Discovering Paradis: France’s Dance Phenomenon

paradis Recto Verso

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in French music. After a barren period of uncertainty about the future direction of la chanson française, a new, energised generation of dance musicians has emerged to imprint a new aesthetic on modern French music. The onset of the internet and globalisation has armed this new generation with a global repertoire of influences, with contemporary French musicians readily taking on instruments, sounds and melodies from far outside of l’Hexagone.

Joining the ranks of new French artists including Aline, Flavien and La Femme, Paradis is the brainchild of Parisians Pierre Rousseau and Simon Mény who formed the group after a chance meeting at a party in 2010. Both musicians had recently spent time out of the country, with Pierre in England and Simon venturing between Portugal and Argentina. Their rendezvous marked the beginning of a close friendship built on an obsession with music that evolved naturally into the formation of Paradis. Following three years of creative isolation, the duo’s debut album, Recto Verso, was released last Friday to huge critical acclaim in France. The album is a testament to Pierre and Simon’s eclectic range of influences, with often poetic vocals in the tradition of classic French songwriting layered over international house to give a sound that feels distinctly new.

Some of the songs on the album we have heard before. “Garde Le Pour Toi” was debuted in 2015 on the group’s first EP for Maison Barclay, Couleurs Primaires; “Toi et Moi” was released as a single earlier this year. These two tracks make up two of the highlights of Recto Verso, while the titular single and “Contours” are also standout tracks. Taking impetus from wide-ranging influences, Paradis mould melodies and sound from varying genres to create a house album with international appeal. For dance music, the songs are also laid-back, atmospheric and strangely calming. It is an album that would be equally at home on your raucous night out but also on the record player on a relaxed Sunday afternoon. If you listen to one thing this week, it should be Recto Verso.

Words by Liam Roberts. Image property of Alice Montano/i-D France

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert