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French house is a style of house music originally produced by French artists, reaching height of popularity in the late 1990s and 2000s. The genre has also been referred to as "French touch", "filter house" and "tekfunk" over the years. The defining characteristics of the sound are heavy reliance on filter and phaser effects alongside samples from late 1970s and early 1980s disco tracks, causing thicker harmonic foundations than the genre's descendants. Most tracks feature steady 4/4 beats with a tempo range of 110–130 beats per minute.

History and Influences[]

French house is greatly influenced by the lineage of American dance music from disco, to the sounds of Chicago house and Detroit Techno, maintaining a distinct connection to Euro disco and space disco.

Thomas Bangalter's tracks for his Roulé label may be considered the earliest examples of an attempt to establish a distinctive style of French house. His solo material, along with his work as Daft Punk and Stardust , had a significant impact upon the French house scene during the mid-to-late 1990s.[1]

The French duo Motorbass (Philippe Zdar, later of Cassius , and Étienne de Crécy) were also among the first in France to produce house tracks which were largely based around samples and filtered loops.

The first French house experiments were warmly received by the UK dance music press and European DJ's in the mid-1990s but major commercial success did not occur until 1997. Daft Punk, Cassius and, later, Stardust were the first internationally successful artists of the genre. The emergence of the French sound was well-timed as dance music's popularity in the influential UK market was peaking commercially with general electronic music.

Terms, origins and variations[]

The term "French house" was first used in Paris in July 1987. Jean-Claude Lagrèze, a photographer of parisians' nights created a couple of "French Touch" parties at The Palace to make people discover house music. These parties were driven by DJ Laurent Garnier, Guillaume la Tortue and David Guetta. This expression was printed, as part of a motto for French partygoers who liked house music, on a trendy jacket by Éric Morand for F Communications, in 1991. The motto was: "We Give a French Touch to House".[2]

"French house" had been referred to among Europeans as "nu disco", "disco house" and "new disco". However, the term "French touch" was first used by music journalist Martin James in his 1996 review of the first Super Discount EP in the now defunct weekly music paper Melody Maker. This term became favored among the French media and was then widely used in the UK press by 1998.[3] Martin James was later recognised by French newspaper Liberation and Radio NRJ as the journalist responsible for naming the French house phenomenon "French touch".

The first time this term was used widespread by MTV UK during the Christmas holiday period of 1999. It was used on an MTV News special, to describe a so-called "French house explosion" phenomenon. Bob Sinclair was interviewed, as well as Air and Cassius. This news special later aired on all the MTV local variations worldwide, spreading the term and introducing the "French house" sound to the mainstream.[4]

French house is essentially a combination of three production styles. One is what the French still refer as "the French touch", a sound greatly influenced by the space disco sound. The second is a continuation and update of Euro disco, the the third is the American house style as evident in the similar treatment of samples and repetitive 'funky' hooks. However Frenc House isn't just filter effects, space disco, and rock ’n’ roll grafted onto house and techno. French house is about the ways in which imitation can become something new, and about the French “touch.” It’s something Philippe Zdar from Cassius refers to as panache, which roughly translates to “style”–France’s not-so-secret weapon.[5] It is around these sound coordinates that the style moves, with a broad and liberal use of samples from the 70's and 80's -often filtered and edited with cut and paste techniques borrowed from classic hip hop to render almost always completely unrecognizable characteristics and origin; with a marked preference for the side of the pleasure-loving and frivolous club culture, an imaginary often well beyond the kitsch boundaries, a constant proximity to the fashion world and its changes combined with a natural pop sensibility.[6]

Artists associated with the style[]

Record labels associated with the style[]

  • 20000ST
  • Bromance
  • Black Jack (FR)
  • Crydamoure
  • Disques Solid
  • Diamond Traxx
  • Dynamic Recordings
  • Ed Banger Records
  • F Communications
  • FiatLux
  • Kitsuné
  • Record Makers
  • Roulé
  • Work It Baby
  • So French Records
  • Smetz Records
  • Stardust Records
  • Stamina Recordings
  • Vulture Music
  • Versatile Records
  • Vertigo Records (FR)
  • VOX
  • We Rock Music


  1. Suzanne Ely, "Return of the Cybermen" Mixmag, July 2006, pp. 94–98.
  2. http://www.dlso.it/site/french-touch/
  3. 'French Connections: From Discotheque to Discovery' by Martin James, 2002, Sanctuary Publishing
  4. http://laurenceourac.com/submerge-thy-ears-in-french-house/
  5. https://www.xlr8r.com/features/2007/10/the-history-of-french-house-sound/
  6. http://www.dlso.it/site/french-touch/
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