Lush house loops from a Parisian favourite.
House music doesn't come much classier than the stuff Charlie Naffah makes and plays. As Lazare Hoche, this 27-year-old Frenchman specialises in a lean, emotive and functional sound built around a no-frills, groove-led formula that's been central to loopy house music since the style emerged in the '90s. As simple as these tracks may seem, very few producers nail its understated and hypnotic aesthetic, which part of the reason why the evergreen Naffah is currently one of house's most exciting and best-loved producers. He's been putting out slick, effective records from his Paris base for four years, beginning with the lauded collaboration with Malin Genie, I Don't Sync So Pt.1. Naffah's released music at a steady rate since, becoming a firm favourite of DJs who like their house stripped-down, punchy and with feeling (respected selectors such Zip and Raresh are among his biggest fans).
We're pleased to present a mix from Naffah as this week's RA podcast. It's a smooth ride through the vibrant Lazare Hoche sound, with long blends, shuffling drums, lush atmospheres and a steady groove—lock yourself in and get hypnotised.
What have you been up to recently?
I'm in the middle of my first US tour after spending the whole winter locked up in studio to finishing a new Mandar album, some solo material and various stems to use for live shows and DJ gigs. Being in the US for the first time in my life for a tour is a great honour. I'm super happy about it.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded at home in Paris with some turntables, CDJs, Bozak mixer and a computer to record it.
Could you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I recorded it like five months ago with some Oscillat material that was fresh at that time, and some Mandar album sketches that hadn't even been even submitted to mastering yet. And, of course, some of the old gems I like to play. Some super talented young producers like Ferro, Levi Verspeek and Makcim are also featured. You guys should keep an eye on them. I really like to represent Oscillat Music and Lazare Hoche Records artists.
You've reissued older tracks from labels like Sounds. and Versatile on Lazare Hoche. How did these come about
Versatile is an iconic Parisian label run by Gilb'R which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Gregory Darsa is one of my closest friends, and a true inspiration to me. I used to spend hours at Gregory's studios listening to all his old and new loops, jams, DAT tapes and stuff. I kept talking to him about how mad Headcore (one of his Versatile aliases) was, and at some point he asked if I would be able to release some of it on Lazare Hoche Records.
He didn't have any digital backup of the master file of this track, so we had to find the actual DAT tapes over at Gilb'R's archive. They found it after hours of stress. So we had the original tape remastered for the LHR release and it sounded ace.
Sounds. is a label a friend from Amsterdam, Bobby Hakvoort, showed me via Nimbus Quartet like four or five years ago. I fell in love. So I bought all the records from the Nimbus Quartet project, and most of the records in the Sounds. catalog. Then I did my research and ended up speaking with Woody McBride, who's the owner of Sounds. and one-half of Nimbus Quartet. We licensed bunch of Nimbus Quartet tracks, which meant a lot of young people discovered Nimbus Quartet through the reissue we released. They don't really sound like typical '90s house—they just sound crazy good and interesting, I would say.
You, Malin Genie and S.A.M. live in different countries, but have produced a lot of music together. How does this work?
The early Mandar records like "Fouad," "Naughty Mandar" and "Peace Force" were recorded with the boys in my Paris studio. Malin and Sam were hanging a lot in Paris—Sam was living there for couple of years and Nick came for a few months to set up the Mandar live show with us and record the Mandar album.
It felt like a typical band process to spend time together in the studio. Those guys are my best friends in real life, so it doesn't feel like work at all. Nowadays, we're sending stems back and forth to each other online. Nick recently built his own studio in Amsterdam, and keeps sending us crazy modular jams. Samuel, who is a constant traveler, manages to make music everywhere.
We're doing live shows based on improvisation and jamming over the top of a back track playing on the laptop. We're constantly building ideas, even during soundcheck or in the hotel. We are doing live four or five live shows per month at the moment, so we have constantly a lot of new material. For now we're going to focus more on albums than EPs. We really like the album format and the whole process around it.
Digging seems to be a hot topic in your area of dance music these days. Have you noticed any changes in the way people look for music?
Yes, of course. With the internet, information is circulating very fast. You can clearly see the price of a record getting higher after when some famous DJ played it. In France, we have a 10,000-person Facebook group for track IDs. I'm also noticing how much people are filming or taking some snaps on the dance floor. That's cool, but I like more when people are dancing.
What are you up to next?
I have pretty intense European summer touring schedule that ends with a Japan tour in October. I'll get to visit a few nice territories I've never been before, like Ukraine and Georgia. A South America tour is being put together for the end of the year also. And, of course, still making music all day and boxing during the week.