- A three-hour journey, and we mean journey, through downtempo, disco and techno.
Fort Romeau approaches dance music like a songwriter. Even his clubbiest tracks have a big heart and bigger melodies, with lush, vibrant textures that make them sound vital off the dance floor, too. He excels at the album format—we're excited for his new one—for this reason, and he can put his stamp on everything from disco to deep house to post-punk and whatever else tickles his fancy.
We could go on, but it's worth just diving in and talking about this mix. At almost three hours, it's epic, adventurous and narrative, split into three parts that roughly outline his state of mind from Covid-19 lockdown—hesitant, lost, confused—and back into the world of dance music. It flows beautifully, full of vintage house, ambient techno and brand new cuts, and finishing with a trance and jungle-influenced stretch that'll make you feel like you're floating on air. It's worth listening to all the way through, in one sitting. You'll thank us later.
What are you grateful for these days?
I feel like I've always been extremely grateful to be able to make music and DJ for a living, especially coming from a background where a job in the arts was not seen as a viable option. Being able to weather the storm of Covid-19 so far, and hopefully come through the other side, makes me feel especially grateful.
How and where was the mix recorded, and can you tell us the idea behind it?
This mix was recorded in my makeshift bedroom studio, just before Covid-19 hit I was planning on moving studio spaces, but was still looking for a new space and just had all my equipment in my bedroom, so as lockdown struck I just set up in the corner of the room. I have a love-hate thing with working at home, I can never make my mind up about it. In terms of the "how," it's a real mixed bag, the first section of the mix is really a collage pieced together quite meticulously on the computer in Ableton. Then there are sections that are vinyl mixes and also a section that is recorded just using the Rekordbox software, as I don't have any CDJs at home. Then it's all stitched together in Ableton. Normally I like to record mixes live and just see what happens but that approach wouldn't have worked for a mix like this.
This mix really is a reflection of my life and psyche the past 18 or so months. There was a good stretch of time where I really questioned if I was going to ever DJ again, everyone was doing livestreams and posting club mixes and I just couldn't connect with any of it, it felt like suddenly all this music had no context, it made no sense in a world where clubs simply don't exist. So the first section of this mix was made in isolation, and kind of functions as an exploration of this liminal, semi-conscious dream space that I felt I was living in most of last year, I would often wake up at 3 or 4 AM and listen to some of these tracks and fall asleep again with the music playing on my subconscious, hence the name of the first part of this mix.
The second half is reflecting the transition from this very private insular space I was living in, into a more outwards looking optimistic and celebratory mindset as things started opening up and the possibility of some kind of life as normal seemed again possible. We're still not totally there but there is light at the end of the tunnel I think, reasons to be hopeful.
Your new album and the inspiration behind it—the photograph and your reaction—sounds pretty heady. How do you incorporate those ideas into dance music?
I often tend to think of music in visual terms, so really it was a jumping off point that got me thinking about different ideas and concepts.
[Photographer] Steven Arnold was an artist whose work occupied a dreamlike metaphysical realm, while also exploring more material themes of beauty, homosexuality and the human form. He created these otherworldly and elegant tableaus from cheaply put together, everyday found objects, elevating them into something extraordinary.
I think his work also resonates with me due to its duality–—the tension between fantasy and reality, the etherial and material, truth and lies, are concepts I find very interesting, both in how we understand art, but also how we define ourselves and relate to the world around us.
I'm always drawn to artists with a very distinctive point of view, who are able to draw from many sources, to produce something uniquely their own. Creating a musically cohesive world, from lots of different influences is something I always try to do, and it's something I've tried to reflect in my podcast. Bringing disparate strands together to tell a single story, is to me, the most challenging and rewarding part of both DJing and making music.
You recently played your first post-Covid gig. What was that like for you, and do you feel like your relationship with or approach to dance music and DJing has changed?
It was very strange for the first ten or 15 minutes, but then I guess its like riding a bike, it felt really natural and kind of like nothing had happened. It was amazing to be able to play again, but I'm still not convinced we're out of the woods with Covid-19 yet. I do think the pandemic has reinforced just how fundamental connecting and gathering together is to us as human beings. No amount of livestreaming or virtual reality gigs can ever replace the primal need to come together and dance.
What's one social or political cause you want the world to pay more attention to?
There are so many issues that concern me it's almost an impossible question to answer. On a very human level, something I find deeply disturbing and shocking is the way people seeking refuge have been, and continue to be, treated.
In Europe, everyday, people are drowning and freezing to death on our doorstep. Others are trapped in inhuman living conditions, left hopeless. It's a problem that's the result of many of the world's injustices from war, persecution, climate crisis, global inequality, poverty etc. It is truly shameful and shows a complete lack of humanity. Not only are people seeking safety and dignity for themselves and their families vilified, but those trying to save lives at sea, or on our borders, are being criminalized. I feel like the desperate scenes we see in the news have almost become normalized, yet they are so far from normal.
A couple of organizations to support include Spanish NGO Open Arms which rescues people in trouble at sea, and UK charity Choose Love which has done great work shifting the narrative around refugees and supports many grassroots projects around the world.
What are you up to next?
Mostly working on more new music, planning the release of my LP, as well as starting a new monthly radio show on Balamii, planning some releases on my label “Cin Cin” doing some remixes and then looking forward to next year and some more DJing fingers crossed!?
Part I: In The Deep Black Night Of The Morning
Nine Inch Nails - Together
Frank Fairfield - The Dying Cowboy
Aphex Twin - Blue Calx
Rhythm & Sound - Distance
Aphex Twin - Vordhosbn
Popol Vuh - Ich Mache Einen Spiegel Dream Part 49
The 7th Plain - Excalibur’s Radar
Levon Vincent - She Likes To Wave At Passing Boats
My Bloody Valentine - To Here Knows When
Paperclip People - Clear And Present
Cyrus - Inversion
Photek - 124
Mylene Farmer - Centres De Lune
Part II: The Light Shines Through
Melchior Productions LTD - Different Places
Mandar - Poisoned Words (Ricardo Villalobos Remix 1)
John Talabot - Without You (Melchior Productions Ltd Dub)
Sascha Dive - Underground Is My Home
French Connection - French Connection (speechless)
Unknown - Unknown
Global Communication - The Deep
Melchior Productions LTD - The Call (Thomas Stieler's Sunshiner Edit)
QuinzeQuinze - Bolero (DJ Deep Remix)
Soulphiction - Ballin’
Masters At Work - We Did It For Years
Damiano Von Erckert - Moons
Eden Burns - Invercargirl
Jerome Sydenham & Kerri Chandler - Powder (Deep At Legends Mix)
Evans Pyramid - Never Gonna Leave You (Housemix)
ItaloJohnson - B2
Violet - Espirito
Garrett David - Don’t Fuck With Querns
Roman Flugel & Tiga - Look To The Sky
Barker - E7-E5
Willow - Strawberry Moon
Epilogue: So This Is Love
Cloud 9 - Blissful Ignorance (Remix)
Cloud 9 - Mr Logic (Remix)
PFM - Love And Happiness
Source Direct - Modem
Essence Of Aura - So This Is Love