Welcome to 909rewind, a new series from 909originals that delves into the early careers of some of dance music’s biggest names, uncovering hidden gems and familiar classics from the archives.
We dive into an artist’s history to uncover rare singles, EPs, albums, remixes and more… the tracks that helped shape their sound and set them on the path to legendary status.
This week, we delve into the back catalogue of a true master, who has been writing, composing, remixing and producing since the mid 70s, François Kevorkian, aka François K.
Having moved to New York in 1975, Kevorkian soon found work as a jobbing disc jockey in some of the city’s underground clubs, as well as building a reputation as a budding remixer and producer.
“I already knew some basic stuff about tape and recording”, Kevorkian told Music Radar in 2008. “I could do tape echoes and silly effects between tape machines and such. I tried DJing because the drumming work was so hard to get, I taught myself to splice and edit tape using some scissors and scotch tape.”
As the 70s drew to a close, the Rodez native was called upon to add a distinct flavour to a myriad of genres – disco, Hi-NRG, electro, new wave – and had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in popular music over the next decade (and then some): Diana Ross, The Cure, Adam Ant, Kraftwerk, Eurythmics, Depeche Mode the Steve Miller Band, and even Aussie pop rockers Midnight Oil, to name but a few.
He’s also in the game long enough to have overseen the development of four-to-the-floor disco so something altogether more electronic. In an interview posted on the Red Bull Music Academy site last year, Kevorkian outlined the impact he believed the birth of house had on music.
“Machines. That was the end of live playing. The most significant thing to me about house, you didn’t have live musicians any more. You had people programming boxes, so it had a sound of its own. When it came out it was so special – so raw, primitive, yet very compelling.
“It was the start of that refining process where, instead of music having all these flourishes, you just had raw, to-the-bone, simplistic, dancefloor-only music.”
This week’s 909rewind playlist explores some of Kevorkian’s early productions, remixes and edits, as he set out on what is now close to five decades of making music.
As journalist and Art of Noise protagonist Paul Morley wrote in The Guardian a few years back, Kevorkian “became a part of the invention of a new kind of disc jockey who created, as curator, whole story-telling nights of musical entertainment, by piecing together with almost surreal focus bits of music, shreds of sound and fragments of rhythm.”
We couldn’t agree more…