Franck Roger: Paris Goes West

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Paris really was burning in November...with the real fires of rioting immigrants. But no matter how hot things actually get, Parisian producer and DJ Franck Roger keeps it cool with his own take on deep house. "I grew up with all kinds of music, and I realized that house music is the perfect mix between soul music, disco and Latin jazz," recounted Roger via email the same week that France was filled with unrest. If only everyone would keep their mind as open as Roger's, who even cites Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria as one of his influences.

Roger got his start with releases for Parisian deep house label Straight Up Records, teaming up with DJ Roy and frequent collaborator M'Selem on keyboards in 2001 for "Delight." More Straight Up singles followed, as well as efforts for other French labels like Bettino's Record Shop and Versatile, but it wasn't long before he began being noticed outside France, recording for Germany's Needs, Kenlou in the US and Crash in Canada.

California is Roger's latest destination, with a mix album of his own productions titled We Walk To Dance on Jamie Thinnes' Seasons imprint out now. The mix is similar to the In My Mind LP he recorded for Straight Up at the beginning of last year, but with a more refined mood that slowly evolves. Roger's palette is full of timeless house cuts like "N.J. Track," whose title and pumping organ pay homage to the roots of garage without sounding retro.

Though he claims varied influences and inspirations, Roger's sound is classic house on the garage side, with simple but elegant production, impeccable drum programming and plenty of 4 a.m. keys, often topped by soulful singing.

The key to those vocal excursions is Chris Wonder, who has sang on Roger's biggest records, including "If I" (Sunnyside) and "No More Believe" (Kenlou) as well as his new single for Seasons, "Me Myself & I." "[Chris and I] met about four years ago and talked about our musical influences. He's from the French R&B scene and has many different black music influences, and we continue to exchange our ideas in the studio," Roger exclaimed with typically Gallic enthusiasm. With an exceptionally uplifting feel and classic flair, Roger's penchant for deep grooves and lasting collaborations offers hope that, even in troubled times, cooler vibes will prevail.