A key figure in Paris’ underground scene, François X’s journey began when he started regularly visiting of one of the city’s record stores where a chance meeting with DJ Deep took place. Becoming almost like a mentor to François, DJ Deep encouraged him to finish some tracks and ended up being released on Deep’s Deeply Rooted label as ‘Future Roots Vol. 3’ in 2009. Since then, François launched his DEMENT3D series alongside HBT which saw them bring in acts like Abdullah Rashim, Shifted and Surgeon to Paris. He is also credited for developing artists such as Polar Inertia, Valentino Mora, In Aeternam Vale and Voiski.
Through his transition of sultry house to the weirder sides of techno and IDM, François X is ready to explore new realms through his new label DEMENT3D XXX and no longer be confined to one sound. A solo project, François will be using the label as a cultural platform to explore different genres across the electronic sphere with the debut release from the label boss himself, ‘Murky Dreams’, which is exactly what it says on the tin. As we move into this new chapter, we catch up with François to discuss the concept and inspiration behind DEMENT3D XXX and what he has in store for the venture.
DEMENT3D XXX is your new project that aims to explore outside the realms of house and techno – two genres that you have become renowned for – how do you feel your audience will react to the new label? Have you been road testing some of the new records?
I presume what I desire to achieve with the label is to put out music I like and to be unrestricted to genres in general. Of course, coming from an electronic scene, I’m surrounded by artists from there, therefore don’t expect to hear rock music at the start. But in the future, my goal is to provide a platform where I can have the freedom and the capacity to release a vast spectrum of material.
If I will be coherent enough, this diversity will be received (I hope) by my audience with an enthusiastic reaction. In fact, it’s not about the new label’s direction; it’s in addition to the passion and the quality that artists are going to put into our art. Let it be free.
When you moved away from house music to techno, you said the genre had become too cheesy, what was the reasoning behind your latest move? Why have you decided to explore different landscapes outside those two worlds?
I don’t think I am moving from anywhere; I’m exploring. As I said, it’s all about freedom and being capable to dive from place to place. When I ‘moved away’ from house music to techno, it was naturally in the need of learning, to cut my teeth and to become more educated. Currently, I have reached a point where I tell myself “yes… I love so many genres, so many moods, I have to come up with a way to combine all in one and develop a coherent synthesis.” Music remains an infinite medium, and you would be a fool not trying to explore. House and techno will inevitably remain my passions, but I need more, I need surprises, altered structures. I want to be fresh. For instance, I’ve decided to convey things more seriously with my radio show on Rinse by not just doing the usual online mix format that has become the ordinary standard. I want to come back to the real radio show spirit, broadcasting modern classics and not only the new promos that I receive.
What do you enjoy the most about owning and curating your own platforms?
What I enjoy the most about owning and curating my platform is the freedom, the luxury of being independent. With the label, I want to offer an opportunity to encourage talented artists to develop themselves. It’s all about fostering a group-wide emulation. I’m not interested in one shot and mercenaries.
What do you think DEMENT3D XXX is a reflection of? Has there been any personal experiences or change in the Paris’ musical landscape that helped create the concept for the label?
It would be a bit presumptuous, but my vision represents purely a reflection of DEMENT3D XXX. The concept of the label has been carefully shaped since day 1. It’s a constant evolution of my natural flow, which predominantly relies on emotions. I think I want to distance myself from the noise of the scene. Paris is really bubbling at the moment, there are so many talented producers around, amazing labels… therefore for all one knows it was the opportune moment to open doors and come across people?
Launching the label with your EP ‘Murky Dreams’, what do you hope listeners take away from the first impression?
My hope is people really understand me. A part of the crowd solely think of me as a ‘techno guy’, but I’m more than that. Every so often it’s a real problem for me. I feel the sensation of being trapped or caught in the middle. People are expecting me to play this or produce that…I want to showcase my musical diversity with this first EP, which is for me something vital. Nevertheless, this first attempt is a kind of a draft so to speak.
Have there been any key artists you’ve looked to for inspiration during the curation of DEMENT3D XXX?
My agent Juliette and I habitually have this discussion, about the evolution as an artist, and there is always a name that constantly pops up – David Bowie. He demonstrated this ability to morph into a completely distinctive character than the artist many had seen beforehand. I cannot say he was a direct inspiration for the curation of the label, but these talks about him helped a lot. Labels like Mute also remain a brilliant inspiration for me, being able to release strong projects across a broad range of varied music.
Is there anything outside of music that has inspired the label and your first release?
La nuit mon ami – I am night-bird. At night, things get a lot more unpredictable. A stranger can come to be a friend; you suddenly become intimate with a woman or a man whose name you will never find out, while darkness additionally allows you to hide your true identity – or even become someone else. Everything around me is an inspiration; I’m passionate and genuinely puzzled about anything. Playing tennis at a high level, managing a fashion brand and trading bonds in former lives, filled my head with so many dreams and memories that inspiration remains a perpetual process for me.
How would you say XXX is an extension of the original label and party that you started with HBT?
It’s not categorically a direct extension so to speak, XXX is solely based around my proper perspective and decisions where the vision of DEMENT3D is based on influences from two people, myself and Julien (HBT).
And how would you say the label represents your growth as an artist?
Like I touched on in a few of the previous questions, I have become more mature and confident to release what I desire. Music as a modern art represents undoubtedly an extended road, where you have to be patient to genuinely discover your tastes and eagerly embrace them.
Are you hoping to host club nights and showcases for the new label and sound? If so, would there be anything different conceptually from the original series?
Of course, I am a party guy!!! Conceptually speaking, it would not be that different in terms of ideas but I will pay particular attention to details. I want to provide an intimate atmosphere, to be close to people, like when you attend a close friend’s party.
Can you reveal any other artists that are lined up for the label?
The next EP will be done by my fellow Swiss brother Hendrik Van Boatzlear. I’m also collecting music from some absolutely remarkable artists like Gohan, Elise, Iasuke, Valentino Mora, Pessimist, Redshape… stay tuned!
‘Murky Dreams’ by François X is out now on DEMENT3D XXX – buy here.