Although Daft Punk called it quits earlier this year, the essence of French House is seemingly eternal. Folamour, one of France’s contemporary groove-weavers, is one keeping the flame alight with his slick sampling of old soul and jazz records and feel-good DJ sets. As well as transforming these snippets into four-to-the-floor hip-shakers, he floats into hip-hop, trip-hop and chillwave, creating original sounds with his guitar, bass and synths.
With his third album drop imminent, we’re sharing 10 essential tracks with you, so you can get familiar with Folamour. The producer also gives us a little insight into the concept behind each track.
Folamour’s latest track gives us a glimpse of what his new album might sound like. The Journey combines deep, emotional chords with flute melodies and Zeke Manyika’s Zimbabwean lyrics and chants. This mellow track may not be as party-fuelled as some of Folamour’s others, but it’ll still get your head bopping and will be a welcome addition to your ‘Chill’ playlist.
Folamour: I was living in London when I created the instrumental and I was touring a lot, always feeling out of phase, lost in the world. I wanted to write about immigrating, leaving your own people and country with hope for a better future as I did, and my family, too. I was playing many songs with Zeke Manyika and I felt he was the perfect person to write this song with. It felt right from the beginning and everything came naturally.
I Miss Having Someone To Talk To almost speaks for itself. It was made during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic while Folamour was in lockdown, but the song was inspired by his time in London, touring every day and playing almost 20 gigs a month. Despite its personal and sentimental message, it still exudes Folamour’s signature sunshine funk sound, with Liv East’s sweet vocal line being the icing on the cake.
Folamour: In 2019, I played 140 gigs. It's lonely out there on the road. You don't really meet people and have proper conversations as you're either in a plane or in a club. I was working on a song with Liv East and we decided to talk about this. The first COVID-19 lockdown came soon after and we decided to share it as the lyrics were resonating in all of us in a new way. Sometimes it feels good to just do things spontaneously as I overthink things most of the time.
Folamour teamed up with psychedelic soul savant Jitwam on Sun After Rain, released on the iconic Studio 54 label. Focused around house piano chords and Jitwam’s vocals, the track was built for good times, exploding with a horns section that's reminiscent of the classic disco sound that Sun After Rain feels influenced by. The groovy synth leads are the icing on the cake for this one.
Folamour: For a few years, I was touring the US twice a year and spending most of my free time in New York with my people there, a great crew of beautiful souls (shout-out to John and Vincent). After a few nights spent chilling with my friend Jitwam, we decided to spend a day at his home, in his studio, to jam and see what comes out of it and we wrote Sun After Rain in a few hours. It has slept on our hard-drive for almost three years I think and he called me one day asking if I'd be up for releasing it – and of course I was! I've always been a fan of his music and I can safely say he has amazing music incoming.
Devoted To U is an incredibly clever track from Folaomur. It opens with a delicate synth line over a house beat and slowly introduces chords and melodies from a sample, building up until everything comes together nicely. This smooth beat and vocal will have you on your feet in no time – until Folamour slyly slows it right down to reveal the soulful nature of the sample. Only to bring it back up to speed and get you dancing again.
Folamour: When I started working on my first album Umami, I decided to go to the start of my production and creative process, based on samples. I was arriving at the end of this way of producing and I needed a long format to tell the story I wanted to tell and to close that chapter I started years before. I had this sample from a record I owned that felt like an ultimate house and unity anthem with deep emotions and meaning and I quickly knew how to turn into what it is now. To pay a more honest tribute to the original, I decided to create that long break in the middle, slowing the sample until it goes back to the original. I also love how it feels playing it to an audience!
Led by a gentle piano, I Only Remember You When I Sleep is another display of Folamour’s emotional side. He blends in Mark Borgazzi’s vocal lines and harmonies with distant guitar licks and a jazzy bassline. This track was released on his second album, Ordinary Drugs, which is a little less sample-focused than his first and sees the producer experiment with more spiritual sounds.
