December 29, 2021 § Leave a comment
“THE TUNNEL AND THE CLEARING” – PART I – THE TUNNEL
Shot in my studio last week, this is the first part of the song which gives the title to my 7th album and symbolizes for me the entire album and the life experience it retraces. There is no way out but through the tunnel (I apologize that this is dangerously close to a recent Nike slogan I saw in a massive sports shop here in Barcelona). Somehow I can never get to play those staccato chords with utmost regularity, but I try to take a generous view of my shortcomings as a player and see this as a reflection of what it’s like to go through the tunnel: you’re kind of shaking and you’re just doing your best. The gritty sound comes only from the Farfisa emulation of the Yamaha Reface YC combined with the Roland RE-201 Space Echo lovingly overhauled by Soundgas. Nothing else. Space Echo is 100% wet and panned 25% Left against the Farfisa, panned 25% right, to give the whole thing subtle stereo.
“THE TUNNEL AND THE CLEARING” – PART II – THE CLEARING
When I found the first chords to this song, in august 2020, roughly 3 months after starting work on my 7th album, I almost instantaneously got the image of a tunnel and a clearing at the end of it, and realized this would be the title not just of that particular song, but of the whole album.Even though I always work from the ground up through playing my instruments, there is also a more “conceptual” layer to what I do, especially when I’ve been working for several months and material needs to be organized in a coherent whole. From the start and by necessity, the “core” of the album was clearly to reflect the extreme emotions and sensations caused by breakup and the forced changes this brings to one’s life, and for this song, it was clear that the existence of both the tunnel *and* the clearing would have to be translated musically (and in this case without lyrics).
The change from the gritty Farfisa sound to the almost mellotron-like quality of the Hammond through the Space Echo was one way of doing this, sonically. Compositionally, introduce subtle changes to the main theme of the song as exposed in its first part: adding a few notes to a motif, changing the order of those notes, changing one note within a chord, then introducing completely new chords – all meant to be a musical representation of what it’s like to slowly be shifting and expanding your thoughts, and to see the first glimpse of what it might feel like to start feeling better.
When Luis Torroja shot the mini-documentary on my album, we ended with “The Crossing” in darkness, with just a few flashlights and the lights from my machines. Luis was so enthusiastic that he just kept shooting more material based purely on the pulsating lights of the machines and synchronized it to the second part of “The Tunnel and the Clearing”. I can’t think of a more wonderful visual representation of the very real magic of machines and of the love I have for them, as precious tools that allow me not just to make music, but to literally feel better and live a better life. I hope you will enjoy it too.
December 21, 2021 § Leave a comment
RETURN OF THE WORK-LIFE BALANCE UNICORN + BARCELONA DOUBLE ALBUM LIVE SHOW 11 MARCH 2021: TICKETS AVAILABLE!!!
This makes me so happy 😃 In May I made the difficult decision to stop playing live. It wasn’t so much about local shows, given that I barely play any, but about international shows, which can be exhausting physically and mentally, especially as you get older. I was also feeling overwhelmed by the “neurological” load of my shows: just looking at all the information I need to process to play live, I got the feeling my brain could not handle something as demanding anymore.
The sense of relief was immediate, but I didn’t expect the following… Given that my London show in August was postponed due to the quarantine rule, I was able to enjoy one of the most relaxed months of *MY ENTIRE LIFE*, in August. It was incredible. Like living with somebody else (at the end of the day, one lives with oneself – it’s obvious, but it took me a really long time to truly get this). So relaxed, that when I decided to rehearse a little to check that I wasn’t forgetting everything, I had a blast. And tried to see if I could still play older songs on the viola da gamba… and had even more of a blast.
Meeting another musician who is very experienced with concerts at a high level and with whom I was able to talk about my situation ended up convincing me that yes, I could go back to playing live, it would “just” have to be in a slightly different way.
What ended up fully convincing me was attending an incredible night on 17th September in El Pumarejo, organized by David aka @furvoice@mutabor_music who will organize and open my own show: I felt such a positive energy and it was there and then that I felt ready for my new decision.
That I was able to switch from thinking “I’m not playing anymore” to preparing shows with 2 totally different setups to play 2 full albums is proof of the power of rest, removing pressure from yourself, and surrounding yourself with good vibrations and people who support you. The work-life balance unicorn, which I’d never seen in my entire life, made its appearance this year, and I consider this a major new step in my life.
Something else that’s beautiful and happened recently…
ON NON MATERIAL PRESENTS: ME AND THE BIBLIOTHEQUE BUFFON, 20 YEARS DOWN THE LINE.
I’ve long been convinced that non material presents, such as time, attention, affection and recognition, are the best presents. I have just received one such present in my inbox. If you look at it and speak a bit of French, you might think: ok, it’s just that her music is among this year’s favorites of the music section of a public library in Paris, so what? So here goes…
The Bibliothèque Buffon is THE public library where I went every single week, several times a week, from 1999 to 2001, to borrow at least 10 or 15 CDs per week. I can safely say the Colleen project (which will officially turn 20 years old next year) was born in great part thanks to a place like this.
I grew up in a small provincial town and later on, as a penniless student, had to find clever ways of discovering music in a pre/barely-starting internet time. I had 3 options, and I used them all: 1) listening to radio programmes 2) going to music shops (Gibert Joseph was a favorite because it was just next to where I studied English at Sorbonne Nouvelle, and had headphones listening stations with rotating selections every week) 3) borrowing CDs from public libraries.
I’m not sure how I ended up there the first time – possibly through a friend’s recommendation, possibly because it was next to Jardin des Plantes, another favorite haunt of mine. In any case, from the first visit it was clear this was a veritable Ali Baba cave, and when in 2000 I took up a part-time job at university library BU Censier during my agrégation d’anglais, the Buffon library was literally on my way, which made me increase the frequency of my trips, since I had also started sampling.
That year was pivotal in my life: I understood I would not go into academia, because I wanted to have time for music-making, and borrowing CDs and ripping them for samples was the only luxury I granted myself that year. Hip hop, electronic, minimalist/contemporary, film, Jamaican, African, Indonesian musics, jazz… I could go on and on… I am so, so deeply grateful to see my work, 20 years down the line, among the library’s favourites.