DJ Emmanuelle and her AM I Normal? cohorts have been championing cool francophone music since 2015.
DJ Emmanuelle and her AM I Normal? cohorts have been championing trés cool francophone music since 2015. Valerie Calano


Current top 5 tracks:

Karaocake, "Youth Slip" (Objet Disque)
"This song makes me sentimental for the French junior high I never went to."

Vendredi sur Mer, "La Femme à la Peau Bleue" (Profil de Face)
"The French tropical house artists are a little lighter than most stuff I listen too, but it gets under your skin. Picking one was hard (runners up: Lewis OfMan, Polo & Pan, Bleu Toucan...)."

Blackmail, "Amore Synthétique" (Gonzaï)
"Their synth sound is balanced and so on-point on this track. Plus: the album's a soundtrack to an indie movie about a singer that has an affair with her keyboard synth. Some of their older records are darker; everything is really thoughtfully produced."

Noir Boy George, "Messin Plutôt Que Français" (Bandcamp)
"I have a soft spot for basement-produced dark/industrial French electro. This song has become a sort of underground anthem for not feeling French enough if you're from certain provinces. (Kudos to The_ohmu for turning me on to this one.)"

Moodoïd, "Reptile" (Because Music)
"Pablo Padovani (guitarist in Melody's Echo Chamber, director) is a genius and his project Moodoïd deserves way more attention. I'm stoked that their new EP went dark disco."

Crew affiliations: "#FrenchFace; Hollow Earth Radio."

Styles played: "Coldwave, post-punk, garage/punk, psych, weird electronic/synthesizer music (a lot falls into this category), industrial electronic, tropical house, bad '80s European pop. I'm trying to put my finger this new genre coming out of France that is recursive to the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, etc... all at the same time. La Femme is the prime example. It's like 'crossover everything.' I like to explore 'crossover everything' at my French monthly."

Events organized: "DJ Retina Burn [Chris Bendix] and I co-host a weird French music party called AM I Normal? on first Wednesdays at Revolver. It's a 100-percent French-language weirdo music night where we only play vinyl of francophone origin that's a bit off-center. Francophone for this night means stuff from France, Québec, Belgium, and Switzerland.

"I've been Djing since the early '00s, mostly playing mod and '60s music, some electro. The francophone purism started a few years ago when I returned from France, and was invited to guest at Hôtel Gainsbourg (at Vermillion). I was playing a lot of late-'90s, early-'00s electro-pop, still off my phone, since I didn't have any gear.

"I needed to get a lot sharper about French-language music after the '70s. Serge Gainsbourg & co. get so much play, and I wanted to dig deeper. And I had been in love with yé-yé for so long. It's a '60s bubblegum-pop genre that came out in France as a response to the British invasion. I mean, who wasn't into breathy French female vox in the 2000s with Nouvelle Vague and Keren Ann?

"Maybe moving to France and getting better at speaking French kind of broke the yé-yé spell for me. I was exposed to a lot of really interesting stuff in Marseille (France), garage and psych and synth and electroacoustic concrète music. Marseille is this crossroads for touring bands and you get to see some awesome shows there at the Machine à Coudre, the Friche, Montévidéo, Data, l'Embobineuse. They have a ton of groups and associations that put together festivals and do skill-share. I got turned on to Zombie Zombie and High Wolf at the Embobineuse. It's this little hole in the wall in a neighborhood where the buses don't run, and they have an art car inside the space and a ton of random stuff that seems like it came from a BDSM circus.

"France has a really excellent network of independent radio stations, like Radio Grenouille. Plus, the Marseille city library had this music section that was like a small indie record store. I would go in there and they would have the latest Sexy Sushi and Sun Araw. Super curated. A lot of thought and research goes into people's music collections in France.

"That whet my appetite for showcasing the French version of what we used to call 'alternative music' here in the US.

"I've been lucky to play with a ton of awesome DJs on AM I Normal?, and I have learned so much from each month's collaboration. It's been an excuse to discover who has secret troves of French vinyl in their collections. Obligatory shout out: DJs Sharlese, Cosmic Twin, Explorateur, Fifi La Roux, Jesy Fortino, A/B/R/A/H/N/, Dr. Troy, Halfcan, The_ohmu, Aaron Car Clock, E-Z Action, Lord Phatrick, slow, Gel-Sol, Vodka Twist, ADHD... and of course Retina Burn. We're having our second anniversary this December."

DJing philosophy: "The more I DJ, the less I know. Every gig is a discovery. I don't walk tabula rasa into gigs like I used to early on. Now, I prepare a ton, and then I still throw out a lot of it when I play.

"A few years ago, I moved abroad and sold off most of my records and gear. When I moved back and started accumulating again, I decided to be very rule-driven about it. 90 percent of what I own is Francophone-produced, performed, or fronted. I'm pretty religious about that. And I shop to play. Not a lot of pristine vinyl in my collection."

Format: "Vinyl. It's worth the hunt to get the Euro stuff on vinyl. You meet a lot of new friends that way! Vinyl shopping in Paris is really good, and pretty affordable in some places. My two top recommendations for anyone going over there are the Pop Culture Shop (which has a nice curated vinyl selection with a lot of French/Parisian artists) and Beatsqueeze in Puces St-Ouen. I think that Paris underground culture is having a major upswing, and you can feel it when you go into record stores."

Worst request: "If you can make a request for vinyl I've actually brought with me that night, you're either a friend or you get mega points."

Upcoming events: Looters Records - 11/25, 7 pm
TUF LUCK @ Runaway - 11/29, 8 pm
AM I Normal? Weird French music w/ DJ Retina Burn @ Revolver - 12/6, 9 pm
Northwest Film Forum Holiday Party w/ DJ Retina Burn - 12/8, 7 pm