REFLECTIONS ON THE SPACE NEEDED BY MAKERS, PART I: LEAVING SAN SEBASTIAN AND MY MUSIC STUDIO, OR THE CHAOS OF HAVING TO DOWNSIZE 27 YEARS OF MUSIC-MAKING.
March 17, 2019 § Leave a comment
This post has been almost 3 months in the making: at the end of 2018 my partner in life and in art Iker Spozio and myself decided to leave San Sebastián, meaning I’ve had to leave the space I rented for 8 and a half years to make music, a ground-level former olive and pepper brinery. My music has evolved along with the spaces where I’ve lived and worked, and for the past 3 months my mind has been filled with reflections on the very peculiar necessities that come with being an artist – or a maker of any kind indeed – and the even more specific problematics of musicians.
I initially wanted to illustrate this post with a picture of the completely empty studio once the removal men had come and taken everything, or one of the pictures I took while the boxes were piling up, but I lost both sets of photographs – an indication of how mentally intense the whole process was, and how times of personal change are not times to communicate, but to get things done. So instead I’m sharing again my favourite picture of the studio, taken by Isabel Dublang for the Resident Advisor Machine Love feature about my music published in 2017, one of the many photos that will remain as mementos of a space that was very dear to me and fundamental in the evolution of my sound over my 4th, 5th and 6th albums.
The challenge presented by leaving a 40 m2 space (21 m2 of ground floor where the music got done + 19 m2 of storage space in a mezzanine space upstairs) and selecting the gear and objects that could fit into a 14 m2 space within a flat (*not* a studio space separate from my new home) was very real, turning those couple of January weeks into a time of taking stock not only of what I had physically accumulated over the past 8 and a half years in that space (plus everything musical that I’ve bought since the age of 15 – a 27-year-period all in all!), but also stock of how much I’ve changed as a musician, and how my needs are no longer the same. Indeed – and I will deal with this in future posts – it is in great part the very evolution of my needs and desires that has permitted me to contemplate going back to a home-studio-style setup.
So I would like to take the opportunity of this big life change to write about a subject that’s seldom approached and that seems to me even more crucial to explore in a time of real estate madness: how to make your space work for your needs, no matter what your circumstances are. In particular I’d like to talk about the home studio vs outside-of-the-home studio, the pros and cons of each according to my own (of course very subjective) experience. More soon!
March 6, 2019 § Leave a comment
December 23, 2018 § Leave a comment
My first full-length interview in Japanese is available on Ele-king! I had the pleasure of doing this interview while playing in Tokyo last month, thanks a lot to Ele King and the amazing Oshi Kunii of PLANCHA who release my records in Japan!
On the interview’s photos (by Yasuhiro Ohara), I’m wearing a jacket which is one of my favorite makes ever (for those of you who didn’t catch last year’s post series entitled Make your own clothes!, well, I make my own clothes ;-): I am now most filling in the gaps in my wardrobe (I haven’t bought any clothes in almost 3 years, with very rare exceptions, which means that when my older shop-bought clothes fall apart, I try to find the time to make those clothes myself). I really needed a mid-season jacket that wouldn’t get dirty too quickly (I love spending time outdoors) and was travelling-compatible (ie does not take a lot of room and does not crease like crazy when you have to rumple it up in 2 seconds onboard a packed plane). I also wanted to cut down on my fabric scraps, because when you sew, you invariably end up with lots of these. I had failed some winter trousers by using wool coating that was too thick, so I turned these into shorts, and ended up with the bottom parts and a few other scraps; there was also a black tailored jacket which I had acquired as a misguided youth in my early 20s, and which my mother kept in a wardrobe as the coating was of really good quality: I deconstructed the jacket, and since it contained tons of seams and cuts, I realized I would just be able to use the fabric scraps, and not the actual jacket parts (by this I mean I could not salvage entire sleeves or fronts). The way to go was color blocking and hacking a basic short jacket pattern (the Ivanne S Magnesium) into a teddy/bomber-style jacket, therefore allowing ever further use of scraps on the collar, cuffs and waistband. I spent almost 3 days just doing the color blocking (made more complicated by the fact that both fabrics had a nap) and top-stitching to keep the parts flat, but I ended up with almost zero scrap, and I now have a super comfy one-of-a-kind jacket (complete with matching shorts!) that has cost me (apart from my time) about 25 euros for the organic bamboo silk I used for the lining (available at the amazing fabric store Ray Stitch), elastic and zipper. Even though it was a lot of work, I’m so glad I took the time to do it, and increased my skill levels in the process!
