When UKF heard upcoming DJ Francis Mercier was playing alongside Oliver Heldens last week in New York, we jumped at the chance to chat. His breakthrough remixes exude a cool future house sound. This week his first original – Waiting For – dropped on Italian record label Musical Noize. We approve…
We sat down with Francis to learn six things about him and what the future for house music holds.
He earned a degree in Mathematics from an Ivy League university
“I don’t have a background in music, I studied math at Brown University, which taught me how to look at difficult projects and figure out how to solve them. This helped me develop as a producer. There are a lot of similar intricacies between music and math, like being detail-oriented, looking at the project as whole, then breaking it down into its smallest parts and creating a step by step procedure to arrive at a final solution. It’s a formula, in a way.
But his formula starts with a more abstract element
“I focus on groove before anything else. I start by creating a theory behind the song that gives the track emotion. So first it’s groove, second it’s feeling, third it’s sound design that makes it fresh and gets you out on the dance floor. Referring back to mathematics, you have to analyze sounds to get that kind of future sound. It’s a blend of art, science and intuition.”
His style is mainly deep house, but his live sets are as diverse and versatile as his background, keeping him ahead of the curve
“I born in New York City and raised in Haiti, so I grew up with people from all parts of Europe, Africa, the Caribbean—all over. Being exposed to such an international background in my youth gave me an understanding of music and art that was broad across genres and cultures. It clued me into what was trending at the time in different parts of the world.
My curiosity for the world always brought me to new places and new people to discover.
He was the Van Wilder of Brown University
“I started DJ-ing in college for fun, back when the big Trance and European artists were first coming to the US. I remember seeing Armin van Buuren in Brooklyn in 2005, and Tiesto during his “Elements of Life” tour. “In Search of Sunrise” was a huge influence for me– it had so much emotion. You watched them and realized they’re on a stage connecting people from all over the world, in one place.
I got my first set of turntables and started playing experimental trance at college parties, then took some time off school to play in New York. I wanted to build myself from scratch with the production. My ultimate goal is to make music everyone can appreciate.
I was quite different from my peers, but I have to give it to Brown— being a student at one of the best intuitions, but having peers that were so open-minded. They didn’t’ think my career choice was crazy, they thought it was original.”
He believes the next big wave in music is future house – and New York is the home for it
“New York is the place where there is an underground culture that is very relevant. This city is always ahead of the curve and a place where deep house is appreciated; a lot of venues are strictly dedicated to the genre. I’m so pleased to be part of the New York market and represent New York in that scene. There is room for anything here.”
Including Oliver Heldens, who he played beside in New York last week….
“Oliver Heldens has been a huge inspiration for me because he is one of the pioneers to bring deep house into the main stage. He’s the first to come out and create a track that blew up— he commercialized it by borrowing elements of big room and EDM to his composition that’s still deep and groovy. There is a lot for the community to be thankful for. You’ll see youth over the next few years to listen to deep house.”
He’s very excited about the future…
“I want to see deep/future house reach the utmost commerciality and to be part of that movement. Who knows what the future holds, but this sound has a lot to offer and it’s extremely expandable. You can introduce elements from EDM, dubstep, hip hop, you name it. There is more room for composition and well thought-out musicality, because it’s part of a community that’s more open.
Deep house is really the mother of all genres because you can incorporate elements from any kind of music. It’s going to push artistry to unknown elements. I’m glad to see the young kids come back to this kind of sound.
Alesso recently expressed his concern that EDM lacked real emotion. Emotion was existent in trance (consider songs like Adagio For Strings), but in EDM people forgot about composition, and instead became tied into the “phatness” of the sound. It had its purpose, but after a while you want to come back to what moves you and gives you real emotion.
That’s where deep house comes in. We should be thankful for guys like Oliver Heldens and TCHAMI who are pushing the envelope. If that doesn’t happen, we’re looking at house music becoming a joke.”
Support Waiting For: Beatport