Earlier this month electronic artist French 79 released his sophomore album ‘Joshua‘, featuring 13-tracks full of synthetic, ambient electronic vibes with one hell of an interesting story to tell.
French 79 – the moniker of French-born artist Simon – currently lives in Marseille because it is “the best city ever” in his opinion. Featuring aspects of the sea, mountains and cheap rent, French 79 also has “great friends and artists” all around him… Besides music though, French 79 is “passionate about skateboarding, mountain hiking, and sailing, which all end up influencing his music in some way.
Speaking to Eat This Music on the release of ‘Joshua‘, French 79 explains that the “release of an album is always a particular moment”, where you come to “both the end of a production period” and also “the beginning of something new.” He has lots of hope with the release of this new album. French 79 expressed to Eat This Music that he has “a lot of excitement”, especially for this release, because he couldn’t “wait to play the new songs live” and also because he thinks ‘Joshua’ will please his fans, but also touch new listeners. So far French 79 has “been spoiled by the feedback” and is loving the “the comments on the social networks: “if I got it right all the songs should have been released as singles” which was pretty flattering [smiles].”
Following on from the release of his 2016 album ‘Olympic‘, ‘Joshua’ sees French 79 use the platform to reflecting on a time when French 79 forgot his musical identity. French 79’s teenage years were when he “discovered the need for freedom,” and his will to escape… French 79’s “first drug was hiking mountains, surfing or skateboarding”, and he still has the virus to this day. The songs in the album themselves “are more about the sounds” he has “had in mind from this era” and “all the movies that marked” him at that time, movies like Wargames, Blade Runner and many others. It’s only recently that French 79 understood that his “music was influenced by these synth-driven O.S.T.” So Joshua “is a tribute to what made” him who he is today, but the album is not meant to be nostalgic at all either.
“It’s also a projection, I look forward to what’s gonna happen and I tried to make music that sounded like future to me.” French 79 on “Joshua”
The inspiration for the album is not all that difficult to pinpoint, as French 79 is essentially “always composing,” and “looking for melodies, bass lines,” and “juxtaposing layers of harmonies.” French 79 thinks that is why whatever he does, “it will always sound “French 79″,” to an extent, so it is “long term work,” however, “technically speaking (recording vocals, doing arrangements, editing, mixing, mastering)” it took French 79 about a year to produce.
The entire creative process for French 79 is very authentic. French 79 likes to start “playing a melody” on his “little handy synth” on his “boat in the bay of Marseille” or in “the mountains in the Alps like Chamonix,” French 79 always has it with him. French 79 always tries “to depict a feeling, a location, someone, a relationship” or memory when creating music, so it is “more evocative” and it is “not just notes of music,” it is “like a music sketch or memo”. Then French 79 goes back to his studio” and listens to the demos he has put together. If something catches French 79’s attention, he starts to build something around this pitch, it is “like writing a movie” or “a book”, essentially the “plot can be really simple to start with,” even “sometimes a unique sentence is strong enough to be intriguing.” Then comes the time to make a song more produced, with French 79 telling himself, “ok let’s see if this can turn into a proper song”. French 79 has “tons of raw “tracks” in” a hard drive, and “some of them might end up being polished and become future songs of mine.”
French 79 stated he needed to release this album because it is “only important for my “life balance”, French 79 expresses. The album is the best way for French 79 to express himself, and he has to get things out so that he feels good. French 79 just couldn’t stay at home doing nothing. French 79 needs action.
French 79’s first album, ‘Olympic’, was released “three years ago” this month exactly, “which can seem a long time,” however, French 79 believes the album was “a grower for a lot of people”, the album started out “confidentially” but “some of the songs like Between the ButtonsDiamond Veins really had an international impact” on his life recently, after French 79 ended the tour. In the meantime French 79 produced albums for artists such as Fred Nevche and Kid Francescoli and also toured with Nasser. After that period of French 79’s life, it was about time for him to show that his “music had evolved” and then “released this chapter 2.” ‘Joshua’ is “a travel album”, which he considers “it as the soundtrack” of his own life, so French 79 hopes the album “will become the favorite soundtrack of other people’s life as well.”
Prior to the release of the album, French 79 released tracks ‘Hold On’, ‘Hometown’, ‘By Your Side’ and ‘Code Zero’; they were “songs that encapsulate the general spirit” of ‘Joshua’. The songs “include all the musical influences and emotions that” French 79 wanted to convey, featuring themes of “freedom, teenage years, innocence, travel, and adventure”. These “all show the two sides” of French 79’s music”, including the “‘electronic dancefloor’ part” and also the “‘cinematic pop’ part” with “a lot of melodies” and vibes. On top of that, “it was important” for French 79 “to release “Hometown” where he sings and “By Your Side” where “Sarah Rebecca sings”, the “lyrics tell a lot about” who French 79 is and why he decided to release ‘Joshua’.
French 79 believes the songs are great representations of the album, however, “there are still many surprises on the album” for listeners to discover, and as French 79 said earlier, he is “amazed by the positive feedback” he “got on the other tracks”.
“I always chose the singles – my label Alter K is also my publisher. It’s necessary to be surrounded and supported by people who understand you and help to shape what you want to bring to the audience.”
If reading all the above still has listeners conflicted on who French 79 is, the French-born artist explains that on his first album, French 79 “would say Diamond Veins with Sarah Rebecca” is a must-listen. It is “the milestone” of his “solo career in a sense.” People “from all around the world listen to the song every day” and that is “also one of the reasons” he “ended up touring abroad.” On ‘Joshua’, though, French 79 recommends ‘Hometown’ because “it includes all the sounds” he likes, but “also the melodies, the side ‘French Touch'” of his music. There is a “great video for it” from his director friends, Cauboyz, who also all of the artworks as well – including for the album and the image used below.
With thirteen tracks on the album, it does only feature on the collaborator, that of Sarah Rebecca on the tracks ‘By Your Side‘ and ‘Touch The Stars‘, French 79 has already worked with Sarah on his first album, and really likes the way Sarah works. It is “a pleasure teaming up with her”, French 79 expresses, and it is “really important in the process of creation to enjoy working with someone” you actually want to work with. French 79 thinks we are “complimentary on how to tackle a song”, and “melodically”, Sarah Rebecca is very inventive. Sarah “writes amazing lyrics” as well. It is “very personal” but can echo “in a lot of people’s hearts at the same time”. It is a magical connection. Rebecca’s “way of singing is very soulful” and it mostly “just works with” French 79’s music.
With all that said, French 79 does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon, in fact, he has a busy remainder of 2019 and early 2020 to look forward to. French 79 is “currently 100% focused on what” he wants to “do on stage to play this album.” It is “also a long process of creation,” French 79 tries “to rework each track” so that “it is more striking on stage” while also “keeping the emotions that” he wants to share with those in attendance. It is “a lot of work,” but French 79 loves it. There are “a lot of lights, video, and scenography works” during a live French 79 set as well.
“As I said above, it is the beginning of something new. Joshua is yours now as a record, but it could be something else with the live experience, both for me and the audience.”
French 79 has the “first leg of live shows” that are really exciting: French 79 will play a lot of shows “in Europe, Brussels, London, Rome, Marseille, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Paris. Also a “beautiful world tour is being prepared”, including Montreal, Mexico, and USA. French 79 cannot “tell you much right now” though, it is” gonna be a busy year.”
French 79’s ‘Joshua’ is now out through Alter K.