FKJ | A GENRE-DEFYING MUSICIAN
Vincent Fenton—best known by his stage name FKJ (French Kiwi Juice)—is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and songwriter, in that chronological order. He is a trendsetter and a driving force behind the evolving New French House genre. Simon Rentner, an award-winning podcast and radio producer, describes him as a ‘One-Man Orchestra and Internet Phenom.’
His style is deeply rooted in Nu Jazz and Electronic music, defined by groovy basslines and intricately vibrant synthesizer arrangements, positioning him at the pinnacle of the genre. FKJ crafts lush soundscapes with a relaxed, high-vibrational mood.
PARISIAN ORIGINS: WHERE NEW FRENCH HOUSE FOUND ITS BEAT
In the late 1990s, French house music emerged as a subgenre within the electronic dance music scene. Paris, with its vibrant club scene and rich musical history, became a thriving hub in this evolving musical landscape. French artists like Cassius and Dimitri from Paris were at the forefront, leading the way in shaping the genre’s global influence. FKJ seamlessly became a part of this music scene, with his early work significantly reflecting the influence of the city’s pulsating energy.
Emerging from the heart of Paris, the New French House genre blurred the lines between electronic music styles, infusing groovy basslines, chopped samples, and feel-good melodies. It seamlessly incorporated the best of disco, funk, and R&B into the digital age, creating a nostalgic yet forward-looking sound.
EARLY MUSICAL INFLUENCES AND SOUND STYLE
Born in Tours, central-western France, Vincent Fenton began his musical journey with his parents’ CD library. The first instrument Fenton learned to play was the saxophone at age 7. Fast-forward to 13 years old, and he had mastered multiple instruments—all without formal training.
Before venturing into music production, Vincent moved to Paris to study sound and film, which marked the inception of his musical career. In a 2022 British GQ interview, he shared, “I felt the best way to learn sound was by attending a sound engineering school. It’s a complex science: understanding the importance of sound in music, its influence on us, and how a well-mixed sound can stir emotions.” However, the turning point in Vincent’s career came when he encountered sound gurus during his internships. He reveres Hoang Manh, a sound engineer from Vietnam, as the most significant audio geek he knows, crediting Manh with transforming his perception of sound and the way he hears it.
In the early 2010s, Vincent began collaborating with other artists from Roche Musique, a Paris-based independent label that serves as an editor and niche collective for artists. In 2012, he introduced his first EP, The Twins, followed by the release of the single ‘Lying Together’ in 2013. As an unofficial A&R enthusiast myself, it was during this time that I discovered FKJ’s eternal source of creativity, and I knew his music was here to stay and would become my lifelong companion.
Within months of releasing ‘Lying Together ,’ FKJ became a sensation within the Parisian music community. He performed at renowned venues like Nuits Fauves, La Machine du Moulin Rouge, La Fée Électricité, Showcase, and Le Zénith. His presence on the scene marked the rise of New French House as well as a cultural shift toward celebrating raw creativity, freedom, and living in the moment.
FKJ’s collaboration style is also worth noting. He often collaborates with other musicians and vocalists, which has helped him to create a unique sound that is both organic and electronic. Has collaborated with artists and producers such as Breakbot, Crayon, Toro y Moi and most recently Carlos Santana.
FKJ’s distinctive live looping technique has become one of his defining features and was prominently showcased in the 2017 hit ‘Tadow’—an entirely improvised collaboration with Masego, recorded at Red Bull Studios Paris. The track quickly went viral and has been streamed over 462 million times. FKJ has continued refining his eclectic sound with each new release.
MAPPING CREATIVITY: THE QUEST FOR AUTHENTICITY AND UNIQUENESS
When considering how FKJ maintains a soulful essence in his music while utilizing high-tech tools to manipulate sound, it becomes evident that he draws inspiration from sound design. While Fenton appreciates modern equipment for its compactness and power, he also deeply reveres vintage instruments, particularly keyboards and synths. ‘They have a soul, a certain look, never sound the same—and their imperfection is a source of inspiration,’ says Fenton in an interview with Neumann. “I love a buttery type of vibe—optimistic music with a positive flavor,” adds FKJ, underscoring his commitment to infusing positivity and optimism into his musical creations.
From bedroom production and working in a friend’s studio to becoming a platinum-selling recording artist, one thing has remained constant for FKJ: his technique. He typically records directly on his phone. The studio serves as the second stage, where he focuses on elaboration, re-recording every aspect, and fine-tuning the color and sound. In his mind, whether at home or elsewhere, FKJ is constantly creating music.
When Fenton creates new sounds, they often pass through several stages, including synths, filters, delay, VC8, and layering drums with modular percussion. One of the most distinctive qualities of FKJ is his spontaneous improvisation during live shows. In an interview with Colors Studio, Fenton explains his technique, which involves reinterpreting familiar elements and chord progressions from his repertoire, altering tempo and arrangement. “It’s like cooking with ingredients, but you make combinations you’ve never done before,” says Fenton.
During the pandemic, Fenton decided to make a significant change and relocated from Paris to a remote part of Southeast Asia with his partner June, also known as ((( O ))), with whom he has also collaborated. By giving him time for experimentation and nurturing a healthy sense of boredom, this move has further influenced FKJ’s new music, infusing it with more spaciousness and calm.
Listen to the Music Origins Project curated New French House Sound playlist on Spotify.
Today, FKJ has over 5 million Spotify listeners, with over 2 billion streams to date. He recently performed at Coachella and has sold out tours worldwide. “My music adapts to the environment and continues to evolve. Wherever I find myself next year, likely on tour extensively, it will undoubtedly leave its mark on my music,” says Fenton in an interview with MusicRadar.
ROCHE MUSIQUE AND THE EMERGENCE OF INDEPENDENT LABELS IN NEW FRENCH HOUSE
New French House has profoundly impacted the electronic music landscape, gifting the world with timeless classics that continue to be celebrated and remixed by contemporary artists.
The genre’s legacy continues to shape the electronic music landscape, inspiring innovation, serving as a source of raw creativity, and pushing boundaries. New French House artists like Darius, Zimmer, Kartell, and FKJ have achieved global recognition, extending the genre’s influence far beyond France and contributing to the globalization of electronic music. The New French House movement also underscores the significance of indie labels and the DIY (do it yourself) ethos.
Independent labels such as Roche Musique have provided a platform for emerging artists, fostering a sense of community and artistic freedom. This movement has encouraged artists to experiment and push the boundaries of electronic music production.
New French House serves as a reminder that, at its core, music is about breaking boundaries and forging connections through sound.
By Mari Mikava
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Dolan, Rebecca. “FKJ has created the ideal post-pandemic summer album with Vincent.” GQ Magazine, 28 Jun. 2022, gq-magazine.co.uk/culture/article/fkj-interview-2022
Rentner, Simon. “FKJ, One-Man Orchestra, and Internet Phenom, on His Jazz Roots (and a Concert in the Clouds).” WBGO, 27 Sept. 2019, wbgo.org/podcast/the-checkout/2019-09-27/fkj-one-man-orchestra-and-internet-phenom-on-his-jazz-roots-and-a-concert-in-the-clouds
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Duffy, Mike. “FENDER RE-CREATION: FKJ PERFORMS ‘INSTANT NEED’.” Fender, fender.com/articles/fender-performances/re-creation-fkj