During the mid 90’s Frank Roger discovered electronic music and grew up surrounded by Parisian House music. Back in the days you couldn’t just surf the web, you had to go through racks and racks of records or listen to radio shows. It all started when he syntonized with Dj Deep and Dj Gregory shows, this is how Franck first fell in love and started buying his own records with the wise advises of Ivan Smagghe. Previously influenced by Funk and Disco, Franck goes straight into Deep House and inspires himself with Kerri Chandler, Chez Damier, Joe Clausell and many others. He then strode into music production and shortly after started releasing with Deeply Rooted House or Versatile. He then founded with his old friend Lionel Marciano the so-called Real Tone Records in 2005, which is now considered as the major label of French House music having released EPs of Manoo, Shonky, The Martinez Brothers and above all Maya Jane Coles with her legendary song – “What they say”. Furthermore, Real Tone was also the ideal platform for Franck to release his own productions such as his well-know tune – “After All” with Mandel Tuner. It has been over 15 years of dedication to House Music and throughout this time he has never betrayed the music of his youth, a deep house accented by strong garage sounds.
Now, he says, he still lives in Paris and still buys up to 15 bits of vinyl a week. But these days, he’s actually the one making the house tunes that get played in clubs: ‘Who Knows the Truth’, ‘No More Believe’ and ‘After All’, to name just a couple. But it all started with his very first release “Tamashi” – inspired by the sound of veterans Kerri Chandler and Blaze – that got initiated Franck’s musical career. His style has developed into something that could be described as somewhere in between soulful garage and deep house.
His two labels, co-owned Real Tone Records and new label Home Invasion, has built up a respectable back catalog. It has seen the likes of Santé, Ian Pooley, Ralph Lawson, DJ T., Mihai Popoviciu, Burnski, Subb-an, Santé, Fur Coat, Geddes, Darius Syrossian, Rodriguez Jr., Chris Carrier, Pirupa, Burnski, Dennis Ferrer, Michael Mayer, Rampa, MANIK, &ME, Rodriguez Jr., Burnski, Steve Lawler, Boris Werner all releasing on them. Although all unique on their own, these artists all share one common denominator: a skill for laying down an undeniable groove.
Hi Frank, first of all, could you present yourself ?
I’m from Belleville in Paris; I’ve been mixing since I was 13 and producing since I was 18. I’m managing a Parisian label named Real Tone Records. During the week I’m working in the Studio and during the weekend I get people with the 4-4 beat syndromes to dance and have a good time. That’s it.
When did you first discover House Music ?
I discovered it around 1994 on Radio Nova and FG back in times when they were playing those shows called “A Deep Groove” presented by Dj Deep, Alex From Tokyo and Dj Gregory. Later on, I was going to “Legends” nights organized and by DJ Deep at the Rex Club. I was also going to see Gregory at the “TGV” or to “Queens” where the famous nights called “Respect” were hosted. It was what we could call ‘The Golden Age of House Music in Paris” it was really effervescent… I was buying my records at BPM, Rought Trade, Sal Russo and Roussie while Ivan Smagge was giving me advise. I was young and I needed to find my own sound.
At the beginning, which artists inspired you the most ?
Jonvonn, Ron Trent & Chez Damier, Blaze, Masters At Work, Kerri Chandler, Derrick Carter, Derrick May, Joe Claussel and François K in what concerns house… back in the days, I already had a very strong background in Funk and Disco. I was listening to the premise of House music like Preludes, Salsoul as well as my New Wave phase while being a lot younger back then. Point being, this rhythm has been inside of me for a long time.
Tell us about your first experiences as a producer.
I had an Akai S2000 that I bought second hand from “Next Evidence” and a shitty keyboard, the Atari 1040 ST (if I remember well). I was sampling records of House, Disco, Funk and basically, everything I could. I was also short in money so I had to sample a lot, I was doing it wisely though, I was sampling kicks, charleys, claps, drums, etc. For instance, I wasn’t sampling any premade loops (even if I couldn’t as I didn’t have enough space on my floppy disks). Then I was saving these samples on floppy disks or in “zips”. Obviously we were only running through midi, we couldn’t use audio files so we were very limited in terms of creativity, and everything was going through my Dj mixer. It was a very basic set up but it was the basics for a Dj that wanted to take the next level. Back then, it was the same path as Hiphop artists… we had to learn by practicing, no youtube, no Internet. I kept really good memories as there were no intentions behind and at the same time I was young … sniff, I miss those days.
When did you start Real Tone and what motivated you ?
I think it was in 2005 with my friend Lionel Marciano who back then had just finished a sound engineering course at the SAE Institute. We first met at “Betinos” where I was selling CDs to make some money. We started organizing events in Paris and then I became very productive with my music. I signed with many labels in the US and Europe but I wanted it to go faster and have control over every single thing, so we teamed up together and built Real Tone Records. The message was simple; we aimed to release the music as Real as possible and give it THE Tone. It might sound a little old school but back then it sounded cool…
Tell us about Mandel Turner whom you collaborated with in some EPs, particularly on “After All”. Who is he ? How did you get to work together ?
I’ve known Mandel for a long time. Around 1995, I think, we bumped into each other on numerous nights out. Back then he was singing for Olivier Portal a.k.a Playing 4 the city. We’ve always had a lot of respect for each other, at that time we recorded an album together. Each time we were bumping into each other and were a bit tipsy, we were saying that we should meet up etc… then we met in the studio and worked together, it always went pretty well. Mandel is really professional he pays attention and does research as well as brings some modernity… We should work together on other tunes…
Last word ?
HOUSE MUSIC IS A STATE OF MIND