Saturday, May 31, 2014

Maurice Louca 13 Questions

Maurice Louca was born in Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt, where he lives and works as musician . He is a pioneer of the Egyptian experimental music. Alongside Mahmoud Waly (bass and electronic music) and Mahmoud Refat (percussion and electronics) , he founded the group Bikya, a folktronica project. The trio of musicians came together to create music combining acoustic and electronic experimentation, in which the complexities and contradictions of experience "live" result in a dynamic artistic innovation. A picture of their diversity, their music is a fusion of disparate styles: drum'n'bass , techno classic, funk, trip hop , electronic music, folktronica , which frustrates any attempt categorization. With a solid acoustic trio of drums, bass, guitar/synthesizers and along electronic experimentation, Bikya is constantly creating a fusion of styles - thereby crushing lables and genres. In 2007 they released their self titled debut album Bikya with the Cairo based label 100COPIES, and from then on have intensively toured in the Arab world and Europe.

Maurice Louca released his first solo album Garraya in January 2011 under the label Cairo 100 COPIES . It includes songs composed and produced the last two years . Composing music is a mix of hypnotic sounds and rhythmic tones . Maurice Louca has also composed for theater, film and collaborated with several contemporary artists.
Their sound is melancholic yet modern, with frequent vocal interventions by Ghazala, who recites a poem called “Hassan” by Iraqi poet Sargon Boulos against progressive rock riffs, electronic textures and some improvisation when performed live.

The Egypt Independent newspaper recently wrote in his column : "While other similar artists from the local scene continues to wade in the footsteps of Radiohead, Louca , he moves light years away - quietly experimenting in the company of Flying Lotus , with different levels of complexity. "

Bikya came to be known for a special blend of drum 'n' bass rhythms, Detriot techno embellishments, funky bass lines and noise elements. The band is still together, performing sporadically, but now the three individuals work on their solo and side projects more regularly.

Meanwhile Louca is currently working on a side project called Alif Ensemble — a pan-Arab, multi-instrumental band due to release their album in the coming year. Founded by renowned Iraqi oud player Khyam Allami, and formed around Louca and Palestinian composer and producer Tamer Abu Ghazala, the project brings together various other musicians from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, creating a contemporary take on oud-driven acoustic-electronic music.

Louca’s music plays off a make-believe conversation between east and west, past and present, earth and space. It feels simultaneously tribal and futuristic, and the music becomes an agency for the imagination. Your dance movements are your only means of expression between a folkloric past and funky, fidgety future.
His solo work proves his wild imagination from start to finish — most of what we are hearing as the audience are separately recorded tracks of instrumental pieces by various musicians that Louca has worked with over the years. He's now playing  with the Omarchestra which is an 8 piece guitar orchestra initiated by Charbel Haber which includes guitarists Sam Shalabi, Sharif Sehnaoui, Fadi Tabbal, Tony Elieh, Osman Orabi, and Umut Çaglar

He has composed and preformed live the original sound track for Sherif el Azma's Video/Lecture, Psycho Geography of Loose Associations, part of Meeting Points 5 . Over the last couple of years he has performed his live sets Passage 35 and Flood lights, leading him up to his latest studio work Garraya which is due for release January 2011 by the music label 100copies. Maurice Louca represents an extreme wing of Egyptian contemporary music. He is known for taking experimental sounds a solid bit further than most colleagues, and has distinguished himself with an effective combination of beautiful ambient and more introverted drone sounds. 

Maurice claims to be inspired by Arabic folk music as well as modern electronica and the sounds of Cairo’s streets. All these sources can be easily identified as they are floating about in a rich and dynamic sound picture best described by British music mag Bearded Magazine as “a veritable eco-system”. Maurice creates music which can at times be demanding, but the surprising combination of peaceful and intense renders the total experience even more harmonious and beautiful.

Which is the main pleasure of the guitar?

I can't think of any other instrument that has been fucked around with in the last 100 years more than a guitar, there is something about the instrument and its history that inspires you to constantly rethink how to play it.

How would you define music?

I would rather i didn't, not that i would know how to it.

What was your first instrument?

The guitar. At first i would just strum to music that I liked, not really bothering to play the right notes, but playing it more like a percussive instrument. Then, I started to take guitar lessons for a couple of years, but I think I learned most by playing with other people. I was very lucky in the sense that I had friends starting out around the same time, so we formed a band almost immediately. We barely knew how to play but that didn't matter, I think that was very important for me.

What do you remember from your first guitar?

It was a surprise birthday present, i was quite young and it was unexpected, so i guess the thing i remember the most is the first time i saw it when i found it in my room.

So, why do you use a guitar?

I go through phases were I neglect the guitar, I can go months without playing the guitar, but i always go back to it, its still the instrument i enjoy playing the most.

Which work of your own are you most surprised by,?

Well i find i am more inspired when i am in unfamiliar territory, so i like to set my self up in a way that surprise becomes a crucial element of the process

Which was the first record you bought with your own money?

Queen greatest hits volume 1, I think it was 1991 or 92 cd technology hadn't still quite reached Cairo yet, but as far as i knew at the time there was only one store who randomly had 5 cds on sale i remember clearly the selection Ace of Base, sir mix a lot, criss cross, and queen greatest hits 1 and 2, i still regret not getting the sir mix a lot record

A 16mm film by Islam el Azzazi. 2012 Analogue Zone_2012 - Cimatheque - LaborBerlin - LabA. Performance: Alaa Abdullatif. Music: Maurice Louca

Which was the last record you bought with your own money?

I only really buy records now at shows, i think the last record i got was from this trio from mongolia called Ajinai who were just great live

How would you define today's digital music scene?

I don't know if i can define todays digital music scene, one thing i know is that im becoming more and more inspired by the way things were done in the past, and its not even a question of analog vs digital, im not much of a gear person, so i don't care too much about that, but its more the idea of having a bunch of people in the same room at the same time playing and recording music, doing live takes, also for some reason recorded music sounded better with mic bleeds and leakages

Depict one image you're still looking for.

Imagery is big part of a musical experience for me, but i don't seek it. its definitely a reactionary occurance 

What do you change or add to your guitar?

I don't really mess with the instrument itself much, but i rarely play it in standard tunings

Which living artist would you like to collaborate with?

Well thats always a difficult one too many to choose from, a good friend of mine just introduced me to Annete Peacock who blew my mind, and as far as i can tell she is still alive, so at the moment i would say Annete Peacock

What gear do you use?

For a while i used to use a lot of effects i think in a way i was trying to make the guitar sound like something else, but after delving more into synthesizers, keys and samplers that urge was satisfied else were so know i barely use any effects on the Guitar, at the moment i play an Epiphone sheraton, i have an over drive pedal and a digital delay pedal, i also just bought a Yamaha folk guitar.

John Russell 13 questions

Photo Andy Newcombe

Born 1954, London. John Russell got hold of his first guitar in 1965 and began playing in and around London from 1971. His involvement with the Free Music scene came early, from 1972 onwards, and in such places as The Little Theatre Club, Ronnie Scotts, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Musicians’ Co-Op and the London Musician’s Collective. From 1974 his work extended into teaching, broadcasts (TV and radio) and touring (continuing) in the UK and abroad inluding Europe, Japan and South America.

Photo Andy Newcombe 

In 1981, he founded QUAQUA, a large bank of improvisers put together in different combinations for specific projects and in 1987 helped set up Acta Records with John Butcher and Phil Durrant. In 1988 he founded MOPOMOSO, the UK’s longest running concert series featuring mainly improvised music.

 Photo Andy Newcombe 

He has said that, 'Since my early involvement with free improvisation as a way of making music, I have moved closer to the realisation that this is the best way for me to work as a musician, bringing together the intellectual and the intuitive with the practical in the creation of a music that is unique to a specific time and place. I also believe that playing solo, in long term and less permanent groups all have particular things to offer the improviser and I have tried to exploit all three areas whilst developing existing traditions and juxtaposing previously unrelated areas in an attempt to provide a fertile ground for improvising.'

 Photo Peter Gnanushkin

 As opportunities permit he has extended this approach to collaborate with creative practitioners from other disciplines, i.e. poetry, composition, theatre and performance art.

Apart from solo playing, current work includes duos with Phil Wachsmann, Phil Minton, Stale Liavik Solberg, Pascal Marzan, Stefan Keune and Thurston Moore, trios with Maggie Nicols and Mia Zabelka (Trio Blurb), Evan Parker and John Edwards, Henry Lowther and Satoko Fukuda, Matthieu Werchowski and Ute Voelker, Roger Turner and Michel Doneda, Matts Gustafsson and Raymon Strid (Birds)’ various projects with Japanese drummer Sabu Toyozumi and with Gunter Christmann’s Vario and his own Quaqua groups.

Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?  

The first record I bought with my own money was ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On’. Although I did have one or two 78s and 45s kicking around. I didn’t have a record player until quite late and in fact I made the plinth for the deck in school wooodwork class and hooked it up to an old radio.

What were other early records you bought? 

The first full price LP was ‘We’re only in it for the Money’ by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and I also remember owning ‘Ahead Rings Out’ by Blodwyn Pig and ‘Undead’ by Ten Years After. Basically I didn’t have much money and I spent a lot of time at a friend’s house listening to music there and checking stuff on the radio at home.

What do you remenber about your first guitar?

It was pretty horrible! A standard acoustic with steel strings and a very high action. I then got a Rosetta Lucky 7 with an Egmond pick up followed by a Hofner Galaxy. My first improvisation concerts were using a Grimshaw Les Paul. After that I went acoustic and for a long time used an Epiphone Zenith (1936) which I bought from Louis Gallo who had used it in dance bands beginning before the war. Louis was resposible for helping get Eddie Lang’s playing better known in the UK and I have some sheet music of his with a picture of him holding that guitar. It eventually suffered too much wear and tear and I moved to my present set up. Which is ..............

What gear do you use?

My main set up is a Schertler Unico with integral volume pedal and I use a Schertler Dyn G contact mic mixed with a Shure SM 81 uni-directional condeser mic. The guitar is a Radiotone from 1936. If I’m travelling under my own steam (e.g train) then I sometimes take an AER Alpha rather than the Schertler which is a bit heavy. If flying then I need two seats (one for me and one for the guitar) so the promoter has to provide the amplification. For the electric I have an Epiphone Broadway with a Vox Wah wah pedal, Nano Muff, Boss Heavy Metal 3 fuzz and a Boss Noise reducer. I usually stipulate a Fender Twin Reverb for the amp. I have a couple of practice amps here; a Fender 15er and a Lunchbox. At home I also have a 1933 Epiphone Masterbilt Blackstone, a Korean Fender Telecaster, a 1950s acoustic lap steel, an electric mandolin, a cheap nylon strung guitar, an Aria solid body and a ukelele as well as a number of broken guitars and parts that need sorting out.

Which work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?

There are those times when the music seems to come from a different place. It kind of creeps up on you from another angle and you think. Where the ... did that come from? I remember talking to the head of psychology at Kassel university and I asked him if they recognised transcendental feelings. He said that yes they did but the only thing they could say was that if somebody felt like that, and became conscious of it, the feeling disappeared. Very like music that!

What do you need from music?

Nothing. I would never ask. It has given me so much. An old friend (poet Libby Houston) once said that the Arts are like a magnifier and what you put in you get back ten times over. So be careful what you put in!

What quality do you admire most in a musician?

Three things. Good listener, good technique and a generous nature. The definitions of those things can vary!!

Do you prefer play alone or in a group? What is the difference for you?

I like to think I’m a sociable sort of person so playing with other people is great fun but when playing solo I also get to meet some good people. I think the main point is that we share this music as we discover it, whether we are playing solo or in a group. In fact I think there are four main playing situations and I try to be involved in all four. Solo, one off events, short term projects and long term groups. The boundaries can move so I might have a one off concert that contains someone from a long term group etc.

What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene?

I must say I have no idea! The challenge is always the same. To find some music to play and the benefits are that it is possible to find some music to play. I mean for me I am a guitar player and the physicality is important. It is also to do with the internalisation and understanding of materials. I guess that is possible with digital means although a lot of the digital ethos seems to deny the body. I like a bit of steam punk with big clumsy handles Ha! Ha! There are all sorts of things to do with the production and broadcasting of musical artifact but that’s quite different from producing music in ‘real’ time in a ‘real’ place. Improvisation always comes down to playing and listening. The rest can be a bit of a distraction and can lead to people leaving the music all together.

Depict the sound you're still looking for.

I’m not looking for a sound. It’s looking for me and I am continually learning to recognise it when it comes. but I do like the idea of clarity and transparency.

Which do you translate into music from other disciplines such as theater, painting, architecture, ballet...? 

For me everything I experience, think or feel has some relevance to music. It is a total involvement. Intellectually, emotionally and physically. Analogies with other practices can be useful but you have to be careful and realise they are only analogies and that there is a spefific nature to music.

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

I like Schoenberg on intrinsic and extrinsic worth. Go for the intrinsic value of something not it’s extrinsic value. i.e stay true to real values. If you are doing music then stick to musical values.

Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music?

ICP 005 recorded 3rd March 1970 has always stuck with me as it has an immediacy to it. I think this is something to do with Misha Mengelberg’s editing where he just cut the tape when he got bored. There are so many though that it feel’s not really fair to pick one.

What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

Mopomoso continues and takes a lot of time and effort see.  Other than that I’m busy in so many different things from solo to my large Quaqua projects. Coming up in October I will be in Amsterdam palying an acoustic first half with Evan Parker and John Edwards and an electric second half with Evan and Han Bennink before going to Hannover the next day to work with Gunter Christmann in a 25th anniversary event for his Vario project. Every August, and this year is no exception, I have my three day Fete Quaqua event in London which is always fun. In terms of recording there is a 4 CD boxed set of last year’s Mopomoso tour in the pipeline, a quartet with John Edwards, Steve Beresford and Stale Liavik Solberg and two duos - one with Sabu Toyozumi and one with Phil Minton.

Selected Discography

 1973, Life amid the artefacts, Emanem 5014. Otherways & Free Space.
1974/5, Teatime, Incus 15.
1974/1975, Teatime, Emanem 5009. Re-issue of Incus 15 with additional JR duo track with Dave Solomon.
1978, Home cooking, Incus 31.
1979, Artless sky, CAW 001. With Roger Turner and Toshinori Kondo.
1980, Forward of short leg, Dossier ST 7529. With various Jon Rose groups, Requiem, Impetus IMP LP 18405. Quiet violence.
1980, Vario II, Moers Music 01084.
1981, The fairly young bean, Emanem 4036. With Maarten Altena/Terry Day.
1983/1985, Vario, Moers Music 02048.
1987, Conceits, Acta 1. 
1988, Wild Pathway Favourites, Ladder rung002.
1989, News from the shed, Acta 4.
1989, News from the shed, Emanem 4121. Re-issue of Acta 4 with additional material.
1990, Cultural baggage, Acta 5.
1991, The Place 1991, Emanem 4056. Chris Burn Ensemble. 
1991/1992, Concert moves, Random Acoustics RA 011. Butcher/Durrant/Russell.
1992, Ohrkiste, ITM Classics 950013. Radu Malfatti.
1994, Strakt, Discus 5CD. Brief track on Network CD.
1996, Birthdays, Emanem 4010. Duo with Roger Turner.
1996, London air lift FMP CD89. Quartet with Evan Parker, John Edwards, Mark Sanders.

