Denez Prigent

Electro Breton

Picture 1 Denez Prigent

No other singer has ever managed to see Breton tradition flourishing in contemporary music. Master of ceremonies for traditional Breton festou-noz festivals running at 170bpm, Denez Prigent was bold enough to have a crack at electro-noz. And how did it turn out? A resounding success.

The year was 2006. The lucky ones who were there in the Beijing Chaoyang Park still remember it like it was yesterday. Denez Prigent’s performance, on the bill for Transmusicales’ Chinese-Celtic tour, made the Ming vases of the imperial city crack with emotion, and had a similar effect on the stunned spectators who stopped to hear this music that came out of nowhere. 

From Santec to techno

You don’t have to go all the way to China to realise that Denez’s music is something very special. From his native village of Santec to the world of techno, this Finistère singer has managed to give trad music a modern touch that has never faded. At the outset, Denez Prigent specialised in music that had the wonderful smell of Breton buckwheat, harvested in the traditional way: indeed, kan ha diskan – dance melodies and counter-melodies – and gwerz – laments recounting historical tales – soon held no secrets for him.

But it wasn’t until he plugged his timeless Breton music into the mains that the artist found his signature sound. Having learned the Breton language from his grandmother, he finally found his place here in Brittany through universal instruments and other music styles – bringing techno to the locals. “Can you dance the techno ...?” And so, in 1993 he crept along to the first Rennes rave party, after playing at the Voice of Asia festival in Kazakhstan and making his first Transmusicales appearance. It was a revelation to him, and it sparked a small musical revolution: Denez Prigent had discovered a techno music that, just like its Breton cousin, was designed for dancing, and had many other similarities too, with rhythms and notes bouncing off each other. Electro-noz was born, as Breton as can be, and it has featured in festivals worldwide ever since. Four albums later, The Breton has showed once and for all that you really can dance the plinn at 170bpm. Misery can get lost – the future of noz is now!