Dec 9, 2022
7 min read
Alain Quême, better known as Braxe, has teamed up with DJ Falcon for one of the most innovative acts in a brand new wave of French house, as Braxe + Falcon. Braxe, famously known for international phenomenon Stardust and their infamous 1998 house cut, “Music Sounds Better With You,” ultimately founded the blueprint for French house in the late 90s. Now, as Braxe and Falcon, the duo (coincidentally also cousins) are setting out to revive the classic, inimitable French disco sound for a new generation of ravers.
The artists recently dug into their back catalog, unearthed rare gems, and debuted new ones on their exclusive US tour in the fall of 2022. Those lucky enough to catch one of four exclusive sets heard a unique tapestry of rave nostalgia filled with the hypnotic elements of samplers, stellar vocal drones, and stunning synthesizers.
Braxe and DJ Falcon recall memories from the era they first experienced electronic dance music and how American house music helped form a foundation for their sound.
“House music is really a key element,” shares Braxe. “For me, it started probably in the early 90s, buying 12-inch imports coming from America. So, it’s really a key factor.”
“Especially the Chicago scene—guys like Paul Johnson, [DJ] Sneak, Todd Terry, all those guys, and labels like Dancemania… They were a huge influence,” adds Falcon. “I discovered it while going to rave parties in the early 90s. Back then, raves were only beginning to spring up in Paris.
“I was just following all my friends and that’s how I got into it. Plus, I was really close with Pedro from Ed Banger. So we kind of discovered it at the same time all together.”
Many of the most historically significant French names in electronic music hail from the era, like Daft Punk, Busy P, Cassius, and Étienne de Crécy. To onlookers, it was a close-knit scene. But for those on the inside, the growing french disco sound was something more. It catapulted many of those involved to unprecedented popularity internationally. As a result, many of the establishing French acts became household names, simultaneously becoming synonymous with coining the Parisian French house sound.
“It’s because the scene at the beginning was very small,” says Braxe. “In fact, it was in Paris, and in other cities in France, but mainly in Paris. It was just a few hundred people really interested in this musical movement in the beginning.”
“There was a party called ‘Respect,’ and this is where we all connected,” says DJ Falcon. “It was on every Wednesday, and we all got to know each other through those parties.”
Originally having stemmed from a mere handful of artists and their fans enamored with the new sounds, it is not lost upon Braxe and DJ Falcon how France became the epicenter for French disco house. Now, in the present age, the pair is reinventing the genre for a new generation of ravers.
“Disco music was really strong in France during the 70s and the 80s,” recalls Braxe. “So there is a big background with dance music in France. But globally? If we want to make it simple, let’s say that when Daft Punk released Homework, they pushed a new version of disco one step further. Daft Punk is a key factor as well in this story.”
Both Braxe and DJ Falcon worked with Daft Punk. Braxe, previously half of the duo Stardust, produced arguably one of the biggest dance music songs of all time with Thomas Bangalter and vocalist Benjamin Diamond, creating a pivotal composition in the history of electronic dance music.
“Retrospectively, it’s quite interesting the way it was produced because it was mainly hardware equipment,” he shares when asked about “Music Sounds Better With You.” “The computer was not a key element in the process. So it’s based on some quite old techniques.”
According to Braxe, writing and producing the tune only took one week.
“Benjamin Diamond, the singer, was also of course involved in the process... It’s a song which is based on a sample [of Chaka Khan’s “Fate”] so I was mainly using the sample and upgrading it with louder drums and a newer production. It was quite a natural process. At one point we were a bit lost in the song because there were much more lyrics, but we couldn’t find the right arrangement. Once we decided to get rid of some of the lyrics, everything was okay suddenly. So that’s it. It was a Sunday, we pressed ‘record’ and that was it.”
This original version of “Music Sounds Better With You,” with the entirety of the song’s original lyrics, was thrown out, says Braxe.
“I witnessed when they played this for the first time,” says DJ Falcon. “I was doing a live show at the Rex club in Paris… They played it for the first time at the Rex, you know? I remember helping Thomas carry a huge AV synth to play the chords. It was special, hearing them play it for the first time at the Rex... Everybody knew something was going on at that moment, it was a very cool vibe in the club.”
DJ Falcon also collaborated with Thomas Bangalter (and Justice) in the early heyday of the French disco sound. Then, he moved on to produce original works, eventually stepping away from music production for years.
“For me, it kind of came as an accident,” said the DJ. “I like to see myself as a tourist.”
After releasing Hello, My name is DJ Falcon on Roule, the DJ collaborated with Bangalter, producing a handful of critically-acclaimed dance cuts. “And then I did a couple of remixes for Phoenix, Justice, Cassius, but I was more into the DJ side.”
The French house producer shared he felt very fortunate to travel the world with various talented peers in the genre, getting an opportunity to dip into his other passion, photography.
Coincidentally, the joint act are cousins. But, say they initially had no clue that either one was working on music within the same space until after they’d already started releasing music.
It was French disco peer Bangalter who clued the cousins in, says Braxe. Braxe released his first record on Roule, and Bangalter, noting Falcon also released music on the label, put them in touch.
“It took us quite some time to decide to make music together. We started in 2014. We spent a few months in the studio working on demos, stopped, and then we reopened the demos like two years ago. Then, we decided, okay, now let’s try to finish this.”
The two cousins met up and pitched a demo to Domino Records label head Peter Berard. “And he said, ‘Okay, you guys should finish this,’ and he made it an EP. He gave us motivation to finish it.”
The Step By Step EP is wide-ranging, pulling soundscapes and elements from both artists’ production styles, moving effortlessly from down to uptempo. Their live performances—with only four stops scheduled in the US—include their latest originals and fan favorites from their individual discographies, performed as a unique B2B DJ duo.
Braxe + Falcon arrives at an opportune moment in dance music that sees a diverse and willing audience of listeners rediscovering the sounds of a genre they contributed in shaping.