Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
My creative process is a work in progress I guess, always evolving and transforming. I don’t know where the future will lead me and it if it will change or stay the same but for now it looks like this:
I have writing phases coming in waves. I know when I have a new record in me and it is time to get back to writing. It’s like a tsunami of intense feelings, I feel the birthing process, like a pregnancy cycle. I usually start to feel enchanted again, inspired, wanting to sing out loud and write. I am also able to listen to music again and feel deeply moved, really feel it in my guts. Then I would start to look for a space, I always feel the need to create some kind of spacial frame, you could also call it a nest, for inspiration to come and land safely. That’s what happened for my first albums.
I know that I can’t write two albums in the same place, I need a change of energy each time. That is why I travel light studio wise and I don’t need much to write, just a little inspirational space where I can settle down for a while and isolate.
That is why I travel light studio wise. I don’t need much to write, just a little inspirational space where I can put a couple of stuff on the wall and plug in my computer, mic, speakers, a synth. I can settle down for a while and isolate.
Solitude is very important factor. I don’t want anyone around me. I don’t want to share anything. It is a very personal and intimate process. I like to keep it a secret, be in a cocoon. It is a lonely journey but you discover so much about yourself. I see it an evolutionary spiritual process in a way. It is only when you spend time with yourself that you grow. You have to be alone and sit in silence to be able to listen and make sense of what is going on inside.
I then enter into a routine. Like someone would go to the office everyday. When I’m in a writing phase, I go to the studio everyday. Same time, same routine. I go there, sit and get to work. Some days are disappointing, some days are very fertile. You just have to accept the waves and just keep showing up for when the inspiration is here.
For my third record, which I wrote in Bristol, I had a tiny cubic soundproof studio in a deserted industrial zone. I spent exactly 2 months going there every single day, I didn’t see a soul or spoke to anyone the entire time., I was laser focused on writing the record, no distraction. I was taking the bus, listening to what I’d done the day before in order to find out what I needed to do for the day, writing all day, back on the bus listening to anything new I'd done during the day, home, sleep and repeat again.
Some songs I love, some songs I hate. I try not to judge at this point of the process, just be the vessel for whatever wants to come through. I try to be brave and sit in the discomfort of not liking or understanding what I’m doing just yet.
There’s no order or fixed rules when I write a song. Words are the most important to me, they carry strong energy and I resonate strongly with them. I believe they are like prophecies so it’s important to be aware of what you write and what you listen to. Melodies and beats often come in the middle of this, they are intertwined. One can trigger the other and vice versa.
I write basic arrangements. I collaborate on additional production in a later phase. I’m more of a writer than a technical producer. I don’t have a problem with that. Some people feel the need to do everything by themselves, I don’t have that kind of pride. I don’t feel like you can do everything well or by yourself. I see myself as director, like for a film. My job is have the vision, then I hire talented people who can help me concretise it, try to pull the greatness out of them.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
Listening to music can be experienced from both perspectives. I like to listen to music on my own because it gives me time to really take it in and appreciate it, in more details. Listening to music collectively is a different energy of course, which is also great. Going to a concert, dancing in a club are another great way to appreciate music.
When it comes to writing music, I prefer to work solo. To me, as I was saying just before, this is a very intimate and solitary process. I don’t want other people’s input in the beginning because I feel it could alter my creativity and I could be influenced. I also feel like my songs would be less authentic. I need time and space on my own to figure out things, feelings, words, melodies and all the other ingredients.
I don’t want any kind of external pressure. In French, we use the word “pudeur”. It is funny, I don't think there is a word for this concept in the English language. It means wanting to keep things to yourself, not wanting to share with the world. It is usually used for personal and intimate things such as feelings, thoughts or even the body. The closest word I can think of is “timidity” but it is different. Where timidity is somehow involuntary, “pudeur” would be a conscious choice. That is how I feel when I create music. It’s one of my favourite part of the process of making a record actually.
Once I’m passed this phase of putting together the core of the record then I don’t mind letting people in the process and open it to something more collaborative. The energy transforms and it becomes a totally different experience.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
I guess personally, making music is a kind of practice I use to help me articulate complex feelings, emotions and thoughts I have. A sort of therapy if you will, although it is an unconscious process and I never intended it that way. The more I do it, the more I realise the practice is a a sort of container to sort these things out.
