An interview with Folamour

Every so often there is an artist who emerges and creates quite the storm with their music, leaving throngs of admirers in their wake and a catalogue of productions paid homage to for years to come. Folamour is such an artist. The Frenchman was crafted by the clubs of Lyon and feeding off an innate passion for jazz and soul music has become a name synonymous with energy, passion and a devotion to musical authenticity.

Ahead of the release of his blissful second album, Ordinary Drugs on 15th February as well as his appearance at the Leeds leg of our 8th birthday at Beaver Works (8th Feb), the For Heaven Use Only boss reflects on his reborn production methods, album collaborations and why Lyon is a hotbed for French musical talent…

Ordinary Drugs, it’s a rather different album name, you don’t really know what you’re going to get with that, especially from a producer and DJ that people attribute lively disco with. Where’s the name come from?

‘Ordinary Drugs’ has been created around all these small things that bring joy and meaning to life. I found myself thinking about these things a lot in the last years with my life changing radically and I thought it was something great to represent in music.

Dosed with gentle keys and soft melodies, the album is refined and subtle, tailor-made for a Sunday wind down. How did you go about deciding what path you wanted to follow with this record?

After producing ‘Umami’, my first album, I decided to entirely change my way of creating music, I was at the end of a road. I produced a lot through the same process in the last three years and I needed fresh air. So I threw away everything I knew about producing music and I started again, right from the beginning, filling my studio with live instruments, mics, drums and this is where it all started. I wanted something more organic.

How did you find the reception from your first LP, Umami? It seemed to go down incredibly well. Yet Ordinary Drugs for the most part, avoids from the lively disco of Umami. Was it difficult not to get drawn back into the disco? Or was this down tempo style something you’d always wanted to pursue?

I’m really proud of the success ‘Umami’ had. I really enjoyed seeing different tracks having more success than the others depending on the period, it was lovely to witness. I didn’t want to re-release the same album and changing my studio changed my sound, basically. It felt natural. But yes, I’ve always been a more down tempo kind of musician (and DJ too!). My dream has always been to be able to produce soul / jazz infused pop with every other influences I have (everything I have ever listened to, I would say).

‘I Only Remember You When I Sleep’ features Mark Borgazzi, Underwater Memories features Wayne Snow and ‘After Winter Must Come Spring’ features Elbi. The vocals on these tracks really add another dimension to the album, what prompted these collaborations? Are they artists you’ve always wanted to work with?

All these collaborations came naturally, I’m not really someone able to force things (ha ha)

I met Mark through a song he wrote with another artist and I felt in love instantly. It took a long time for us to meet but when we did, we instantly felt it was going to work well, we understood each other. Same goes for Elbi, she came to one of my jazz project’s show (Kimosabe) and she jammed with us on stage and I really found something great in her voice and it came from that! I met Wayne Snow touring in Germany and we found a moment to spend some time in his studio and everything felt friendly and good!

I had Wayne Snow in mind for the album but I didn’t know if we were going to have an occasion for making it happen but to answer the question, not really. I didn’t know the greatness of their talent before meeting them and working with them so it just happened perfectly!

Christmas has been and gone and as ‘Christmas is Only Beautiful in TV Shows’ would suggest, are you happy about that? Are you a Summer guy through and through?

It comes from something way earlier on my road and the end of the year is always a particularly depressing period for me. Which always feels even more weird cause I love winter in movies, books and TV shows! I wanted to represent that in the album. I would say I’m a summer guy, yes.

You’ve described your sounds released on FHUO (For Heaven Use Only) as ‘jazz from outta space’ before, and I’m inclined to agree with that description, there is something unique that you can’t quite grasp about your music, and that’s the beauty of it, it enchants. From your very early days messing around with producing, have you always had a sound in your head that feels almost like your DNA?

Not really, I think my sound is evolving as I am. I always wanted something organic, emotional, meaningful and also cinematographic, but the sound is changing every year, little by little!

I would say Jazz and Soul always had a big part in my music DNA for sure.

You’re building quite a reputation on the back of both your productions and DJ style. How has the journey been from your first experience behind the decks to now playing in front of huge festival crowds?

I loved it. I felt like I had the luck to have years of playing music in small rooms, doing 7hrs sets, all night longs, few times a week sometimes, it really taught me the job the hard way. Now I’m just enjoying playing in a lot of different places, small clubs sometimes and big stages/festival stuff, I like it all.

I saw you for the first time at Lost Village festival last August and you were on quite early in the day, and there was only a few people scattered around the forest at first. But soon enough you’d amassed a huge crowd, drawing in every passer by. It must be so gratifying to see people having such a great time and letting their bodies talk all because of your track selections?

It felt amazing. One of my favorite gigs of 2018 without a doubt. I wasn’t sure of how it will be, playing this early under the rain, but the crowd was really special and we just had a beautiful moment all together! I’m coming back this year and I’m already excited to play for this crowd again.

You’ll be playing for us at Beaver Works on our 8th birthday on 8th February alongside fellow Frenchman Jeremy Underground. The French scene feels really strong at the moment and Lyon in particular seems to be churning out some amazing talents, why would you say that is?

I would say it comes from the fact that our scene is not really supported on the international circuit. You see a lot of support for Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Dublin etc… but not much for Lyon, Marseille, Paris. You never read articles about our scenes, you don’t see french artist releases receiving radio rotations, media covering, festival slots, so it pushed french artists to produce the best music they can. We can’t be lazy! I think it worked the same for Vancouver scene few years ago and the Australian scene too.

And finally, what is the rest of the year looking like for you, have you many tours planned?

2019 is going to be full of touring, residencies and working on new music for EPs. I’m also working on few projects that I’ll share more about later but I’m really excited about what’s upcoming.