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Get to know Francis Mercier, the artist crafting close encounters in the world's music capitals

Haitian DJ and producer Francis Mercier is on a mission

  • 6 March 2024

Francis Mercier kicks off 2024 with a whirlwind of activity, balancing a demanding tour schedule of multiple shows with creative bursts in the studio. His 2023 hit, 'Voyage Voyage,' resonates deeply with audiences, drawing on powerful vocals and nostalgic melodies that bridge generations. As he launches his Hustla world tour in Los Angeles, Francis aims to bring fans closer with surprise, intimate shows in cities with strong fan bases.

The tour's visit to Istanbul's Klein Phönix highlights his love for Middle Eastern crowds and Turkish cuisine, enhancing the tour's diverse cultural mosaic. Francis emphasises health and creativity on the road, with a focus on intimate performances that foster a closer connection with his audience, proving 2024 to be a year of relentless production and deep artistic collaborations.

Francis, thank you so much for taking the time with the interview with us. How are you in these very first weeks of 2024?

Extremely busy. I haven't been this busy in a long time. Actually, that's a lie. I was this busy in December, but, month of January was quite calm for me because I was back home in New York, just working in the studio, working at the administrative stuff. So basically, the month of February started full power. We're doing 12 shows. It's about three shows a weekend and it's extremely busy, but really good. And I also had some time to be in the studio the past few days. So extremely active, extremely inspired and ready to go, you know, to conquer the new year.

Reflecting your ethos of integrating deep, melodic and worldly songs into house music, your latest single, 'Voyage Voyage', has also been making waves. What kind of reactions and feedback have you encountered from your listeners since its release?

A lot of singing, you know, 'Voyage Voyage' has such a powerful vocal. The original, you know, really inspired me, inspired Coco, Mont Rouge, over the years. And for us to be able to recreate such a classic and kind of bring it to life and see the reaction in the club where all the young kids, everybody's nostalgic singing along to, you know, the music that their parents used to listen to, the music that they used to grow up to. It's really special. It's a lot of energy, a lot of positivity. And the song itself is just really vibrant. It covers so many different topics and yeah, it's always a pleasure to play it. And producing it was always also very fun. Just because you know Coco's extremely talented. She gave us like amazing vocals and it was a great process altogether.

You have recently launched your Hustla world tour in Los Angeles. What unique experiences or surprises do you have planned for your audience during this 2024 tour?

There's a lot of surprise shows. That's a new concept we're developing, where we're going to different cities where we have like a big fan base and doing something intimate for just a select group of fans. Basically, I feel like nowadays we're really focusing on large scale 1500-2000 person shows, but still, I kind of miss those intimate vibes. So what I'm doing is for 2024, we're trying to incorporate more unique, intimate club settings to really experience. Being closer with the fans means a lot, because to me, that's something that I've always been fond of, and that's how I grew up listening to music.

One of these stops has been Istanbul’s Klein Phönix. How did its vibe align with your expectations and contribute to the overall mood and theme of your performance?

Klein Phönix was great! I love all Middle Eastern regions as the crowd and vibe is one of my favourites. And of course Turkish food makes it all the better!

Your first single of 2024, which is also the name of the tour, was released on Higher Ground. What is the inspiration behind this track?

That's a really good question. I can say it's related to my background. It's related to my style of living in the sense that I've always had to fight for everything that I ever wanted. I've always had to put in a lot of work to succeed, and to this day, I'm extremely motivated. And that's kind of the meaning of being a hustler. It's about somebody that never gives up, somebody that's willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goal. So being from Haiti, Emmanuel Jal, also being from South Sudan, both of us have challenging backgrounds, it really the music really speaks to our character or dedication or drive in our energy. It's all about being a hustler.

For a musician on tour continuously, what are the must have items you absolutely need with you at all times?

That changes over time. Sometimes, time of the year, having a coat may be really important. I think now it's really important because it's really cold. For some reason, I decided not to bring mine from New York. So I just have a jacket. But I think what's always important for me is having workout clothes just to keep a balance in my lifestyle, just to be able to go to the gym, get a sweat. And I think that's always important. Having the capacity to have like, a clean diet is also really important. I think nowadays my priority is really health. It's really putting forward my wellbeing because we're doing so many shows; it's important to kind of pace myself and do. Stay healthy! Workout clothes, healthy food... And I would say, earplugs just to keep my ears safe. That's about it.

You're so right. Because tinnitus is a real threat to DJs.

It is... I know a lot of DJs I can't even talk to. I have to scream.

How would you describe energy flow between you and the audience?

