House music has been present all over the world since the 80's, but there's been a few musical movements that have shaped the sounds that we listen nowadays.
For example, the french touch or also known as french house, is a genre that takes inspiration from many musical movements, mostly from European disco and American house music, the combination of influences is what makes it so special. Maybe right now you may not know any song that comes from this genre, but I'm pretty sure you have listened to many tracks that originated from this wave.
I don't know maybe Daft Punk sounds familiar or if you're more into the 2000's kind of music maybe, Justice sounds familiar, or even Kungs who has had many hit songs in the 2020's, but something that this music producers have in common is that they all are french and all are considered as French Touch producers in some way.
So I guess now it's pretty obvious that French touch is based on french artists but what are the sounds that actually make a song be considered as "French Touch".
Well basically this wave is mostly characterised by those funky sounds that make you want to move your head and just vibe to the music, a little side note is that the french label "Ed Banger Records" created by Pedro Winter or also known as Busy P wanted to name his label "Head Banger Records" and ended making an abbreviation of the word "Head" turning it into "Ed", and for me this name has always been heavily accurate for the label since French Touch as I said makes you want to move your head more & more until sometimes you're almost "banging your head". But apart of this side note, YES French Touch music is groovy, funky and sexy, and for me what makes it so special is those heavily influenced sounds from disco & funk that makes you want to dance all night long perfectly blended with synth and electro touches.
But I feel like we should talk a bit about the technical aspects of this sounds to be able to understand why they are so attractive.. For starters rhythms and drums, I don't know how many of you are into music gear but basically there's this little boxes called drum machines that got really popular during the 80's.
This kind of gear is still used nowadays and can be considered as a piece of gear for the nostalgic music producers, but at the end of the day if it works for you, you're doing it right. Back to the drum machine, this type of beauties are used as rhythm sequencer in order to quickly obtain a funky loop as a base for your track, basically it works as a sampler, like any nowadays DAW has.
Now off to the sounds and textures, which make this genre so interesting mainly thanks to the layers of synths blended together swooping between different filter configurations. Some synths used in this genre are the Juno-6/60/106, the Moog voyager RME, the alpha Juno and mainly any synth from the 80's could emulate a similar sound.
Other important aspects are the funky guitars with distortion, filters and heavy compression, the sexy sounds of pianos like the rhode's, many filters and effects in order to get a groovy sound, and don't forget the side chain heavily important for this genre! For those who are not into music production side chaining is for example when you take your bass and in a way "connect it to your kick" in order for the frequencies of the bass to lower themselves automatically every time the kick hits to make your sound more funky and basically make you move your head, this is the most commonly used side chain but it can be done with any track's of your song.
Also we can find instruments like guitars that are used to give that disco rhythm to the songs (like Nile Rodgers did in Daft Punk, Random Access Memories album), we can also find some acoustic bass and sometimes some real drums, but the OG French Touch is mostly based on drum machines.
Like all the music genres that have existed, French Touch has kept growing and changing, adapting new sounds and new artists to the french scene, so let's talk a little bit about the evolution of this genre, and what is the modern French Touch or "French Touch 2.0".
Some of the most popular producers for this genre are: Daft Punk, Stardust, Justice, Mr.Oizo, Kavinsky, M83, Cassius, Laurent Garnier, Bob Sinclar, Dj Medhi, Breakbot & others.
This artists represent the sounds and the rhythms that we previously reviewed, which are the sounds that people perceive as "French Touch", but there's a brand new generation of french artists that are exploring sounds and contributing to the french electro scene. This new wave can be considered as the French Touch 2.0, which doesn't really maintain the same characteristics when it comes to the inspirations or the sounds and instruments used on the previous wave but at the end of the day it's still french house music with a more modern touch.
Some of the most popular producers for the French Touch 2.0 are: Møme, Kungs, Dj Snake, The Avener, Myd, Petit Biscuit, The Blaze, Les Gordons, Fakear, French 79, Ofenbach & others.
As you can see the french electro scene is still growing and maybe, it's not having the same impact that it had some years ago on the industry, but it still has a lot to offer and is still present in all sort of scenes around the world.
Also let's not forget that Daft Punk where the first electronic music artists to win the Grammy award for best album of the year, giving the electro scene and the French touch a huge presence in the music industry with the album "Random Access Memories".
Here are two Spotify playlists, if you're interested on listening to some French Touch 🥖: