May 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
When I wrote earlier this year that as part of my plan to have a slow 2018 I would step back from being active on Facebook and my website, I didn’t know how true this would be! That and stepping back from accepting shows for a while have been two great and very necessary decisions and I finally feel more or less rested! Which is good news since I do have two shows in the next two weeks: Stockholm on Wednesday 3rd May at Fasching, and Lyon at Le Transbordeur/ Nuits sonores festival on 10th May!
I took the opportunity of rehearsing this afternoon to shoot something I’ve been meaning to show you for a while: a close up of the Moog Music Inc. MF104M delay and MIDIMuRF action on “One warm spark”.
Almost everyone understands what a delay does, but the MuRF is kind of hard to explain as it’s so versatile and unusual, so if you can forgive the low sound quality and absence of stereo (this was shot with my phone with the sound of the PA in my studio – in a physical setting or a stereo recording the sounds bounce between Left and Right, which makes it waaaay cooler since the MuRF filters are assigned to Left and Right channels), you will still see and hear clearly how manipulating the different parameters drastically affects what’s going on: when the video starts, the chord on the Pocket Piano is in hold mode, I’ve just switched on the delay and I’m augmenting feedback while toggling the Short/ Long switch until the loop feeds back on itself in a stable way. I then remove the LFO from the MuRF and start moving the envelope (first control on the left) and the filters up and down in rhythm with the music. This interplay goes on while the Mix control (at the top) is engaged fully (100%), until I move that control back to 50% rapidly and in rhythm 8 times. After that, I switch back to the short setting on the delay, reduce feedback, reengage the LFO on the MuRF, and go back to playing the song’s beginning chord progression while going to another envelope that’s similar to the beginning but more “fluid” sounding. The song ends with going back to the long setting on the delay, keeping only the 4 lowest filters on the MuRF, then engaging 2 more of them for the ending chords. I hope this video is useful as an illustration of what I’ve been talking in some interviews, which is how so-called effects can be used to create melodies and rhythm and not just be there for cosmetic enhancement!
February 13, 2018 § Leave a comment
At long last I’ve managed to gather the energy to do a full website update to include all the stuff that happened around the album release and the immediate tour that followed it: as you probably know, this website is meant to function as a kind of “resources” space, and it’s becoming a bit of a labyrinth, understandably so since I’m documenting 15 years of music-making as Colleen, and each album has been pretty different!
Since this update can also serve as a tour recap of sorts, let me guide you through some of the interviews, videos and other tidbits that may be of interest to you, especially if you’re not a Facebook follower (Facebook is of course way easier to update, but then all the information gets piled up and simultaneously buried…)
But before that, let me announce a rare date in France, 10th May in Lyon as part of the Nuits Sonores festival, at Le Transbordeur! As I mentioned in December, I’m slowing down on the live front as my body and brain are not able to keep up with the intensity that travelling and planning for shows entails (it’s not the playing that’s the problem, I love it – it’s the stuff that I have to do to make that 1 hour of live music-making happen), so if one of my next shows is not too far from where you live, don’t miss it, as I definitely won’t play A flame my love, a frequency again in the same places: Den Haag / Rewire 2 March, Barcelona / Mutek 7 March, Stockholm 3 May. All details here or on the Songkick!
Now let’s go back to the website update!
I had the immense pleasure of doing some really in-depth interviews while I was on tour or just before leaving, here’s a recap:
These are most of the videos that have been shot of me playing live in venues or radio sessions. For radio I chose to play the same songs, since playing on the radio in France or the US is of course supposed to be geared towards different audiences, and the trio of “Winter dawn/Summer night (Bat song)/The stars vs creatures” is one of the easiest ones in terms of gear transition and mixing desk settings. It’s stressful enough to change these during live shows, but imagine how it feels during a *live* radio session… especially if you’ve left all the notes you so carefully prepared in your hotel room!!! True story of what I did in New York for the WNYC session!!! I now know better and have detailed photographs of the sheets on my smartphone and on my Dropbox, should this unfortunate event happen again!
With hindsight I kind of regret that now the video and audio traces I have are mostly of the same songs, but that’s life I guess…
Live in Paris, radio studio Studio 104 for Foule Sentimentale programme for France Inter, 23 November 2017 (Winter dawn / Summer night (Bat song) / The stars vs creatures)
Summer night (Bat anthem) in Lisbon, ZDB, 7 December 2017 – an alternative version of Summer night (Bat song) which I’ve been playing at encores at live shows
Live in Paris (Boulogne-Billancourt), BBmix festival, 25 November 2017 (Winter dawn – special live version / Summer night (Bat song) / The stars vs creatures / A flame my love, a frequency)
Dublab’s Celsius Drop live interview and session recorded in Los Angeles, 2 November 2017. Perhaps because I’d only managed to get a few hours of sleep between the LA show and waking up for the session, I extremely annoyingly use the words “you know” and “like” like, you know, 50 times! ;-))) A little bit of the session was lost due to a computer bug, so the end of Separating and all of Another world were lost, but you still get to hear: Separating (first half) / Winter dawn – special live version / Summer night (Bat song) / One warm spark.
Live radio session, at Studio 104 for Foule Sentimentale programme for France Inter radio, Paris 23 November 2017, official audio of the youtube video above (Winter dawn / The stars vs creatures)
It was only recently that I realised that I hadn’t updated the lyrics page here for A flame, and that my Bandcamp did not include any lyrics – corrected now! :-)
I’ve added more of the beautiful photos taken by Isabel Dublang for the Resident Advisor article. Here are a few of them.
Added mostly photos from Vera Marmelo’s photo report of my soundcheck and show at Lisbon’s ZDB on 7th December 2017
And also this one which I love of the Studio 104 performance in Paris, taken by Marion Seury from the engineer’s room: anything that looks like I’m playing in the cosmos looks good to me! ;-)
As always thanks for watching this space and caring about my music, it means the world to me!
January 4, 2018 § 1 Comment
Happy new year everyone!
I have a video and an interview to share with you to start this year, both creation-focused, which I think is the right way to start the year! The Thrill Jockey Records folks took advantage of my presence in Chicago on November 3rd for my show at the Museum of Contemporary Art to ask me to present the gear that was used to make “A flame my love, a frequency” in studio, and which I also use live: I don’t even know how I managed to explain all of this, given that this was after the show and at the end of my infamous first-week-of-touring-where-i-burn-transformers-then-buy-the-wrong-transformers-and-still-don’t-have-my-own-transformers-by-the-4th-show, I had slept 2 hours and spent the whole day trying to locate transformers until I finally did find them… Let’s say I was tired but relieved ;-))) Anyway, I’m glad we filmed this, as this is something I wanted to do anyway! If you have any technical questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Thanks a lot to Julia Dratel for doing the filming! And Moog Music Inc., Critter & Guitari and Soundcraft Mixers for the amazing gear!
And the following is one of my favourite interviews ever, from a great website, The Creative Independent. An entire interview centered on what it means to be creative over the years, how you can try to preserve that flame, and if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, I recommend reading just my reply to the last question “Is there something that you wish somebody had told you when you were first starting out?”
So here’s to a peaceful and slowly creative 2018 :-)))
December 20, 2017 § Leave a comment
As I’m slowly recovering from my pharyngitis, I’m reflecting on a year full of learning and artistic and human experiences. I do think I reached the limits of my physical and psychological capacities, so my aim for 2018 will be to prioritize rest and a sense of slowness over productivity, online presence and live shows. Which leads me to end of the year lists. A flame my love, a frequency has without a doubt led me to work the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life, so even though I do think any “best of the year” list has to be taken for what it is – a reflection of the magazine/webzine’s tastes, and not some kind of “objective truth” –, in a world inundated with thousands of new albums every year, I am grateful that the album has made it to several best of 2017 lists, reaching number 2 on FACT Magazine, and is also included in the lists of The Vinyl Factory, The Quietus, The Vinyl District, Textura, Tiny Mix Tapes, and a couple more.