It depends on the venue. It depends on the country. It depends on the city. I think it's really contingent on the venue. Thus, the more the closer I am to the crowd, the more energy I can give, and the more responsive the crowd is. From my experience, when I'm on a big stage high above and away from the public, I can still perform to the best of my capacity. But maybe I don't get the same reaction because I'm not close to the crowd. Whereas when I'm in the middle of the public, it's really full power definitely.

How do you select the artists and songs for your label, Deep Roots Records, to ensure they align with your vision?

As of now, we mainly focus on talent. Aa lot of labels, a lot of imprints, a lot of clubs or just music executives focus on profile, focus on how big an artist is. For us, we focus on, first and foremost the music. We focus on how good the product is, how good the vision is. That's really important for me. So there are a lot of artists that are maybe quite advanced; we have like a lot of followers on Instagram or we have other previous successful records, but if the song is not good, then we can't work with them. Or if they don't have the right vision or the right identity, it's typically problematic for us. So for me, when I look at an artist, I look at the product that they can deliver if there's a vision and continuity. Because whenever we release a record from an artist, we typically want to see a development. Potentially, releasing other records, potentially booking in for shows, and we kind of treat like a little family. So for me, vision, continuity and capacity to deliver amazing product is my top top three criteria for deciding if I want to work with an artist or not.

At the end of the day, I'm sure it shouldn't be a one-off release, right?

Yes, one-off releases are not sustainable for a record label. I think, for a record label to succeed, there needs to be at least five records to properly break an artist's history. You can start with a big record, potentially do a follow up, and to really get the label's fan base, to become accustomed to the artist and to really be able to support the artist and include them within all of your activities and showcases. I think it's important for there to be continuity for the artist.

Reflecting on your journey, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs and producers looking to make a mark in the industry?

Be original, be unique. I think that's one of the most important pillars of success. There are so many artists, there are so many records that get released that get registered on Spotify, that come out in this day to day basis, that I think now it's all about having something unique, unique to you. Having something original that can stand the test of time. It's extremely competitive. And I was able to have some sort of a breakthrough moment when I stepped back and instead of doing typical records that I did back in the day, I actually were in a different direction. I tried Afro house, I tried sampling tracks that inspired me, and that worked.

It is obvious that you place a premium on collaborations. What is the importance of collaborative works? Especially, how has your music been influenced by collaborating with Grammy Award-winning and internationally renowned acts?

It's only been enriching. Working with different artists has given me the capacity to learn from other artists, giving me the capacity to reinvent their work and to be inspired. I think inspiration comes from different forms, but for me, I think sampling is something really important because when you hear a sample, it kind of gives you a feel and gives you direction. And I love working with Amadou & Mariam. I love working with Magic System. To this day, I sampled a lot. It sparks creativity. So I think collaboration is extremely important. And also working with other producers can give you a different outlook on the composition. For example, Nitefreak is an artist that I work very closely with. He's done quite a few remixes for some of my songs, and that has given the tracks like a different direction, a different energy. So at this point, I think, collaborating is something extremely important because maybe if your vision may not work, adding another artist who may have something different may work. So if you might not want to engage in a collaboration, perhaps allowing others to remix the works could be beneficial.

What's a typical day in your life?

That changes every day. There's not a specific routine. Typically, I wake up, you know, the first two hours just to check messages, check emails because there's a lot of communication. And after that, I try to get a workout in, if I don't have to take the plane, and have breakfast and work on music, work on my tour, work on schedules and logistics, work on media, work and being in touch with the fans... It's 24/7 work. That's all I can say.

Can you share with us any upcoming projects or milestones that you are working towards for the rest of this year?

Yeah, of course. I'm working with some amazing artists. I'm working with Frigid Armadillo, with Luedji Luna from Brazil. I'm working with Salif Keita. The next record is going to be with Salif Keita. And another artist is called Nomis. I'm working on something with an artist called El Mukuka from Zambia... There's quite some records. So I'm working with African artists, South American artists and some European artists. I'm working on something with Arymé, who's signed to Deep Root Tribe. So there's going to be quite some amazing compositions that are set to come out, and maybe we'll have something with Aya Nakamura; that is undisclosed.

It looks like, 2024, musically will be an exciting year.

Yeah, I'm working really hard. For a year, I try to do at least 25 records. Maybe not all of them will come out, just the best ones will come out. But I try to produce as much as I can. At least I make two records per month to keep active, to keep the creativity flowing. Because you can never know when you make a hit. If it works, it works. So I think the best thing to do is to always produce and always create.


Check out Francis Mercier's discography below, follow the artist here to keep up with the latest updates.

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