French artists, DJs and musicians unite to fight threat of far-right government

More than 1,200 artists, DJs and promoters from the French music industry have come together in a bid to galvanise “the world of the night” into political action and to protest at the possibility of the first far-right French government since the second world war.

Members of the Front Électronique (FE) have organised live debates on video streaming service Twitch and free concerts, and released a fund-raising album Siamo Tutti Antifascisti Vol.1 (We are all Anti-Fascists) featuring 38 artists. The compilation is described as a “call to arms”.

The FE members say they were driven to act by the resurgence of “an old fascism” in the form of the National Rally (RN), the political party led by Marine le Pen that topped last Sunday’s first round – and which could form a government if it wins a majority in the second round.

On Wednesday night, FE members including dance music producer and artist Étienne de Crécy and singer-songwriter Voyou performed in front of a crowd of thousands at a rally at Place de la République in Paris. Speakers at the event included Brazilian former footballer Raí, who talked about his experience of living under a far-right government headed by Jair Bolsonaro in his homeland.

Lucas Langlais, founder of record label Unfair Music and a member of the FE, said: “Our culture has remained silent for too long. We can no longer stand idly by without acting to defend who we are and the people we love.

“The electronic scene has always been a refuge for diversity, whether it be sexual orientation, ethnic origin or individual beliefs. We believe that music and dance are powerful means to resist intolerance and celebrate freedom of expression.”

Myriam Konté, who DJs as Melanin, fears an onslaught on France’s cultural heritage by
Le Pen’s RN.
Photograph: Corinna Kranig

Some of the most established figures from French electronic music privately expressed their opposition to the rise of Le Pen’s party but have not spoken out, a reticence that Voyou disagrees with. “I always ask my followers to vote without telling them who to vote for, but this time I felt I had to take more of an active role,” Voyou said. “Artists can have a huge importance in the political sphere.”

A “dangerous wave of racism and homophobia” is already being felt in the wake of the far-right’s rise in France, according to musicians Le Kaiju and Sujigashira of Grand Remplacement Records, a collective which supports artists from diasporas of the global south.

They speak of friends and family who have faced catcalls such as “Can’t wait for 7 July”, and “Go back where you came from”.

Le Kaiju said:The rise of fascism in our country isn’t new; it’s a part of its DNA. But this moment has made even the most privileged of us scared for their existence.”

For Myriam Konté, who DJs as Melanin, one of her major concerns is the far-right policy on budgets for cultural institutions. Marion Maréchal, Le Pen’s niece, has spoken of her desire to halt the intermittent du spectacle: the scheme that ensures those working in the arts – from musicians and directors to sound engineers and stage managers – are paid a basic income.

skip past newsletter promotion

“The only cultural aspect addressed by the RN and its allies is heritage,” says Langlais.

Young people could make a big difference in the final vote in the French election. Polling last Sunday showed a preference among the 18-34 demographic for the leftwing coalition over the far right, but around a quarter opted for Le Pen and Jordan Bardella’s party, significantly more than for Macron’s centrist Ensemble pour la République.

French music and political protest have long been interconnected. Jacques Dutronc’s 1968 hit single Il est Cinq Heures, Paris s’éveille was co-opted for the widespread protests that year by students drawn to its chorus: “Paris, wake up”.

The 1985 song Porcherie by punks Bérurier Noir contains the refrain “La jeunesse emmerde le Front National” – the young piss off the National Front – a lyric that became a rallying cry against the far right in 2002 when party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked the nation by advancing to the second round of the presidential elections.

It has enjoyed a revival on TikTok and at marches during this year’s vote. The singer Eloi led the crowd in chanting it at a concert at the club Virage in Paris as results from the first vote came in on Sunday night.

The Guardian