Interview: Fort Romeau

Work Them returns to Manchester's Soup Kitchen basement for the first time in 2013 with a very special guest and one of the UK underground's most exciting new DJs and producers - Fort Romeau.

Jayne Robinson

Last updated: 14th Mar 2013

London's Fort Romeau has been making music since he was 14 years old, originally inspired by the experimental pop of Air and the atmospherics of Autechre. Having been absorbed in records whilst DJing throughout university in Brighton, he began working with La Roux, programming the drums and live shows for one of the most successful alternative pop acts of the last decade. Experimenting and producing between sound checks and airport stopovers, his debut mini-LP for 100% Silk emerged when the band ceased touring, and the result was an underground hit and one of the smartest, most soulful dance records of 2012.

Writing music that attempts to capture "feeling more than a certain sound", Romeau's aesthetic is somewhere between the soul of early house, the ambience of Arthur Russell and the more jackin' end of modern bass music. Following the success of Kingdoms, Romeau has been signed to Matthew Dear's much loved electronic and experimental institution Ghostly for a new release SW9/Love Dub, where he shares a roster that includes Gold Panda and Seth Troxler.

Fort Romeau's debut Manchester performance will come with full support from Work Them, playing a finely tuned selection of alternative and electronic for the body and mind, from blissed out disco, out there edits, weirdo techno and leftfield pop, all until the early hours in the atmospheric basement of Citylife's 'Best New Venue 2013'.

We caught up with the man himself.

The La Roux tenure has been quite well publicised. Obviously your newer music is quite a departure, but what, if anything, do you feel you bring to the two that they share in common? (Apart from good keys, of course!)

The two projects aren't related in any pertinent way. I suppose they both rely heavily on synths, but there's really no meaningful link to make.

I know the band are touring again this year, are you playing any part?

No, I'm just doing my own thing from now on.

You’ve previously said your favourite album is probably Rumours by Fleetwood Mac? Do you feel your work has inherited a similar pop sensibility?

Ha that's not exactly right. I was asked if I could have written any album, what would it be, and I said Rumours, partly as a joke. I do like Rumours, but it's not my favourite album by a stretch, it's not even my favourite Fleetwood Mac album (Tango in the Night is, mainly for its tropical jacket) but yeah, I suppose there is as much a pop influence in my music as a strictly "dance" one, I'm not really too bothered (is anyone?) about genres etc, I listen to music from all over.

You DJed throughout university in Brighton. What sort of stuff did you start off playing, and how's it changed over the years? Dramatically we'd imagine?

Well our mates ran nights around 2005/6 so we just kind of played those. Dub step was prominent at  the time of course but lots of left field electronic stuff too, Brighton's always been good for that. And gabber, obviously.

Your initial release on 100% Silk, 'Kingdoms', was something of an underground hit. How did you end up on an LA label?

I just sent Amanda who runs the label some tracks and she was really into them, so we went from there. To be honest, I was pretty sure it would be a waste of time sending it to the bigger more established house labels as it just didn't quite fit in. Nothing on 100% Silk really "fits" anywhere so it seemed like a good choice.

How long had you been producing music as Fort Romeau before the initial releases?

I have been making music on my own for ages. The project didn't have a name until after I sent the tracks to 100% Silk, then I needed one, so Fort Romeau was born.



Your new record is out as part of Matthew Dear's Ghostly label, probably one of the finest electronic labels of the past decade. Any highlights from its history that that you're pleased to be alongside?

Yeah loads of stuff, it's a fantastic label. All the Dabrye, Hieroglyphic Being, newer stuff like Gold Panda and bombs from Benoit & Sergio.

Can we expect an album, or is Fort Romeau more of a rolling project for you?

Yeah I'm big into albums as a listener, so I will be working on LPs as well as single releases.

Finally, anything you can't wait to play on Friday?

Yeah loads of stuff! A few rare gems that cost me an arm and a leg on discogs, but it'll be worth it!

Catch Fort Romeau at Soup Kitchen this Friday for Work Them. Tickets are now on sale - get yours below.

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