French DJ-duo FDVM talks bringing electronic dance music (EDM) to Pakistan

Published: February 18, 2019


ISLAMABAD: Islamabad recently hosted a one-of-a-kind music and arts festival titled Solis that brought together EDM musicians from quite literally, all over the world. But the most entertaining set of the evening was displayed by the French DJ-duo Florent Denecker and Victorien Mulliez, who’ve forces combined form the group, FDVM.

The name ‘FDVM’ is derived from the initials of the two. Denecker and Mulliez began the set by playing an electro version of Nadia Hasan’s Disco Deewane that enthralled the crowd. The very next day, they took the Lahooti Melo in Jamshoro, Sindh, by storm, bringing progressive house music to a region used to folk songs. The Express Tribune caught up with the dynamic duo to find out more about their experiences in Pakistan so far, especially since EDM is still, comparatively, an emerging genre on this side of the world.

Overwhelmed, Mulliez – who earlier performer solo at the Salt Arts in Karachi last November – spoke highly of his interactions with the locals. Both artists believe music transcends language and speaks to listeners on a humane level, which is evident considering they had spent their day exploring the Capital, eating Pakistani food, trekking the Margalla hills and dancing to Pashto songs at the farmer’s market. One wonders if there had any pre-conceived notions about Pakistan before flying in.

“For my first trip in November, for Salt Arts, it was an individually organised gig and of course, the first time you hear about Pakistan, that’s the first thing that comes to your head. As a foreigner, you always wonder what it’s like being there and if you’ll be safe,” Mulliez said, on the sidelines of Solis. “But honestly, I wasn’t worried at all, I directly said ‘yes’ and that I wanted to go. If Pakistanis want me to be there, share my music and gift, then I will do so with all my heart. It’s the first time I’ve been welcomed this warmly in any country and when Florent asked me, I told him it was a joy to be there and visit all these places.”

Denecker, who had just landed, admitted he had been apprehensive about coming to Pakistan. “It’s my first time here but now I’m really excited and impressed by how I’ve been welcomed,” he stated. “Vic had come here before and told me all about it. I asked him if it was dangerous and he told me it wasn’t so I took his word for it and I joined him. Now that I’m experiencing it myself, it’s crazy!”

Though Mulliez feels FDVM’s brand of EDM isn’t as orthodox as most other’s and doesn’t necessarily have a real, identified market of its own, through their gigs in Pakistan, the band has added to greater representation and acceptability of more authentic and original music. Whilst the two are not well-versed in South Asian music, they believe EDM is a growing and has endless prospects here.

“We haven’t been very aware of what’s going on here. Out of all the people we’ve spoken to, we’ve found out that there is stuff happening but not a lot,” Mulliez said, of bringing their house music to the country. “Yes, we ourselves do EDM but ours is a very special kind where we’re not really in the mainstream, nor do we have very aggressive, on-the-ground electro. We are very much in the middle with very happy, joyful music that is groovy and funky with a disco vibe.”

He added, “In Pakistan, that hasn’t been explored and it’s very interesting to be bringing it here, because the people are fascinated. They want to hear this! We don’t realise how powerful music can be and the feedback in Pakistan speaks for itself. The biggest compliment I got after Salt Arts was that I apparently made people fall in love with their own city, which was beyond what I expected. The impact is great here.”

Having carved their niche with catchy melodic hooks, fine-tuned grooves and shades of disco with accessible pop components, FDVM now plans on experimenting with music from South Asia as well. Mulliez revealed that he’s previously visited the education city in Sindh during his last peregrination as well to discover indigenous themes and introduce the people to EDM. The pair has also been hanging out with Pakistani starlets Ayesha Omar and Anoushay Ashraf to learn more about the local art scene.

“I’ve been meeting up with shehnai players. I visited Jamshoro to meet the tribes there and was told I was the first foreigner go there. I’ve also been to a few shrines, trying to dive into the culture as much as possible in the short trips I’ve had,” he shared. “Ayesha and Anoushay are also dear friends. We met in New York and here. They’re lovely! We’d like to get involved (in Pakistani arts) as much as we can.”

FDVM had kick-started their tour by jamming and recording at Umair Darr’s studio in Karachi. Darr served as the rhythm guitarist, alongside sitar player Waqas Hussain, bassist Adeel Paul and vocalist Zeeshan Ali. On a parting note, Denecker concluded they might just bring folk music to EDM.

“Last night, we were at a jamming session in Karachi about 10 other artists, which lasted for about a good five hours,” Denecker shared of potential collaborations. He said that if things work out, FDVM will come back to play in Pakistan later this year. “We recorded a lot of instruments, the electronic sitar, a good bass and some vocals as well. And we don’t know yet but we’ve come up with something very nice. Hopefully, we can merge it (with our own music) and create something new. You never know…”

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