“No one cared who I was until I put on the mask.”
The connection between a Batman supervillain and a Montreal disco duo may seem tenuous at first glance, but for Bane as well as Chuck and Francis of Fabrikate, wearing masks at the start of their careers certainly attracted attention in their respective industries. For Fabrikate, it may have been the wrong kind of attention as it detracted from the music, and focusing on the music was the whole point of appearing anonymous.
“We always wanted to put the art and music forward,” says Chuck. “We wish it was how it was back in the day, before the EDM scene where a bunch of people just stand there looking at the DJ instead of enjoying themselves and dancing. Making an album today, especially in dance music, is pretty rare. It’s a single-driven industry, but this project has a vision and a message behind it — it’s definitely not about our cute little faces.”
“The whole mask thing was a little over the top,” adds Francis, agreeing that masks might be regarded as equally if not more gimmicky than cute faces (though that hasn’t hurt the likes of Daft Punk, Deadmau5 and Marshmello). “We don’t wanna be super anonymous to the point where we’re characters. We wanna connect more with people, with fans.”
Ahead of the release of their sophomore album Make Me Feel, Chuck and Francis have removed their masks but retain a level of anonymity by keeping their faces out of the spotlight (literally, as you can see from their publicity photos) and not using their last names. Having honed and expanded their disco- and soul-inflected house sound significantly since the 2016 release of their debut LP Bodies, they want to focus on the music more than ever.
“We really pinpointed where we wanted to go,” says Chuck. “We’re doing something that is a bit experimental, a bit avant garde, but we really trust our instincts. The album is called Made Me Feel, and that’s exactly what we went for.”
When they’re not making music as Fabrikate (or working on a visually oriented, instrumentally rich live show that departs from the club DJ experience), Chuck and Francis are music producers, and have been working on a documentary about the vibrant Montreal disco scene of the late ’70s (which Francis’s father was part of, as a DJ and producer). In September they played and helped to organize the inaugural Disco Capitale festival on Crescent Street, another nod to a piece of the city’s cultural past that helped to shape their careers and their sound.
“I grew up in an environment where music was always there for me to escape, and that became a necessity,” says Chuck. “Disco was the music that was played at home — my parents were avid disco lovers — so that translated to me trying to recreate disco songs on a little keyboard at six or seven years old. And Francis, it turns out, was working for a label that used to release all those songs that I was listening to. That’s why, when we met, we bonded so quickly.” ■
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