Flying Frenchman turned overall house heavyweight Norman Doray has spent his career giving his nation’s knack for filter happy house music an essential reinvention and a passport onto dancefloors across the globe. Boasting a who’s who of label duties that range from Defected, Strictly Rhythm Interscope and Atlantic to prestigious dance labels Spinnin Records, SIZE Records, STMPD and LE7ELS, Norman’s repertoire of original productions and high profile remix duties speaks for a full scale ascent of the electronic dance world that has remained inherently true to his French house roots. This week sees him release his latest single ‘Dat’s Right’ on new label Sushi Muzik. Heavily influenced by his love for all things French Touch, the track samples the 1979 Isaac Hayes’ disco classic ‘Don’t Let Go’. DMC Magazine managed to get our hands on an early copy of the single to share with readers and also caught up with Norman in his studio to dive deep into all things French Touch…
Hi Norman, welcome to DMC, cheers for talking to us today, we really appreciate your time. Your new single ‘Dat’s Right’ harks back to the French Touch sound of the mid 90s, early 2000s. What is it about the genre in particular that inspires you?
Yeah “Dat’s right” lol. French Touch is the reason why I got to music in the early 2000s. As a teenager, I discovered electronic music with the first albums of Daft Punk, Bob Sinclar, Cassius, Armand Van Helden and more… I didn’t really know what the name of the genre was, but I was in love with it, these disco sounds mixed with electronics elements, looped and filtered, I wanted to try and make that!
Tell us about the new single…
Dat’s Right represents what I like about French Touch, something pretty easy at first, with a big disco sample, sliced in many parts, but a bit more complicated if you look at it, as every sound has a different treatment, some with Filters, some with Phasers, some with bitcrushers… and the most important, a groovy bassline that drives the whole record! The main goal here is a feel good record that makes you dance!
Coming up through the ranks of music you must have been constantly surrounded by work from the likes of Daft Punk, Laurent Garnier, St Germain. Who for you is the real founding father of French Touch, or perhaps the biggest inspiration to a whole generation of French music producers?
It is a tricky question as a lot of these producers are my heroes, I grew up with them in my teenager’s room, listening to their songs over and over! For sure Laurent Garnier is one of the first to open the way but he was always more techno to me, than pure house. My tastes were really oriented to disco, funk and house, and for that reason I would say Daft Punk. Homework was an OVNI at first when released, a sound I never heard anywhere before. Then came Discovery, probably the biggest slap in my face, alongside the single under Stardust!
You say Crydamoure is the label you particularly relate to when it comes to French Touch. Why is that?
Yes! Totally! Crydamoure is not the most known project of all the French touch era, but it was for me the most creative and feel good one! It was, in a way, 2 albums with tracks from Daft Punk that never made it onto Daft Punk albums. The tracks don’t have any commercial purpose, they are just made to bounce your head, to drive your car and listen to music by the beach, sampling the best disco tracks from the 70’s and 80’s, with the sound quality and that special Daft touch! Crydamoure and Roulé were the best independent house music labels to date for me!
Why did you want to produce a French Touch track in the first place? Is it something that perhaps you wouldn’t have taken the time to do had you not been under lockdown with more time on your hands?
The thing is, I have been producing some French touch records over the years, I actually started with them in the mid 2000s with a project called ‘The Freshmakers – Let U Go’ and kept doing so throughout the years with singles like Kalifornia, Filtré under Norman Doray. With Dat’s Right, it was about time to produce another one like this, I always go with the flow.
How important is it for you to keep the French flag flying for electronic music? Do you think it’s fair to say that the French sound has been muted somewhat over the past decade with the bigger artists coming from other countries like the States, the Netherlands, the UK?
I don’t really think about the French flag and the tags in general. I am just producing the music I like, at the moment I want, that’s the chance I have as an artist! If some people find the French touch vibe in my productions and want to associate me to it, I am more than happy for sure! I will never label myself as ‘one of the French touch’ artists, those are the ones who created it in the 2000’s, I am just inspired by them and try to make the best music with it.
You have a well known creative partnership with fellow French artist Arno Cost. What is it about the chemistry between you that enables you to work so well together?
Arno and I have known each other for more than 15 years now. We always had a special connection over the music, something that you can’t really explain, something natural and chemical. It is just a pleasure to experience that in an artist’s career. We are also open about working solo when we want too, there is no pressure and that’s probably why it lasts!
You’ve released on so many major record labels throughout your career – Spinnin, STMPD, Positiva, Strictly Rhythm, Cr2, SIZE – do you have any plans to start one of your own?
That’s something I keep asking myself for the last 10 years haha! And I still don’t have the answer to be honest! Having your own label is complicated nowadays, you need to be 200% into it, if not I am not sure it’s worth it!
Looking back, what have been the particular stand out highlights of your work?
Been able to go through the years I guess, not following any trends and trying to be true to my fans with my music and my shows
This year has been a write-off for many artists. Have you found a way to draw positives from it and what has your overall experience of 2020 been?
It was (is) a tough year for sure, but I found somehow a way to be creative and efficient in studio, probably the best way to get away from negativity
Looking forward, what can fans expect as we move out of 2020 into 2021? Do you have any tour dates lined up yet or are you waiting to see what happens?
My agenda is clear like tropical water ahah. I guess I would have to wait and spend more time in the studio!