Basic Tape specialise in crafting mesmersing music which immediately places itself on repeat in your mind. The French duo’s debut track Not Afraid perfectly encapsulates their sound in three gloriously uplifting minutes: its heady combination of chiming keys, fervent vocals and a striking chorus combine to make for an immediately uplifting mood-changer. Supported by MrSuicideSheep, it’s a track that’s been lapped up by audiences with 3.5 million streams to date. As one comment stated: “New Basic Tape means new awesomeness.”
And a double dose of new awesomeness is on the way from the twenty-something pair. Their first Parlophone single So Good blends those killer traits with an enhanced sense of immediacy and a pulsating funk groove which makes for a magical moment of 21st century pop.
What Basic Tape are now is a world away from what they were. When they first met on a sound engineering course in Paris, Ben was more interested in the intricate structures of progressive rock and utilises that background by contributing live guitar to many of their productions, while local native Sav was enamoured by the club-meets-pop world of EDM.
“My music tastes changed a lot,” says Ben some five years on. “I got interested in electronic music because of Sav – I didn’t know a lot about it and Sav knew all of the references. And that’s where we started.”
By the time the two friends graduated they realised that they didn’t want to be sound engineers. Instead they started two projects: a short-lived plan in which they aimed to make music for adverts – essentially “to reassure our parents that we were doing something that had a chance of working out” laughs Sav – alongside the artistic project that evolved to become Basic Tape.
Their music continued to evolve at a rapid pace as EDM transitioned to the electronic pop that we hear today. Like many young French people, Basic Tape’s lives have been soundtracked by the creativity of Daft Punk, but they also cite Ed Banger artists Sebastian and Cassius as influences as much as the multi-genre mainstream mastermind Max Martin.
Even their choice of moniker echoes their style: basic reflects their focus on deceptively simple melodies, while tape recalls their childhoods in which they’d record tracks from the radio onto cassette. Plus, adds Ben, “it’s a name that makes for a really sharp-looking logo.” The result is music with a French core yet that’s also informed by a wider range of cultures and genres.
“We’re making music which is quite different from what a lot of people in France do right now,” affirms Sav. “So I don’t think we’re part of a scene at present – we’re more international than local.”
That global thinking is surely the result of their original DIY promotional strategy. Pitching their music direct to blogs and YouTube channels meant that the duo soon realised that Basic Tape was a project with the potential to become their full-time focus. Even their choice of bootleg remixes (Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding, J-Lo) was aimed at maximising their visibility online. By picking big name artists and popular songs that hadn’t too much in the way of remixes, their name soon spread to a following of like-minded fans.
Their reputation was also furthered through an official remix of Alesso’s Heroes; the Bright Side collab with Mozambo; select shows as guests to Galantis, Madeon and Odesza; and at TheSoundYouNeed’s live events.
With a growing catalogue of songs to their name, Basic Tape’s next focus is on developing their live show, and they also hope to move out of Sav’s home studio (“It’s a metre away from my bed!”) and into a more structured set-up in which they’ll be able to add brass and live drums to their tracks.
Basic Tape’s undimmed positivity is surely the hook that can push their backing from a swell of underground support to a crossover proposition. “That’s an artistic direction that we decided on very early on,” concludes Sav. “It’s easier to write sad songs, but it’s not as rewarding as writing a happy song that can really lift people up after they’ve had a bad day. That’s really important to us right now.”