Parisian DJ/producer Vincent Fenton, aka FKJ (French Kiwi Juice), was trained as a movie sound engineer. For the last few years, however, the self-taught multi-instrumentalist has been making music of his own.
Part of the French electronic scene, Fenton had released a pair of EPs, a handful of singles, and some remixes before he dropped his self-titled debut full-length in March.
And while the audio alchemist and improvisational performer hits San Diego on Thursday night, Fenton’s infectious blend of hip-hop, r&b, jazz, house, and downtempo-infused jams just might be headed back to the cinema.
PACIFIC recently spoke about it all with the rising star from a tour stop in Mexico City.
PACIFIC: So you’re headed to San Diego as part of the last few dates on this tour?
FKJ: Yes. We’ve got six dates left. It’s Mexico City, three on the West Coast, Phoenix, and then Red Rocks.
How’s the tour going?
Great. The last five weeks have passed in a snap, you know? It’s gone super fast, but we love it all. It’s been real cool.
Can you talk a bit about your live show?
I have a team that travels with me: my tour manager, the sound engineer, the lighting engineer, and we also have an opener with us. We are five.
But it’s just you on stage?
Yes. Just me.
Do you have a skeleton and improvise on top of it, or do you know exactly how you want each show to go when you get on stage?
It’s like a skeleton, as you say, and I for sure don’t play the same set every time. I always change it. There are constant improvisational moments, so it always changes. But I also do special shows. Like in two weeks, I’ll be playing on an island in the Philippines and I’m just going to improvise for an hour. But when I’m doing my own shows, I try to find a balance between what fans want and what I want. Fans want to hear the songs that they know. And what I want is to create something on the spot. I’m always trying to balance those two.
When: 8 p.m. May 18
Where: The Observatory North Park, 2891 University Ave, North Park
After a run of EPs, singles, and remixes, you released your debut full-length earlier in March.
Yes. It’s a strange period for music right now. Artists are finding the advantage of releasing singles. I think they believe that people won’t give all of the songs attention if you release too many at one time.
And really, I could have released my album as 12 singles. I wrote them over the last two years and could’ve done it that way. But I am still attached to the concept of an album – this object that you can hold in your hands.
And I wanted to do one in my career. That doesn’t mean the next thing I do is going to be another album. I’m always searching for different ways to present my music. I mean, it could be, but it could also be something completely new. But I wanted to make an album and I’m glad that I did.
You filmed the video for album-closer “Why Are There Boundaries” in Tijuana.
More than anything, I just wanted to do it in Mexico. That was the country that I wanted. It could have been another town – I was also thinking about doing it in Texas. But it had to be Mexico for sure.
That is the country in question with the Trump wall. And I wanted to try and realize what they are feeling. It’s strange to be in a country and have your neighbors say, “I don’t want you, so I’m going to build a wall between our two countries.” And I wanted to do it there to catch that feeling and ask people about it.
Tijuana was a very interesting city. But it’s really about the entire country of Mexico.
Do you think you will continue to let political issues inform your music?
I don’t really think of it as politics. I’m not openly engaged in any of it. I’m really just talking about my ideas and feelings.
So, for me, it’s something where I don’t want people to know exactly what my engagement with politics is, because it changes and I don’t know of a person who represents exactly what I want in this world. But I do want to continue to talk about how I feel with what is going on in the world.
I think it’s interesting as an artist to be able to just pass a message. And I will keep doing that for sure – just without being precise on the political side of things.
You have a cinematic background. Will you ever merge music and film again?
Definitely. I’m actually doing it right now in the shadows. People don’t really know it, but I co-directed all of the video clips that are out from the album. And in the future, I think I’ll be directing all of my clips. I really enjoy doing it. And I’ve been shooting video every day.
I’m planning on putting the audio and video together to use during live sets. I want to be able to project the videos I did while I play music during my live shows. I’m compiling the films now.
I’ve also had directors ask me to compose music for their movies, and that’s probably going to happen. But I’m pretty focused on the new element of video in the live set. And that will probably be up by the end of 2017.
Anything beyond that in 2017 you can talk about?
Well, I’m always composing music – even when I’m touring. I’m the most inspired when I travel. I’m more inspired when I’m traveling than when I’m at the studio with all of my gear in Paris. And I already have a lot of new songs for the next project. It could be an album or it could be a movie. I’m still working on it, but at this point, it could be anything.