 1997, Navigations, Acta 12. Chris Burn's Ensemble.
1997, Interplay, FMR CD39 V0697. Hugh Davies, in trio with Russell/Turner.
1997, Improvisation: exhibit 'A', Avant BGS sampler. Solo track on cover CD of Avant, no. 3.
1997/8, Strings with Evan Parker, Emanem 4302.
1998, Refrain, MS 41. Schiano/Russell/Hallett/Turner/Penazzi. 
1998, The scenic route, Emanem 4029. Butcher/Durrant/Russell.

1998, The duo recordings, The Field Recordings 7, FR7. Duo with Luc Houtkamp.
2000, Excerpts & offerings, Acta 14. Stefan Keune/John Russell duo.
2000, The All Angels concerts, Emanem 4209. Solo on compilation 2-CD.
2001, Deluxe improvisation series vol. 2, ASE_03/Deluxe improvisation series vol. 2. Quartet track 
with Stefan Keune on compilation CD. 
2001, The second sky, Emanem 4058. Russell/Turner. 
2001, Freedom of the city 2001: large groups, Emanem 4206. Strings with/without Evan Parker.
2001, Freedom of the city 2001: small groups, Emanem 4205.
2001, Horizontals white, Emanem 4080. Chris Burn Ensemble.
2001, Grain, DotDotDot Music 003. Short track on compilation CD.
2002, Freedom of the city 2002: small groups, Emanem 4210. Duo with Evan Parker on compilation CD.
2001/02, From next to last, Emanem 4071. Solo. 
2002, Frequency of use, NURNICHTNUR BERSLTON 102 12 31. Stefan Keune/John Russell duo.
2002, Mopomoso solos 2002, Emanem 4100. Chris Burn/Lol Coxhill/John Edwards/Phil Minton/John Russell.
2003, Freedom of the city 2003: small groups, Emanem 4212.
2003, Three planets, Emanem 4106. Russell/Völker/Werchowski.
2004 & 2006, Analekta, Emanem 413. 

2004, Freedom of the city 2004: small groups, Emanem 4214. 
2005, Crossing the river, psi 06.02. Evan Parker Octet.
2005, More together than alone, Emanem 4136. Lol Coxhill.
2005/6, The Mercelis concert, Inaudible CD 006. John Russell/Jean Demey/Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg.
2006, 2006 Duos, Emanem 4137. Terry Day. 
2006, Vario-44, Edition Explico 15. John Butcher/Roger Turner/John Russell/Thomas Lehn/Dorothea Schürch/Günter Christmann.
2007-2010, Translations, Emanem 5019. Pascal Marzan/John Russell.
2008, No room for doubt, Amirani AMRN020. Five rooms.
2008, Duet, Another timbre at27. Duo with Martine Altenburger.
2009, The cigar that talks, Collection PiedNu PN0110. Doneda/Russell/Turner.
2009, House full of floors, Tzadik TZ7632. Evan Parker/John Edwards/John Russell/Aleks Kolkowski.
2009, Hyste, psi 10.06. Solo.
2011, Kosai Yujyo, INaudible CD 008/improvising beings ib14. Sabu Toyozumi.
2011, Translations, Pascal Marzan / John Russell -  Emanem 5019
2012, Birds,  Mats Gustafsson, John Russell, Raymond Strid - dEN Records DEN008
2013, Trio Blurb : Maggie Nicols, John Russell, Mia Zabelka - Trio Blurb Extraplatte EX 821-2
2014, No Step. John Russell / Ståle Liavik Solberg - Hispid HSPD002

Photo Pat Lugo

Friday, May 30, 2014

Antoine Berthiaume 13 Questions

Montréal guitarist/composer Antoine Berthiaume has been active on the jazz and improvisation circuits for over 15 years. His work has recently been enriched by collaborations with filmmakers and contemporary dancers. His first release for Ambiances Magnétiques featured him engaged in dialogues with Fred Frith and Derek Bailey.


The next two CDs documented his work with new talents met while he was studying at Mills College: MaryClare Brzytwa, Norman Teale and Quentin Sirjacq. A tour of Japan in 2005 provided an opportunity to record with guitarist Takumi Seino, a session released on Vos Record. His fondness for guitaristic dialogues carries on with an album recently recorded with Elliott Sharp, his fifth release on Ambiances Magnétiques.


Antoine is a founding member of the western-folk group Rodéoscopique, and he is also a jazz fan. He has been seen performing in Montréal with Pierre Tanguay and Michel Donato, with whom he has recorded his first jazz foray for Ambiances Magnétiques Jazz. He also works regularly with Philippe Lauzier, Pierre-Yves Martel, Michel F Côté, and many others.


With grants from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts, Antoine has furthered his skills in the United States and Europe. Photographer Ralph Gibson recently included him in his review of 81 avant-garde guitarists, which has yielded a book and an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.

What do you remember about your first guitar?

It was a red B.C. Rich. I really wanted a Gibson but couldn't afford it. Eventually I swapped it for a Strat.

Why do you need music? 

Because it's so freaking' good.

Bebe donkey by Antoine Bertiaume, MaryClare Brzytwa

So, why do you love the guitar? 

It needs constant work and there's no limit to it. There's always a new style I can work on and there are so many masters to learn from. It's both an elite instrument and the most democratic one. Anyone can play an E minor chord yet any human being would get a different tone out of the same guitar because it has such a deep response to whoever is playing it.

Antoine Berthiaume, Elliott Sharp in concert at La Sala Rossa during the Ça frappe event, by Productions SuperMusique, Montréal, Québec, March 25, 2009 Photo Céline Côté 

Which work of your own are you most proud of, and why?

Errance, a piece for solo banjo. Audrey Bergeron a friend of mine use it for a choreography.

A valuable advice that someone has gifted to you in the past? 

To study composition even if I wanted to be a player (Neil Smolar). To compose for solo guitar (Derek Bailey). To drink a lot of water (my osteopath).

What was the first solo you learned from a record — and can you still play it? 

Money from Pink Floyd. Of course I can.

What’s the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar? 

A good guitar stays tuned. The rest is just a question of tone and color. Who is going to say that someone has a better tone, better technique... if you're the only one getting that tone it makes it unique and incredible. The challenge is to put yourself in the right context.

What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene? 

Any idiot can produce an average piece of music. Music is accessible but it's easy to flip, skip, scroll. You can spend a whole day listening to bits and parts of songs browsing the internet without actually giving a shit and really listening. Since Youtube, people have an attention spam of 15 seconds. The viral world of easy consumption "make me laugh", "entertain me" in 30 seconds is destroying most people's capacity of appreciating a more serious piece of work that require you actually give a fuck and feel something. And on top of that people mostly listen to youtube in their laptop speakers... it's depressing. Oh wait, benefits... most musicians are out of work and royalties on the web are a joke... the only ones having the benefits are Spotify and the likes.

Define the sound you're still looking for.

You're in your REM. You can hear the birds outside the window and you realize it's something like 5am and the sun is slowly waking up. You're at the country house. Your dad will make crepes in a few hours. You flip the pillow on the cool side and you snooze. That feeling.

Chorégraphie et interprétation: Audrey Bergeron, Interprétation: Alexandre Parenteau, Musique: Antoine Berthiaume

Why and how do you use extended techniques in guitar? 

I actually don't use it as much nowadays. It's hard to be innovative at my age if you are using springs, ebow, aligator clips, miniature fans and the likes that most improvisers exploited 20-30 years ago.

Which living artist  would you like to collaborate with? 

Julien Jeanne a French choreographer. His piece "Parade" really blew my mind. Jessica Serli also a great choreographer an my favorite dancer.

Création dirigée par Thierry Huard en collaboration avec Interprètes : Louis-Elyan Martin, Nicolas Patry, Compositeur : Antoine Berthiaume, Scénographie: Paul Chambers, Thierry Huard, Costumes : Thierry Huard

What dead artist would you like to have collaborated with?

Glenn Gould.

What’s your latest project about?

I did a piece for eight speakers with sounds from an improvisation by the great Philippe Lauzier. I sampled his textures and composed a ten minutes structure out of it. A long and engaging work.

Lorenzo Regal Project. 30 short songs in 30 days.
Recorded with Beauregard Guitar and K&K pickup in an hotel room in Monterrey, Mexico.

Selected Discography

Antoine Berthiaume / Fred Frith / Derek Bailey - Soshin  Ambiances Magnétiques AM 113 2003

Antoine Berthiaume, Quentin SirJacq & Norman Conquest, The* - Leaves And Snows  Ambiances Magnétiques AM 135 2005

Antoine Berthiaume, Michel Donato, Pierre Tanguay - Ellen's Bar  Ambiances Magnétiques AM 152 2006

Antoine Berthiaume, MaryClare Brzytwa - Bebe Donkey   Ambiances Magnétiques AM 163 CD 2007

Antoine Berthiaume / Elliott Sharp - Base   Ambiances Magnétiques AM178 2008

Small Tease  Ambiances Magnétiques AM 196 2009

Noel Akchoté: I play this music to hear it

The French guitarist-improvisor Noel Akchote is a frighteningly competent and active person. He has recorded a lot of music in various styles, he writes about music in the Austrian magazine Skug, he is the owner of a record label, he produces many different groups and participates in various projects. Born in Paris, the 7th december 1968, he started guitar at the age of 8. Soon meeting and studying with artists such as Tal Farlow, Barney Wilen, Chet Baker, Philip Catherine, John Abercrombie.

During the early 90's, he started to explore beyond jazz, also playing more experimental and improvised musics. He played in the groups of Henri Texier, Louis Sclavis, Daniel Humair, Jacques Thollot, Sam Rivers as well as with Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, Marc Ribot, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Tim Berne or George Lewis. He collaborated since with David Grubbs, Luc Ferrari, David Sylvian, Jim G. Thirlwell (Steroïd Maximus), Max Nagl's Big Four (Steven Bernstein, Bradley Jones, Joey Baron), Jean-François Pauvros or Dylan Carlson's Earth. Other projects have seen him recording and playing with The Recyclers, Blixa Bargeld, Aki Onda, Phil Minton, Tony Hymas, Katerine, Tetuzi Akiyama, Otomo Yoshihide, Julie Tippets, Mike Cooper, Wolfgang Puschnig, Linda Sharrock, Tom Cora, Keith Rowe, Christian Fennesz, Nobuyoshi Araki or Daido Moriyama. In 1996 he co founded with Quentin Rollet, the mostly Vinyl label Rectangle (all reissued as downloads​ in 2011).