This photo of me is from a series that the super talented Portuguese photographer Vera Marmelo took during the soundcheck and show at Lisbon’s Galeria Ze Dos Bois earlier this month. I don’t know why my hand is in that position (trying to see the audience? realising I dialled something wrong in the dozens of settings I have to change for each song??? ), but I just really like that photo, its softness encapsulates the sense of trust and well-being that I feel whenever I play in that very special venue :-))) You can see the whole series here.
Last but not least, pour les Francophones, un long entretien fait avant mon concert au festival BBMix pour Manifesto XXI, où l’on évoque Delia Derbyshire, le passage de prof d’anglais à musicienne à temps plein, Facebook, ma récente session chez Moog, et plein d’autres choses liées au dernier album et à mon approche musicale en général ! Merci Alice!
December 15, 2017 § Leave a comment
I have some good news and bad news in this post: I am so sorry to have to cancel my participation in Alien Disko Festival tomorrow in Munich: I was really looking forward to playing this beautifully-curated festival, but I felt on the verge of falling ill all week, and now it’s happened: I have pharyngitis, and having had it last year just before a concert, I know that travelling with this and attempting to play and sing is a *really* bad idea, as the symptoms get worse with travelling and working. I know that for sure I would end up with a fever and generally worsened symptoms that would probably prevent me from performing anyway. It is only the second time in 14 years of live playing and more than 220 shows that I cancel a show for health reasons, so if I’m doing it it’s because it’s really necessary. I do apologize to those of you who were hoping to see me there…
(PS: for those who don’t follow me on Facebook, on Sunday I was stranded with thousands of other passengers in Stansted airport, London, because of the bad weather; I ended up having to spend 3 extra days in London, so that and the fact that St John on Bethnal Green where I played on Saturday was pretty cold + weeks of travelling and not sleeping enough are probably the reason why my body has now decided it’s had enough…)
Ironically, I do have some very good news to announce on the live European front: I have some really exciting dates lined up for this spring, I hope to see you there, and in the meantime, I’m going to have a nice long rest so I can be in the best of shapes to play again! Here is the full list of dates
2 March 2018, Den Haag, Holland – (P)Rewire with Laurel Halo, Korzo Theatre
3 May 2018, Stockholm, Sweden – Fasching – full announcement and tickets available next week
December 6, 2017 § Leave a comment
A quick post to remind you that the December “mini-leg” of my tour has arrived, starting with Lisbon ZDB tomorrow 7 December, London St John on Bethnal Green on 9 December, and Munich Alien Disko Festival on 16 December (be careful, the Facebook event lists 15 December but that’s because that’s the start of the festival)! As usual all details are in my songkick or the live section of this website! :-))) There will be a few more European shows in the spring, but don’t miss these ones if they are near to you and you want to catch me playing the new album live!
Also wanted to share the link to the amazing Machine Love feature that Resident Advisor have run on my music! It’s been such an honour to give one of the most in-depth interviews I’ve ever done on my working process ! Mark Smith visited my studio in San Sebastián back in September and we spent the afternoon talking about my entire discography, how I record, how I approach live playing, and so much more stuff that’s dear to me! I really hope that you will like reading this article and interview as much as I enjoyed replying to Mark’s questions, and the articles also features the best photos ever taken of my studio (and me in the studio – something that never happens since usually I’m the one taking photos ;-) by the super talented Isabel Dublang – the picture below is my absolute favorite, it really captures what the studio looks like on a sunny day, and what I try to transmit with my music: light :-) :-) :-)
November 28, 2017 § Leave a comment
I am finally back from what was my biggest North American tour ever (10 shows + several video and radio sessions across 10 cities in the US and Canada!) and am slowly catching up with everything. I will write a longer post with links and photos from the tour, but before I do that, I wanted to post the last part of my Make your own clothes series which I ended up writing in Portland, as I ran out of time before I left, precisely because I was sewing a made-to-measure padded protection bag for my Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK mixing desk! ;-))) (PS: and it worked! the desk has survived the many flights unharmed, and at least 5 TSA inspections!!! ;-))) So here goes ;-)))
MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES! SERIES: PART 3 – FUNCTION, COLOR, HOW TO GET STARTED AND THE POWER OF LEARNING.
