PARA ONE with SURKIN, ORGASMIC, CURSES! and NASTY NAV at the Social (1100 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, September 6). $15 advance, more at the door. 416-532-4474. Rating: NNNNN
Paris's Para One (aka Jean-Baptiste de Laubier) is kind of an accidental techno star.
Musically, hiphop is where he's coming from first and foremost, and his productions for French club-hop crew TTC are without a doubt tight and banging.
However, it's his solo work as Para One that's recently raised his profile and for which he's won a strong reputation as one of the new leaders of that aggressively funky French dance sound we've been hearing everywhere.
"In France, hiphop was really boring in the late 90s. Me and my friends were hanging out in clubs trying to have fun, and the only thing that was inspiring was really independent hiphop, which was all about experimentation, new sounds and working with people from electronic music.
"That's how we got into house and techno. We wanted our music to go into the club, which was impossible in the French rap scene at the time."
Even his love of hiphop wasn't what he saw himself chasing when he started producing.
"Film is supposed to be my real job. Music was supposed to be the hobby, but it took over finally. When I did the TTC stuff, I was studying cinema, making movies by day and working in the studio at night. Eventually, we got some success with our music, but it was quite surprising."
Para One's debut solo album, Epiphanie (Institubes), is about to be released in North America after a year of doing well in the rest of the world. The follow-up is still in the planning stages, but it sounds like de Laubier is planning on moving away from overtly dance-floor-oriented sounds.
"The first one was just a gathering of tracks. I worked for four years with rappers, doing solo stuff at the same time, and suddenly I had an album. This one is going to be more of a song album, not a club album. There are going to be singers, and I think I'm going to do some of the singing myself, too."
Among the vocalists he's considering working with, Emily Haines has been at the top of the list since de Laubier met her in Paris last year. Before that gets under way, however, he's polishing off a variation on a live album, to be released this fall. The idea is to do a studio version of the live show he's been playing over the past year.
Some say electronic music is never truly live, but de Laubier claims his laptop show is much more than just pressing play and dancing around like a fool.
"I wouldn't go on tour if I couldn't do that - I would get so bored instantly. If you play 100 gigs in a year, you can't play the same set every night. I need to be actually doing something up there."