Pioneering French producer FKJ has released his selt-titled debut album French Kiwi juice, an intricately blended mix of jazz, soul and R&B.
Following in the footsteps of fellow French genre-benders Dune & Crayon, Saje, Cherokee, Darius and Kartell, FKJ's new album builds upon his previous EP's 'Time For A Change' and 'Take Off' and popular track 'Better Give You Up'. The album has been released by French label Roche Musique, who have been pioneering a new sound that is "unmistakably French" and aspires to push the genre forward. Despite being a self proclaimed House music label, the successful use of various instrumentals, soulful harmonies and chopped lyrics has brought in elements of funk, soul, jazz and R&B.
FKJ himself has found considerable success on SoundCloud since the launch of his debut track "Lying Together" more than four years ago and has since developed a truly unique and raw sound. The new self-titled album eschews the collaborations and remixes that we've come to love from FKJ such as the track "Waiting" featuring Madelyn Grant and "Learn to Fly" which features vocals from Jordan Rakei.
The album starts with ”We Ain't Feeling Time”, a beautifully-produced track that features the soft vocals and bouncy beat that we've come to expect from the likes of Bristol-born producer and performer Tom Misch. It is layered with a huge range of instruments, a staple feature from instrumentalist FKJ. Both artists have worked with R&B and soul singers such as Jordan Rakei and Lianne La Havas, so its only a matter of time before the ultimate genre-bending collaboration.
The track ”Skyline” was premiered on Youtube on February 10th and was released alongside a video directed by Cedric Dubourg and FKJ himself that is reminiscent of an episode of Netflix-exclusive Stranger Things. The track itself is incredibly smooth, chilled and soulful. We like this track but have fallen in love with the vocals of June Marieezy right at the end of this song. The pair have worked together before on "Fly - FKJ Remix", one of our favourite tracks of 2015.
Previously released tracks ”Better Give You Up” and ”Go Back Home” both make appearances on this new album, with the latter featuring on channel TheSoundYouNeed earlier this year and using those all-important chopped vocals that FKJ has become renowned for. ”Better Give You Up” was the first track which premiered FKJ as a singer and has racked up over 2.5 million views.
The track ”Canggu” doesn't feature any vocals but is a testament to the instrumental talents and musicianship of FKJ. He brings a jazz-inspired sound to the album and makes heavy use of the sax and piano combo. "Blessed" is just minutes and 25 seconds of heavenly bliss with those soft vocals and slow but groovy beat.
”Lying Together” makes the heaviest use of chopped vocals in this album and is preceded by an instrumental prelude that acts as a teaser of things to come. ”Joy” is a much faster track that is more upbeat that the rest of the album but still relies on velvety jazz overtones to balance the track out.
The debut album is rounded off with the track ”Why Are There Boundaries” which was used to tease eager fans. The track is slowed down, with his silky vocals making a reappearance over a beat that manages to be both choppy and rhythmic at the same time. Vocals are used here more extensively than any of FKJ's other tracks and passionately guide the listener on a narrative that interfaces with the beat. It is a somewhat musing track that we have been playing on repeat since it came out a mere five hours ago.
In the last few years, producers have been receiving more attention and recognition, with the likes of Canadian producer Kaytranada, who also produces eclectic combinations of electronic, hip-hop, R&B and dance music and received the 2016 Polaris Music Prize for his album 99.9%. FKJ is no different, with his debut album showcasing the best of his production.
All in all, French Kiwi Juice is easily one of our favourite albums to be released so far in 2017. We've been following FKJ since his early days but this latest release is something truly great. We would highly recommend this album to fans of genre-bending music and of Tom Misch and Bondax in particular.
French Kiwi Juice is out on all major platforms on 3rd March 2017.