During the same period, he produced for the Münich based label Winter & Winter a series of «Audio Films » revisiting a wide range of Chansons & Cabaret traditions (Au Bordel, Cabaret Modern, Toi-Même... featuring Red, Jean-Louis Costes, Han Bennink, Steve Beresford, Sasha Andrès, John Giorno or Kevin Blechdom), as well as unique re- readings of the music of Sonny Sharrock (Sonny II) and Kylie Minogue (So Lucky). He is also featured in various movies as an actor, soundtrack composer or musical director (with Thierry Jousse, Michael Lonsdale, Claire Denis, Lio ...). He also happens to be the older brother of the electro artist SebastiAn (Ed Banger, Daft Punk). In 2011, he signed an exclusive distribution contract with Believe Digital (Worldwide Downloads), issueing since over 100 rare live tracks and previously unreleased studio albums, from which a wide Renaissance and Baroque section raised (Carlo Gesualdo, Guillaume de Machaut, Claudio Monteverdi, Luys Milan, Robert de Visée).

"Orfeo son io, che d'Euridice i passi
Seguo per queste tenebrose arene
Ove giammai per vom mortal non vassi."
  Claudio Monteverdi (Orfeo)


What's the relevance of these composers, Binchois, Josquin, Gesualdo.... for actual's musical ear?

All those are not classical music at all, its way before before people wrote scores very precisely for people to interpret, mostly if not only its music to be played by players or people even often.

I work the other way around in fact, I play this music to hear it. I can go blind in that repertoire and sometime some of it i recorded i find less interesting that another but i go through all of each also like Gesualdo process i don't practice this music before all is sight reading including tempi, i start to find my own ones for each instinctively, funnily when i check versions later on they're the ones i would have chooses knowing it anyway without making it a big statement nor claiming anything i think a lot of that music is totally wrong played on many recordings missing the main core  of it for some musicology obsessions.

First dangerous decision: electric guitar. Transcription, adaptation, version, perversion?

The best to me interpretations are the 50's 60's one when people didn't know much but had a strong sense of being a full interpret not caring too much for if its correct or not but putting the meat on the table. All those people when you read their music its no question they would use the top actual gear if they had, probably Ipads this is music is raw meat its rude and those days were crude brutal too its not 3PM show in a castle with soft ladies the only Medieval experience i have is from food some close friends chefs did for fun many series of doing old recipies ... this food is for dog

Did you ever try that Palm Wine they use to drink a lot ?

you can find some pasteurised sometime its hardcore also until not long ago people became heretics and instance from seeds i mean its those tomes for the medieval renaissance too most songs are Blues all texts are about Love Sex and Cash. Machaut lost everything for having past his 60's a very very hot relationship with a 20 years old daughter of some lord

You for sure know Chansons de gestes poetry and lyrics, it'ss very direct
I wrote one very very interesting thing also about choirs and why i feel more than free using electric guitar, in those days they were very little professional musicians most of these choirs were sung by amateurs and sometime not even but who was there and could go really very wild ....

I immediately thought of Ornette's Friends and Neighbours, maybe its my own thing that everything what's "good" (pleasant, exciting, strong) repeats always through history people who found something the last 3000 years found again the direct link to real, true, good, there, here and now.
When you here for example very first Buddy Holly and first Stratocaster sound, he clearly found (probably had no idea how but did it) another universal thing that i'll put hands in fore people played that way their own times with the Greeks already.

How it would sound Gesualdo played by Ornette Coleman?

Oh, I guess it would fully sound like Ornette, because his approach is totally centered on the player-interpret (like the great Bern Nix does a unique version of Ornette's music within Prime Time for example, a total different reading but a total together in the band, he highlights-enlights Ornette and thereby enrich so much the whole group). Ornette has been for me at very early age an evidence, a sun and an incredible sight opener. Before i was listening to early jazz like Swing and before, Benny Carter and Major Holley, Slim Gaillard and early Bebop, and I had heard of Ornette as a sulfurous musician, but when i first listened to him i totally felt at ease, at home. 

Ornette was totally close to this early jazz by the forms he uses, or even chord changes no one used after bebop, and by his ensemble-collective improvisation which was fully at work in most New Orleans Jazz and other Masters (I had particularly listened to Louis Armstrong where they did collective improvisations constantly). What I referred to with Friends and Neighbors was something else though, the fact that historically we know that they were in those days very little “pro'” choirs and orchestras, and most of the music playing was done by amateurs when not just anyone around. Which means that a lot of that music must have been heard in some sort of pretty wild versions.... and that's not too far from the moment in the 70's where Ornette stated that probably children were way more pure and open to play his music (and when he started to ask his son Denardo as a drummer). For me music mostly (only?) exist when played. A Score is only a tool to play this music, and by playing it i don't mean being servile to the notation but incarnate it, including-welcoming an absolute need for being yourself through it.

What do you think are the connections between this pre-code musics (pre tonal, pre-Bach) and contemporary sound aesthetics?

