François X has been delivering a special brand of dancefloor invigoration for a decade now — the Parisian DJ/producer found a special niche between the worlds of house and techno with his releases on Deeply Rooted House, and followed that up with a cavalcade of extravagant, textural releases on his own DEMENT3D imprint.
After releasing music for the likes of Valentino Mora, Voiski and many more, he delivered his first LP, Irregular Passion — which served a subtle precursor to his latest endeavour. Enter DEMENT3D XXX, a sister label that will serve as a cultural platform for artists to share visions and expansive productions not confined to the worlds of house, techno and beyond.
To accompany his mix for Newtype Rhythms, we asked him some questions about what’s to come with the imprint, as well as his current opinion on the scene and his own career trajectory.
Interview by Mitch Strashnov
"Music is crucially influential for me; it served me, taught me, indulges me…and thanks to it I have experienced many memorable moments"
Congratulations on the new release and the launch of the sister label — co-running your own label for eight years now and cultivating it carefully over the years, what factors led to the creation of DEMENT3D XXX?
Thank you, I’m really happy about this one. Co-running the label for eight years has been one hell of a magical project. I think many factors actually led me to the creation of DEMENT3D XXX. I wanted to have my own platform where I could express my vision, my tastes… something more personal and intimate.
Conceivably, it was the right time for me to act more confidently, not really to impose but rather to propose. It’s not a question of maybe being shy in the past, but I think I needed to shape my own creative project.
When you immerse yourself in any kind of creative project, you have to be patient to thoroughly learn about the basics, the feeling; crafting your art represents an extensive road, and consequently I believe right now is the time for some XXX flavours.
You’ve inaugurated the imprint by releasing your latest EP, Murky Dreams to start with — do these tracks set a template as to what to expect further down the road from the label?
Murky Dreams is a draft so to speak, it’s the first step of something we’re going to dig into. I’m gathering people around to me to develop the research — we are going to make some “Musique de Banc d’Essai”. The EP itself is filled with emotion and feelings; I believe that you have to allow it to grow on you to genuinely appreciate the meaning of the music – it’s visceral. We are all aiming to explore the corners of our mind to produce and release any kind of music that we believe in and to do so with absolute freedom.
As I mentioned in another interview, labels such as Mute where you could have Plastikman and Depeche Mode side-by-side on the label and sub-label inspire me. I want to be able to release what I desire, when I desire.
The next EP is going to be from Opuswerk under his real name Hendrik Van Boatzelaer; it’s an elegant piece of electronic music that navigates between techno, minimalistic pulse-wave sequences and organic, modern-world music.
This is the kind of project I want to produce with artists on the label, and it’s such a pleasure to find the right connection with people and to develop a unique bond with them. The upcoming artists and music for the label will be centred around these mutual mindsets.
In addition, I have observed and noticed something really interesting recently – when you start to have a busy DJ schedule and are playing regularly you often lose track of the local scene and the local talents even if you still play within your city and I can tell you now, it sucks. I honestly can’t tell how happy I am to be able to get back and re-immerse myself into this burgeoning environment. It’s refreshing and extremely inspiring.
You’ve been running DEMENT3D since 2011; that may only be a few years back, but a lot has changed within the techno landscape since then. How do you keep yourself informed and invigorated with sounds and scenes changing so speedily over time?
A lot has changed within the electronic music world since that time and social media has taken over and changed the game in the blink of an eye. For me, music is perpetually evolving; you grow, you evolve, you mutate. As a DJ you always have to be on the hunt, it’s part of the job and you have to be aware — informed and clued up on everything. I’m constantly eager for a genuine challenge and even though I don’t properly perceive things sometimes, I’m adapting.
For the label it was a pressing and immediate challenge to be noticeable amongst so much music released every week, but we survived thanks to the help of people like our in-house maestro Joan who helps us on the digital marketing and communication.
The only downside nowadays for me is music being pushed to the back and has suddenly not become the primary element of appreciation. We need taking it back to the front. Music is crucially influential for me; it served me, taught me, indulges me…and thanks to it I have experienced many memorable moments.
