France has a long history in the field of electronic music, dating back to the invention of the phonautograph, the first recording device, by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1857 and of the Ondes Martenot, the first electronic musical instrument, by Maurice Martenot in 1928. In more recent times, the electro duos and groups this country has produced have gone on to rule the clubs and the charts of the world. The new releases of the following acts, which include some of the biggest bands in the business as well as those just finding their voices, make for essential listening for anyone interested in the genre and looking for a few names to drop in their next conversation with a DJ.
Birdy Nam Nam is a DJ crew with experimental tastes – their name itself is a reference to a Peter Sellers’ sketch in the cult comedy classic The Party. The group released their self-titled debut album in 2006, the same year they played SXSW, but it wasn’t until 2012 that they gained the attention of Anglophone ears, largely due to the appreciation of Skrillex at the Festival des Artefacts in Strasbourg. The American producer went on to release a remix album of their work and the rest is history.
Daft Punk is a band that needs almost no introduction. The duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter achieved critical success in 1997 as part of the French house movement with their debut album Homework, but it was the 2001 club hit One More Time that made them household names. They won their first Grammy with Alive 2007, and four more in 2014 with their album Random Access Memories, including Album of the Year, and Record of the Year for Get Lucky featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.
General Elektriks is the creation of Hervé Salters, a vintage keyboard player, composer, singer, producer and French-émigré in San Francisco. Once called the Ennio Morricone of the 21st century (even though the Italian composer is still alive and kicking), Salters is no stranger to experimentation. His 2011 album, Parker Street, combined avant-funk, old-school pop, raw jazz and hip-hop aesthetics to outstanding effect, and his latest release from this year, To Be a Stranger, follows suit.
Grand Blanc is an electro-pop-rock four piece from the east of France – a land, in their own words, of cathedrals and furnaces. Their music is dark and filled with tension, inspired by youthful readings of Albert Camus and the albums of Joy Division and The Cure. The band’s MO is to create music that is topographical – check out their track Evidence to find out what exactly they mean by that.
Hailing from Nice in the south of France, Hyphen Hyphen was formed when its four members were studying at the city’s Conservatoire, though they have known each other since childhood and adolescence. The band’s look borrows significantly from tribal signs and they’ve used the term ‘wild union’ to describe their internal bond and that which they share with their growing fanbase. Their debut album, Times – which they wrote, composed, arranged and produced themselves – was released in September 2015 and they won Best New Live Act at the Victoires de la Musique awards in February 2016.
Another of the big hitters on this list, Justice has been at the top of the electronic music game since the release of its debut album, † (that’s the emblematic crucifix they always perform beside) in June 2007. The album missed out on the Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album, but the band’s remix of MGMT’s Electric Feel won for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical in 2009. The band, which is known for its indie-rock influences, is back after a few quiet years with a new album entitled Woman, which will be released on November 18th, 2016. Safe and Sound is its lead single – have a listen and see what you think.
Pronounced like the French for ‘bird’, Mr. Oizo is the pseudonym of musician and film director Quentin Dupieux. He is best known for his first EP, Flat Beat – despite it taking only two hours to produce – which was released in January 1999. The soundtrack of a Levi’s commercial featuring a sock puppet named Flat Eric (who makes an appearance in the video below, too), the song has sold over three million copies and even went to number one in the United Kingdom. Since then, Dupieux has directed feature films which have premiered at Sundance and Cannes. His latest album will be released at the end of this month.
Formed in Paris in 2005, Naive New Beaters’ music fuses rap, rock and electro house. After finding success on YouTube, the band has spent the past few years touring and playing the festival circuit in Europe and North America. Their song Live Good was used in a Nokia commercial and gained them a more widespread following. Their latest album, À la folie, was released earlier this year.
Another Parisian group on this list, Salut C’est Cool is an electro-punk band set apart by its taste for kitsch and the ridiculous, as the video for Techno toujours pareil nicely illustrates. Known for their live performances, the band is a big hit at festivals in France and Belgium, and was one of the most booked for the summer 2014 season.
Synapson, made up of the talented duo Alexandre Chiere and Paul Cucuron, has so far released two albums: Stendhal Syndrome in 2012 and Convergence in 2015. The latter, which combined world music, hip hop, house-funk and pop, was a hit in France and Belgium. Two of its tracks, Djon maya mai (a Victor Démé cover) and All in You featuring Anna Kova are their biggest successes to date.
Otherwise known as Pierre-Alexandre Busson, Yuksek (meaning ‘high’ in Turkish) is one of France’s most successful DJs of the past decade. His music has featured widely in French programming and advertising soundtracks. The native of Reims is also known for