The Parisian hip-hop producer DJ Mehdi, a major figure in the French rap scene due to his work with the collective 113, launched his solo career in May with the release of his first CD. The Story Of Espion, distributed under the record label Delabel, marked the start of a new chapter in his career. The tracks in his first solo album featured some electronic elements, which only became more prominent in subsequent work.
Irréversible, Gaspar Noé’s second feature film, tells a violent and disturbing story of vengeance that shocked French audiences when it came out. Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter produced the movie’s original soundtrack, the first of his career. Like the film, the music was dark and unnerving.
Image from the first edition of Scopitone
The city of Nantes welcomed a new festival at the start of the summer. Scopitone was a digital arts event organized by the association Songo, which also managed the Stereolux concert hall. Starting with the festival’s very first year, DJs rubbed shoulders with all kinds of artists, resulting in a range of digital art projects scattered throughout the city.
The duo Cassius, fresh off a successful first album, 1999, released their second album, Au Rêve, in early fall. Zdar and Boombass were originally a part of the French Touch movement but wanted to explore new genres, produce real songs, and, more than anything, think big. With help from their record company, they started recording an ambitious, fourteen-track album in Paris and the US. Half of the songs featured singers, including Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan on the track “Thrillah.”
Unfortunately for the duo, the album was a failure. Cassius’s fans didn’t know what to make of the new musical influences and had trouble connecting with the album. As a result, sales remained flat. Critics were also less than enthusiastic when reviewing the record. Boombass even said a few years later that “Au Rêve was a bit like our own Titantic.” Though the ambitious album never quite connected with audiences, a few tracks nevertheless stood out such as “The Sound Of Violence,” which today is seen as a genuine hit in Cassius’s discography. In fact, it was the only song in the duo’s career to reach the top of the dance charts in the US. It was a good consolation prize for the two Parisians, who released their next hit, “Toop Toop,” a few years later to great fanfare.
Another festival that gave pride of place to electronic music was the Villette Numérique, which first took place in Paris in September 2002 and featured digital-themed performances and exhibitions. The highlight of the event was doubtless its electronic music line-up, which included 2 Many DJs, Ricardo Villalobos, Erol Alkan, Ellen Allien, and Kraftwerk as the event’s headliners.
Flyer from the first edition of Villette Numérique
Agoria, a young DJ and producer out of Lyon, enjoyed unexpected success with the release of his track “La Onzième Marche” under the label Pias. The eight-minute song was heavily influenced by Detroit techno and contrasted sharply with the French Touch scene. Between 25,00 and 30,000 copies were sold, which was excellent for the time.