Keep Dancing Inc are Saint Laurent's new favourite band
Two years on from their debut album 'Embrace', the Parisian trio are back and totally unafraid to try new things on their forthcoming follow up.
Photography Otman Qrita
Gone are the days of bad French indie pop. In fact, the past 10 years has seen many a local band produce ambitious, elegant music more than capable of keeping up with the best of British. Keep Dancing Inc is one of the most recent examples of this. The young Parisians have so far unleashed their passion and talent on a single album, inspired by references as broad as Palma Violets, The Beatles, Okay Kaya, Hot Chip, New Order and even Toro Y Moi. The result is a medley of influences that frequently send Louis, Joseph and Gabrielle back to the source of disco, new wave and pop; setting them up nicely for their mission to compose music to move your hips to.
Despite disruptions (lockdown, cancelled concerts, the departure of their former lead singer), Keep Dancing Inc have continued to seduce listeners – often in circles they never dreamt of infiltrating. It was in late 2020 that, with both astonishment and enthusiasm, the trio received an email from Saint Laurent. Their debut, Embrace, had just dropped and the French brand wanted to film them performing a live session. Gabrielle, Joseph and Louis completely reworked three of their songs for the occasion, deciding to approach them acoustically – just a synth, guitar and drums. “Without necessarily realising it, this session really influenced our sound,” they tell us, almost in unison. “Since then, not only have we dared explore more musical styles, we’ve also learnt that stripped-back pieces can be just as impactful.”
The harmony with which the band answer questions shouldn’t be taken to mean that collective musical decisions come easy ("finalising a project can sometimes be a real headache, it's hard to know when to stop”); but it does underline a strength, perceptible after just a few moments spent with them: their friendship. It’s an alchemy shared by so many bands… the same sense of humour, shared tastes and the obvious desire to evolve together. The name of their album, Embrace, is obviously not insignificant in this regard.
Of course, a number of recent events have only strengthened their ties to one another. There were radio appearances in England and Germany, support from Etienne Daho, collaborations with Tom Carmichael (who has produced for Kendrick Lamar, Fat White Family and Metronomy), a Working Men’s Club remix of "Old Child" and various covers ("Isolation" by Joy Division, "The Most Forgotten French Boy" by the Dogs) – all evidence of a group that wants to have fun. But Gabrielle also mentions another experience that binds them together: "Joseph and I are big milkshake fans. When we toured England just before the release of our first album, we challenged ourselves to try a milkshake in every city, in order to rate them. On arriving in Hull, unfortunately we found that there were no milkshakes in town, so we came up with the phrase: ‘No milkshakes in Hull’. Then Louis went off on a rant and wrote a story about a milkshake psychopath, which ended up becoming our song, 'No Milkshakes In Hell'."
Inspired by horror movies, the three friends considered making a video for the track. They even had a scenario in mind: the story of a guy who kills people, takes out a straw and drinks the blood of his victims. "Unfortunately, with everything that's happened in the last two years, we couldn't bring this idea to fruition,” they say. Not exactly media trained (a good thing!), the band make frequent references to "works in progress" or "things here and there". But what about concrete projects? Well, when he's not busy producing for other artists, Joseph dabbles in modelling (he’s even posed for Saint Laurent). Gabrielle, meanwhile, is a skilled graphic designer. Then there’s Louis, who is not only finishing a Master's degree in German medieval history, he’s also gearing up to release a very eclectic solo album, centred around a hippie community in the Netherlands.
For the time being though, Keep Dancing Inc. is clearly the priority for the trio. Their second album, they promise, is “75% ready” and live rehearsals taking place at Joseph's home studio see the band gaining confidence every day. “We’re now less afraid of trying new things," says Gabrielle, who has recently added vocals to her repertoire. "We’re also getting better at defining our relationship to our aesthetic, especially with this kind of retro mood. “Above all," she concludes, "we feel that foreign countries are quite receptive to our music, while brands like Saint Laurent and Vans are interested in us. It's a kind of validation of our approach, which is encouraging.”
Photography Otman Qrita
Styling Dan Sablon
Set design Thibault Munoz
Make-up Ruben Masoliver
Hair Shaila Moran using @christopherobinparis
Styling Assistant Clara Viano
Production Leonardo Specchia