Q&A: Leon Oziel of The Dallas-Based House Music Label and Blog French Express Talks His Latest Release and Label's History, Shares MP3
For about a year now, Leon Oziel's house music blog, French Express, has been the best-kept secret in the local blogosphere -- partially because he's not from town (he moved here in 2010 from Toronto) and partially because he writes about so specific a niche in music that there's little room for crossover with other blogs. But he's working on changing that.
Last summer, Oziel branched out and launched a record label named after his blog. A year, a compilation album, a remix album for a Swedish act called Uniforms and a single from Australia's Rainbows of Death later, and French Express is now working on its biggest undertaking yet -- an EP release from New York City-based funk house producer Chris Malinchak, called Renaissance. Oziel, for his part, is just happy to finally be releasing a North American artist on his label, but the four-track release is very much something to get excited about, with its 25-minute run-time straight filled with ear candy from wall to wall.
Lead single "Can't Stop Loving You" (which you can see posted above in a clip set to the 1984 Tom Berenger vehicle, Fear City) will especially worm its way into your brain -- like a VEGA track on ecstasy, no doubt. Oziel's been kind enough to pass the track along as a free download for DC9 readers. Grab it -- and, hell, stream the whole EP, too -- after the jump, where you'll also find a quick Q&A with Oziel in which he discusses his background, his inspiration for starting a label and his hopes for French Express as the brand name grows.
Bonus MP3: Chris Malinchak -- Can't Stop Loving You"
What's your background? You've been running French Express for a while now, and I know you've been in Dallas for about a year or so, right? Where are you from originally? How'd you end up in Dallas?
I'm from Toronto, Canada myself. We ended up south of the equator to escape slushy brown snow and the uglier parts of the long winter. Dallas folk really take good weather for granted! My background is creative advertising, but I've dabbled into sound exploration and music production for a few years now. I've been piloting the label since summer of 2010, and it's walked a few humble steps since.
I know there was talk once upon a time of a weekly residence? That ever happen? is it still happening?
The fellas over at PM Lounge offered me a once a month gig. That was short but sweet. Grappling with the Dallas nightlife just wasn't one of my priorities. That's why I've stopped producing and DJing for some time to focus on putting out quality content under French Express. Aside from the label, I produce under an alias called "Perseus" with a fella from Indonesia called Midnight Savari. He's blowing things up right now. We did two remixes -- one of them for Grum off of Ultra and Autokratz off of BadLife.
What can you tell me about the label and its goals?
I truly hope the label will grow more in its international foundation and gripping -- enough to catapult it through the wavy trends that come and go. Right now, Australia is popping. Tomorrow, I feel Sweden will be the output king. When I first started the blog in '08, the French artists were exporting so much quality music they literally ran the scene (hence the blog and label name French Express). The goal for now is to import enough of these trendy sounds to garner a flow or trend strong enough to inspire our local American artists. I don't have too much of a following here in Dallas (mostly New York, Miami and Los Angeles for North America), but there are a growing number of disco cowboys showing lots of love, no doubt!
How'd this most recent release come to pass? How'd you get in touch with the artist?
Chris Malinchak is a legendary funk house producer who had hooked me for years. I have a super soft spot for beach house. His productions have been everywhere from Hed Kandi to Ultra and back. We got in touch two years ago, after I bought an mp3 from beatport that sounded like it had a high pitch noise in the background. After asking beatport to find out if my copy was bad, I literally made five to six hops until I got in touch with Chris from the original label. He ended up bouncing me a fresh copy, and now it's sitting tight and re-released on this EP. Satisfied! We started working together a few months back. I think he's masterfully crafted a timeless EP, with lots more to come. A real musician, full of ideas and talent! Can never talk enough praise about the guy.
What's on the immediate horizon for the label?
We have several releases from hot Australian and European artists that I believe will firmly dig our dirty French fingernails deep into the "cool cats" of the scene. For the immediate future: Singles, albums, and music videos, all with a dash of creativity, are to be para-dropped into your playlist starting the first of April. I think we're on the cusp of something much greater as we enter the coming summer months. Music that makes you feel the warm breeze and sand in between your toes -- tropical and caribbean disco! But all this is big talk next to the people we need to fuel the motions of a hybridized record label and blog like us, so we encourage people to get in touch. We'll be trying to throw a few joint parties locally with artists we've blogged or signed in the next couple of months. It's just slightly complicated when the closest artist lives 1,200 miles away! You could die of dysentery twice trying to wagon that distance!