For anyone who is familiar with HumanHuman, you’ll know that our community is built on users from all around the globe. Throughout October, we’ll be getting to the heart of the promising music scenes in some our user’s home countries to find out what the rest of the world should be listening out for in the near future.
The French music scene is somewhat hard to grasp these days, with so many up and coming bands and artists from all genres of music having emerged in the last couple of years. This taught newcomers that with a little creativity, perseverance and know-how, they could breakthrough the clutter and have hits on the radio half-way round the world not to mention boast a global following. Think of how STWO made it across the pond (with the help of Los Angeles based collective Soulection) and how Christine & The Queens has risen to global acclaim in the last couple of years (being on Time’s cover, on Jools Holland’s show and performing at Coachella). These two artists are spearheading the French music ‘renouveau’ internationally and should be applauded for their efforts.
If anything, it should be a clear indication on how fertile, vibrant and exciting the French music scene actually is with the multiplication of collectives, record labels, industry influencers, and festival lineups out there fighting to get the newcomers a well-deserved platform towards a new audience. However, no matter how good the music is, the language barrier can be restraining for both the listeners and the artists. Not understanding the full scope of nuances, word-play and rhymes that artists come up with can be tricky for an untrained ear; it’s a risky business. But as Christine & The Queens have shown, it can be done with the right balance. With the help of music bloggers Julien Tanrattana and Yacine Mohammedi from Ground Decibels along with myself Ben (of Sodwee.com) we’ve put together a list of artists that we think is an accurate snapshot of today’s French music scene and the hopefuls we support for global chart domination. - BR
Cleverly mixing 60’s garage rock melodies and a modern surf-rock approach to guitar-music, Paris based band Requin Chagrin’s appeal lies within the unique DIY aesthetics, lo-fi process and endearing French lyrics. Requin Chagrin also happens to be the title of a song by Michel Sardou, whom for those don’t know, is a well renowned French artist. Fronted by Marion Brunetto, the four-piece dropped their self-titled EP in 2015 to critical acclaim in France. Since then, they’ve upped the ante with a string of brilliant releases and a great collaboration with rising label La Souterraine as well as making their rounds across France with a newly formed band including Yohann Dedy on keys, Romain Mercier-Balaz on drums and Grégoire Cagnat on bass. Requin Chagrin is one talented band to keep an eye out for. Spin our favorite track “Rose” to get acquainted with their fuzz and reverb filled tracks. - BR
SÔNGE maintains a rather mysterious aura on the web but she invites us to bask in her colorful universe. More than simple songs, each track that she unleashes into the world is an opportunity to show off her love for visuals through psychedelic and crazy music videos. Hailing from Quimper, in Brittany, SÔNGE’s two songs already prove to us that she’s full of potential. Somewhere between Kwamie Liv and Santigold, her gritty electronic soul has a rich tonal palette, different from everything existing in France. It feels highly refreshing and leveled in an era where everyone with a laptop and a mic tries to produce something similar. - GD
Malca is the brainchild of a kid who grew up between Casablanca and Paris, soaking up both cultures like a sponge to restitute them in a genius blend of catchy pop hooks and elegant soul lyrics. There’s a definite beauty in his art, inspired by the multiple cultures that he has come across including spending just as much time in Morocco and France. By mixing these influences into a single, seamless sound, Malca takes you on a journey through these two worlds by combining elements of the likes of Al Green, Frank Ocean and even Madonna. Describing his music as Soul-Funk from the 80’s, built on the foundations of modern arabic music, Malca sites Warda and Samira Saïd as top influencers for his work. Take latest offering “Ya Layli” for instance, which without any doubt will whisk you away to a land of bliss. - BR
Royaume is the brainchild of singer Yumi and producer Moon Boy who met at a party two years ago. Together, they offer a pretty delightful mix of alternative R&B and dream pop that stirs something within you. Their debut singles “Blue Asphalt” and “Endless Grace” are excellent pieces of peaceful bedroom pop, with enchanting piano arrangements and spacious guitar notes. Sensitive, intimate and majestic at the same time, Royaume combines rich harmonies with a beautiful orchestration, rekindling the magic of acts like Beach House. Currently working on their debut EP, we can’t wait to see the pair expanding their horizons even further. - GD
