Deep Root Records is a record label that specializes in deep house, afro house, and electro pop music. They boast a diverse international roster, and have released music from house music legends like Roland Clark, Rowetta and Chapter & Verse, as well as from up and coming stars. DJ, Producer and Deep Root Records Label Owner, Francis Mercier joins the Mason Paine Show to speak about his career, music and latest projects.
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Francis Mercier Interview Transcription
Mason Paine: Francis Meier is not only a DJ producer, but he is also the founder of deep roots records. This label focuses on deep house Afro house and electro pop music. The label has a diverse international roster of artists and has released music from well known house music, legends like Roland Clark, and Rotta as well as some up and coming stars. Francis Meier joins me to talk about his career music and latest projects. Thanks for joining me, Francis.
Francis Mercier: Thank you.
Mason Paine: So tell me, how long have you been a DJ?
Francis Mercier: It’s been a long journey. About 15 years. Looking back, it’s been 15 years. Yeah.
Mason Paine: Wow. 15 years. Did you start when you were in high school or college then?
Francis Mercier: When I just moved to the states, when I just started college, around my freshman year, I had a chance to CTS, to I’m in UR in live back then it was like the big trans days. And that really drew me in and I got my first pair of equipment.
Francis Mercier: And from there I started playing like college parties and it’s, it’s been history since.
Mason Paine: Your first piece of equipment. Do you still have it? I’m just curious.
Francis Mercier: No, not at all, actually sold my turntable, which was a mistake back in, I think it was 2008 because I wanted to get, you know, a new computer and I wanted to get like sero and I kind of moved to the digital.
Francis Mercier: I completely changed startup nowadays. You know, I play mainly with, CD-J’s, so it’s kind of pointless to have equipment, if that makes sense.
Mason Paine: No, it does make sense. But I still get nostalgic of keeping a lot of my old devices because I don’t know why I think to myself, maybe it’ll be useful or, you know, maybe I’ll pull it out and I’ll just try something different using, you know, something older.
Mason Paine: But, I try not to sell any of my old stuff just because I don’t know
Francis Mercier: I think it was a mistake. I think it was a mistake because you know, turntables turned out to be. Quite valuable nowadays because they don’t make them anymore. The techniques. So I had techniques back in the day and I sold them for not, not a lot just to get myself a MacBook and, and, Serato sound card because that’s what was trending back then.
Francis Mercier: Yeah. And yeah, since, since it’s been, it’s been a big change, you know, I obviously moved from Serato to now USBs, but nowadays with all my touring schedule, you know, I don’t really have to bring equipment to, to gigs anymore. I just have equip. At, my disposal, all the clubs or wherever I wanna perform, I just hit up my friends who have equipment and whatnot.
Mason Paine: And that’s some of the fun part about it. But as a producer, do you ever think to yourself, I wanna bring my own equipment just because you’re familiar with it.
Francis Mercier: Not really. I do play with a mug. I do have a mug at home, but, most of my production is digital. To be honest with you, it’s in the box. It’s, it’s through Ableton. You know, I really work with diva. I work with, most plugins are like, sufficient to do the job for me.
Mason Paine: what would you consider to be your production style then?
Francis Mercier: Oh, my production style. I would describe it as a mixture of, of house, a mixture of Afro, a mixture of deep. It’s definitely electronic, right?
Francis Mercier: It’s definitely electronic and it’s definitely dense, very catered to, having a good baseline, having a good rhythm. That’s probably the most important thing. To embellish it. We make sure that I make sure that, you know, there’s a lot of emotion, whether it be from the vocals or like the core progression or the musical composition.
Mason Paine: Now, what I find interesting about you is like your history. You started off, two turntables on a microphone, and now you have your own label. The transition from that to here, how does that feel?
Francis Mercier: It feels good. It’s been like a long time coming. I first started, you know, I just started a simple DJ then moved to, you know, kind of having my own collective, my own series of showcases that I was producing.
Francis Mercier: And from there I said, okay, you know what? I wanna take it to the next level, produce my own music, release other music. And it’s kind of escalated. Nowadays actually have, four record labels. under Deep Root Records, we have Deep Root Tribe, Deep Root underground. When, and of course, Deep Root Records, which is our main imprint. So we, we have like different sound for each of the imprints.
Mason Paine: Well, what’s the meaning behind all four label names?
Francis Mercier: Well, deep root tribe, obviously tribe. It gives you the sense of community. it gives you connotations to Africa to, central America and whatnot, like the tribe you think of, of ethnic groups and whatnot.
Francis Mercier: So that obviously relates to Afro house that’s Afro house imprint, Deep Root underground. We try to keep it not necessarily, commercial composition. We try to focus on what’s trending in the underground space. What’s we try not to sign records that are necessarily going to be, a big success.
Francis Mercier: We try to make it, you know, based on our, on our love and passion for the music, right? So the, the deep root underground imprint, we release a lot of melodic, deep, darker kind of tracks. deep root records. It started off as a classic house and tech house imprint. And now it is, you know, that’s what it’s specializing in.
Francis Mercier: And then we have win records, which is our imprint for more commercial compositions. Like more like pop records and whatnot.
Mason Paine: Well, that’s pretty cool. Everybody has their own category. But let’s say you have an artist who is a little bit of everything. How would you know where to put them in?
Francis Mercier: Well, it’s all contingent in the composition, you know, as a record label each of the brands, at least from a fan based standpoint.
Francis Mercier: They know what they’re getting right. When we try to organize a showcase, let’s say we do like a Deep Root Tribe, showcase the customers, fans, they know what they’re gonna be getting when they see a song cover and they see, okay, this is Deep Root Tribe. They know they’re gonna get a kind of music, right? The same way you have labels like defected, like tool, room.
