June 10, 2016 § Leave a comment
Thanks so much to everyone who came to my shows in Bergen, Toronto and Montreal! There was a lot of travelling involved (that’s the downside of living in a small city: I rarely have direct flights, so travelling to Bergen involved 10 hours of travel one way, flying to Toronto 15 hours…), but it was so worth it!
My arrival in Toronto came with the very bad surprise of not getting my suitcase, which is full of gear and without which I cannot perform; there were about 100 of us in the same case, so it was really chaotic (the next day I learnt this was due to a ground personnel strike in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport).
Instead of sleeping soundly, I kept turning in my bed wondering what I would do if we didn’t get the suitcase in time, or at all. There is only one Paris-Toronto flight per day, arriving at 4 pm, and when a delayed suitcase arrives, it still has to go through customs, which can take hours, AND the airline has a 12-hour window for delivery, which meant that we definitely needed to find someone sensitive to our problem so that the process could be specially speeded up for my show!
Luckily for me, Jay Pollard, the person behind Invocation, who had invited me to play at Ratio, has excellent communication skills, and on the day of the show, we headed back to the airport and found someone who took pity on us and agreed to help us. Within an hour and a half, my suitcase was once again in my hands, and I swear I felt like kissing it!
We headed to Ratio for a brief soundcheck and I loved the intimate and cozy atmosphere of the space, and the warm welcome I was given – not to mention the great opening sets by Justin Small of Do Make Say Think and by Picastro, and the amazing audience who attended :-)))
I also loved playing Mutek , a special show for me as it was my 200th show (please don’t think me crazy/self-centered for counting my shows: I do 99% of my booking on my own and it’s so much work that yes, I love seeing a number like that confirming that if sometimes I feel tired, well I’ve got a good reason to! ;))) I think it’s also the first time I get to play a big festival twice, and it was interesting for me to reflect on how much my music has changed since my 2007 appearance! Resident Advisor has some very kind things to say about my concert, and here are some photos by Trung Dung Nguyen (thank you Trung!) – funny thing is that I’m so lost in the music when I play that I didn’t even notice those screens around me!
I also gave a long interview for the Underground Sounds radio programme on CKUT 90.3FM, in which we talked about a lot of things, including directions for my next album. It’ll be broadcast on 13 June at 8 pm CST (listen to it live here or stream and download it in the archive section afterwards ).
Last but not least, I had a day and a half off after Mutek, and headed to the Mont Royal area for my first North American birdwatching session on the East Coast. I was rewarded with 12 new-to-me North American species, including Downy and Hairy woodpeckers in the woods (with cartoon-style baby Hairy woodpecker sticking his head out of the nesthole begging for food!), but saw most species in the enchanting setting of the Mont Royal cemetery, which has a strangely Italian atmosphere, at least on a sunny day. I won’t mention them all here, but I can say I definitely fell in love with the stunning Indigo bunting and the even more amazing Eastern bluebird, and have fallen in love with the song of the Black-capped Chickadee!
I also got lucky with the mammals: in Toronto I saw black squirrels, in the woods in Mont-Royal I got to hand-feed a particularly cheeky and greedy grey squirrel, and in the cemetery I saw several groundhogs and a racoon! I know that some of these species are becoming more and more common in urban environments, but I was definitely very excited to see them!
I must be riding a great animal-watching wave right now as once back here in San Sebastian, on my first little walk to breathe some fresh air, I saw… a dolphin! First time I’ve spotted one here, and I can’t help but interpret it as a great sign for the summer that’s about to come! :-)))
May 13, 2016 § 1 Comment
It is with great pleasure that I’m officially launching my own Bandcamp! Thrill Jockey started selling Captain of None on Bandcamp a couple of weeks ago, and together with the fact that I was about to recover the rights to my fourth album The Weighing of the Heart (released exactly 3 years ago on Second Language), I finally decided to go for it and make available not only The Weighing of the Heart (in physical formats too) and its accompanying remix EP Solar/Stellar, but also some of my older work, such as the long-out-of-print Mort aux Vaches radio session and my very first 7”, Babies, from 2002. These items have also gone on sale today via digital download and streaming platforms … and why am I giving you so many details? Well, on a very down-to-earth note, with very old recordings, weird and unpleasant stuff happens, like finding out completely by chance that they are available digitally and you didn’t even know about it, let alone are getting paid for the sales… So by buying from my Bandcamp, apart from Captain of None for which profits are shared 50/50 with Thrill Jockey, you know for sure that once Bandcamp and Paypal have taken their commission, I’m the one getting the income from your purchase. The same will happen with digital sales from other platforms for the records I mentioned.
This year seems to be full of significant anniversaries for me: I’ve just celebrated my 40th birthday, but in September I will also celebrate 25 years of music-making and 10 years of giving up teaching to concentrate on music full-time, and I will give my 200th show at Mutek on June 3rd! And talking of Canada and upcoming shows, I’m delighted to finally be able to announce properly the Toronto show I’ll play on June 2nd for Invocation at Ratio! I will also play in Montpellier for the Internationales de la Guitare on October 1st, and there’s more to come, so as always stay tuned! :-)))
April 12, 2016 § Leave a comment
I had such an amazing week in Den Haag, Holland, and Bern and Stans, Switzerland, that I just feel the need to share with you some of the most beautiful and striking moments of those seven days :-)))
First off I’d like to thank all the wonderful members of the audience at all three shows, I hadn’t played since August of last year and as usual I feel so privileged that you are all so kind! Pics of my show at Rewire here and Stansermusiktage here :-)
In Den Haag, Rewire had an amazing programme and I was only able to catch one full show, but what a show: Xiu Xiu plays Twin Peaks, an uncompromisingly personal interpretation of the music from the series, with great musicianship and a gripping atmosphere enhanced by the church setting… At Stansermusiktage, once again I was only able to catch one show, and again got so lucky: Tal National from Niger, who delivered a hypnotic and exhilarating set that had me smiling the whole time and wondering “How the hell can they play like that AND dance at the same time???” Very highly recommended indeed!
These days, when I’m away for shows, I always take my binoculars with me: birdwatching has led me to living and loving a life that’s more focused on nature and therefore walking and being outside as much as possible, so when I’m tour, the first thing I do if I have a couple of free hours is to seek any possible green and/or water areas (seaside, rivers, ponds, etc…). I will now indulge in a small birdwatching report as I know from some emails and comments that I’m not the only one suffering from this wonderful addiction ;-))) Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs if you’d rather read about the rest, but if you are not familiar with the world of birds and feel intrigued as to why anyone would get obsessed in such a manner, I recommend at least checking out the links to see for yourself how incredibly varied and beautiful European birds are and how lucky we are to have them in our midst! ;-)
In Den Haag, I got lucky with the weather and the park of Scheveningse Bosjes was a riot of bird song: I honestly wish I could have stayed there all day, it felt so alive! I was able to spot my first Goldcrest, first Willow or Marsh tit (unfortunately unable to say which one it was, as those two species are so similar) and first Egyptian goose (outside the park). I also got amazingly close and prolonged sights of species I had already seen but only too briefly and from far away: a Rose-ringed parakeet and not one but two Great-spotted woodpeckers copulating in the fork of a tree! It was a truly amazing moment to witness, especially as five days earlier, I had witnessed two Little ringed plovers going through a nuptial parade and copulating on wasteland on my way to my yoga class, so I really felt like I was having a crash course on bird copulation!
In Bern, I saw my first Alpine swifts, and a species I’d been hoping to see for so long, a Dipper, a very special species indeed as it swims under fast-flowing rivers! I also had great views of a Green woodpecker in the cemetery where one of my favourite painters, Paul Klee, is buried. (End of bird report ;-))))
But when I got to Stans for the Stansermusiktage festival, the evening before the show, I immediately saw that this wasn’t going to be my usual festival experience: Stans is barely more than a village, with mountains really close to it – in fact it was the first time I ever had a view on a mountain from a hotel window while on tour!
Again I got lucky because my driver, illustrator Benedikt Notter, turned out to be into nature too, and paragliding! As I wanted to go up in the mountains in the hope of seeing Alpine species, he offered to show me one of his favorite spots from which he often takes off for paragliding: a farmer’s place that can only be accessed via an aerial cablecar consisting of one single car operated by the farmer itself! Benedikt added that we’d use a Vespa as he had no car the next day, and that he’d paraglide on the way down as this was more pleasant than taking the cable car again!
