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DJ Kiko Interview

Author: Amanda Storey
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
To attempt to classify French DJ Kiko's eclectic style is to surrender yourself to the tip-of-the-tongue syndrome: you continually search for that one word which is beyond your vocabulary's comprehension. Although Kiko has playfully described his approach as "Italotronique", his musical flair exceeds such categorisation, which is evident within his plethora of productions.

Kiko is one of the most prominent players in the French electro scene. Growing up in Grenoble, France, his hometown has become an ongoing influence in his work.

Catapulting onto the French scene in '92, he began to make a name for himself through DJing at raves and parties. Kiko later joined forces with Oxia (Oliver Raymond) to create Phunky Data - a techno tour de force who, with the assistance of likeminded artists The Hacker and Human Body, founded the 'Grenoble scene'. The impact of Phunky Data and friends was far reaching. It spawned Kiko's record shop and label of the same name, Ozone, which saw the label's first release in '95. The Ozone shop soon became a local hangout for Kiko, Oxia and The Hacker, where they would exchange techniques and tips, or perform demonstrations to one another in the nearby studio.

Although the Phunky Data days are over, the legacy of the Grenoble scene has endured. New artists have been incorporated into the Grenoble family and each respective performer has gone on to develop their distinctive musical personality. "Well, it's true that people like Miss Kitten, The Hacker, Oxia, Gino S etc all come from Grenoble and [in that sense] are all directed in a similar style," says Kiko "But each [has added their] own personal touch though."

Indeed. For Kiko, his work has seen a resurgence of Italo-Disco with accompanying 80s flavours. Again, this can be traced back to his Grenoble roots; namely because the Rhône-Alpes region straddles the Italian border. "Due to the fact that we're so close to the Italian border, in that region a lot of Italo-Disco was played. That certainly had a great influence on me," agrees Kiko. This new stylistic direction was launched on Kiko's solo album 'Midnight Magic' in 2001, with the release of Monique rocketing to an international underground classic. By 2002 Kiko's penchant for Italo-Disco culminated into the Love Emulator Sinema project - a duo comprised of himself and Gino S (aka Stephane Deschezeaux). As a follow up to the success of Sinema, Kiko pioneered his new record label Hot Banana with Fabrice G, inaugurating his newfound direction: a reprisal of retro dance music geared for the dancefloor.

Another lingering influence from the Phunky Data days is Kiko's predilection for collaborations. In addition to Sinema, Kiko has conceived such projects as Money Penny and Mix Machine, and has worked alongside the likes of David Carretta and Human Body. "I love working together with other artists," enthuses Kiko "It's rich cooperating together, creating, [and] having ideas brought to reality. It's also very rich to learn new stuff." The 2005 compilation from Hot Banana records 'Pop Fiction' is testament to Kiko's melting pot of ideas and innovations. The compilation fuses a multitude of styles from all eras of dance music into a seamless bricolage of tracks. One standout track is Alexander Robotnick, Kiko and The Hacker's Viens Chez Moi which has helped rekindle Robotnick's career as a cult 80s Italo-Disco icon. Evident within the balance of competing styles, Kiko serves as a musical mediator for the collaboration. "The Hacker produces old skool electro, cold and brute," he explains. He comes from the hardcore scene. Robotnick created in '82 electro new wave with one side more italo-melodic. I try to make a balance between [the] two."

In spite of much media attention to Kiko's hotchpotch style, the DJ insists that this is not self-conscious process. "When I make music or mix, I'm doing it for the dancefloor, for people who want to dance, says Kiko "It's not intended f