Photo: Michael Parque
Adrien Dennefeld is a musician, composer and improviser. From France to Norway, through India and Canada, he plays the guitar and the cello in a lot of different contexts : jazzclubs and jazz festivals such as Wien Jazzfest, Vilnius MamaJazz Festival, Una Stricia di Terra Feconda (Roma), London Jazz Festival, Jazzdor Strasbourg and Berlin, The Moods (Zurich), Pula Jazzbina (Croatia), Minsk's Philharmony…
He also takes part in a lot of improvised meetings and new multimedia creations involving photography and film, with directors Damien Fritsch, from 2001 to 2006, "In music," "The Rooted", "Emile Gallé, Nature in Art" and "Waiting". Then David Unger in 2009 with "The 4 shot of Kremlin Bicetre" and 2010 with "Louis Schweitzer, boss and left." And finally with Nicolas Pallay for "Roger McGowen condemned # 889" a beautiful movie about the inner freedom of this extraordinary man, and the choreographer Iréna Tatiboit, among others.
He works with several labels and artistic companies such as AMOC / Just a trace, The Tangram Company (Ozma), Rude Awakening, Das Kapital records, Label Oh, Babel Label and soon AJMI Series. and now, as a big part of his work, composes film music, for Arte, France 3, La Chaîne Histoire, RTS, Planète+.
He has worked with the groups Barbacana, La Collectif, Féline, Mobiel 4tet, yarsunt, We Are All Americans, Besnard-Dennefeld-Jullian Trio, Chris Jarrett's Four Free, Jean-Pierre Julian Sextet, Ozma and Aleph quartet among others. He has collaborated with artist as Chris Jarrett, Hasse Poulsen, Eric Echampard, Benjamin Flament, Julien Chamla, Matthias Malher, Alfred Spirli, Dimitri Porcu, Luis Vina, Michael Alizon, Sylvain Darrifourcq, Kit Downes, Franck Wolf, Jean-Pierre Jullian, Guillaume Séguron, Lionel Garcin...
What do you remember about your first instrument?
I started playing the Cello at 7 years old, it sounded very deep, with loud low frequencies, and a beautiful and lyrical sound ! At 15, I started playing guitar, only with distorsion, and that was awsome too !
Why do you need music?
It's a language where I can express a lot of emotions. It's a place where I can improvise what I feel when I feel it. It's a particular time that I can modulate, feeling sometimes that in one second, a lot of things happened, or sometimes time stop for ten minutes.
Which is the main pleasure of the guitar?
A physical pleasure. Be able to generate any type of sounds, especially round sounds, that breaks the rigidity of the guitar.
Which work of your own are you most proud of, and why?
There are few ones :
- Ozma Orkestrâ, it was the first time I composed for a large ensemble like that, the music and the energy of the band was really great and we had very good feedback from the audience. It was a complete work : bigband composition, arrangment, improvisation,
- "Roger McGowen, condamné #889", a documentary of Nicolas Pallay for which I compose the music, alone in my studio, mostly on guitar, with some virtual sounds added. This is the first time I compose a film music only with guitar, and it worked very well. The audience like the music, it seems to make them entering into the movie very deeply as they said.
- My participation as a sideman and cellist in Jean-Pierre Jullian sextet. With this band, I took back my cello from his old age, and really practiced it strongly. The music is great and I feel able now to be a musician with my two instruments (Cello and guitar) on the same level of importance.
What's your fetish device in the sound chain?
Amp with tubes only! Volume pedal and AC booster.
What was the first solo you learned from a record — and can you still play it?
I remember learning the solo of Kirk Hammet (Metallica) from the tune "Master of Puppets", I think I could still play it !
What’s the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar?
With a good guitar, you can make your music. With a bad one, you can too ! ! It depends what define good and bad for you. Some musicians need a pure vintage sound, some other need first of all a good-looking one, some other don't care and can make music on any of it : I feel more like that.
What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene?
I don't really now as I'm not really involved in this scene, but what I see is that the digital aspect of commercialization of music is growing up. The CD will disapear (as the vinyl, and maybe reappear afterwards as an expensive and vintage object, as the vinyl). I'm more interested in an local economy of music and culture, where poeple meet and share directly what they like. But I can see that the digital scene spread the music all along the world so we can discover everything now. That's a good point, but not a goal. The worst point is that an artist can't make a living by selling music on digital distribution through the main platform as iTunes, Spotify or Deezer for instance. Like in local agriculture, the best way in the shortest way : from the artist directly to the audience. It means autoproduction and selling Cd after the concert : that's the only way to be fair enough regarding to all the chain of work to produce a CD.
Define the sound you're still looking for.
I'd like to create (or capture) two sounds :
- the sound that mixes what i did and feel in my whole life untill today. This is a very recent project I call "Lifespan sonore". It can be updated each day, month or year, it's like a living piece of sound I work all along my life. For instance, each year lived could have a duration of one minute. I select only the important moments.
- the sound that mixes all the 20th century music history in one minute, like a very very condensed extract of what happend in that periode, without trying to define each tune, played very loud in a big area (desert, forest, hughe place…)
Why and how do you use extended techniques with your instruments?
I search when i'm playing music because I want to create sounds that really express what i have in mind. And my instruments are sometimes too limited for that. So, I try to extend them with several objects (aimants, brosses, baguettes), and effects (few pedals : delays, kaosspad,…). And, I use sometimes tapping on the guitar to play melodies with big gaps between the notes, or very large chords. Sometimes, I could need a instrument that doesn't exist : a guitarcello !
Which living artist (music, or other arts) would you like to collaborate with?
I'd like to improvised with dancers (as Jullien Hamilton, or Pina Bausch if she would be still living), as does Barre Phillips for instance (he's a very important reference for me). I'd like also to play with museographers and performers, in order to ask my own way of practicing music, and questionning the notion of "body involving" in music. Playing electric guitar very loud under the see with divers could be great too !
A valuable advice that someone has gifted to you in the past?
"Don't eat the yellow snow…" F. Zappa
What’s your next project about?
I'm working on a project called "Processus Vital" : it's a performance with a dancer, a clarinet player, a performer and me on cello, plus a sounding installation. We are working on the question of the body in art and life, and also the level of audition : from where is there sound ? until where ? When does the performance really start ? does it already stared ? when does it finished ? The main thing is to ask our own references and habits about our way of listening and considering a performance, in order to discover new parts of ourthelves, and also ask who is performing ? Am I performing when I listen ? Am I performing when I see a concert ? etc… I work also on my electric guitar solo, and on few new bands : April Fishes with guitar player Manu Adnot, drummer Sylvain Darrifourcq and saxophonist Romain Dugelay, "Laisse venir" a project on unreleased compositions of french singer Alain Bashung with the band StraSax, and "L'étranger, réminiscence" from Albert Camus novel "L'étranger", with percussionnist Jean-Pierre Jullian, bassist Guillaume Séguron and comedian Pierre-Jean Peters.
2014 - Jean-Pierre Jullian 6tet / Jazz contemporain / AJMI Séries
2014 - Féline / Musique imrovisée / Coax Records
2014 - Trio Besnard-Dennefeld-Jullian / Musique improvisée / Rude Awakening
2013 - Ozma "New Tales" / Jazz Progressif / Tangram/Juste une Trace
2013 - Mobile "démo" / Jazz contemporain / Jazzus
2012 - We Are All Americans / Jazz à tendance atlantiste / Das Kapital Records
2012 - Yarsunt "Resize" / Post-Rock / Label Oh!
2012 - Barbacana / Jazz contemporain / Babel Label
2011 - Ozma "Peacemaker" / Post-Jazz / Tangram/Juste une Trace
2009 - Ozma "Strange Traffic" / Jazz explosif / Juste une trace
2007 - Ozma "Electric Taxi Land" / Jazz explosif / Juste une trace
2007 - Chris Jarrett Four Free "Wax Cabinet" / Hardcore chamber music / Editions Collage-GLM Music publishing
2007 - yarsunt / Rough Jazz / yarsunt
2007 - Groof! / Quartet de musique avec des mots dedans / Groof!
2005 - Ozma / Jazz Funkamétrique / Ozma
2004 - Aleph quartet / Jazz hardbop / Aleph quartet