Saturday April 23rd 2016 || Primary Nightclub
Primary presents: Fred Falke
w/ Heaven Malone + John Mork
Doors at 10pm
Tickets at: http://ticketf.ly/1UjLBNw
For a VIP experience please email Bottles@PrimaryChi.com
FRED FALKE -----
In a career that's already spanned fifteen years, musician, producer, remixer and artist Fred Falke has been at the forefront of electronic music. 2000's classic Intro – created alongside fellow Frenchman Alan Braxe – came to define French Touch, a scene that also included the likes of Daft Punk, Étienne de Crécy and Cassius. Later, at the behest of pop production alchemist Brian Higgins, Falke worked at UK-based pop laboratory Xenomania, helping create forward-thinking pop songs for the likes of Gossip, Mini Viva and Florrie. More recently he's helped solidify disco's return having co-written and produced Nervo's collaboration with Kylie Minogue, Jake Shears and Nile Rodgers, The Other Boys. Running alongside these collaborations have been myriad official and hugely influential remixes for the likes of Robyn, Lana Del Rey, Nero, Hot Chip and U2, as well as 2006's solo debut Omega Man, 2011's debut album, Part IV, and his forthcoming EP, Alpha. For Falke, all these various disciplines help define who he is. “Making music for me, writing for others, remixing other people, producing other people – I love it all equally,” he explains. “It's all part of me as an artist.” Growing up in Toulouse, Falke initially studied finance before quickly realising he could only dedicate his time to things he was actually passionate about. Almost by accident he fell into music, learning the bass guitar after noticing that most bands seemed to have neglected hiring bassists. Growing up he'd also learned the piano, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, while his house was full of classical music and, from his sister, Fleetwood Mac and Supertramp. Clearly musical he enrolled in France's equivalent of the Berkley School of Music to study jazz, the idea being that he'd make his way as a session musician. After two years of study he left the school as the country's best bass player, deciding on a whim to leave France and head to Hong Kong with a college friend to take advantage of the lack of musicians out there. In 1997 he returned to France, his love and inquisitiveness for recording and producing music piqued via the myriad recording sessions he'd done. The timing was perfect; France's electronic scene was enjoying a purple patch with the release of Daft Punk's Homework and suddenly the friend's Falke had returned to were all house DJs. “Most of what they were playing featured disco samples and so I loved it because of the basslines,” he says. “They suggested I go to their studio and play bass on their tracks and because I was a pianist I also had a Rhodes and a Moog so I'd bring those too. Then I started thinking I could do my own tracks.” In a career peppered with moments of fate, one day Falke was in a record shop when he met fellow musician, Alan Braxe. “I bumped into him and the same thing happened - he knew I played all these instruments and so he said I should go round. He had drum machines and computers and we'd jam and work on tracks. One of them was Intro, and that was the start of it.” Intro – with its pulsating bassline, big filtered synths and joyous sample of The Jets' Crush On You – was an instant classic, taking its place alongside Stardust's Music Sounds Better With You and Daft Punk's Da Funk as French Touch's most defining moments. “French Touch is electronic music made by French people at a specific time,” Falke explains with typical succinctness. “There was a really good spirit between us all – there was no competition. One of my friends surfs and it's that feeling of your riding a wave and it's cool, someone else is there with you. It's having fun together. It was super exciting. All the music was done in a way that was, how can I say this? Non-professional. My studio is still in my living room. The core of this music is this sense of kids in their rooms playing and experimenting. Even Daft Punk, for a long time their studio was in their house.” While the pair released more tracks together, and remixed the likes of Goldfrapp, Kelis Jamiroquai, Röyksopp and Justice, by 2008 they had drifted apart creatively, Falke already having released tracks with Kris Menace and as a solo artist.
Frightened and excited about stepping out on his own, he continued remixing and in 2010 produced two songs on Ellie Goulding's debut album, Lights. His ear for a melody caught the attention of hugely respected pop producer Brian Higgins – the man behind the success of the ever inventive Girls Aloud – who invited Falke to work as part of his experimental production hothouse, Xenomania. “That was my second important move after releasing music under my own name,” Falke says. “Brian contacted me and so I went and met him. First I was a bit lost because it was all so different, but Brian just wanted me to bring my own thing to pop. So he gave me an acappella of a track and just told me to do whatever I wanted with it. He's been like a mentor to me. I learned so much from him and the other producers there.” It was during that time that he realised the difference between making a mainly instrumental electronic track and constructing a proper pop song. “I learned how to write a song; not a track. It's a puzzle.” Not only did Xenomania change his style of writing and producing, it also brought him to LA, where he lives and where his new EP Alpha was made. “So Brian would bring me to LA for writing sessions with other writers and that's when I fell in love with this place. We would come here and do the sessions and then afterwards I came back on my own and stayed.” Made up of the various tracks he'd released as one off singles, as well as some newer songs, 2011's Part IV album was more of a compilation; a way of fulfilling a need. “The idea behind it was to make all the tracks available to people because most of the tracks were released as a physical single or on vinyl,” he explains. “Wherever I'd go playing gigs, people would ask how to get tracks they liked because they weren't readily available.” Released after his stint with Xenomania, but mainly created before, the songs on Part IV didn't reflect his newfound pop knowledge or the evolution in his sound. This is where the Alpha EP comes in. Acting almost as a trailer for his forthcoming second album, Alpha – which features Fred handling bass, keyboard and programming duties, alongside celebrated guitarist Brent Paschke (Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry) – includes the dream-like, softly pulsating It's A Memory. Featuring vocals from Elohim and Ted from Mansions On The Moon, it's Falke's first proper song, i.e. with a verse and a chorus. It's also just one part of the puzzle. “I haven't released any original material since 2011, so four years,” Falke says of how the EP was constructed. “When I was writing the tracks, I was thinking 'if I was a fan of Fred Falke and nothing's come out for four years, what would I love?' So that was the starting point. I wanted to tick the boxes, not in a cynical way, but I have all these different styles that I can do so let's put them all together. I love having dynamics on an album or an EP.” So elsewhere the EP covers Chic-esque filtered disco in the shape of the LA-inspired Radio Days (complete with a voiceover from LA legend DJ 'Shotgun' Tom Kelly); a proper, unabashed banger in All Of My Love (“that's the classic French sound,” Falke exclaims) and the lovely closing instrumental, Crepuscule (“That's the kind of track I can imagine people driving downtown listening to it at dusk,” he says). Showcasing not only his musicianship, but his ear for an undeniable melody, Alpha is the perfect outlet for the broad scope of music Fred Falke can seemingly turn his hand to at will. It's also a statement of intent; this isn't about relying on what he's achieved before, or hiding behind the scenes; this is about stepping out and showing what he can do. “There's a French saying which translates roughly as, 'which one do you want to be? Do you want to be the tallest guy in the kindergarten or the small child in the college?' I wanted to be the small guy in the college and learn and grow,” he says. “I don't want to rest on my laurels. I want to do the next thing.” Watch him go.