Sunday, 27 May 2012


Jay was celebrating his birthday and asked me to come to Kaohsiung.
"Bévinda will be there then, because she's staying three weeks with me!"
"Bring her then!!!"
One day out of Taipei was not unwelcome. For the 2 years I have spent in Taiwan, I had never ventured very far out of Taipei: Y-Lan, JiuFen... That was it!
I have heard lots of positive feedbacks from my friends about Kaohsiung, so I was glad to go.
The trip was short but totally worth it. We arrived by the end of the afternoon. We took the bus, so that Bévinda could have a look at the landscape. But what did we expect? The bus followed a straight route that led from one city to another without much meandering in the countryside, a seamless sight of cities, smaller towns looking so identical it was hard to tell one from another, with the industrial areas spreading around them. At least, we were to take the high speed train on our way back. 
But I felt good when we reached Kaohsiung. The air, the atmosphere were different. I didn't know why, but I liked the city immediately. I was happy to be there. We got off the bus and took the metro, as if we had been living there for a long time. Jay was waiting for us with his new boyfriend, Duncan. 
We were hosted at the Buddhist center where Jay does his sessions - actually, less a Buddhist center, than  a spiritual center. "The house was filled with ghosts. It was scary! You could hear noises all the time, even when there was absolutely no one there! Quite creepy!" Jay had told me. 
The whole story would have been worthy of a film, something between Chinese Ghost Story and The Exorcist! 
I didn't think much about until I was alone in the room. Not any room. The large meditation room. MeiHong, the manager of the center originally intended Bévinda and I to share one room together. But the visit of a nun changed the plan, and Bévinda was given another, smaller room. I didn't know what was to become of me, but I didn't really worry. 
"You'll be sleeping in the meditation room!" MeiHong told me with a smile. She was at first reluctant to host perfect strangers, but quickly warmed up to us. I took as a great privilege to be given the big meditation room. 
"The ghosts are all gone. You should not hear nor feel anything!" Jay reassured me. "But believe me, I did spend some frightful nights there!!!"
Still I was expecting something to happen. The room looked even larger at night. 
"Lock the door", Jay said. I startled. 
"You don't want someone to open the door by mistake tomorrow morning!"
"Oh that..." I half expected Jay to tell me that maybe some lingering soul would want to pay me a visit during the night... I placed a few praying mats against one wall near the window and turned them into a bed. HsingYing, Jay assistant and friend of MeiHong's said she coincidentally also chose that spot when she slept in that room. At that time, the ghosts were still alive and kicking...
It took me some time to find sleep. Indeed I didn't hear any noise. Only a couple of fierce mosquitoes feasted on me, until I got hold of the magic electric racket I had previously seen in the office. 
Still then, I didn't feel at ease. But that was my fault: I had brought a book with me for the journey on the bus. A novel by Natsuo Kirino called Grotesque about the murder of two prostitutes in Tokyo. The cover showed the face of a young Japanese woman, with extremely pale skin, cold, dark eyes and red lips, eerily staring at you. Under the moonlight, the image became even more disturbing... On the ceiling, the shadows of the tree branches moving slowly with the wind became like a dance of spirits.
Jay welcomed me the next morning with a broad smile.
"Indeed, I didn't hear anything" I said between two yawns.
The next day was spent on a small island not far from the city. We had to take the ferry for a very short journey. It felt like being on holiday. We saw the beach, we even bathed in the sea with our clothes on. We all got sunburned, ate splendidly and laughed a lot. That was a perfect day!
I will surely come back again soon.

I'm discovering another side of Bévinda. Until now, we mostly met to make music together, or for some social events, but I never got to spend so much time in a row with her. The common place would be to say that artists aren't easy creatures - and that include myself. But once I had to see her outside the limits of working sessions (which were, it is true, very intense and personal) and step into the open intimacy of the daily life, some little traits I had vaguely noticed in the past came clear and bright under the light. 
I know I'm no easy bird myself, so I cannot blame her to be what she is. However, I more than often found myself to be highly annoyed by this ongoing tension she keeps locked inside, whilst pretending that everything is fine. The best way to avoid unpleasant moments is to keep ourselves focused on our work. Going to the gym then helps me keep some sort of inner sanity. What a life!

Bévinda has been reworking on most of her lyrics. Actually, when I think of it, a lot has been altered since our sessions in Paris. Now she's feverishly rewriting the lyrics for Voguer Dehors. She has been reading Murakami's 1Q84 and understood that the song had to get its inspiration directly from the book. Until a few days ago, I had no idea what to do for the arrangement. I don't write songs from the piano that often anymore, and the structure of Voguer Dehors was quite unusual for a song.  
Played on the piano, the song would call for an full orchestral treatment. But we have no orchestra. So I reverted to a more minimal approach and the result came in one afternoon. It is a weird song. Murakami's is a weird world...


Jay walking along the shore

Jay and Bévinda by the sea

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