The Zap Francis EP is the latest release on Bleep, the label offshoot of the eponymous online store. It comprises six instrumental hip-hop tracks on some, to borrow from Nice & Smooth, “old to the new.” The label calls it a soundtrack to “journeys across intergalactic realms,” which certainly captures some of the music’s futurist energy. They also refuse to say who the artist is, hinting only that more music is to come. Mystery games are all well and good for promotional purposes but they suck when you have to interview someone.
I call the number given to me by the label in the afternoon. A man answers, his voice sounding like he just woke up. He tells me he’s always been around, though he “never really had the opportunity to really do his thing.” Zap sounds like hip-hop. You know, the way you can tell someone’s hip-hop just by how they talk. I try my luck and ask who he is. “He’s like an artist from the early Euro pop days,” is the answer I get. “Someone that has elements of the greats of that era like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, or The Human League. But he’s the one that didn’t make it though. He didn’t get the exposure. He’s that artist who made great electronic music but never really got heard. A little dirtier and more lo-fi.”
Even before reading the promotional blurb from Bleep, listening to Zap’s music had brought to mind space and science-fiction, the kind of beats Star Trek‘s Klingons might bang to. “When I’m creating this music, I imagine a whole industrial environment and state of mind,” Francis admits. Close enough, I guess. Without divulging any details he admits to a long career in music. Zap Francis is in essence a new project, a way to explore ideas about the intersection of hip-hop and electronic music. The sound is still being developed, which is why it’ll be coming at us in short bursts for now. “It’s meant to be party music, uptempo but with a grimy vibe. I want people to dance to it, not just nod their heads. At the same time I don’t want to make obvious party shit, that’s not what I’m trying to do.”