Founded in 2012, the Roche Musique label generates a signature sound that is futuristically classy and – better still – unmistakably French. Found amongst the Roche Musique alumni, which is one heavy-hitting bunch including artists such as Kartell, Cézaire and Cherokee, is 24-year-old resident FKJ. His criminally smooth sound, sophistically transcending the limitations set by traditional music making, is totally addictive (and a personal favourite). We had a chat with one-to-watch FKJ about music, Paris and all things groovy.
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
My interest in music started early on. I would visit my uncle’s studio in Sydney and even though I didn’t know how to use any of the equipment I was completely hooked. I would even sleep there. My earliest musical encounter was listening to my father’s records from the 70s and 80s – you know, Police, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd... that kind of thing. Later my friends and I would listen to Hip-Hop on the radio. I was really into that for a while. I always loved music and sure, it was a dream to be able to make music for a living, but that dream was big. When I moved to Paris three years ago I had a job letting sound equipment for photo shoots and commercials. I didn’t like the job much but I got to use the equipment and was able to do some recordings. There wasn’t really a “defining moment”. I was doing odd-job gigs one moment and suddenly I was making music!
Tell me about about the way you work?
For the last two months I’ve had a real studio, which has made an enormous difference. Before I was working in my bedroom and because of my roommates I had to stop at 10pm. Now I can go on until 5am, if I’m feeling it. I share the studio with two other artists from the label – Kartell and Darius. Whereas especially Kartell keeps quite a regular schedule, I work more hardcore hours. During the day I’m out a lot, taking pictures, having lunch with friends, going to art exhibitions and often having a few drinks at night. I live in Paris and I love to get lost in the city – there is always something to do and I manage to find inspiration everywhere! If something hits me, I will record a vocal melody on my iPhone and then go to my “emergency studio” at home, where I have the essentials to compose if I need to. The best songs are the ones in my head – the spontaneous ones. I often find that too much planning makes mediocre music.
What does music mean to you?
For me it is about the music in itself, not the genre or style. Some periods I am deeply into one thing, two months later it’s something else. When you listen to a lot of different things, and listen properly, you begin to understand the style and the different elements proper to each style. You appreciate not only the music, but the context as well. For me the main thing is having fun in the studio – with a stick, a glass, vocals, anything really. If I feel something is missing I will explore that particular cord obsessively until I really know it. I am always discovering and there continues to be stuff to learn. The beauty is that you can learn anything from anyone; the more open you are, the more you can absorb!
And Roche Musique, what’s the story?
I’ve been part of Roche Musique for two years and it is like a little family. The manager, Jean Janin (Cézaire), is one of best friends and we were friends long before either of us got into music. We are eight to ten artists under the label and we all know each other and hang out every week. Sometimes we do tracks together, mixing sounds and playing around with some tunes. The process is interesting because you never know how it will turn out. Despite the similarity in style we all have different tastes and approaches. For example, I recently created a track with Darius and the way we combined our styles to create something distinctive from both our sounds was awesome and it really worked. On the other hand, the first time we tried it didn’t work – it was too planned!
So, to you, what makes Roche Musique stand out?
I don’t know any other label that brings this level of French groove – that uniquely French touch. I really feel like we are the best representatives of French funk. Apart from that, and the environment of course, I also like the visual side of the label, the cover artworks. For someone who has always loved visuals and photography, that means something too. Essentially, it’s a super supportive environment, in which we all share one main goal – it’s all about the groove!
What inspires you?
I am very much influenced by the atmosphere around me. If I were alone in the world, if nobody was around to listen, no doubt my music would be different. That atmospheric inspiration would be missing. But, once that is said, I make music first and foremost for me. There is a lot of pressure on young artists, once their music starts to take off, to conform to what is “expected” of them. Because of the type of music I make I am often associated with the club scene, but personally I don’t really care about fitting a certain scene. When I was younger I was more concerned with these artificial boundaries, trying to “fit in”, but all that really resulted in was fixing limits for my creativity. You have to stay true to yourself and the kind of stuff you enjoy making – even if it transcends borders. That makes your music honest and honesty is vital.
For sure! And finally, what’s the best part of making music?
When my state of mind is right, it’s euphoric. It’s better than any drug, and such a big part of my music. Of course travelling and making gigs is always amazing. Meeting people and performing, having the opportunity to communicate the euphoric state I was in when I created a track is a special feeling. More than anything, I’d like to be able to think of myself as a composer of good atmosphere. That’s it, that’s what it’s all about for me – creating something groovy and having fun while I do it.