Tag: Sylvester

A Q&A with Juno Francis

Juno Francis is a mysterious and emerging Berlin-based indie synth pop duo, featuring two Swedes, who serendipitously met through mutual friends and had an instant creative connection. With the release of “Dance With Me,” the Swedish-born, Berlin-based duo have received attention in Germany for a sound that they describe as a mix of 60s psychedelia and cheesy 80s sounds. But interestingly, “Dance With Me” sounds as though it were inspired by Giorgio Moroder and Daft Punk – in particular, Moroder’s From Here to Eternity . . . And Back and Daft Punk’s Homework comes to my mind.

Building upon a growing profile, the Berlin-based duo released their latest single “Queen’s Anthem” today – and the single continues a run of shimmering and sultry pop centered around rousingly anthemic hooks but unlike its predecessor, it’s decidedly ‘80s inspired, reminding me of Stevie Nicks and JOVM mainstays St. Lucia and Washed Out. Certainly, as a child of the ‘80s, the track manages to bring fond memories of much simpler – and perhaps, far safer – times.

I recently exchanged emails with the members of Juno Francis for this edition of JOVM’s ongoing Q&A series. In this interview, I chat with the emerging and mysterious band about their shimmering and infectious new single, their influences, Berlin – in particular, places to go, things to see and places to see music, and more. And of course, with governments across the world closing bars, restaurants, nightclubs and music venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the impact on the music industry – especially on small and mid-sized venues, and the touring artists, who grace their stages has been devastating and life altering. Over the course of this pandemic, I’ll be talking to artists about how the pandemic has impacted them and their careers. Naturally, there are a lot of lost gigs and lost opportunities and artists across the world have been frantically figuring out what their next steps are – if any. In the case of Juno Francis, they tell me what they’ve been doing to remain creative, as well as continue the momentum of “Dance With Me.”

Check out the interview and the single below.

JUNO-FRANCIS-picture-1

COVER original

 

Solina Records · Juno Francis – Queen’s Anthem

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WRH: Much of the world has been in quarantine and adhering to social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. How are you holding up? How are you spending your time? Are you binge watching anything? 

 Juno Francis: We are safe and healthy and spending most of our time hanging out with a webcam drinking wine or working on some new material. New favorite shows are Foodie Love, Killing Eve and a little bit of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! when the quarantine loco vibe strikes.. 😉

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates. Most of the world has been on an indefinite pause. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?

JF: All shows have been cancelled or postponed and of course that is affecting our career, but we’re working on new material and some live streams instead and it’s not that bad.

WRH: You’re currently based in Berlin. What brought you to Berlin?

 JF: Well we both moved here to float around in the music scene with the intention to float into a person to do great music with. It’s a city we both find fascinating and crazy, right up our alley

WRH: I’ve been to Frankfurt many years ago for the Frankfurt Book Fair. What can I say? It was a free trip. I desperately want to see Berlin though. So, say I get on a Lufthansa flight to Berlin. Where should I go to get a taste of local life? What’s a tourist spot that I’d have to see to get a true sense of Berlin?

JF: Berlin has many sides and in our side there’s not that many tourist spots or book fairs, but if we were your guide for a weekend we would probably show you ”Juno Juno Shop” a great vintage store and the location for our studio. We would take you to nice wine bars and show you some nice industrial areas where you can boogie woogie to some disco beats all night long. 🙂 

WRH: Where’s your favorite spot to see live music in Berlin?

Oh there’s many.. some are Schokoladen, Acud Macht Neu, Kantime Am Berghain, 8mm, loophole (we live on the same street..)

WRH: Are there any acts in Berlin that should be getting love from the outside world that haven’t yet? Who?

 Children (wearechildren.de)

Plaisir (facebook.com/plaisirtomeetyou)

Dance Depot (facebook.com/DANCEDEPOTBERLIN/)

WRH: How did you meet each other?

JF: We met randomly in Berlin through some common friends, it was a creative explosion at first sight. 

WRH: Who are your influences?

JF: Kate Bush, Saâda Bonair, Desire, Sylvester, Donny Benét

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

JF: A lot of Italo Disco!

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

JF: We describe our sound as mix of psychedelic 60s and 80s pop. So far we only released songs that sound more 80s pop but later this summer we will release an EP that show the other side of the Juno Francis project..

WRH: Your latest single “Queen’s Anthem” officially drops today. I love the track It’s got that anthemic 80s synth sound paired with enormous hooks – and as a child of the 80s, it brings back a lot of memories. What’s the song about?

