François Kevorkian Turns 60


Go Bang!

Seminal French disco DJ/producer, François K, turns sixty...

Go Bang! It’s three in the morning. Special time. Special occasion. François K turns 60 today. I’ve got his now legendary remix of Arthur Russell’s Dinosaur L classic turned to full volume. I’m wearing a pair of white underpants. I’m going to smoke ten cigarettes. I’m reminiscing.

Which isn’t quite true – well the last bit. This is not a piece of seed noir, a trip down one of many a particularly sticky lane in New York circa 1981. I wish. I was born just too late, and thousands of miles away from anywhere that mattered in the world of disco. Besides, when François Kevorkian began to play the likes of the Paradise Garage, and put out his seminal wedge of remixes on Prelude, I was still practicing my moonwalk, followed by a couple of years worth of moccasins, Sta Press trousers (burgundy) and Fred Perry t-shirts, after which a dally with the likes of The Damned and The Clash slipped inexorably into stadium rock. This is not an apology. I’m still practicing the moonwalk.

Anyway, point is I can’t claim anything much. I’m not a collector of names, I can never remember what this or that record label is, and I came to François K via Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s wonderful Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Correction: I came to know who François K was through Last Night. Intrigued by their account of a French-Armenian drummer who set up on the floor at Galaxy 21, in support of resident DJ Walter Gibbons, and went on to DJ himself (at Better Days, New York New York etc.), I looked up some of the Kevorkian remixes Brewster and Broughton mention, which inevitably led to following any leads (the internet is god’s gift to the old), and discovering that I had already come to him many times, on many a dancefloor, three o’clock being prime François K time, underpants or no. Top FK finds: D-Train’s Keep On and Kraftwerk’s mindlessly mindful Tour de France.

Which, in a roundabout way, brings us back to Go Bang! As with François K, I got to Arthur Russell at a time when I should have been buying a flat, paying into a pension, laying down wine. And not, at first, through Go Bang!, but rather via a late night revelation that goes by the name Is It All Over My Face – this time in Russell’s incarnation as Loose Joints. Knowing this meant knowing everything else, which meant, very quickly, and in the sweatbox confines of a club called Zoo, chancing upon what I am right now listening to – for the 4th time. If you haven’t heard Go Bang!, then do, now, go. If you have, then you will know what this mishmash of dub horns, double bass scales, bongo and drum patterns, keyboard jams and lowdown vocal fuckery is all about. Go bang.

I understand that Kevorkian’s done a million other things since, most of not knowing about I can’t blame on memory loss (I just don’t know it – laying down wine, you see), but listening – dancing, standing, nodding – to Go Bang!, volume dial rotated to the max, the magic morning hour upon us, is the moment , for me, that a club becomes more than the sum of its parts, that late time and uncared for space is held by something extra. I am steering clear, here, of the G word, but if anything’s going to take you back to a place you’ve never been, then this it. I am not suggesting. I am telling. New York. 1981. Go Bang!

Francis K. Many returns of the day. May your years be long and beautiful and loud.