You’ve never been afraid to imbue your emotions in an elegant way with your sets — you’re not afraid to traverse genres and get a groove going; and that’s led you to play some of the best clubs and festivals in the world. What do you think separates you from you contemporaries when it comes to your approach to DJing?
I would say that I follow my innermost emotions and that I’m unrestricted by any single genre. I have experienced several cycles within the electronic music scene which has given me many influences, and I’ve witnessed both trends rising and bubbles bursting. I’ve learnt to always stick to my vision and never fall for the hype — trends and hype are like waves, they come and go.
Of course, as an artist you inevitably have to be fresh and up to date, but if you want to look and go forward you always have to go backwards and rely on your roots. My roots are my keystone, my fundamental base and foundation, and when I’m lost or don’t find the inspiration I always go back to them.
They make me dream and reveal to me the reasons for my involvement in this music. It’s all about passion. When you can link these feelings to your DJ approach you enable your sets to become more unique and your only aim is to narrate your story and to share your love for this music with the crowd.
I think what could maybe describe me as a DJ is honesty. It’s just me, nothing more nothing less, and I’m having a moment with you on the dancefloor. When the bond is properly set, hopefully you will discover yourself engaging in a conversation with me through the music.
Nowadays every young DJ wants to rush to the top, to maybe try to obtain ‘the glory’ and to play to 10,000 people on huge stages right away but they aren’t ready. I don’t judge, I’m just telling the fact. It took me so much time to recognise who I am as an artist and I’m still learning.
There aren’t any shortcuts, you have to be patient to craft and master your art and your skills. Let the passion and love grow organically on you; yes, time may be of the essence but you should naturally approach it as if it was timeless.
What can we expect from François X for the rest of 2019?
Something tells me 2019 will be a transitional year, I have a hunch inside of me. The roots of the tree are solid, so let’s see the branches grow and the flowers blooming!
This year will be full of music and DEMENT3DXXX will continue with a monster upcoming EP by Hendrik Van Boatzelaer followed by a full album remix package with interpretations from artists such as Valentino Mora, Bambounou, Redshape and Pessimist to name just a few.
I’m also gathering artists at the moment who are sending me tons of amazing music for the following upcoming releases. Gohan is a remarkable and extremely artist, and they are preparing some projects for the label.
On a more personal side, I will go back to the studio and experiment with my toys and see where it leads me, following my path and spreading the message, the love.
Finally, tell us about this mix you’ve crafted for Newtype Rhythms.
You can expect a proper mix featuring unreleased gems, some classics and some new oddities. To be honest, I was hustling doing this one. I don’t know why but I’m happy with the results. It’s an accurate representation of what I am; deep and cosmic vibes, lush pads with constant body shaking in mind. Oh yes — I forgot to notify you that the body has to move, it has to feel alive. It is all about the jack.
Here is the tracklist:
00:00 – 42:40 – mixed by Sheepshead
1. Tatsuro Kojima – Idea
2. DJ T. – Outbreak
3. Deena Abdelwahed – Tawa (Clip Remix)
4. Rumah & Progression – Lein
5. Special Request – Damage (Detboi Pump-Action Remix)
6. Akkord – Compound
7. Alex Coulton – Function
8. 400PPM – Metabolic Grit
9. Phara – Shee
10. Tessela – Nancy’s Pantry
11. Agrippa – Dead Wait
12. Ryan James Ford – Aylith Yard
43:03 – END – mixed by François X
1. Gohan – Awekea
2. Money Morning – Haze
3. Blood Sucker – Markiv (Plastikman’s Rejected Remix)
4. DJ Healer – Gods Creation
5. Valentino Mora – Hualien
6. Board Of Wisdom – Over The Hill (Terrace Mix)
7. L.B. Dub Corp – Forever In A Day
8. François X – Absolute Therapy (Redshape’s Dusty Dub Mix)
9. Roger 23 – Cultural Negotiation
10. Revelation – Synth It (The Realm Dub)
11. States Of Mind – Elements Of Tone (J’s A Mix)
12. Lory D – Globe (Marcel Dettmann Edit)
13. Tapirus – Deprivation
14. Florence – A touch of heaven
15. Paleman – Titan Vulture
16. Sonar Base – Welcome To Sonar Base #4
Discover more about François X on Inverted Audio.