Tuesday, 16 April 2019

DJ duo French Kiss charm Prague

By Emily Mathis |
Prague Daily Monitor |
12 December 2008

French Kiss: French Kiss: They dictate the vibe of the night. (COURTESY)DJ French Peanuts and DJ Space Monkey dictate the vibe of the night. (COURTESY)

Jet Set, a bar/lounge near the Anděl shopping center, is packed with buff motocross bike riders, covered from head-to-toe in tattoos and Volcolm clothing. In this setting the DJ duo known as French Kiss are easy to spot.

DJ French Peanuts, the only guy in the room with an afro and black-rimmed glasses, is a foot taller than and half as wide as the bikers. Dressed in a skin-tight black-and-white striped t-shirt, a velour blazer, and white pants he channels Pepe Le Pew. DJ Space Monkey, a Will.I.Am. clone, sports white-rimmed glasses, a suede brown fedora, and a half-unbuttoned oxford shirt revealing a cluster of Muslim prayer beads and Catholic rosaries.

Tonight, at a private party honoring an American motocross biker, Space Monkey is wearing the duos staple: a pair of flashy, silver flats. It is a necessity for one of the two to always wear these shoes, according to French Peanuts, so their mothers can see them from France.

"It's important to have your own style. One day you just stop caring about what other people think and you go for you. If you don't, no one will notice you" French Peanut said.

And noticed they have been. In just five months they have managed to make a name for themselves on Prague’s club scene for being some of the best funk, electro, and happy house DJs. They are a pair of familiar faces at Duplex, M1, Vertigo, Hush Café, and Chapeau Rouge.

This success is due in equal parts to their spinning skills, antics, and provocative dress. Space Monkey often wears a George Clinton style wig or paints his arms completely white. They only spend about half their time behind the DJ booth because if they spot a girl they like or just feel the urge, they will spontaneously run onto the dance floor, or hook up a microphone to create an impromptu karaoke session. If they are spinning, the crowd doesn’t wonder if and where the DJ is. They take the role of DJ: They dictate the vibe of the night.

And they let you know when they have arrived by normally playing a Martin Luther King or Barack Obama speech at the beginning of every set.

The stunt is usually met with a warm reception. But at Duplex on November 29th while performing alongside one of Russia’s best DJs, Romeo; the 90% Russian dance floor froze, almost startled at the sound of the Obama speech. The crowd quickly forgave them as the music picked up and the dance floor once again became a cluster of deliriously happy sweaty messes.

The stakes of that night, arguably the duos biggest break, were high and the success certainly not guaranteed. If they failed it would be an embarrassment for club managers and DJ Romeo which they could have been blacklisted for.

"I wasn’t ready at all when I first got the call. I thought, "Fuck, this is going to be disastrous. But we were training non-stop for the weeks leading up to it," DJ French Peanut says.

How much that training paid off remains to be seen. What they do know is that they have received follow up calls from managers at Duplex and other event organizers. The absolute best scenario would be for DJ Romeo to host them in Moscow, which would create a jump-off point for international fame.

But for now their home is Prague, and French Peanut is furiously shuffling through the hundreds of LP records strewn on their living room floor. They range from Sade, Funkmaster Flex, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson to obscure Arabic and African music; testament to French Peanuts’ Algerian and Space Monkey’s Congo roots.

He finds one he likes. It is Madvillian, an underground rapper from New York, and silently hands it to Space Monkey, who is nearby spinning on their personal deck. They listen for a while and without a word trade it for a mellow Ayo record.

The duo are so in-sync they could be mistaken for telepathic twins. But in fact, they only met a little over 2 years ago, while working abroad in Dublin. French Peanuts says he was in Dublin to re-teach post-tsunami refugee Koalas how to climb the tress in their new surroundings.

Space Monkey was working in IT, but was transferred to Denmark. Unhappy at his new location, he decided to move to Prague because of its reputation of being a feasible place to break into musically and the ease of finding a job.

Remembering playing around with DJing at parties in Dublin with his crazy fellow Frenchman, Space Monkey thought he was just what he needed to create a dynamic duo, and recruited French Peanuts to come along.

For the past 8 months they have been living together in a sort of DJ’s haven: a hard-wood, 10-room, 3-terrace duplex near the Andel shopping center. When they had to find a third roommate, the two were careful not to mess up the balance in their home. They placed an ad for a roommate, but when the interested person came to the house they gave them their own special test.

"We would pour baking soda or sugar on a mirror and put rolled bills and straws all around it just to see how they would react. One girl lectured us. Some were shocked. Some asked us for a line. But Johan (the third roommate) just said "whatever" so we chose him," French Peanuts remembered but noted that they were always of the more responsible party types.

For Space Monkey, or Franck Gampio-killy a 31-year-old native of Paris, it seems a normal lifestyle was never an option on the table. But for French Peanuts, or Said Khammar, a 27-year-old from Marseilles who comes from a devout Muslim-Algerian family and who was engaged at 22, the new lifestyle was a bit of a rebellion.

"My family thinks I'm the crazy one. I'm the oldest of four so they say at least they have three more chances to get one right. I mean, they still love me, but they think why can’t I be a good Muslim?"

Polygamy is the one thing he says he would keep of the Muslim religion. He is kidding, I think.

"No. I don’t need more than one girl anymore. Because now I found something better than sex," he says and continues frantically searching the records.

French Kiss DJs will host a special New Year’s Eve party, information to come on their websites: