French DJ, producer, musician and label owner Folamour – real name: Bruno Boumendil – is an artist currently on the rise. His euphoric sets of jazz-tinged and global-flavoured house and disco range from deep underground cuts to, as witnessed recently during his Boiler Room debut at FLY Open Air, the biggest pop record if he feels the time is right.
Who is Folamour? Following his debut album in 2017 and remixing artists like Tony Allen, Nightmares On Wax and Barbara Tucker, he released a second album in 2019 – ‘Ordinary Drugs’ – offering an engaging mix from dance floor slayers to introspective mood pieces. Folamour typically keeps up a steady DJ schedule, playing at Corsica Studios, Sub Club, XOYO and Rex Club in Paris, festivals like Made, Dimensions, Nuits Sonores, and Lost Village.
It’s a DJing approach that’s clearly paying off, so we chatted to Bruno to find out about exactly how he operates behind the decks.
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Hey Bruno! Tell us about the music you play and the format and kit you use.
I’m quite diverse in the music I can play, I play only music I love, not just club music. Mostly music with soul inside, life and energy.
Set-up wise, I tend to play only on CDJs for the last few months – I’m touring too much to bring records with me, and there aren’t enough clubs where it’s really possible to have the same quality of sound as with digital music.
I bring USB sticks, a normal one. I’ve never checked too much about special USB sticks for DJing. The ones I have seem to survive for years, so that’s fine with me! When I play records, I also always bring a cleaning kit with me to ensure my records are playable too.
What kind of technical hitches have you had when DJing, and how do you deal with them?
I think that anyone touring for long enough ends up having their fair amount of USB stick bugs, turntable shutdowns, electricity cuts and anything else – but my solution to all of that is always the same: to not look like I’m panicking. When something is going wrong, I just smile and look at the people and show them that everything is going to be fine soon, it’s just a short hiccup!
Even the best DJ makes a weak programming decision or a poor transition occasionally. What do you do to recapture the vibe if things are flagging a bit on the dance floor?
The same thing as with a technical issue: smiling, raising my shoulders to show that ‘Hey, it happens, right? no stress’, and then focusing back into the music. When you play unquantized music, you need to take a bit of distance from that. I always try to play technically perfect sets, but if it’s not perfect, it doesn’t mean it was a bad set.
A vital aspect of DJing is crate digging – how do you source your music, and what advice can you offer to young DJs searching for tunes?
I spend a lot of time online digging. YouTube and Discogs are two amazing tools for that. I find a song I like and I’ll start listening to everything from the artist. Then, I listen to all the releases from the label, find similar artists, and it goes on and on. On the computer I take whilst I’m touring, I always have a few pages opened on playlists, Discogs pages and YouTube channels that I spend my time digging on.
When DJing across genres, do have any tips for transitioning between tracks with drastically differing tempos?
When I have to switch tempos, I plan a good loop on the slowest track, and I start slowing the other one down until the moment I can match them. It usually works most of the time with the audience. But a bit of real advice would be to not be afraid of playing slow music.
Nowadays, it seems to be a rush to “who’s never gonna play slower than 130bpm”, even in house music. I like to start all my sets really slow – between 95bpm and 105bpm – and I end them around 125bpm, which allows me to play a lot of different grooves and genres.
Do you use the EQs and filters much when mixing? What EQ-related tips can you share for DJs that are learning?
I use EQs a lot, yes. I use them to push some frequencies when the song is lacking some bass, for instance, or when the hats are too low so I don’t lose the energy when going from one song to another – even if they’ve been mixed completely differently at the start.
I never play a song with the EQs untouched. I use the filters to cut the low frequency or high frequency to give a bit of air inside a song on some moments, or to prepare something stronger energy-wise.
You play a lot of re-edits, right? Do you do much live looping or re-editing?
I edit a lot of the tracks I’m playing, recent or old. For old tracks, I edit to cut some parts that wouldn’t sound well in a club (or moments I don’t enjoy much), and recent ones only to cut some parts. But I never do it live.
DJs often have split opinions on using mixer FX. What tips might you offer up-and-coming DJs in that realm?
I’m pro-FX but my advice would be – not too much, not too often, and don’t do the reverb + low cut in the break because it’s boring and doesn’t do justice to the song (if it’s a good one). If you do it, do it subtly!
I like reverb and delays, they’re super useful and nice to use in a lot of different situations. When I’m playing with a rotary, I love the sound – but I always regret the FX at one moment of my set.
What about using the cue button like a drum pad? Do you ever do that with a little vocal snippet or stab sound?
Sometimes I do! When I prepare the next track and it has some nice elements in the breaks or intro, I like to use them to announce it – but not too much. I usually play songs that are already quite filled with elements and I don’t want to add more things to it because it’s already perfect to me.
What do think separates good DJs from great DJs?
A love of music. A great DJ will play his favourite music all the time, not thinking about if it’s ‘club music’ enough or anything. Just playing your favourite songs always makes it special to me.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer to up-and coming-DJs?
Listen to more music, always more. Don’t think you want to be a techno DJ or a house DJ because you saw an artist once and that’s it. If you don’t know every type of music and know what you really love and what you don’t, you won’t be able to build yourself strongly enough to be a seriously interesting DJ. And it’s something that everyone on the scene does – it never stops.
And finally, that video of you dropping Abba’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ at Boiler Room x FLY Open Air Festival [above] has been doing the rounds recently online. For all the amateur DJs who are playing warm-up sets to virtually empty rooms – tell us a bit about that gig and playing tunes like that…
You never know when you’re going to be respected for the things you’ve been doing as a passion for years. It took me a long time to be where I am now. I played my fair amount of empty rooms, all night long, for years. Playing music no one cared about, hearing that I was a cocktail DJ because I play African music, soul and funk.
I heard that a lot for years and I was doing my best every day to prove them wrong. I’m happy to have shown that if you can stick to what you love, you’ll find people who understand and feel alike, so don’t give up!
Folamour just put out a new single, ‘I Miss Having Someone to Talk To’, with Liv East out on all platforms now – you can stream or buy it here. You can also find him via social media on Facebook and Instagram, and keep up with his releases on Beatport and Soundcloud.