Francis Mercier: You’re not gonna be, you know, what to expect, you know, you’re not gonna, there’s not gonna be any surprises. So it’s, it’s important to have some sort of continued. As a record label as an artist, you can of course have a lot of variety. You know, you should not box yourself into a specific genre. That’s one of the reasons why I think I, I gained some, some sort of credibility and some sort of success over the years, but, as a record label, we try to keep, a unique kind of sound.
Francis Mercier: And if we have an artist that went. Really different kind of music. You know, we can work with them and that’s the beauty of my imprint being a very diverse, because we can welcome any kind of artist regardless of their sound.
Mason Paine: I like that. It sounds like you guys support your artists a lot. You want them to succeed very much. Is there anything else you do in particular for people?
Francis Mercier: Yeah, absolutely. One of the most important aspects, which I think helps us stand out is. We have a very activism planning department. So we put on a lot of shows, a lot of showcases. So what happens is, you know, typically most artists that release with us to get to perform, you know, for us at some point throughout the year, we produce, I would say 50 to a hundred shows depending on the year.
Francis Mercier: I mean this year, very busy. The COVID years was a bit slower because we had some interruption with restrictions and whatnot, but we’re known to, and actually that, that was like the initial mission of Deep Root Records. It was mainly collective to put on shows. So it gives the artists the capacity to not only release, but to actually be able to perform their music, to see a real crowd reaction. If that makes sense.
Mason Paine: You really know what you’re doing when it comes to running a label. Did you come across any difficulties that you didn’t expect though?
Francis Mercier: Absolutely. Over the years, you know, we had to learn the trade to, create relevance, to sign good artists. We had to jump some hoops. It’s been bumpy road, but you know, we’ve been able to. Um, a whole lot in every, every single experience, no matter how challenging it was, it was learning experience. And, uh, today we’re able to take all of these learning experiences and kind of apply them to actually have successful record label that are not only releasing records.
Francis Mercier: We’re able to give artists the platform to perform, and also put, you know, at some instances we also have a very active second licensing depart. So we’ve been able to place quite a few of our compositions and TV shows, commercials and whatnot.
Mason Paine: Wow, man, sounds like you really love helping other DJs, helping bringing them up, showcasing what they can do for the community.
Mason Paine: Um, when do you have time for your own projects though?
Francis Mercier: Thankfully, I have a big team with me, you know, I do, we do have like, very good team members. I do have a co-founder who, co-founder the label with me? His name is Ajamu Kambon . You know, it’s a fine line. It’s I can say it’s very challenging because, you want to give back to the community, you wanna support other artists.
Francis Mercier: It is challenging to create time for my own project, but. I do my best. I, I try to stick to a very tight schedule and I try to produce while I’m on the plane while I’m, traveling. Whenever I have a free minute to myself, you know, late at night, especially, especially nowadays with all the shows, you know, I’m traveling, different continents almost every weekend.
Francis Mercier: Last weekend I was playing in Africa, in Europe, in north America. This coming weekend is gonna be in Europe the weekend after is gonna be north America. So it’s like back and forth, different time zones, different countries, different cities. So it’s definitely a challenge, but, I can say, you know, part of my success, I owe it to all of the artists we work with, who I’m able to represent their music, collaborate with them and whatnot.
Mason Paine: Now I want you to talk a little bit about that. New track. You brought out, I can’t say the name. I feel like I’m gonna butcher it. Could you say it for me?
Francis Mercier: Which is Ayibobo.
Mason Paine: There you go. That’s it. Ayibobo. Is that how you say
Francis Mercier: it? Yeah. Correct. Ayibobo. What does that mean? It’s a kind of a mixed meaning.
Francis Mercier: I would. Literally probably be hallelujah, but it’s also, a cry for hope. If that makes sense. That’s beautiful. That’s it’s not necessarily, yeah. It’s not necessarily religious per se, but it’s just like a request for hope. If that makes sense.
Mason Paine: I love that. What was this, where did the inspiration come for this track?
Francis Mercier: Oh, this is a composition that, is in collaboration with, , a Haitian vocalist that’s, was introduced to me by my mother. She’s like kind of funny, but, I, I think she was really talented and we wanted to do something that really was about in focused on Haiti; which is, you know, my home country and also her home country.
Francis Mercier: I was working with Nitefreak on this, on this beat. We tried a few different vocalists and I was like, listen, man, why don’t we try to like, go back to the roots, let me try to do something a little bit different. Let’s try to put like a Haitian Creole vocal on it. And we were like, you know, what’s like, an important topic to speak. and in reality, you know, for Haiti and for Haitians in general, hope is something that’s very much relevant and important. So that’s why we decided to call the Ayibobo and to compose a record, which is basically a plea for social justice, for improvement and a better future for our country.
Mason Paine: Oh, that’s awesome. So what are your plans for the remainder of this year?
Francis Mercier: That’s difficult to predict because we’re getting working request almost every, every day. So I just secured performances in Beirut and, Ibiza and, North Africa and, Casa Blanca all over Europe.
Francis Mercier: As well as I just secured, we just confirmed the show in Los Angeles. So it’s gonna be a lot of travels. I think, you know, for the next, few months up until like mid four, I’m gonna really focus on bringing my sound to the mass on the global scale, you know, kind of, media ambassador of my music in the best way, not just via streaming and.
Francis Mercier: Radio plays, but actually being able to perform my tracks in person. Does that make sense? That big shows?
Mason Paine: Well, Francis, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate you being here. And for those listening, where can they find more information about you and your label?
Francis Mercier: Well, they can look us up. My, artist’s name is Francis Mercier as for my label, it’s called deep root records. You know, we’re on Instagram, Facebook. you name it also Spotify, obviously you just have to, you can just type in Francis Mercier or check for deep root and you’ll see all the playlists with all of the compositions.
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