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It wasn't too long ago that we were renaming French fries to freedom fries, but Franco-American relations have come a long way. Featuring touches of R&B, soul, disco, hip-hop, and rock 'n' roll, these days, the new wave of French dance music is heavily influenced by American sounds. Labels like Ed Banger, Kitsuné, and Institubes have prided themselves on borrowing American influences and, even better, appealing to the most finicky of dance-music audiences — Americans.
Producer Tacteel started Institubes in 2003 to make and release music his way and invite like-minded artists to join him for the ride. "We started to put out songs that weren't progressive at all, because we were bored with the music that we heard in the clubs at the time," says Jean-Baptiste de Laubier, who as Para One has been with the label from the start.
He hit it big in 2006 when his release "Dudun-Dun" became an unlikely crossover hit on the dance-music scene. "I started composing the song by whistling it on the streets — that's always a good sign when you have something brand new that keeps going in your head — so I kind of knew that it would catch people's ears." Still, Para One admits he didn't expect the track to grow as big as it did, especially considering its rough sound.
But if anyone knows that rough beats can get you far, it's his labelmate Benoit Heitz, better-known as Surkin. He got his start young, at age 21, with the heavily hip-hop-influenced track "Ghetto Obsession." He then transitioned into more traditional house and funky tracks like "Next of Kin" and "White Knight Two."
"I'm an internet child," Surkin explains. "Having access to virtually any track ever made at any time really helped me to discover a lot of things." These days, Surkin says he's influenced by "mostly old stuff" and plenty of Chicago house.
During WMC, Para One and Surkin will help Institubes celebrate its six-year milestone at Louis at the Gansevoort Hotel. "A lot has changed," Para One says. "It started as an electronica label, then a house music label, and now we're even releasing rock 'n' roll."
For the party, Surkin says, "I'll definitely load my iPod with a lot of early 1990s Miami freestyle."