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Deep Forest's innovative idea of fusing modern studio technology with traditional ethnic music perfectly captures the zeitgeist of our late 20th century music world. The group's original style also looks set to make them one of the best-known French groups on the international music scene.
Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet, who both hail from the Douai region in the north of France, began working on their innovative musical project at the end of 1991. The pair's highly original idea was to mix traditional Pygmy and Melanesian melodies over the top of a modern dance beat, thereby creating a new genre of dance music. Both musicians were familiar with the latest studio technology, but, more importantly as far as the Deep Forest project was concerned, Michel Sanchez was a great ethnic music expert. He knew the ethnic recordings of the Musée de l'Homme and the collection of the specialist record label Ocora by heart. Sanchez was particularly interested in the polyphonic Pygmy chants of Central Africa (recorded by the ethnomusicologist Shima Aaron) and traditional chants from the Solomon Islands (recorded by a research team from the Musée de l'Homme in Paris). Sanchez and Mouquet's intricate studio work did not simply involve fusing traditional chants with modern dance beats. The pair would sample specific elements of ethnic vocals or melodies, and then mix these samples with their own compositions of synthesizer sounds, drum loops and pumping dance bass lines. Sanchez and Mouquet would spend an entire six months completing this intricate process of musical collage, working with state-of-the-art technology in a studio in Brussels.
Deep Forest's début single was finally released in May 1992. "Sweet Lullaby" was to prove phenomenally successful, rocketing to the top of the French Top 50 four months after its release and eventually going on to be nominated for a prestigious Grammy award. The track proved so popular that it soon found itself used as the backing track for countless TV and radio advertisements around the world. Following the success of this début single, Deep Forest went on to release their eponymous album later that year. The album "Deep Forest" also went on to become an international smash hit, selling over 1.5 million copies, and earning the group two gold discs in France. The album would also go gold in Britain and Norway, and platinum in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Realising they were onto a winner, Sanchez and Mouquet's record label decided to prolong the Deep Forest phenomenon, releasing the pair's original "World Remix" album. Deep Forest's new album did not actually feature any new tracks - the "Ambient Mix", the "Appollo Mix", the "Round the World Mix" etc. were simply studio remixes of the duo's best-selling single "Sweet Lullaby".
Pygmy chants on dancefloors
Yet the "World Remix" album certainly proved a major hit on international dancefloors, Pygmy chants becoming the hottest thing in trendy New York clubs and European discos. Sanchez and Mouquet were soon back in the studio working on a new musical collage, which this time included samples of traditional folk music from Eastern Europe. In May 1995 Deep Forest's new album, "Bohême", came out in 35 different countries, earning the duo a whole new string of gold discs to add to their already impressive collection. The title track from the album contained all the ingredients of Deep Forest's successful formula - simple melodies, intricate arrangements and voices charged with emotion. From the very beginning of their career Deep Forest were conceived of as a studio project rather than a live group. But in June 1996 Sanchez and Mouquet did actually perform in public for the firs Comparsa (Saint George Recordings, 1998)t time, appearing at the closing ceremony of the G7 summit in Lyon (the famous summit which united heads of state from the seven most industrialised countries in the world). Deep Forest's spectacular stage show, which was organised in collaboration with the National Orchestra of Lyon, kicked off the group's international tour. This extensive tour is set to take Sanchez, Mouquet and the Deep Forest concept all the way from Eastern Europe to Oceania. After having sold a staggering 3 million albums worldwide, Deep Forest would return to the studio to begin work on a third album entitled "La Comparsa". Released on January 20 1998, Deep Forest's new album is greatly influenced by traditional Caribbean and Cuban rhythms (the album's title "La Comparsa" refers to the spontaneous parties which are prone to spring up on the streets of Cuba all year round !) Sanchez and Moquet invited a whole host of guest stars to work with them on their new 13-track album, including Cameroonian singer Wes, Spanish star Ana Toroja and the Syrian musician Abed Azrie. (The track "Madazulu" has been chosen as the first single release). On 21 September the group brought the house down when they performed at the legendary Olympia in Paris. The following year, Deep Forest released a live album recorded during a concert given in Tokyo in 1998.
Shortly after the release of their soundtrack for the motion picture
"Le Prince Du Pacifique" by director Alain Corneau, the pair went back
to the studio to record a new album. Entitled "Music Detected", it was
the first of the band’s albums not to put the emphasis on
‘exotic’ rhythms. It offered instead quite a strong
rock’n’roll mood, with guitars and drums overtly present -
quite a surprise from a band who had based its popularity on electronic
sounds and ‘world music’ influences The pair said to have
been inspired by the difficulties experimented during their travels
around the world. Singers like the Indonesian star Anguun and the
American Beverly Jo Scott collaborated on the album. It was released in
several countries in June 2002.
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