That would be an interesting question to what we call contemporary sound today in fact, rather. This music is absolutely tone-centered in, and very rhythmically developed, and often does “counter-point-Fugue” too. Maybe what somewhere might differ from later composers is the place of the composer precisely. I find them less auto-centered, maybe freer too. What I hear in this question is much more a question addressed to what are anyway sound aesthetics today... today things seems pretty divided in two main field-categories for me. A first one would be more or less consciously induced by our listening technologies and new tools (streaming and downloads, open libraries and playlists, horizontally and transversally).

It reminds me of a talk we've had with David Grubbs over ten years ago, where I asked him how he thought history would handle the Onkyo-Lowercase in 30 years time (or whatever historical time needed to take objective distance), and his reply was: there won't be any such analysis needed because all absolutely all musics will be available by this time, so that the idea to file organize things we become irrelevant. In sound terms this to me means a huge revivalism, people reproducing or rediscovering things that are still today labelled as avant-garde or “modern” but that mostly dates already 40 to 60 years ago (prepared guitars, tabletop guitars, sound installations, silent improvisations, etc).

A second category would be the traditional vein as it probably always happened in music (partly as described in Derek Bailey's Improvisation Book), since ever, and that calls a musician to incarnate its own music and playing. Which doing so seriously abolishes the socio-communicational-political wall that would like to see a major line of division between composers and players. To come back or apply this to those early musics and composers now, it feels way freer and opened to me to find paths through these musics today than to have to surf through tendencies and brands as described or played in the main contemporary music files and divisions today. I deeply believe that these composers were always “here and now”, on the top of their time, of their own moment, so that would they happen to be in a time where different and more technologically advanced instruments were available, they'd jumped on it (Ipad, Loops, IOS, etc).

Gesualdo’s madrigals are devilishly difficult to perform live, with singers apt to stray from the pitch as the chords wheel about. (Things go easier in the recording studio, where performances can approach perfection through multiple takes: the groups La Venexiana, the Kassiopeia Quintet, and the Concerto Italiano have come particularly close.) I recently watched the New York vocal ensemble Ekmeles rehearse two madrigals from Book V—“Se vi duol il mio duolo” (“If my grief makes you grieve”) and “Mercè grido piangendo” (“Mercy! I cry as I weep”)—in preparation for a concert at Columbia University’s Casa Italiana. At one point, the singers exchanged ideas about what they called “scary” moments, of which there were many. The question of how to articulate a sixteenth-note passage in the first madrigal led to a discussion of its deeper meaning. The tenor Matthew Hensrud commented, “The ‘ardor’ of this—it’s sex, not war.” Jeffrey Gavett, the group’s leader, said, “Yes, except that with Gesualdo the line isn’t exactly clear.”

Alex Ross The Rest is Noise 

And what can we learn -for instance- from Josquin?

Josquin's music like most of his pairs comes in a very particular moment of development of our civilization. A sort of moment of enlightment (Lumières) and roughness, a pretty unique mélange of refinement and brutality. I don't know, i never actually read much of the musicology approach before recording any of it, i would be afraid to lose the most direct link to this music, which for me mostly and almost completely stands and lays in this music itself. I think playing and recording it, letting it play you in fact to me absolutely precise about its process, includes de facto a sort of travel through those times. You feel here and there in theses texts, in their forms, arrangements, choice of notes, rhythms, parts, already a clear pictures of its context.

What you can learn from Josquin is what you can learn from any or all great musical moments in history since there was music in our civilization. It forces you to incarnate it, give it a corpse, become its incarnated presence for the moment of the piece. Therefore its a very direct mirror. I guess its very hard to not be played buy this music but try to master it. On a more contemporary level, these musics (say Medieval to Renaissance and probably Baroque too), are incredibly advanced, if not sometime way more advanced than any of what we call today advanced. You will find incredible voicings for example that plays fully on frequencies and how they interacts with each others, something that physically brings you to a moment of alt. In a different way Gesualdo uses this but for a different purpose, in Josquin's music its sometime almost like a sound statement in itself. Those waves often sounds like a universal statement to me, the famous total art approach, or when all humanities and knowledges melt in one sound.

What's your opinion of the musical approach of classical performers to this repertoire: from guitar to luth.

Well I really believe that these musics belongs to all of us and not being classical music in the strict sense of the term (a composition for interprets to animate it), plus often not demanding incredible skills, means that we should all play it (if we want of course). I think a lot of contemporary approaches and recordings of these musics, particularly the last 20 years, are going way too narrow often, because approached by people with a too strict classical background, that did not teach them to develop many areas that this music calls and seeks for (say swing, subjective physical incarnation of sound, a sense for tensions and reliefs, a sense of autonomy, maybe a sense for joy and life too....).

The first approaches (say 50's to 70's) were way more direct, also musicology hadn't maybe undercovered all contexts topics so that had to play it the way they were themselves, which i think is absolutely the line. Its generally an approach I have of all musics. To me Metal Guitar players or Cab Calloway Ensembles or Fingerpicking Techniques didn't come last century, they were always since the last 3000 years at least part of all music (whole music), just adapting to their times. I mean its so obvious that you had an Eddie Van Halen and a Bo Diddley in say 270 after JC., just they live in those times and used their moment approach, but the intention and idea and feeling of it was strictly the same. In our case if clearly a Beethoven String 4tet is the apogee of a certain historical moment that comes with a very precise writing of its texts and therefore calls for a very particular reading, this is just a moment too. Again until maybe Baroque these musics are not classical music the way we see (and play) it today, that's clearly wrong. Lute music is juste the grandfather of Blind Willie Johnson, its factually by all sides the same topic, under a different sun and land.

