Monday, 22 August 2005

Musique à la campagne

Fields and farmhouses. The sky is blue enough to make us believe that it might still be summer. Rémy and I have been working on the mixing of Circlesong for the past three days. Nothing but mixing and completing the vocals. Only one song left to be done, Ta thay Em still needing the cellos to take shape. Otherwise, we are seeing the end of it. Rémy has been great, showing an astonishing ability to keep focused for long hours. We were working fifteen hours every day, our ears completely mashed by the end of the day. I was so happy when I finally managed to win over Healing and Second breath. It did take me more than one session to do them justice. All the recording sessions I’ve had with Michel proved unusable, as well as that one I did in that expensive studio. On n'est jamais mieux servi que pas soi même!!!
In one hour I will be back in Paris, and will make a point in taking a well deserved afternoon nap before tonight’s dinner. Now the train is shaking too much, I ‘m starting to get travel sickness.

Being the perfectionist I am, it is no surprise that I found many flaws in my singing. I also realized that I wrote most of those songs at a time in my life when I was just discovering my voice with Julia. I didn’t feel that confident about myself, and adopted a breathy and airy singing style that actually worked as a shield to myself, and yet the melodic lines I would write were rather tricky to sing. Singing other people’s music is always easier, and I always feel naked when I sing my own.
All the old habits I got from that time remained as I was recording with Rémy. It was hard to get away form the old vocal habbits I grew accustomed to, especially on that cursed Healing song! That’s what happens when you get music from your dreams.

Friday, 19 August 2005

Imagining the Concert

On my train to Rémy’s. Haven’t slept a wink. I was visualizing each song I would do on stage. On our way back from Zürich, Simon and I tried to come up a play list for the concert.
The concert will open with Kristina’s solo, Nina’s Hidden Glass, which will be partly played live by Vanessa, Mouss and Christophe (the cellist). On a screen a picture slide show of the same piece will be projected, with the names of all the performers and the people involved in the concert appearing just like the opening credit of a film. At the end of it, a voice will whisper ