Telling stories through voice and image
“It all starts with writing and vision, aesthetics and atmosphere.”
Essays, can refer both to a first draft, but also to a period of your life.
The EP is called Essays, but it’s also the title of the first feature film I’m writing. Both deal with very similar themes, which correspond to the same state of mind, the same period of my life, the early twenties. It doesn’t bother me that everything I can produce has the same name, as long as it refers to the same period. It is a transcription of the same feelings in another form.
Essays also refers to a draft, because I would like to re-record these songs. These recordings are from two years ago, and although I am proud of them because it is the first thing I produce in music, associating them with very good memories in the studio, I would no longer interpret them in this way today. At the time I had neither the same time, nor the same musical abilities, nor the same means. There is still something missing from this EP and Essays is a perfect track for that. I would like to find another key for Silentium which is quite melancholic, and the live version of Homecoming, more soaring, better reflects the atmosphere. I could thus release an Essays 2 with these same tracks produced completely differently, and that is also the spirit of this EP: it is now part of my life, but remains free to be totally rewritten.
Why did you choose folk music?
It is the music that touches me the most, probably because of the place of writing, more present than in other musical styles. It combines musicality, composition and importance of lyrics. She carries a certain melancholy, which seems beautiful to me, and in my musical construction she taught me to love the music I sing today.
In your songs she also seems to be a carrier of an American imagination. Do you think that the latter is necessarily linked to it or is it part of your personal construction?
The pivotal years during which I started writing and playing were all in the United States, so I think this connection was established organically. It is also a country in which I spent part of my high school years, my studies, to which I return every summer. It’s part of me, and I can’t wait to go back there: all my songs were written there.
The scene as a step
How does the scene represent a step in your journey?
To be on stage is to take time, it is also to conceive a staging in which I have long perceived something indelible about the image of an artist, when in the end it is not true, and it is possible to evolve there. I was putting so much pressure on myself that I kind of forgot the pleasure it could bring, thinking that everything had to be run in, whereas doing small concerts is just as important. I saw it as marketing, when it should be done before the studio, and the game before the recording. Giving a concert is like coming out. It is asking people to come and see something that belongs to us, but that we give up when we are there. This fear of confronting oneself is quite healthy, and even if I would have preferred not to have it, I think it is unique to each artist.
Why did you want to wait until you played on stage to launch Essays?
I wanted to release the EP before, but there was also a clip in preparation. I was especially afraid to release this thing without it existing, and playing concerts gives life to this music. At the same time, having the support of the EP makes it easier to perform in Paris or New York. Even if I think the fear of playing alone is a little absurd – many artists release more emotion alone – it was important for me to share this first concert with other artists. It also allows me to have a more musical rendering, even if I realize that I can now go alone on stage with a guitar, having the rendering I want and feeling legitimate.
How has the transition to the stage changed the way people around you look at you?
I was born into music with my family, and it is something I associate with well-being, development and expression. When I grew up and realized that music touched me so much, almost defining me, I thought I had to live it to the fullest. From then on, the people around me know very well how important music is to me, without realizing the place it occupies, or the time invested in composition and rehearsals. To compose or write, for any author, is to expose oneself. Today I have less anxiety about taking on this passion.
What are the differences between the French and American artistic approaches?
In Seattle, many people worked while having artistic practices: they make real recordings, concerts, without being professional. In France, it is much easier to separate professionals and amateurs. This fear is cultural, it is the fear of doing something else, the fear of judgment too. It is difficult here to be multi-hatted, which very quickly raises the question of artistic legitimacy. However, it is possible to do different things, to have ambitions in different disciplines, and to be passionate about different subjects.
Telling a story through voice, writing and image
Cinema and music are two ways for you to tell stories.
The tools are different but the creation is the same. It all starts with writing and vision, aesthetics and atmosphere. In music, as in cinema, some projects are more commercial than others, but several albums have inspired masterpieces of literature or films, and vice versa. What is complicated is that these industries require very different means, and that to hope to succeed you have to be able to duplicate yourself in terms of time and understanding of these two environments.
One might think, however, that they have divergent aesthetic approaches.
Yes, but everything starts from the same artistic intention, from the way you want to paint your album, write or compose your film. Everything is composition. The complexity comes from the undeniable technical knowledge required by each of these practices. So I think that someone who loves cinema cannot fail to appreciate the music that is at the heart of it. My song The Waves was written for a movie. The work I did with the director forced me to come out of my shell to make our two visions coexist, which was both impressive and professionalizing. In my opinion, music is inherent to cinema and if I can find a link between these two arts it would be great.
From then on, the form of expression becomes almost secondary, being at the service of an expression.
Exactly, but that look is subjective. I have always linked these two worlds, words to scenarios, images to sounds. If I were a painter or photographer, I might consider it the same way, but this double vision will not be shared by everyone. I know it’s quite utopian, but I hope to be able to combine these two dimensions in the future.
Create at 20 years old
In an interview you explained that “the passage of the twenties had been a forced awareness of your temporality”. Is that a way of saying that what you’re doing is starting to count?
It’s a double-edged sword: what I’m doing is starting to count, and at the same time nothing is serious. Since that sentence I think I’ve been soothed and much less anxious about this temporality, but it’s something I still have inside me that pushes me to do what I want. We live in a society in which people sometimes feel compelled to enter a system, to take positions that would not be authentic. This temporality is also constructed, and if certain things must come out, they must be able to do so now or in 10 years, for an audience or for me alone.
This transition from the twenties corresponds to taking responsibility, to having to learn to manage one’s life. Before that age it is difficult to make decisions, but as soon as this little void appears, one wonders what to put into it: studies, a job, a breakdown, a career, a person or another? All these questions can quickly become distressing, and make us aware of the time that passes by their repercussions, which we realize every day through the people around us, for better or for worse.
Isn’t that a sign of a certain frenzy?
It’s possible, and that’s why I’m doing it now, why I’m going to New York, why I want to do concerts before I leave. However, I think that this frenzy is not necessarily healthy, and if it is sometimes inevitable, you have to know how to manage it because it can quickly become sick or anxious, which happened to me when I didn’t manage to take it into account at 20.
What would you like to achieve?
A first album will take less time to make than a first film, and could happen before then. My dream would be to be able to do both freely, to alternate between music and cinema, working on my projects between France and the United States while being happy. But if I feel that it is too much for me, or if I realize tomorrow that it is not what I like, I would listen to myself and direct myself towards a different life.