An evening of French contemporary talent and genres ranging from hip-hop to soul and pop
It’s rare to meet a turntablist DJ who so values the sound and aesthetic of classic-era Hollywood. A favorite in his home country of France (and, frankly, all over Europe), Wax Tailor’s decidedly cool, anachronistic mixing of long-lost soundtracks of the silver screen and current hip-hop & Euro-synth beats is unlike that of any DJ working today. Tailor (whose given name is Jean-Christophe Le Saoût) is most cherished for his live performances, which transcend the regular DJ fare of mere mixing tracks, and provide electrified international crowds with old school overlaying and scratching, live musical acts (including stirring instrumentalists and vocalists) and kaleidoscopic, compelling video projections. From renown festivals in Glastonbury to Montreal, Tailor has sold-out shows all around the globe. His latest (5th) album, 2016’s By Any Beats Necessary, showcases his storytelling skills, as he leads listeners on an aural roller coaster; an electro swing pilgrimage through the southern states of America. This perfect storm of blues, psychedelic rock, soul funk, trip & hip-hop are a testament to his ability to move crowds in an entirely personal, funky and super fly way.
When two male performers out of the French Scene decided to name their band Her, they knew they’d turn a few inquisitive heads. A tribute to the women who have inspired and shaped them, and a commentary on the nature of duality, the band’s name sums up their sensibilities and philosophies on art, as well as life. Vacillating between the masculine and the feminine, their sound is both sensuous and fortified. With a post-modern electro-rock feel of buzzing guitars and hauntingly ethereal vocals, Her definitely crafts their own rare style. Members Victor Solf and Simon Carpentier are often mistaken for being Brits, as they only sing in English and their sound faintly echoes that of the English new wave. Citing a vast array of diverse influences from indie to soul, such as Kendrick Lamar, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Alabama Shakes, Jungle, Al Green, Shuggie Otis, James Blake, Jamie XX, FKA Twigs, their wispily affecting sound truly defies categorization. With five LPs out, including Gold, Revolution and E’ tutto così, Her’s studio tracks are phenomenally produced. Their stage shows are marvelous too, as they bring three additional musicians along for the acoustically sumptuous ride.
The German-born singer/songwriter/actress Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin has a lineage as remarkably unique as her sound. With a Nigerian father and Romanian mother, she grew up in Africa and Europe, and was already learning to play the piano, violin and guitar at the age of six. Her stage name is the Yoruba translation of the word for “joy,” her first name, and this adjective couldn’t be more applicable for describing her music. At twenty-two, she moved to London and then Paris, and as she toured with soul singers, her fan base widened and her sound matured. She released her first solo studio album in 2006, the EBBA Award-winning Joyful, featuring the plaintively heartfelt “Down on My Knees,” launching her career as she toured Germany, the US and Canada. Her second record, 2008’s Gravity at Last, contained jazzy dancehall jams like “I Am Not Afraid” and the soulful, steel drum-backed rock single “Slow Slow (Run Run).” Three years later she released Billie-Eve (named after her daughter), featuring a captivating cover of the celebrated Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back,” and then 2013’s Ticket to the World, with the politically inspired “Fire.” Voted the ‘Best Female Singer’ of the Globes de Cristal Award, Ayọ thrives on the live stage, her voice elevated to delectable heights of elation. With a dedication to helping educate children across the world, this light-giving artist was named a patron of UNICEF France.
British-born, Paris-based vocalist Ala.Ni defies categorization. Each song on her debut YOU & I sounds like a forgotten gem – instantly familiar but eerily difficult to pin down. All of her songs are highly original, written and produced by the artist, and have a haunting David Lynch-ian quality to them. Ala.Ni stopped many people dead in their tracks when she appeared on “Later…with Jools Holland” late last year, performing a Disney-gone-noir vocal, as compulsively anachronistic as the sensibility of the track itself. Ala.Ni arrived with a voice that seems to take in the cadences of musical history, and an idiosyncratic creative approach to conveying her music, including spooky, self-produced Super 8 videos, 19th century photo techniques for album packaging and release formats that include wax cylinder recordings and even a miniature music box. Her vocal stylings have been compared to Billie Holiday, Minnie Ripperton, Lena Horne, Judy Garland or Julee Cruise, but this is no nostalgia trip and to make these simple comparisons would be, as Glamour noted “a disservice because the thing about this West London-born singer is that she is totally unique.”