I wanted to close this mini-series with two of the main reasons why I fell in love with sewing, and then leave you with a few guidelines of how you can get started, even with very little money.
When I moved from Paris to Spain by the Atlantic coast, many of the things that made sense in Paris clothing-wise became irrelevant or even started to look ridiculous in a place where mostly what you want is freedom of movement to enjoy the beach and the more natural environment in general. At the other end of this need for practical clothing, I also wanted to have more special clothes for my shows, and one of my favorite items of clothing for both everyday and special occasion is shorts, and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was for me to find the type of shorts I wanted. So I could say I literally started to sew because I was tired of looking for and not finding things that did not seem *that* difficult to make, and did not even require a huge amount of fabric.
I had also started to feel the need to dress in brighter and lighter colors for a few years before I started sewing, and that need became overwhelming in the winter of 2015 when I felt so down: all of a sudden I literally could not stand the idea of dressing in dark colours (and this comes from someone who dressed in black and dark blue for years without even really thinking about it). The fashion cycle has a way of imposing colors on customers which I think borders on insulting, and when you sew your own clothes you have that many more possibilities to choose exactly the fabric you want, both in terms of its content/origin and color.
Once you’ve experienced the freedom that sewing gives you in terms of choosing pattern and fabric, it’ll probably be really hard for you to go back to a world of ready-to-wear, because your first reaction will be: Could I make this and do it better? and so often the answer is Yes! And you don’t even want to get me started on all the other things that you can start to make yourself: things for your home, the exact accessories that you need (I’ve just made a padded case for my mixing desk, for instance), even items for your pets (I made bedsheets for our cat’s bed thingy and it makes so much sense to be able to wash these, just like you wash your own bedsheets!)!
So how do you get started? I guess this partly depends on where you live: I imagine that if you live in a city where there is an active sewing scene, it would probably be a good idea to just get a few basic sewing lessons and see how the act of sewing makes you feel. But I believe it’s also totally possible to start sewing on your own – like I did – with just the help of online tutorials (I recommend Grainline Studio, Colette Patterns/Seamwork and Megan Nielsen for their extensive library of tutorials) and reading sewing blogs that correspond to the type of clothes you’d like to make (not much point looking at a blog that focuses on vintage-style sewing if your thing is minimalist fashion, and vice versa). If you have a friend that can let you use their machine, great (that’s what happened to me), and as soon as you can, upgrading to your own quality machine will really make a difference.
At this point I feel I should mention that there are many approaches to sewing and that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at Instagram accounts and sewing blogs, especially those where the sewist produces a ton of different clothes every month or even week – it’s easy to forget when looking at these that producing these many clothes requires a considerable amount of time, not to mention money in terms of fabric, and of course it begs the question: is this type of sewing not just the sewing version of being addicted to clothes? I’ll leave you to be the judge of that, but in any case, I believe it’s totally possible to build a slow hand-made wardrobe, little by little, and I know that for me this is what really makes sense.
In the spirit of not overconsuming, I also believe that you don’t need to own a ton of patterns, and in fact a super simple way of starting can be to just carefully deconstruct some of your favorite but worn out clothes and make patterns out of the pieces laid flat. You can use bedsheets or thrifted fabric or oversized clothes from charity shops as simple fabric resources at least at the beginning. Once you feel confident that you could now make a real piece of clothing that you could actually wear, I do recommend buying fabric that you really feel attracted to, because that’ll be the crucial difference between a piece which is just ok and one that you just want to wear over and over again.
Last but not least, I really think that learning a new skill is *always* empowering and is one of the best investments we can do with our time, helping us to be appreciative of the good work made by others while remaining critical in a society overflowing with consumer goods. When I learnt ceramics for 2 years during my music break, I just loved how all of a sudden my way of looking at everyday items became different, and how I could judge for myself whether or not something was truly well made, or was worth the money it was being sold for.
I really hope that this short series may have inspired you on your own sewing adventure!
Top pattern: True Bias Ogden cami, fabric: Japanese Pearls seersucker, Miss Matatabi. Shorts: self-drafted, fabric: organic chambray, Les Trouvailles d’Amandine (great resource for French-produced organic fabrics!)