Folamour: Ordinary Drugs was a deeper and more personal project than everything I made before, mostly because it was written (almost entirely) without samples, so it was easier for me to make music closer to the story I wanted to tell. I met Mark Borgazzi a few years ago and we had a great connection right away. I love his voice and we started working on this jazzy breakbeat instrumental I wrote for us. I was missing someone deeply during this period and I thought there was a beautiful way to talk about it and this is how the song was born. It’s still one of my favorite songs of mine to this day.
The 4MYPPL#1 EP wasn’t intended to be an official release, but we’re glad Folamour decided to put this one out to the world. With it came Ya Just Need To Believe In Yaself, a mellow house track that oozes sophistication. An irresistible bass line and dreamy guitar licks set the perfect scene for the soulful vocal chops over the top. Play this one at sunset, just before the parties getting started.
Folamour: This is a weird story, actually. I'm always producing a lot of songs that won't ever be released for various reasons and this was one of those. Thinking about how to show the strong link I share with my people through actions, I decided to share mixtapes of unreleased songs on my SoundCloud page. It turned out to be something massive, with people cutting the songs to upload to YouTube and I started receiving oceans of messages about these. I took four songs from the first mixtape and released them under the 4MYPPL EP name. I still struggle to believe this song, that so many people are talking to me about on a daily basis. could have never seen the light of day!
Novalais was created during the boom of lo-fi house and sits nicely in that scene. The atmospheric piano chord sampling and slick bassline complement the beat, with subtle vocals floating in and out of the track. Part of the 2016 EP Oyabun, it's one of Folamour’s earliest releases and set the scene for the producer’s future.
Folamour: This was probably the first time I produced a song that I found extraordinary. It's hard to explain because it's deeply personal but the next day I listened to the song and I was amazed that I produced it and not someone else. I've been working hard everyday since then to have that feeling on every song I'm writing. It's not an easy motto to live by!
Also part of the Oyabun EP, this track is named after a Japanese novel by Eiji Yoshikawa – you’ll notice the influence of Japanese culture throughout Folamour’s oeuvre. The song is based around a slow, soulful gospel sample that Folamour transforms into an upbeat, uplifting dance track.
Folamour: Another funny story – this wasn't supposed to be on the EP! I finished this EP with another song and it was going to be released on a label I ran back then. We sat down with the other guys, listened to the whole EP and someone said the song wasn't good enough and, in a way, I knew it. I told them I had something I was working on with a gospel sample and I played the demo and everyone went crazy. It was obvious that it was the right one. Since the release, I've seen so many songs trying to reproduce this one (same as for Ya Just Need To Believe In Yaself), using the sample but it never has the same flavor [laughs]. I'm happy to have heard the song in so many TV shows since, and I'm glad I was able to put some light on this amazing band, in my humble way.
Folamour’s talent for remixing and reworking shines in Fresh Start, turning the laid-back original into a funk-laden track that’s perfect for dancing to. The tasty bass line sets the tone for the groovy guitar licks and washed-out keys, topped off with sharp flutes and the chopped-up vocals of Lucien & The Kimono Orchestra.
Folamour: I love Lucien and the Kimono Orchestra. Their vibes, their visuals – everything fits nicely. When they asked me to remix one of their songs, I wanted to do something special, paying tribute to the original song while taking it elsewhere.I started chopping the vocals to play as an instrument and everything else came smoothly. Sometimes, I forget about it and go back to listen to it and I'm happy to find out it still feels right.
When U Came Into My Life is a perfect depiction of the French House sound, with a huge-sounding bass, rich chord timbres and a hypnotic, repeating vocal line. This track was released as part of Folamour’s Fort Bellefleur EP on Délicieuse Records, whose YouTube channel is renowned for being a supreme tastemaker. No wonder Folamour found his way onto Délicieuse’s platform with this one.
Folamour: Being a T-Connection fan for years and owning many of their records, I always had this sample that I wanted to work with, but it never felt right. Until one summer night, alone in my flat, I served myself a drink with ice, ripped the song from the record and worked on it all night long. The song hasn't changed since that night. Looking back now, I can hear so many production mistakes–I haven't been able to listen to it for years without feeling sick. But I assume everything I do is part of my path and seeing people still loving it eases the pain.
Folamour’s album, The Journey, will be released in June 2021.
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