Without a doubt this turned out to be the most original concert day I’ve ever had. Off we went at 9 in the morning on the Vespa until we reached a tiny shed in which the single cable car was located. Benedikt had to call the farmer on some kind of phone/walkie-talkie located inside the cable car to let him know we wanted to go up, and after a beautiful ride, we were welcomed by two lovely mixed-breed dogs, including one who greeted me “sitting pretty”, and the farmer himself, a smiling man who happened to be into birdwatching too and flowers and letting his animals roam as free as possible.
As these animals turned out to be llamas, it was quite an experience to find myself at one point alone in the same enclosure as them, with some really tall llamas (taller than me!) bringing their face 5 centimetres away from mine and looking like they were just about to open their mouth to ask who the hell I was!
We went for a beautiful walk towards this amazing cascade…
But I did not have much luck with Alpine species…
So after a while I just took the cable car back while Benedikt paraglided down! I’m someone who gets scared pretty easily, and I actually have a fear of heights, but the whole thing seemed so peaceful and effortless that now I actually feel like trying paragliding!
In the afternoon, after a long nap, I saw my first Hawfinch on the terrace of the hotel, but he was unfortunately dead, having visibly crashed into the terrace’s window… Weirdly enough, at the end of my show, as I walked enthusiastically towards the merch area, I myself walked straight into a very clean glass door… Thankfully I wasn’t injured but do have a bruise on my knee, and the unpleasant experience reinforced my impression of the day, which is that danger is not always where I think it is!
I had one morning left after my show, which I spent walking under the rain in the hills surrounding Stans. I saw some Buzzards and Red kite engage in combat, but the best thing was yet to come… Throughout the week, I had such a great experience with the birdwatching that I felt that before the minitour was over, I would see an animal that is important to me. I was hoping for some kind of owl, as I’ve never seen any member of the owl family and they fascinate me. But some other creature awaited me: I climbed up a path next to steep pasture land where some beautiful cows were grazing, hesitating as to how high I should keep climbing as my shoes were not appropriate, I had told no one where I was going and my phone had run out of credit. I decided to go up a tiny bit further, right to the top of the pasture land, and when I reached it, I saw an orange shape almost still in the tall grass: a fox… My heart jumped, I was able to reach for my binoculars, look at it for a brief few seconds until it saw me and ran away… It was the perfect close to a spectacular week, and I felt so enriched by the whole experience, and so lucky that making music is leading me to live these privileged experiences.
Even though this post was not music-related, I still hope you enjoyed it, as I definitely believe that art and life feed each other, and I’ve come back with an even stronger desire to make new music, my head and heart filled with these uplifiting images and emotions :-)))
February 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I’m delighted to return to Montreal’s Mutek on 3rd June and Bergen for an Ekko event at Oestre on 28th May! I haven’t played in those two cities for a long time and I’m really looking forward to both shows!
Also wanted to let you know the Everyone Alive Wants Answers reissue on vinyl (with a free cd and download) has been available for the past couple of weeks already! Copies are limited to 400 so get them while they last, from the Leaf Label or your favorite retailer ;-)
January 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I’m thrilled to announce some shows for this spring, and there will be more coming! For now, April 3rd, Rewire festival in The Hague, Nertherlands; 5th April, Dampfzentrale in Bern, Switzerland, and 7th April, Stansermusiktage in Stans, Switzerland.
The perspective of new shows and the amazing support the album has received makes me more motivated than ever to have a new album out for spring 2017, and I certainly hope that 2016 will be a peaceful, joyful and productive year for everyone :-)))
December 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s been a pleasure and a surprise for me to see Captain of None turning up in so many best albums of the year lists! So far: New York Times, NPR Music, NPR Music 10 best electronic albums, BBCRadio 6 Music Gideon Coe album of the year, Uncut, The Quietus, Mondosonoro, Vinyl Factory, CKUT (McGill University’s radio), Rough trade, Piccadilly records… and it was also chosen by Low’s Alan Sparhawk as his favorite album of the year in Magnet magazine!