What have you learned in your conversations and collaborations with luth classical players?

I only spent three days playing and recording with Rolf Lislevand so far (but talk often to many other players, musicologists and academic people who came to me after discovering my approach). Rolf is pretty close for me, he comes from fusion-ecm approach at first and took up on Lute late. He plays the Lute a way that is exactly for me an incarnation of how i see things should be, partly standing on an incredible knowledge of it all, but letting the music being played the most natural way at the end. When we recorded together he plugged his Lute into a Twin Reverb and used a Looper too without any question, even its pure heresy for early music standards. His techniques also often passes by all our techniques, whether how he plays Lead parts, or fingerpick, or comp. Which is anyway how i see things. 

I don't believe people ever played that differently through 3000 years of music practice. For academics there are a lot of mysteries and clues maybe, but for a confirmed player, no one would ever see any serious reasons to exclude any techniques from your palette of possibles. Most techniques always came from functional needs anyway (Like Tal Farlow started to Bongo on Guitar because of combos he played in without drums, and there were no drums because they played venues who couldn't deal with a drum kit volume-wise etc etc). Generally I wander through history of early music but always keep a distance, I want to guess things rather than close doors. Its the same with some people i see totally obsessed with how were the times, venues, approaches people might have used back then, and to me this is pretty irrelevant in fact. Yes 1478 is not 2014, but human needs and behaviors are exactly the same. What I learned from Rolf is that it was fine i go my way without any questions. Also i never wanted to be a traditional early music player, people like him and Hopkinson Smith and many others did or do that absolutely amazingly, in that vein, i do something else, and i think there's a lot of space for that too, in fact its a total virgin approach I guess.

Particularly, what do you found technically interesting or challenging in this approach from guitar to classical performance.

The way I read, feel, see these musics is like remains of players approaches. Its as functional a sheet as later on jazz scores from the great players we know, and when they did produce scores (many didn't and for more chamber ensembles they probably didn't either need any sheets to play a dance, a party or an evening). This music calls from all sides for incarnation and players. Its notated to be read, its written to be played. Playing is the only aim of these sheets remains (or compositions in some cases). Therefore it question you as a player clearly. Now classical guitar technique is something that is more or less closed today, but has been an extremely exciting moment around Romantic area. When you read all the studies from Carcassi, Sor, etc until Segovia, you find an incredible decision to find all limits of the instrument and push them as far as one could (and did I think).

The only problem is that it did create a sort of monster by setting a way too technically advanced tool, that no composer later on really had any need for. And besides couple rare exceptions no major composers did write music for classical guitar. Classical Guitar today is maybe a sort of dead end, pretty isolated from all other guitar approaches since, and from classical music in general too. For connaisseurs only .... if you take most of the chansons in the repertoires I recorded and read their lyrics you will find none else than The Blues, all lyrics talks about love-sex-cash-social situation, starving and survival. So that if you play those songs, using or not a classical stringing approach matters very little to me. And as I'm not a classical guitarist nor actually have any will to become (I like studying it but i do not use those techniques in my playing), I go for the most natural way of playing the way I do and as its me doing it here and now. Leaving or calling for all of us to come and join propose their own readings. Technically most of this music (really 95% if not more) does not require any sort of classical training, a fairly advanced jazz background will be enough by far for one to start.

What could offer the electric guitar to this compositions, to this composers, to the interpretation of their scores?

Most of the music I played and recorded is in fact Vocal Music, whether Sacred or Secular for 3,5,6 or more voices, or chansons-rondeaux, ballads therefore most scores have long notes very natural to be sustained by vocals but a bit more obscure on normal guitars. With Electric its Ok to sustain a linked double-whole note, with Lute its something else the sound durations are very short, and that's why people used a lot of ornaments (trills etc) to keep them ringing longer. Which in return has become a gimmick since in classical music to ornament a lot all over and that's I guess a bit of a bad habit. Maybe my main reason to use electric when I do so (and I don't always do), is that i feel they would back then if they had such instruments totally use them without a single question. 

The guitars I use mostly are a Gibson ES-175 both plugged (direct) and with a microphone close to the F-Hole, then lately i used a Stratocaster a lot because this instrument is so special (and i had my problems often because of that until recently), that it suddenly in this context brings that sort of bitter-raw intonation to each notes. I've also used an Adamas Acoustic with its Piezzo, or an SG too. I don't really know if it brings something to use electric but what i know is that its incredibly natural to do it, and I leave all the analysis or critical aspects to it to others so far. I like it..... that means a lot to me (lol).

“Lasciate mi morire!
E che volete voi,
che mi conforte
in cosi dura sorte,
in cosi gran martire?
Lasciate mi morire!”

“Let me die!
And what do you want,
When you comfort me in so hard destiny,
In so great martyr?
Let me die!”

Claudio Monteverdi  
 Il lament d’Arianna, or Ariadne’s Complaint.

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