Oko Ebombo is a multi-talented artist, and one of the oldest acts on the circuit to have made it to our playlist. One of a kind, he seems to roam like a solitary wolf amongst the rest of his peers without giving a second thought in regards to his actions of musical output. Produced and crafted between Portland, Oregon, and Paris, France Ebomo’s Naked Life EP (which was a year in the making) beautifully showcases the Parisian’s attention to detail, highlighting the fact that he takes absolute pride in his art. Not leaving any room for doubt about his intentions of becoming the next big thing in music, you will be blown away by the soulfulness of his vocals, echoing stories of his childhood in Paris’ 10th District, Ebomo addresses the ups, the downs and finding the meaning of his life through art. Whether it be music, fashion, live performances, poems or directing his own videos, Ebombo pours everything he has into his work which is precisely what makes him a commendable artist. - BR
A single song released last year was enough to capture our attention on the pure talent that is Adam Naas. The song in question is Naas’ debut single “Fading Away” which delivers a raw and utterly heart-wrenching moment. Even though his self-titled debut EP was released last month , there’s an element of class to it. Built on a foundation consisting of deep piano chords, electronic percussions, sweet chimes and plenty of seamlessly integrated nuances the songs’ most beguiling element is Adam’s oh-so bewitching voice. His vocal range transforms the most mundane song to a beautiful musical poem. Echoing vulnerability, the French crooner most definitely will sing his way into your heart and gently, ever so gently... break it. - GD
Keep Dancing Inc are a young band from Meudon, a city that is located on the outskirts of Paris, who have been on everyone’s lips ever since they appeared at the MIDI_Festival alongside their English counterparts Babeheaven, Aldous RH, Sweat and many more. Forming the trio are Charles, Louis and Josep, who met at a Palma Violets concert and brilliantly decided to make music (“cold-zouk” as they like to call it) together based on their influencers such as The Smiths, New Order, Blood Orange and The Drums to name a few. Most recent offering “Life Goes On” is a great example of their signature soft guitars, wavy synths and subtle beats. More importantly, the three twenty-somethings showcase the energy, DIY flair and fresh take on music that you’d expect from such a young band. - BR
Hip-Hop is one of the most exciting scenes in France, with a lot of huge emerging talents (we’re thinking of PNL who starred on the cover of The Fader this past summer or MHD who performed at the MoMa). Singing and rapping in English, Manast LL’ is in line with this drill-infused, Drake-inspired trending sound, with a high dose of Auto-tune thrown in for good measure. Over the few years, it’s safe to say that LL’ has mastered the kind of Hip-Hop-I-Want-To-Fuck-but-I-Might-Cry-too, with breezy and atmospheric productions and smooth vocals. It does leave a bit to be desired in terms of originality, but it’s still an indicator of Manast’s gift for creating inviting melodies and his strong ear for beats with huge tracks like “No Mo”, “Sookah” or latest song “IDWSYF”. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his ethereal and nocturnal universe drew the attention of tastemaker label Kitsuné not to mention he’s been added to the Pitchfork Festival Avant-Garde line up which takes place later this month. - GD
One duo that has been impressing me for quite a while now, is Pépite. With their light, heartfelt nostalgia driven tracks and well penned lyrics, Pépite (which aptly translates to “Gem” in English) manages to combine the perfect essence of what makes a good french export. With the Wes Anderson imagery that adorns the artwork of their Le bateaux EP, Thomas and Edy take you on a colourful journey through coastal panoramas, beach prone errands of lost love and the perfect french utopia that no other lyricist could have written so eloquently. With the stunning four-track EP, they’ve shown exactly why they’re amongst our favourite hopefuls. Listen to “Hiéroglyphes” to get a whiff of what’s in store for the future of this band. - BR
French people don’t get pop music. They tend not to like naive and pointless lyrics. However, with Cléa Vincent and her feel good pop jams, maybe things will change. Her music is a wonderful pot-pourri of chanson française (a French song), yé-yé (a style of pop music that emerged from France), 60’s sounds, disco-minded drums and these French Touch (the equivalent of House music) synths. Her instantly addictive poppy sound reminds us of Yumi Zouma and a kind of 2010’s Françoise Hardy. After the excellent but highly-underestimated EPs released in 2014, Non Mais Oui and Non Mais Oui vol.2, Cléa Vincent is back with a new crowd funded project in Retiens Mon Desir, which is an innovative way to promote and communicate with her audience, without the help of a major label. With each song, Vincent gets that little bit closer to changing the viewpoints of France on pop music. - GD