I wish you all a peaceful end of year, and will be back with fresh news next year, which hopefully will be better than this one. Love
November 30, 2018 § Leave a comment
At midnight tonight, I will have fully recovered all rights to my first three albums and EP: Everyone Alive Wants Answers, The Golden Morning Breaks, Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique, and Les Ondes Silencieuses. My licencing contract with The Leaf Label, who originally released them in the 2000s and reissued them recently, was supposed to last until 2023, so recovering those rights hasn’t happened by chance. I would have liked to dazzle you with talks of “legal battle”, conjuring up visions of myself as the noble musician clad in some kind of knight-like white armour. Instead let me tell you what this has really been like: a snail going up a hill. For several years. Every blade of grass surprisingly tall. Every stone a massive boulder that has to be patiently slogged around. But this little snail is finally at the top of the hill, and although it’s too exhausted and too cautious to rejoice right now, for fear this might be premature, it’s damn proud of its will to climb and of the climb itself, and is determined to enjoy the view.
IN PRACTICAL TERMS… Let me get off my metaphorical snail ;-) One of the complicated things when regaining rights to albums that still exist as physical items is how to deal with the remaining stock (the unsold LPs and CDs, right now spread across many countries in distributor’s warehouses and shops). One option is to destroy the stock, which I did not contemplate. So the records will soon find their way to of a new partner who will be able to ensure their distribution and sale, although exactly when that will happen is beyond my control right now. Hopefully this is a matter of weeks, not months. In the meantime I have also had to remove those physical items from my Bandcamp page, since Leaf were shipping these on my behalf. I will of course let you know as soon as they are available again. As always – I’m repeating myself, and will keep doing it – thanks for your support.
November 16, 2018 § Leave a comment
This image depicts my afternoon as it really happened: I really went to the beach, really studied Moogmusic’s Grandmother’s manual, the sun really shone that way, and it really did look this lovely. I felt like taking a picture and sharing it with you, because I’ve shared so very little this year, and yet I realized I could not post this idyllic image without at least mentioning the unpictured counterpart to it: progress on making new music has been agonizingly slow this year due to circumstances beyond my control, and about which I will probably tell you more at some point, but which I feel unsure about sharing publicly now. Amidst the frustration I am feeling regarding my current inability to work on my music as much as I would want to, all I can do is try and make the best of my circumstances, and reading through a manual for the first time in such a beautiful place today was probably the best thing I could do. Like a good few people these days, I have grown uncertain about what consists in legitimately communicating with my audience and what feels and looks like some kind of semi-permanent promotion and display of the self (even the self as musician) complete with personal information which should probably remain just that: personal. However my life as a musician is of course impacted by my life as a flesh-and-blood person, hence a blur which I find not easy to navigate… You can be sure though that the first way in which I will always want to communicate with you is through music, and I have at least cause for celebration in the fact that I have so many ideas and ambitions for my seventh album. As always thanks for reading, and for listening to the music.
September 21, 2018 § Leave a comment
I’ll be playing at Tokyo’s Miraikan as part of Mutek Japan, and given that I haven’t played in Japan since 2008, it’s an understatement to say I’m excited to go back to a country that had such an influence on me when I first toured there in 2006 (the Japanese minimal/traditional aesthetics is all over my third album Les Ondes Silencieuses from 2007)! More info here https://mutek.jp/artists/2018/09/13/colleen-fr/
September 9, 2018 § Leave a comment
The session I recorded back at the Moog Sound Lab in Asheville, NC in November 2017 while on the A flame my love, a frequency tour is now available for listening on Moog Music Inc.‘s Soundcloud! Moog have sadly decided to stop the production of the Moogerfoogers, but I’m honored that they chose the session I recorded as the goodbye to these amazing units!
The music you’ll hear was recorded in a single afternoon, “Winter dawn” using the MF104M Analog Delay and MF105M MIDIMuRF just like on the album, while the four other recordings use the chord sequences from different songs on the album as starting points, revisiting them through a daisychain of MF101 Lowpass Filter, MF102 Ring Modulator, MF103 12-stage phaser and MF104M, with the last song also using the CP251 Control Processor. I absolutely loved exploring even deeper soundscapes through those pedals, and these versions give you a glimpse of what the next album will sound like in part (in part because there will be new intruments!).
As always thanks for listening, and of course a huge thank you to the people at Moog, and a very special thank you too to Iker Spozio for the amazing artwork!