Words by Erin MacLeod
Care for a little zouk? It’s always tough for tunes that aren’t English or Spanish to take off in North America (outside Quebec), but we’ve enlisted French duo Jupiter to help with the translation. Responsible for the quirky electro of “Saké,” Amélie de Bosredon and Quarles Baseden have recently turned their retro-focused talents on Kassav’ for the new dirty disco burner “Kass Limon.” Kassav’ — originally hailing from Martinique and Guadeloupe — are the three-decades-old-and-still-truckin’ creators of zouk. Bringing the rhythms of compa, salsa and reggae together, zouk (and its many subgenres) is terribly popular in the francophone world. Jupiter, however, reached back in to the annals of Kassav’s catalogue and picked out “Lagué Moin” from the 1980 album of the same name.
Sure, this was before Kassav’ had really crystallized the sound that became known as zouk, but the tune is ridiculous-catchy and Jupiter’s version actually kicks the catchy up a notch. To do this with a Kassav’ tune, by the way, is damn impressive. The full track will be out digitally on Kitsuné, a French clothing and music label, July 18. To get the full story for all y’all disco-edit addicts, LargeUp spoke to Jupiter about zouk, Franco-Caribbean tunes, and the linguistic divide that just shouldn’t be (more videos & full interview after the jump)
LU: What made you decide to rework a tune from Kassav and specifically “Lagué Moin”?
J: We actually heard “Lagué Moin” on a music blog a few years back, so we were not specifically looking for Kassav’, or zouk for that matter. However, the track struck us instantly as a perfect combination of disco and zouk; the guitar and bass technique sounded like nothing we’d heard before! We thought we should sample it and make it sound more contemporary in terms of production, so it could fit even better in a modern mix.
LU: With so much interest in “tropical” music, why do you think so few people have taken a go at music from the French Caribbean (zouk, compa, etc.)?
J: I guess when people in France hear “French Caribbean music” they instantly think about more mainstream acts like La Compagnie Creole or Ottawan which were (and still are, to some extent) hugely successful. Because of this, we overlook more seminal bands like Kassav’, who basically created zouk music. The current “tropical” trend in indie music might eventually change this paradox, but so far Jamaican and Cuban music seem to be taken more seriously…
LU: What are your feelings about zouk?
J: Like many styles of music, we prefer the vintage sound rather than the modern R&B vibe. We’re not sure whether there are current bands playing zouk in a disco style like in the early 80s, but we’d love to hear some.
LU: I personally think that the Kassav’ album featuring “Lagué Moin” is a bit of a slept on treasure. Would you think of taking a look at any other tracks?
J: We listened to the whole album after we discovered “Lagué Moin.” It’s the perfect blend of disco/funk and tropical sounds we crave, so we totally agree with you. “Kakika” is another awesome track, it sounds like “Off The Wall” with a creole twist!
LU: Do have any future plans to expand your tropical repertoire?
J: We try to explore as many styles as we can, so you might well find certain tropical sounds on our album, mixed in with the rest of our influences . . .