 JF: It’s a nostalgic memory of growing up in Sweden and the mixed emotions connected to moving back. It’s also about believing in yourself and the longing for something more.

 WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?

JF: It’s all in the vibe, if it feels right and sounds right it’s done. Some songs take a week to finish others months and some haunted ones never seam to be done..

WRH: What’s next for you?

JF: We are working on an EP at the moment and aim for a release in the middle of this summer. It will be exploring other sides of the project and sound a bit more dreamy and mysterious…

 

 

 

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New Audio: Electronic Music Pioneer Patrick Cowley’s Posthumously Released, Early Experimental and Psychedelic-Tinged Electronica

Born in Buffalo, NY, the highly influential and forward-thinking electronic music producer and artist Patrick Cowley relocated to San Francisco in 1971 to study electronic music at the City College of San Francisco. By the late 70s, Cowley’s synthesizer and production techniques landed him a gig writing and producing songs for legendary, gender-bending disco superstar Sylvester, including the sultry and propulsive, smash hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” 

Around the same time, Cowley managed to create his own brand of party music, known as Hi-NRG, which was also dubbed “The San Francisco Sound” and by 1981, he had released a string of 12″ singles as a solo artist, including “Menergy” and “Megatron Man.” Interestingly, 1981 was an incredibly busy year for the legendary electronic music producer and artist: he co-founded Megatone Records, which released his debut album Megatron Man. 

During that same year, Cowley as hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness. which would later become known as AIDS. Recovering for a brief spell he went on to produce Sylvester’s smash hit “Do You Want to Funk” and Paul Parker’s “Right on Target,” as well as his sophomore album Mind Warp. Tragically. Cowley died two weeks after his 32nd birthday from an AIDS-related illness.  Since his death, Patrick Cowley has become one of electronic music’s most influential and forward-thinking artists and producers.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, his previously released work has seen posthumous re-issues, including a re-issue of Mind Warp a few years ago. 

With growing attention on the late electronic music pioneer’s work, a collection of previously unreleased material written between 1973-1980 was recently discovered. Dubbed Mechanical Fantasy Box, the 13 previous unreleased songs will be released in tandem with Cowley’s homoerotic journal of the same name, and the compilation is a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. Interestingly, these songs were written and recorded  before drum machines and programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis with the material being highly experimental. Sonically, the material flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic, ambient electronics inspired by Tomita and Kraftwerk. 

Some songs were mixed from 4-track stems by Joe Tarantino and all of the compilation’s 13 songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl edition comes housed in a black and white gatefold jacket Gwenaël Rattke featuring a photograph by Susan Middleton, liner notes by bandmate Maurice Tani and an 8.5×11 insert with notes. But more important, proceeds from the compilation will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV sine 1982. 

Clocking in at just a smidge under 11:30, Mechanical Fantasy Box’s first single “Lumberjacks in Heat” manages to be a trippy synthesis of John Carpenter soundtracks krautrock-inspired prog rock and psychedelia as the composition is centered by layers of shimmering and fluttering bursts of synths and some propulsive and forceful drumming.   Interestingly, much like Kraftwerk’s legendary and influential work, this previously unreleased single manages to simultaneously be of its time and remarkably contemporary — as though it could have been part of the retro-futuristic wave. 

New Video: French Electronic Music Artist Juveniles Returns with a Sensual Single Paired with Politically Conscious Visuals

Earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about Juveniles, the now-solo recording project of French electronic music artist and producer Jean-Sylvan Le Gouic, best known as Jean Sylvain. Initially formed as a duo featuring Sylvain and former member Thibault Doray, the project’s debut EP, We Are Young, which was released through renowned French electronic music label Kitsune Records, received attention slick, hypermodern, super-computerized, dance floor-friendly productions. Building upon a rapidly growing profile among electronic music circles, the duo released their 2013 Yuksek-produced full-length debut, which expanded the then-duo’s profile across the European Union, Southeast Asia, China and South America.

