Folamour is Always the First Person Dancing

Traversing the rocky world of club culture, Folamour has carved a career by defying expectation. Styled in the latest grails, END. caught up with the producer, DJ and label head to discuss his latest LP, the French dance music scene and relocating to London.

Standing on a balcony overlooking the Deptford Creek as Bruno Boumendil, aka Folamour, smokes a cigarette, it is easy to see why the producer and DJ has become a firm favourite amongst more astute club-goers and dance music aficionados in recent years. A personification of the feel-good, soulful music he plays, Bruno himself is a charismatic and warm character, brimming with a louche style that gestures towards his fondness for sounds that draw out joy, happiness and colourful human experiences. Having relocated to London a year and half earlier, the French musician is getting ready to return to his hometown of Lyon, trading in the busyness of the British capital for a more familiar setting to continue his musical endeavours.

Having forged a successful career performing across the globe over the past five years, Folamour’s aims are continually shifting as he adapts to his changing environments and the landscape of music around him. Dedicated to staying true to his distinctive vision and sound palette, Folamour’s attitude offers respite from the cold and hard audio aesthetics that dominate the contemporary European dance music scene. Shirking monochromatic, industrial sounds, the producer offers a joyous celebration through his music. Showcasing a lively and ecstatic form of house music inspired by Soul, Jazz, Funk, Disco and Hip-Hop, the producer and DJ has dodged communal expectation to offer a much-needed boost of life-affirming music to a world of rigid, menacing and aggressive sounds. 

Chatting over the course of an afternoon, Folamour sheds a light on his approach to music, the contemporary club scene and his plans for the future.

Ultimately, I want to play music that makes me dance; if people join in then that’s the best, but I’m always the first person enjoying the music I play. 
You initially released music as Folamour in 2014 on your first label, Touche Française. Was producing music always something you aspired to do?

Yeah! I learnt how to play drums and guitar when I was only 6 or 7. I then played covers and wrote a few songs in a rock’n’roll band - I always had an approach to music that made it hard for me to picture myself producing music on the computer, but when I was in my early twenties, I couldn’t really play drums as I was living in the city. A DJ friend of mine suggested that I start DJ’ing and producing myself as I have a big record collection and can play quite a few instruments, so I decided to stay in my room for two months and taught myself how to use Ableton. 

Your music bridges the gap between house, disco, jazz, soul and a whole host of other genres. Did you find that your style came as a natural response to having an eclectic taste?

It was very natural in fact! I had always been obsessed with acoustic and live music, and when I was a teenager I was into Jazz and Hip-Hop; it was through Jazz and Hip-Hop that I found out about House music. It was more about my love for live music - music made with real instruments. I’m trying to tap that sound even though I’m producing on my computer, and now, I mostly record live instruments instead of sampling. Ultimately, I want to play music that makes me dance; if people join in then that’s the best, but I’m always the first person enjoying the music I play. 

How does your recording process differ now you are predominantly recording live sounds in lieu of sampling?

It changed my overall sound, although I do still sound like myself. The elements that I love are still the same, but I was initially sampling because I had come from Hip-Hop and didn’t have the necessary skills to record live instruments properly. So instead of recording badly I preferred to use samples, which I was able to turn into something completely new. Now, I can record well, so it gives me a lot more freedom in comparison to my previous work. As a result of this, ‘Ordinary Drugs’ is slower and more varied when compared with my first album, ‘Umami’. 

Originally hailing from Lyon, you relocated to London last year. What was the impetus behind the move to the capital?

Lyon is an amazing city but it is quite small and too comfortable - I’d been living there for eleven years and I felt like I was going be there forever. So I took myself out of that comfortable space because I was planning my new album and needed a new environment to produce it. I’m also not a fan of the hard techno sound that audiences love in Lyon, so I moved to London for a change of scene. 

English people love banging dance music!
Have you found that the same expectations around club music you faced in Lyon are present in London?

They are even more present! English people love banging dance music! But that makes what I’m doing even more necessary. I want to tour the United Kingdom and play a really slow set to people who only listen to heavy club music - I want to make a statement that I know it isn’t what you’re expecting or what you want to hear all the time but just trust me! We’re going to have an amazing time! I always receive great feedback from UK audiences but overall the scene is way harder here than in France. However, I’m currently in the middle of my residency at Phonox in London and the people who go there really don’t care - they want to hear all kinds of music and are super open-minded.

London has a wealth of music beyond club culture - has the city influenced your outlook on music much?

It actually reaffirmed what I already liked! London is exciting to me musically because there is so much Jazz, R’n’b and Neo-Soul music with an amazing vibe and energy that is different to what we have in France. In France, the interest in that kind of music is quite low - we have incredible and talented musicians, but there are a lot more here.

Your record label, FHUO, has released a plethora of contemporary French artists and producers. Do you feel that it is important to champion French electronic music when you’ve come from a world that didn’t celebrate what you were doing?

I really do! Initially people were not interested in what we do, so we had to just do it ourselves. My old label Moonrise Hill Material started out of necessity. We sent demos to a lot of different record labels and no one was even listening to them, so we thought “fuck that!” and started the label. We were in a zone where no one knew what we were doing. For instance, Tochigi Canopy sent me his amazing debut album but I didn’t know any labels that would have the confidence to release it, so we did it ourselves. We made sure it had a beautiful cover and properly respected what Valentin had made and gave it the time it deserved. I always wanted FHUO to be a community project; I want it to be supportive and to create something with real energy, working with talented artists that I’m fond of on both a personal and an artistic level. It is predominantly close friends on FHUO, and it just so happens that they are French. When we receive demos from elsewhere it tends to be way more club-oriented and there are already plenty of labels where you can release that kind of music and a lot less labels that release the kind of dance music FHUO releases. 

It is best to remove the pressure of deadlines and have a human link instead, working with no stress.
Your latest LP, “Ordinary Drugs”, seems more introverted and reflective than the party vibes of "Umami". What in particular led you to a more melancholic tone?

All of my LPs are linked to a specific moment, and “Ordinary Drugs” was specifically connected to the time when I moved to London. When you’re touring and working a lot, you certainly can feel a bit melancholic. Taking from that experience and building something else was important to me. The album has a backstory about the idea of “ordinary drugs”, which is the philosophical idea that there are keys in your life that you can use at any moment to have a small piece of happiness or joy - what I call ordinary drugs. It can be anything, it can be smoking a cigarette on the balcony, it can be walking outside at night or even just listening to a specific song. It is important for us to be aware of what our own keys are, so “Ordinary Drugs” was built around that idea – subsequently every track is linked to a certain moment. 

“Ordinary Drugs” features a number of collaborations with vocalists, each bringing something new to the table. Do you find the process of collaboration comes easily to you?

It is easy for me because I don’t work with particularly big acts, I tend to work with artists that I have found on Soundcloud, which is a bit of an old-school way now I suppose. I prefer to be in touch directly with the people I work with, so that when we do meet, we can see if we have a good connection. When I'm producing, I work in a way that keeps me out of uncomfortable situations. I prefer working with people that I trust and knowing that if we fail it isn't the end of the world. It's best to remove the pressure of deadlines and have a human link instead, working with no stress. I know that we’ll still have a good time together even if we don’t make anything that we actually release. I don’t want to break a bond with someone by forcing something if it isn’t working out. I prefer to be honest, I don’t want to waste someone’s time and talent if I’m not going to produce something I’m really proud of.