September 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
This year seems to be full of birthdays and anniversaries for me: I turned 40 in May, and this September marks not only 25 years of music-making for me, but also 10 years of only dedicating myself to music on a professional level!
25 years ago, at the age of 15, just as I was beginning high school, I managed to convince my parents to buy me a classical guitar – THIS guitar which you see below, and can hear on my second, third and fourth albums. I had been in love with the Beatles for about 2 years and that summer of 1991, I saw two guys in Copenhagen doing cover versions of the Beatles on an acoustic guitar. I’d never seen anyone play live and I was fascinated, I literally could have stayed there forever, and on that day I KNEW that I needed to do this too.
I don’t think it occurred to me that I could make my own music, and yet that’s what happened right from the start. I took classical guitar lessons, but my teacher also gave electric guitar lessons and the day I heard another pupil playing electric guitar, I knew that I wanted to have a go at it too!
With those two guitars began a long musical journey, and I’m amazed and grateful that I’ve managed to keep making music for so long, and hope that this journey will continue for many more years to come!
But this September also marks another anniversary: 10 years of becoming a full-time musician. From 2002 to 2006, I taught English in a high-school, and in early 2006 I asked for a one-year sabbatical in order to dedicate myself to music fully, at least for that short amount of time. It was initially refused, then granted at the last minute in late August 2006, and I remember literally jumping all over the place when I got the news. Had it not been granted, I’ll never know if I would have had the guts to resign there and then, but something tells me that I may have, as my situation made no sense (I was getting so many live offers and had to turn down almost all of them, and I ended up doing surreal things like going to play in LA on a weekend and coming back to Paris to teach on a Tuesday morning…).
In June 2007 the Ministry refused to renew the sabbatical (theoretically you’re allowed up to 3 years in a row), so I officially resigned, since I was left with no other alternative than this drastic choice. Ironically enough, it was shortly after all this that I started to feel overwhelmed by some aspects of being a professional musician (some of you may remember my epic posts about this, back when I was still deep in my music-making hiatus). Truth be told, some things haven’t changed and I still feel the need to slow down regularly, but I’m also happy to say that some things have changed for the better: having a very supportive label like Thrill Jockey has really helped, and also gaining a sense of perspective thanks to the passing of time and the many talks I’ve had with other musicians and other creative artists, and seeing that basically we all struggle more or less with the same issues.
In any case, I’d like to end this post by saying that it really bugs me that we live in a society where the possibility of making a living out of your passion is not emphasized more often: now I’m not saying that it’s an easy path and that anybody can be successful at it, but I truly think that few things beat being able to spend your life working on something you feel really passionate about, and it’s *always* worth a try. For me it’s been music, but with the other passions I have in my non-music-making life (it was cooking and ceramics at one point, and now it’s birdwatching, sewing and yoga), I do see that many other individuals are “making a living” from their own passion. In July I went on a cetacean-watching boat trip, and to think that there are people who spend their life on a boat looking for and studying dolphins and whales, about 2 hours from where I live … now that just blows my mind! So YES to dreams and making them real! :-)))
As always, thanks to YOU for being there to listen to my music and reading my words! :-))) And thank you Isabel Dublang for the beautiful pictures!
August 24, 2016 § Leave a comment
I had a truly amazing time in Madrid at La Casa Encendida for their Terraza Magnética series last Sunday 14th August, and you can listen to the full concert on Spanish national radio RTVE here (the concert starts at 1h00 and ends around 1h55, and you can either stream or download the programme). I hadn’t played in Madrid for 10 years, and last time was also in La Casa Encendida, so I’m really grateful for their repeated invitation! Muchisimas gracias a ellos y a Andrés Nuarbe de Rotordiscos en particular, y a vosotros el publico!
August 13, 2016 § Leave a comment
I had the pleasure of being interviewed for Red Bull Music Academy Radio’s Fireside Chat series back in April, you can listen to the interview here!
And tomorrow 14th August I’ll be playing in Madrid at La Casa Encendida for their Terraza Magnetica series and El País wrote this preview.
Hoping your summer is sweet! :-)))
July 19, 2016 § 1 Comment
A very short post to let you know that FACT made a mini-documentary on my live approach while I was at Mutek in Montreal on 3 June, you can see the interview and live footage below and read the article here :-)
July 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
A very short post to let you know about a couple of shows that have been added and a DJ session :-)
Tomorrow Sunday 17th July I’m doing a DJ session at Dabadaba in my adopted hometown of San Sebastián, Spain, from 7 to 9 pm.
On August 14th I’m playing La Casa Encendida in Madrid, and next year (yes, these things get decided far ahead in advance) I’ll be playing The Loft at UCSD for Artpower in San Diego, California, on 18th May 2017.
I apologize for the lack of “spirit” in this email, but indeed these news feel so futile in light of the worsening events in my home country and worlwide. I do hope your own personal experience of the summer is beautiful in spite of all this. Peace and love.
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! :-)))