What about a future album? Well, I’m finally back to work and it means so much to me, not just for artistic reasons…
As I mentioned briefly when I posted my last mix on November 4th, my autumn has been a very sad one because of very difficult circumstances in my family. In November I was finally starting to feel I was ready physically and psychologically to go back to making music, but before that I went to visit my parents, who live in my hometown, south of Paris. I needed to spend a bit of time in Paris on the way back to Spain in order to leave my viola bow for repair at a luthier’s, and I decided to also spend the night there with some friends. This was only the second night of the year I spent in Paris, as I don’t like spending time there anymore (the other night was when I played my show in April), and the day was 13th November. In the afternoon I was at one of the very spots of the shootings as the luthier happened to be in that area, but in the evening, thankfully, I was safe in the home of my friends. After a sleepless night I went back to Spain, and spent the next weeks with an even gloomier feeling of doom than the one I was in already before the attacks. Sometimes, it becomes painfully obvious that the “ideal” circumstances for going back to work are just not going to materialize, and that the best thing to do for oneself is to go back to creating, no matter how awful the world in your private and international sphere seems to become. And even though everything seems futile in the face of death, I’m more grateful than ever for the existence of beauty and being given the chance to create.
Just as I was going back to work, I had the great pleasure of doing an audio interview for the She does podcast, talking about the past present and future of my music and life in general: it’s one of the longest audio interviews I’ve done in a long time and the folks at Shedoes are really deserving of your support, so head over to their website or listen to the show on Itunes!
I also did a short interview in Spanish for Basque clothes brand Loreak mendian after they chose my music to illustrate their Winter campaign (that’s me walking on the Zurriola beach, on a strangely warm day, of the kind we’re having right now – more than 20ºC!).
Thrill Jockey have got the last remaining copies of the original limited tape edition of Everyone Alive Wants Answers here, the others are in the hands of Midheaven, and the second and last edition with a black shell is available exclusively from Beacon Sound.
I will have a couple of concerts coming up in Spring 2016, including 7 April for the Stansermusiktage festival in Stans, Switzerland.
As always thanks for your kind attention and support for what I do, and if I don’t have any other news before then, well I’m wishing you a most beautiful end of year :-)))
November 4, 2015 § 1 Comment
You can now listen to a guest mix I made for Klankschap, a mix that means a lot to me: I made it last month in the midst of very sad personal circumstances, and felt naturally drawn towards sadder music for the first time in a long time. I picked some old and more recent favourites and added music from films I saw recently, straight from the films themselves, in particular from the 1960 Indian film “The Cloud-Capped Star”: the soundtrack is really striking and at times so experimental that it sounds way ahead of it time, and in some ways it reminded me of my first album, which kind of loops the loop since the album is being reissued. I do hope you’ll like this mix and if you’re in a rough spot, that listening to it will be like having a loved one holding your hand…
OST Mildred Pierce
Reuben Bell And The Casanovas – It’s Not That Easy
Nina Simone – When I Was In My Prime
Bela Bartok – Rumanian Folk Dance
Jane And Barton – It’s A Fine Day
OST The Cloud-Capped Star 1
Denial – California Dreaming
Dark Day – The Metal Benders
OST The Cloud-Capped Star 2
Meredith Monk – Nota
Bob Lind – Black Night
Jackson C Frank – Just Like Anything
Townes Van Zandt – Waiting Around To Die (Live At The Old Quarter)
OST The Cloud-Capped Star 3
Stina Nordenstam – Clothe Yourself For The Wind
Dominique A – Nous Marchons Sous La Neige
Grouper – Disengaged – Vital
Greg Gives Peter Space – Electric Eel River
Stefan Lakatos/Moondog – Over The Mountain
Khassonka Dunun – Traditional Music From Mali
Bena Kazembe Balitumpa – Kalimba & Kalumbu Songs, Northern Rhodesia
Lalle – The Fulani, Niger / Northern Bénin
Taireva – Zimbabwe, The Soul Of Mbira
OST The Cloud-Capped Star 4
OST Mildred Pierce
Talking of the Everyone Alive Wants Answers reissues, the tape sold out really fast, but a few copies are still available via Midheaven, and Beacon Sound are doing a second 100-copy limited edition, this time with a black shell – this will be the final edition and available only via Beacon Sound, so don’t miss it if you want one! The vinyl is available here.
I’ve also had the pleasure of writing about my adoptive town of San Sebastián and sharing photos of some of my favorite spots for the newly launched Long Way From Home. And yes, kittens hiding among the rocks with the sea in the background are among the best things of the place!
As always thanks for your ears and your support! :-)))