London-based intergalactic funk collective Franc Moody offer the vibrant New Orleans street experience with a contemporary dance-based twist
Born from the Tottenham warehouse party scene, Franc Moody’s sound was always going to encapsulate the very essence of street music. A genre-spanning experience that soundscapes the culture and roots of millions across the globe, street music is becoming increasingly present within London’s DIY scene. The arrival of woozy dance-funk collective Jungle in 2013 highlighted a carnal desire for a party atmosphere to be emblazoned onto the combination of slinking basslines and hazy vocal offerings. Yet unlike their contemporaries in Jungle and Parcels, Franc Moody inject a youthful exuberance into the legendary soul-based funk of George Clinton and Nile Rodgers by infusing the sound and energy of the nightclub dance scene. This maelstrom of influences is key to the multi-faceted entity that is their catalogue of music, a catalogue with an adhesive quality that engrains itself within the psyche of all listening.
Led by the dynamic Ned Franc and Jon Moody, who met on the Tottenham warehouse party scene, the band encapsulates the atmosphere of live music within a predominately dance-based setting. Having originally chosen to write together as a way of getting away from the party scene, the pair were unequivocally unaware that they were creating music that was destined for the platform they’d previously left. ‘We were in different bands but we worked together to put on parties up in this warehouse space and we recorded on each other’s tunes,’ says Moody. ‘Then we decided that we wanted to focus on writing together, left that space and got our new studio, and here we are again with a band, doing something that we set out not to do!’
Having worked in a scene so built upon creating a fervent sense of community, the duo looked back to their influences for the core of their new sound. ‘My parents grew up listening to the 50s and 60s rhythm and blues scene, states Franc. ‘Fats Domino, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry all got me into that scene. It got me into playing guitar and wanting to make that sort of music. That was the foundation to my playing certainly.’ For his partner in crime, however, inspirations ‘came a little later, there were a few experiences on the way that got me going.’ Moody recalls going to New Orleans for the first time and seeing the energy on the streets, whilst a George Clinton set at Glastonbury sparked the creative desire of having ‘a wild, psychedelic, ballsy approach to funk music. Having that tough sound is something we want. We describe it as a craggy sound, a bit rough around the edges.’
If wild was what they wanted, they certainly delivered it in the shape of irresistibly addictive mini-album Dance Moves, a high-octane, immersive experience that captures the essence of funk and soul and transports it into a new realm. ‘It was like our “best of” compilation!’ jokes Franc. ‘It wasn’t a short period of writing, it was just a collection of songs that we’d written over the last few years. The whole process has been really cool.’ Moody follows up, saying ‘it’s a different process to what we are at now, writing and working hard to release an album this year. We’re trying to get completely fresh tunes, a full body of work done, which is incredibly enjoyable and challenging.’
"Dance Moves acts as an early indicator of the quality that the duo possess as songwriters."
Despite the challenge, Dance Moves acts as an early indicator of the quality that the duo possess as songwriters. Sun-kissed vocals match the underlying groove of In Too Deep, a single fittingly representing the duo’s ability to hook the listener in with their community-led spirit. Once you get into one of their tracks, it’s impossible to find you way out of the sumptuous rhythms on offer. Super Star Struck is a predatory offering that slowly crawls into your mind, whilst Pheromones highlights how the pair have weaved contemporary influences into their 60s funk core, with a twinkling synth arrangement delicately narrating its own story over the top of the percussion and guitar-driven single.
Delving into the writing, Franc Moody have a unique process behind their collation of sounds. ‘It’s taken a few years to create the sound palette that we make songs from,’ confesses Moody. ‘We’ve got some synthesisers, organs, guitars and amps. We’ve slowly accumulated this box that we pile onto our tracks.’ Whilst the duo program their music from the palette of sounds that they have acquired, the building of the sound palette was an inherently DIY process. ‘It’s done in a DIY-way in terms of what we have in our studio,’ offers Franc. ‘We have lots of authentic sounds, sounds of weird percussive instruments like salt shakers and tabasco bottles. It’s a DIY approach to the electronic-dance scene.’
