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Fresh Kicks 171: Priori

 Priori by Kane Ocean

Montréal’s NAFF Recordings co-founder Priori records a mix of deep, spaced-out house and techno for the Fresh Kicks series, and speaks to Sophie McNulty about collaborating, discovering dance music in his teens and pushing electronic sounds to into new, weird places

“Sharing ideas with other people made me progress way faster,” explains Priori of his collaborative process. The Montréal-based producer — real name: Francis Latreille — is a member of seven musical projects including his solo one: Jump Source with Patrick Holland, ANF with Dust-e-1, Housemates and Ntel with Ex-Terrestrial (who actually was his housemate), M.S.L with his friend Edouard, and New World Science with an array of Montréal artists, including Ex-T and RAMZi. Many of these projects have been platformed via NAFF Recordings, the label he also co-runs with Ex-Terrestrial.

As Priori, his 2019 album ‘On A Nimbus’ was up there with the finest extended works of that year, bursting with sensitive, textural sound design and smart compositions that swerve gracefully from ambient and deep house into spaced-out strands of IDM and techno. During lockdown, he dropped ‘Infinity’ on Bandcamp. A dose of triumphant trance-y techno, it was the perfect antidote to the then dire situation we found ourselves in. Digitals were so popular online, they decided to press it to wax. His second album, ‘Your Own Power’, was released in November. A remix EP for the album, featuring Donato Dozzy, Aurora Halal, DJ Python and Bambounou, will be released in March.

He got into all of this quite young, at around 15. “The very first pieces of proper dance music I listened to were from Daft Punk,” he recalls.“I started looking up the people from their song ‘Teachers’, and through that I heard Chicago and Detroit music. I got really curious about how that stuff was made.” Things took a while to get going for a young Francis; he produced alone for six years before he found like-minded folks. “Making music was always a pretty lonely thing for me, I just did it in the basement at my parents’ place,” he says. “I didn’t know anyone who was doing this. It was just me and the internet.”

YouTube was in its infancy when he started wading into production. “I would watch tutorial videos, but the only videos you could find for an MPC [sampler] were ’90s hip-hop people making J Dilla beats,” he remembers. “There weren’t videos of people making my favourite stuff, so I progressed pretty slowly until I met other people.”

It was Patrick Holland who gave Francis the impetus to get serious about his productions, and he still shares a studio with him today. “Pat already had some music out when we met, and I was intrigued because I hadn’t put anything out... I didn’t think my stuff was good enough.” They released their first record as Jump Source in 2016, and the process of bringing something physical into the world gave Francis some perspective. “I realised it was doable,” he says. “I saw you can do this in your basement, it can come out on a record and some people like it.”

Physicality is a word that crops up a lot in our conversation, whether it’s in the methods Francis uses to produce, split between gear and his computer, or indeed the format in which his music is released. “In the beginning, 80% of the music we were discovering was on vinyl. If you found something on YouTube, it was a shitty rip, so you would go out and try to find it in a store,” he reminisces. 

Undeniably, there’s also a physicality to the way his music moves us as listeners. “What attracted me to a lot of electronic music was hearing sounds and textures that really popped at you or scratched your ear,” he says. “When I get a new synth, I try to push it and make a sound that’s super crazy and weird. I’m looking for that one sound that really catches your ears.”

Check out Fresh Kicks features with Nia Archives and DART

Sophie McNulty is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @sof_mcnulty

Photo credit: Kane Ocean