Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Awash cancelled and postponed live events and performances, including music concerts and festivals, and film and television productions amid xenophobic hatred, surveillance, and attacks against Asian Americans and people who appear to have a "one-drop rule" of Asian ancestry during our COVID-19 pandemic, Frankie French resuscitates broken, dispirited, helpless, and dejected feelings and emotions with his EDM single, Calle 76. Having produced beats for Hip Hop and Trap artists Calboy, Cosha, Sincere, Kingg Bucc, and Pilly Mae as well as being the DJ for Zona Man and Sincere has amplified the Frankie French sound and his platform. Though he did not have the coming of COVID-19 in mind when he started producing this high-energy single in Q4 of 2019 or imagining that the deadly strain of the virus would ignite fear, panic, and worry for so many people across the world, Frankie French empowers us to think differently about our self-isolation and “social distancing,” as we anticipate “flattening-the-curve” to the rate of newly infected individuals. Rather, Calle 76 could be heard as a warlike anthem to uplift the hearts and encourage the souls of our front-line healthcare and civic workers, empowering them to go into the trenches of the unknown, bold, beautiful, and hopeful.
“It’ll drop April 3rd,” Frankie intoned in that chill, low-key "fact-based" register of voice that I've become used to in the 5+ months I've managed his international and corporate bookings and the licensing of his BMI catalog and live performances. “Yeah! That’s New Music Friday,” I replied as I scrolled to our shared Google calendar where I panned and screened projected release dates and targets of not only his brand but also that of the international EDM marketplace of consumer goods and services. Originally slated for release around his birthday three weeks prior, Calle 76 is the 4th EDM track that he's produced solo.
Born Francois Bosseau to an African-American mother and a Haitian-Dominican father on Chicago's Southeast side, Frankie French appears on 15+ recordings spanning multiple genres of music, most notably the dominant Warehouse sound of the Godfather of House Frankie Knuckles, whose music in the early 1990s to early 2000s spawned Juke mixes and sounds of South and West side teens. Juke beats popularized among Chicago's Southside youth embracing racy lyrics and bawdy dance moves at high-energy, 150 to 160 BPM have been one of the greatest sources of Frankie French's sound, as he curates moments and dance mixes that make people feel special, loved, happy, and desired. Remembers Gant-Man, “We were at this high-school party…[when] we heard these girls say, ‘This party is juking.’"
The up-tempo, calorie-burning groove of Calle 76 carries on this “Juke” vibe of bringing people together and making them feel special during difficult times, revitalizing and stimulating the collective soul. “I feel like a lot of my music brings forth happiness. Most of it is positive and uplifting, whether it’s the instruments or the lyrics,” says Frankie. Calle 76 is a halcyon call to “juke,” “turn-up,” to decompress, shake off, or recuperate from the troubles and worries of the world. Speaking to the heart and soul of Juke music, says Gantman, “I never liked remixing shit that wasn’t about partying and getting wild,” he continues. "But I’m a producer. I could make a juke song about love and being sad. A girl might be sad her boyfriend broke up with her, but she bouncing,” he observes. It’s that “juke” bounce of Calle 76 that stimulates and redirects otherwise dark, painful, and traumatic feelings and emotions, even if it’s short-lived as your hands are raised on the dance or living-room floor or as you’re getting started with or finishing up your workout at the gym or in quarantine at home.
“I feel like my sound can definitely help people during this time and help them get their workouts on,” says Frankie. It’s now been a little more than 10 years since he started mixing and DJing. A testament to this evolving beauty of charted Chicago sounds and mixes, Frankie French's beats extend the boundaries of traditional House and Electronic-Dance Music. Speaking to his dominant synth of horns in his EDM tracks, Frankie says,
It’s just coming from feeling. I like what I like. When I first created my EDM tracks, I started with Terrifying Trumpets. I used to play the clarinet, but when I was making the melody, I put a lot of trumpet sounds in it. Next thing you know, they were calling me ‘Trumpet Boy Chicago.’ I was in the gym one day, thinking of a name for the track. I wanted to make something specific to the block I’m from. I wanted something a little spicy. I thought 76 at first, then I thought I needed to touch different people from around the world.
Much of the Frankie French high-energy sound surges from his collaborative approach of showing people who support him and his music just how much he appreciates and gets inspired by their kindness and generosity. His supporters Naomi Gallagher and her daughter Remy from Ireland, for example, have shown Frankie so much love over the years with their daily affirmations, streaming and reposts of his music and videos, and their personalized gifts that he invited Remy to perform the vocal drop. "I told her what to say and how fast to say it," he said. "It needed to be something different but I didn't want it to be too complicated. Her mom sent me like 10 different takes of her saying the lyric. I picked the best one and cut it. Now, it actually appears in one of my songs. The build up of Remy’s, girl-power lyric “I wanna see your hands go up like” right before the drop is something that all of his listeners and supporters will experience. “It’s important for me to let people I care about know how much I appreciate them,” says Frankie. “What better way to show that appreciation than through my work,” he proffers.
Whether played in rush-hour traffic while carpooling, on public transportation, or as the
anthem to a soccer or football game as players run out onto the field or enter a jam-packed stadium of thousands at the start and halftime moments of a championship game, or as players score winning touchdowns, shots, or goals, Calle 76 comes to life in its expectancy of hope, nostalgia, and excitement. Its high,energy loop appeal of synth horns with the kick of the drums makes for a song that can be bounced to with earbuds in ear while alone or while trying to tune-out the background ambient sounds of fear, panic, and worry. His Frankie French Workout, “came about in the gym actually. At the time I was ‘Frankie French,’ I was making high-energy, club music. I felt like all that would go together,” he adds. “And then I also realized that when people dance, they burn calories. If you’re dancing, you’re burning calories! If you’re walking, you’re burning calories.”