You know, most people go about their entire lives without stopping to examine themselves, just reacting to external events or people, with no awareness whatsoever. People think having feelings and emotions is a disease, it’s wrong or it’s insane. Well actually, Emotional Intelligence is a skill. The world is mad because people are not taught how to cope with internal weather. To me, making music and writing songs allows time and space for it. It’s a sort of therapeutic, spiritual, philosophical practice. It keeps me grounded.
I suppose what comes out of it is a photography of human experience and that’s why people love music, because they can relate. It helps them realise they’re not alone in the struggle of life. It makes them put words on things they are feeling or things they have been through. I guess that would be a first role for music in society.
Then you can look at it from another perspective, less semantic, more vibrational and experiential. We resonate with music. Music is vibration, energy. Sound transforms mater, so it has to power to make us feel things and transform us on a physical level. It connects us together. That’s why you love the energy at a concert or on a dance floor, it has a literal physical influence on your body, on your brain, on your immune system. You can also take the example of mantra chanting in Indian culture. A mantra is a series of sounds and syllables that create very specific vibrations in the body, meant to help you balance and direct your energy flow.
You could also argue that, nowadays, we live in a world of science, technology, logic, performance at all cost and profit. Beauty, the body, the senses, observing nature, being in the present moment do not have a place in the modern world. We are completely disconnected from these concepts. Alienated. So much so that as soon as you talk about it, you are automatically stigmatised as a “hippie”.
Greek philosophers were wiser than us, they explained Nature with the concept of “Poiesis”, the act of bringing something into being that did not exist before, whether it be natural, technical, scientific or artistic. There was no distinction between these notions, they were carrying the same degree of value in society. Therefore music was part of Nature creating itself and was given more respect and importance. I think now would be a good time to go back to Ancient Greek wisdom.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
I think I pretty much answered in the previous question. For me music has always been a way of dealing with these topics and that ties down closely to its role in society. That’s also why, again, I think Artistic practice and its practioners should be protected, valued and recognised as such.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
From a general point of view, as I was explaining before with the notion of “Poeisis”, I believe that, even though science is fascinating, we have to be extremely careful and think about the consequences of what we do with it and what we create. We have to keep in check and balance technology with nature. That is true for music but for everything technology touches. Does it make sense? Do we need so much disruption? How does it affect people? How does it affect nature? These questions are crucial.
I think the catastrophe of Social Media is the perfect example for this phenomenon. By getting carried away with innovation, disruption and profit, we have created an absolute monster. Mass narcissism, Post-truth world, genocides are organised via these platforms, kids are killing themselves because of trolls. When do we stop and start to use our brains? Capitalism and technology iteration is just not a viable model. I could talk about this for hours, there is so much to say about the subject. My thesis is actually focused on the value of art in digital capitalism era.
From a less gloomy perspective, technology is obviously a great tool to facilitate the creation of art. We are seeing very interesting things with the development of the metaverse, immersive, Ai, web3 initiatives etc … And even though it feels like chaos at the moment, there will come a time when we manage to extract a real essential value from all of this mess. I just wish we could do so in a more conscious way from the start.
And yes, I’m fundamentally a nerd, in favour of technology. I just want to add a philosophical dimension to it, make it more thoughtful and respecting of our planet and the people. I love to watch and experiment with it, creating instruments or other crazy stuff, but in tune with Beauty, Nature and Spirit. I’ve been working for more than two years on a VR project with Bath university that kind of demonstrates that, it should be released at some point this year, hopefully.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee?
To me, as I said before, making music is a craft. I don’t think everyone can be an artist or a musician. I believe it takes time to learn and become good at something. I could have talked about this point for the previous question too. Technology has given access to anyone to make and publish music everywhere instantaneously. Is that a good thing ultimately? I am not sure.
We are now witnessing the phenomena of Fast Culture. Netflix, Spotify etc. What looked like a revolution and a liberation at the beginning is fundamentally not good for anyone in the long term. Or maybe for the guys who are taking the money, but definitely not for the art or the artists.
So my answer is no, I don’t think making music or performing is inherently different from making something that requires time, knowledge and mastery. But then obviously, to me, making coffee is a mundane task that carries a lot of value. In my culture, just like cooking or appreciating wine, that is something that is very much respected and definitely considered as an art.