure French Touch really has anything to do with that!
“Also, these days, there is a French Touch phenomenon comin’ back! First, if we talk about the French filtered house style, people are doing it all around the world – England, USA, Italy… but not that much in France anymore. However, we have the feeling that “house made in France” has been put in the spotlight recently, and possibly thanks to the rise of French artists like Bellaire, Oden & Fatzo, Deborah Aime La Bagarre… who are pushing the new scene forward and bringing other new French artists with them. And it’s good for us! But there is also a big, big scene in England we’re in love with.
“We can also see in the clubs that the old UK rave songs are more and more played in France.”
All your EPs to date have been V/A offerings, always featuring at least one track from Ten Fingerz and at least one from Basile… do you intend to stick to that format or is the plan to start putting our single-artist EPs or even albums? Or is it still too early to say?
“Well, it’s still a secret but since you’re asking so nicely we’re going to share it with you: there will be some surprises in 2022 and one of them is that we will have single-artist EPs coming out. Stay with us on our socials and you will know soon what’s coming.
“There is especially one very special project with a great French producer, but we can’t say more than this at the moment.”
Is Frappé just a record label or are you also a DJ agency/club night/festival/launderette like a lot of labels these days?
“The launderette is opening next week,actually. Bring your batch and we’ll sign your panties when they come out clean with Frappé washing powder, ha ha!
“Frappé is and remains before anything else a record label, but we also run club nights because this a way to keep the experience going on the dancefloor, to share it more directly with people and to invite the artist we work with to play live along us. We love this, we’ve just had our first nights in famous places in Paris such as Djoon Club, Sacré, and recently the Rex Club ! It was magic to have a label night there, a great great moment: we introduced the new EP with S3A at the decks there, which was super cool.
“But let’s also be fair, this is also where the money is. Spotify is a total rip-off, and as you know vinyls are beautiful to make but they don’t pay much either…”
The Godbanger EP is in stores at the minute – what’s next after that?
“We have the next three or four releases for 2022 lined up and are working on the others as we speak. As we said, there will be single-artist EPs and probably some VAs at some point to. And a few surprises...
“We’ve missed playing in clubs a lot, so we’ll also be running more nights in Paris and are taking some bookings as DJs in France and abroad already. You guys will hear from us in 2022 too!”
And finally, what else do iDJ readers need to know about you that we haven’t covered already?
Ten Fingerz: “I’m able to juggle with swords and am an accomplished contortionist, but I keep working in a circus as second option for a more stable job in case music doesn’t pay out in the end.”
Basile de Suresnes: “I dance like a machine.”
Words: Russell Deeks
The Godbanger EP is out now on Frappé