Despite their clear admiration for the New Orleans funk scene, the proximity of their studio demanded they add a contemporary twist to an inherently vintage genre. ‘The restriction of space in our new studio meant that we couldn’t have a drummer in to record on an old drum kit,’ highlights Moody. ‘We had to push the kick drum up in the mix to give it a more dance-based feel.’ The increased bass acts as an effervescent spark that ignites the life of the warehouse scene into the duo’s sound, giving their music a quality that appeals to the masses whilst remaining enjoyable for the duo to create, something they deem vital.
"The buoyant and bouncy She’s Too Good For Me remains a stalwart celebration of funk’s golden era."
Having found a palette that fits their ambitions, the duo seem to be hitting their stride whilst in the midst of creating their debut record. With three new releases since 2018’s Dance Moves, the pair look to be balancing a bigger body of influences with the traditional Franc Moody party vibe. From the dawn of Night Flight, they have you strutting around your living room like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, with an incandescently smooth bass line intertwining into the fabric of your brain. Cascading into a disco anthem, the thumping bass-driven beat is integral to the structure of the track, adding to the space-disco vibe of the band.
The first single following Dance Moves, Make You Smile is another true dance-floor filler carried by its slinking Nile Rodgers-esque guitar groove. An ever-evolving funk-based beast, the track conjures a contagious energy spurred on by the combination of electrically charged synths and Franc’s gold-tinged vocals, whilst the buoyant and bouncy She’s Too Good For Me remains a stalwart celebration of funk’s golden era, with the added bonus of Franc’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics. A staple for the band’s sound, the almost-sarcastic element to the lyrics contrasts perfectly with the liquid bassline, which encases the vibrant, fortuitous essence of hazy summer evenings around its listener.
"We’re creating the vibe that we set out to make which is incredibly satisfying.” Jon Moody
The cosmic experience of the new music emanates such energy that the listener becomes acutely aware of how the Franc Moody sound is destined for even greater heights on a live platform. Having originally been part of a scene so reliant on live performance, and with influences spanning back to little pockets of energy in New Orleans, the entrapment of a small studio has seemingly inspired a greater love for performing live. ‘It’s really exciting translating it live because we moved from a studio that was all analogue recording, and we were lucky because we knew a lot of amazing drummers who would drum along and we’d record a lot of live drumming on our tracks,’ says Moody. ‘When we moved to our studio where we are at now, there’s no room to start recording live drums so we had to program our drums which put our sound into a dance-world space. When we put our sound live, we return to having our full live band sound with live drummers replicating what we’ve programmed in the studio. It brings a fresh energy, a human touch.’
With the help of a six-piece band, the Franc Moody live experience is ready to be rolled out on the open road. Their seven-date April headline tour will see a hive of fiery live performances, neon signs, wacky instruments and all manner of raucous party grooves. ‘Making good music and seeing people enjoy it is our motivation,’ states Moody. ‘When we went on our headline tour at the end of last year it was actually amazing seeing real people enjoying our music. We’re creating the vibe that we set out to make which is incredibly satisfying.’ This feeling of satisfaction when performing is also apparent for Ned Franc, who offers ‘we spend most of our time in this tiny little cupboard making the songs and then suddenly you find yourselves in Bristol or Nottingham with a packed crowd really enjoying your songs. It’s very gratifying.’
"We have lots of authentic sounds, sounds of weird percussive instruments like salt shakers and tabasco bottles. It’s a DIY approach to the electronic-dance scene.” Ned Franc
With a few festivals, European dates and most importantly, a debut album to be refined and released, Franc Moody are a band with a lot on their hands, but importantly, they know exactly what they want to be doing. ‘We’re not trying to make simple music for the masses,’ confirms Franc. ‘We’ve got to like it first and foremost. We want to play to as many people as possible and to find a certain audience. We want to enjoy what we are doing.’ By stamping their contemporary vision on a genre they have idolised for decades, whether that’s with the help of a pulsating bassline, a 1960s Italian organ or an array of key-tars and oboes, Franc Moody are making the music they love and are doing it with such quality that it’s impossible not to admire the end product.
The duo have seemingly rejuvenated a genre so remarkably idiosyncratic. The captivating rhythms of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic used to grace dancefloors worldwide, and by amping up the bass and introducing a few modern twists, Franc Moody have restored a euphoric justice to a previously dated style of music, returning the grooves of the 60s to warehouse parties and nightclubs around the world.