FKJ: Parisian Panache

source: Renaud Morin

Hailing from a city that still maintains a zealous reverence for the past, it only seems appropriate that Vincent Fenton crafts his tracks along the smoky lines of a ‘70s disco anthem interlaced with soulful vibes and techno strides. Add in a hefty serving of funky upright bass, antiquated samples, masterful production skills, and you’ve got some juicy tracks unlike anything else we’ve heard in the music scene today. Just like gourmet cheeses and wines, it’s also inherently French; sophisticated, tasteful and enjoyable at all times of the day.

At this point of time, FKJ is the man with the Midas touch. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold, and then some. Whether it’s the latest French nu disco hits like the masterstroke he produced with Cheyenne’s ‘Don’t Matter’ or classics such as the iconic William DeVaughn’s ‘Be Thankful For What You Got’, he goes through the tracks with great care, injecting his eminent brand of funk, but preserving just enough of the original to keep its flavour intact. Like a master chef deconstructing palatable dishes just to bring the levels up a notch or two, and branding it his very own. He comes from a new breed of electronic artistes along with JNL and Cashmere Cat, who pride themselves on attention to detail, and gorgeously stacked layers of lush instrumentation above a framework of radical basslines and driving rhythms.

Fenton grew up in a small city by the majestic river Loire, born to two English teachers; one French and one New Zealander in Tours. Owing to his amalgamated heritage, he spent holidays during his young years traveling around the globe to immerse himself in a myriad of cultures, which is something that he relishes till this very day. “Whenever I play shows anywhere in the world, I usually try to save a few days to have a look around the area. Exposing yourself to different things tends to affect your creativity positively too. When I travel to tropical areas, I can record a track of jungle ambience, and perhaps use it in my music. The same goes for traditional instruments which I can’t find anywhere else,” he went on to explain to us.

With a background as an audio technician in the French film industry, it is no wonder that FKJ’s tracks exude a cinematic sheen to it. The precision and skills honed in the cutthroat trade translated into a useful wealth of experience for the young Fenton as an artiste. Briefly pausing to make waves in his local house scene as Hot Steppa with his faithful acolyte Felix, it wasn’t long before his solo career shot up at breakneck speed as his partner in crime flew off to Australia for a year of bliss and relaxation.

Almost instantly, the meteoric rise of ‘Lying Together’ in late 2012 caught scene by storm, setting countless music blogs alight and paving the way for FKJ to come into his own. With its groovy guitar hooks, soulful belting, and disco-infused rhythms, it was stuck on replay by many a member of the music aficionados the world over.  The single coincided with the release of his debut EP, The Twins, which further pushed Vincent’s glossy groovetech out into the limelight.

Since then, he’s released yet another critically acclaimed EP, Time for a Change, this time with added jazz pizzazz, and a handful of soul-inspired remixes while working on his full length LP, due sometime this year, or early 2015. Drawing from the past with tracks from Alice Russell and the Temptations, among others, FKJ has breathed new life into songs from days gone by, with modern instrumentation applied to disco tunes that your parents would have boogied to. He’s cut and composed, sampled and serenaded his way up the ranks of Europe’s most prodigious talents, at the stunningly young age of just 23.

Now touring the world by himself, Vincent has plans to eventually expand his live setup to allow for more flexibility and emotive prowess. There is no doubt that his current rig already does, as was showcased at his debut in Malaysia last month. It performed to seamless perfection, hypnotising the crowd and inciting an infectious poolside dance party, following local darkwave duo +2dB’s delightful jersey set. As it is, he’s already more than just bucked the usual DJ-producer trend of doing the Aoki and just pressing the play button at shows; he jams on his trusty Fender Stratocaster and plugs in a Korg M50 alongside his Ableton Live controllers, playing over his tracks to make for a truly immersive instrumental experience. He is no slouch on the keys and strings either, having exhibited his virtuosic capabilities to their full extent at Mai Bar, leaving the crowd constantly wowed by his technical aptitude. If his grand plans do come to fruition, a larger venue might need to be lined up for the next time he comes back. A bassist, an extra keyboardist, and a host of gospel singers are just a small part of what’s in the blueprint for the immediate evolution of French Kiwi Juice’s live shows.

FKJ left us with a few words of advice for budding producers, “Remember to do your own thing. Make it unique, make it innovative. Make what you think is good music, not just what everyone thinks is good.” If those words have been the ethos and the driving force behind his brand of music, we couldn’t agree more. And as long as he keeps making juicy music, JUICE will be there.

FKJ’s Take Off EP will be released on Monday 21 July ’14.