The French Touch Connection (TFTC) is a beat collective whose founders are based on the outskirts of Paris, with beatmakers coming from all parts of the world. Since their first release Chronicles of a Flashback back in December 2012, their projects have taken the beat-world by surprise and along the way they have made history.
One of many things the listener takes away from listening to an TFTC albums is the diversity of sounds – it’s worldly, it’s mysterious, and it’s just dope.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of TFTC – Alex Tlk – who opened up about the collective, the label, the projects, and the future of TFTC. Without further adieu – Ladies and Gentlemen – The French Touch Connection.
Tell us about The French Touch Connection and how the idea of TFTC came about?
Alex: The French Touch Connection was made thinking about France during the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s atmosphere. This idea came simply because this period, musically, it inspires a lot of things we fancy like diving inside the atmosphere and discover all the classics again.
We have to admit that Millennium Jazz Music collective, founded and directed by Gadget inspired us as well, because of its quality albums releases, and this ability gathering different artists to work on an unique topic.
We also think about our friends from “Le Premier Sens” who already released a successful collective album we liked.
So, with various artists we were in relation with, the idea came up quickly to gather them all, aiming to have a flashback to the past with them and to propose something new, something different.
For those that don’t know, can you go back into Chronicles of a Flashback? Tell us how this project began?
Alex: We are digging for years, looking for newness, news sounds of quality to attempt promoting and bringing our support through our fan pages, YouTube channels etc. Once the idea was clear enough with The French Touch Connection (TFTC), we began to contact some artists we were following closely, to propose them our idea. A lot of them said yes and the first project launched was Chronicles of a Flashback. It took us a few months of preparation, and the result was a great satisfaction.
How about Night Walk in the Past?
Alex: Night Walk In The Past was launched immediately after Chronicles Of A Flashback release. We were convinced being able to gather more beatmakers, generating a better result, and we wished to carry on riding on “Chronicles of a Flashback” movement. If I remember well, Night Walk in the Past was produced within only 2 months, with new arrivals. Some of these arrivals were our choice, but there were also the consequence from “Chronicles of a Flashback” because some artists were very interested in joining TFTC adventure. The result of this album was beyond our expectations.
I think Microsillon was the album where I thought, “wow! The idea of this collective is awesome!” Can you tell us a little about this album?
Alex: Microsillon was initiated very quickly after “Night Walk in the Past”, but we wanted to improve our artistic approach. This was the moment when a childhood friend, Marius, who is also our exclusive graphic designer and a TFTC member, joined us. It was the time to make TFTC structure evolving, so the project became an association to be more “official” (the association is the French status to permit artistic activities for example). Three months before Microsillon release were very tough for us because we were only two, and we had to manage the project on aside from our own job. And after our first albums, our artistic and musical requirements had increased.
We were aware the project could encounter success but we had to create the surprise and present something so much better. This is our main motivation producing each album, the possibility to be able to improve our productions.
The reason to this is we are very demanding with ourselves, after each album release we are doing some “soul-searching” and we analyze what worked and what did not work as we were expecting.
Concerning Microsillon, we called on new beatmakers to introduce new talents side to side with artists from the first two albums. Microsillon remains one of my best memories because it really was the next to pass, such as the quality of our work and its completion. And the album received a lot of praise from our listeners; they welcomed Microsillon greatly, as you did.
Your latest album Mysterious Lane just released as a double disc, tell us about this awesome album?
Alex: Mysterious Lane – Few months after Microsillon we decided to take a break on releasing TFTC albums. With first TFTC gig we did on September in France, we realized it needed a lot of work.
After the event, we decided to restart the machine, but we wanted to make something big to celebrate first TFTC anniversary. We worked more on promotional production, with the release wonderful teaser “Mysterious Lane” directed by Steve Carter for instance. It was our first type experience and it was a nice adventure, to meet us to undertake the video.
About the theme, we wanted to propose something different, to show we are able to do something else, something different from the 50’s and 60’s ambiance. This theme inspired us a lot musically, visually, and artistically.
We wanted to explore hip-hop style more than the three albums before. Once again, we composed with continuing TFTC artist as well as new artists who are very interested in the theme.
At the beginning, we did not forecast to produce a double album, the enthusiasm coming from the artists brought us to ask us: “How will we gather all the artists?” .
So we thought about the tape and we decided to introduce an A side and a B side using the same theme.
What do you want your listeners to understand about the Mysterious Lane album video teaser?
Alex: You have to keep in mind TFTC is unpredictable. From the artistic point of view, the character wearing black clothes, and the producers involved on this album truly represents TFTC.
We wanted to play with the fact he is distributing music. And by the way of this music, darker this time, TFTC brings listeners in a nightmare, in murky thoughts, mysterious, unexplained
You have 30 of the best beat-makers from around the world, how tough was it to gather everyone’s ideas and combine them into two discs?
Alex: Most of them already participated or already knew TFTC. They were all very motivated about this new album. The theme was given from our side, decided after discussion with the closest artists and TFTC association members.
The theme from strange made some artists very happy because it is what they like to musically produce, some other were less happy, and some did not feel comfortable but everybody used the theme with a fair respect. And it brought great surprises as “YV Canis Majoris” the track from Mani Deiz for example.
It is very interesting to see how each artist produces their own « strange » music, its “mysterious.” And then we had to regroup all the tracks in a same project.
So the biggest difficulty was to coordinate all the tracks without having some changes, this is our role if it corresponds or not. But generally, with all these talented artists, we only have to follow the lane.
Finally, the main difficulty is organization. To gather all the artists, according to the planning of each one, their availability, we planned the work in advance. Some of them faced issues with material, some were not available immediately. So we had to do our best to manage the project to work with the artists and make the promotion and the communication around Mysterious Lane.
Are you planning on releasing more double albums?
Alex: For the moment we do not. We will continue working as we have been doing from the beginning. There can be other double albums in the future, and it will depend about the artists and about what kind of project we want to produce.
Are you planning on releasing your albums as physical format, such as CD or records? How about merchandise?
Alex: We already thought about it. Indeed, we would like to release future projects physically. It needs a very good organization to gather all these artists in a same project regarding author rights for example. This is complicated with ten or twenty artists but we will do it, this is for sure. As well concerning TFTC label, which could wear a real dimension within the months coming.
For a while I thought you guys were going to release albums on a monthly basis? How often can we expect an album?
Alex: At the beginning we wanted to release albums regularly but it needs a lot of organization. Our passion to drive these albums needs more and more time because the projects are bigger and bigger. I think we can expect 1 or 2 albums a year.
What more can you offer your listeners?
Alex: Physically releases on the future projects. We are currently working on merchandising stuff (T-Shirts, Posters…). We expect to have TFTC label soon releasing very good albums, exclusively distributed by TFTC.
We will also try to be on scene again. Our first experience was very nice, with the collaboration of Neemah, Le Melodist feat. Gabbacho, Oldy Clap Records feat. Sky Fumanchu, Kognitif and ProleteR feat. Denshu Kozo.
This was a real dope to gather all of them and we hope to do it again as soon as we can. We are thinking about some dates in France next year and maybe abroad.
About our albums, we will soon prepare the next collective album of course. And we hope we will surprise the listeners once again, with new stuff and maybe new artists.
Tell us where we can find you?
Alex: The collective is based near Paris. So it is easy to contact us there. It is also possible to meet Alex Tlk around Rennes (Bretagne, West of France) and in Normandy where all the association members come from. Concerning the artists, they are all around the world J and all our work is available on the Internet. We hope we will meet you and meet listeners during our next gigs; all the information concerning the concerts will be available on our Facebook page.