Now, as I’ve not so subtly hinted at, since the release of their full-length debut, the project has gone through some significant changes — Doray left the project, leaving it solely under the helm of Sylvain and his sophomore full-length effort Without Warning, which was released earlier this year through Paradis/Capitol Records finds Sylvain releasing music on a new label after several years with Kitsune Records. Produced and recorded by Joakim at Crowdspacer Studios here in NYC, Without Warning finds the French electronic music artist going through decidedly radical changes both in sonic direction and approach as he abandons the fully computerized sound of his previously released work to embrace a much more “human” approach, featuring live instrumentation from The Juan Maclean’s, Holy Ghost!’s and Yeasayer’s Christopher Berry (drums) and Big Data’s Ben Campbell (bass), along with pre-digital and traditional mixing and production techniques.

“Someone Better,” Without Warning’s preceding single features a sinuous and propulsive bass line paired with blocks of arpeggio organ and synth chords, four-on-the-floor drumming, and Sylvain’s sensual and seductive crooning with some of the sharpest, most dance-floor friendly hooks I’ve heard in quite some time. And while arguably being one of the warmest, most soulful, the French electronic music artist has released to date, the song clearly draws from classic disco, bearing a resemblance to Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real,” Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” but with a subtly modern production sheen. “Love Me” continues in a similar vein, nodding at Nile Rodgers’ work with Chic, Zonoscope-era Cut Copy and DFA Records as the song features an arrangement consisting of shuffling funk guitar, a sinuous bass line, cowbell-led percussion and squiggling synths and some incredibly dance floor-friendly hooks. But just under the surface is a plaintive yearning to be desired and loved that’s innately human.

Directed by Aube Perrie and David Moerman and starring Laure Berend-Sagols and Flore Gandiol as the video’s very pregnant leads and love-struck couple, the recently released and lushly shot video pairs surrealistic and psychedelic-tinged animation and impossibly vibrant colors to evoke the leads swooning passion and desire for one another. And while placing the video’s central pair in surreal situations, the pair radiate sweetness, light and the sort of love that feels (and looks) as though they may be the only people in the entire world, if only for a moment. Certainly, in light of our current political climate in which a presidential administration is in a vicious war against women (in particular single mothers), our dear friends, lovers, colleagues and associates in the LGBQT community, non-Christians and anyone not White, Berend-Sagols and Gandiol’s dignity and decency feel powerful and revolutionary. One day love will be simply that — love.

New Video: The Sensual Visuals and Sounds of French Electro Pop Act Juveniles Latest Single “Someone Better”

With the release of their 2012 debut EP We Are Young through renowned French electronic music label Kitsune Records, the-then French electronic production and artist duo Juveniles, which featured Thibault Doray and its sole remaining member Jean-Sylvan Le Gouic, best known as Jean Sylvain quickly received attention for slick, hypermodern, super-computerized, dance floor-friendly productions. Building upon a rapidly growing profile among electronic music circles, the duo released their 2013 Yuksek-produced full-length debut, which expanded the then-duo’s profile across the European Union, Southeast Asia, China and South America.

Since the release of the project’s full-length debut, the project has gone through several significant changes — Doray left the project, leaving it solely under the helm of Sylvain and his sophomore full-length effort Without Warning, which officially was released today through Paradis/Capitol Records finds Sylvain releasing music on a new label after several years with Kitsune Records. Produced and recorded by Joakim at Crowdspacer Studios here in NYC, Without Warning finds the French electronic music artist going through a radical change in sonic direction and approach as he abandons the fully computerized sound of his previously released work to embrace a much more human approach, complete with organic instrumentation, featuring contributions from The Juan Maclean’s, Holy Ghost!’s and Yeasayer’s Christopher Berry (drums) and Big Data’s Ben Campbell (bass), along with pre-digital and traditional mixing and production techniques.

Without Warning’s latest single “Someone Better” features a sinuous and propulsive bass line paired with blocks of arpeggio organ and synth chords, four-on-the-floor drumming, and Sylvain’s sensual and seductive crooning with some of the sharpest, most dance-floor friendly hooks I’ve heard in quite some time. And while arguably being one of the warmest, most soulful, the French electronic music artist has released to date, the song clearly draws from classic disco, bearing a resemblance to Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real,” Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” but with a subtly modern production sheen.

Produced by Rodrigo Huarte, the recently released music video for “Someone Better” is comprised of a behind the scenes look at anti-hero cop movie in which its main character has a highly-stylized and dramatic love affair with a presumed “hooker with a heart of gold” type character and while the actors “on screen” play up a steamy relationship that they clearly don’t have — at various points, you can tell that both actors are wondering when they’re getting paid or thinking about what they’re doing once the scene is finally over — behind the scenes, two members of the crew, discretely hook up as the rest of the crew films the movie’s key love scene.