The Beatdown

DJ Franck Roger spins savoir faire back into being French

These days, being French doesn't provide the advantages it once could. Riots in Paris, political scandals, "Freedom Fries" and, hell, even Lance Armstrong are parts of the recent anti-Franco backlash, but DJ/Mixer/Producer Franck Roger wants to change some of these perceptions. In the late '90s, Roger was part of hip-hop collective Sun Orchestra, working with Jayrome Battistelli before doing some highly acclaimed singles with Chris Wonder. In My Mind, Roger's 2005 effort, drew praise for the integration of Afrocentric themes with the cuts "Ekobah" and "Mambo." More recently, he produced EPs by Osunlade and Allen Hoist and released his latest disc of floor-filling club tracks, We Walk to Dance, still awaiting stateside release.

Inspired by, of all people, Stevie Wonder, Roger invests the standard DJ pulse with a particularly old-school French élan, using dub and a cappella arrangements to create a distinctive and soulful house sound.Although coming off a bit self-important in interviews (a common malady among European DJs), Roger is refreshingly down-to-earth in performance. Eschewing some of the more bombastic trappings such as large video screens and dated smoke machines, Roger likes to have his backing beats and mixing skills dictate the dance-floor ambiance. Roger's skill at building interesting textures while remaining stereotypically aloof might well prove to be his best asset, a real way to adapt his innate sophistication to the sadly xenophobic reality of post-September 11 America.

 
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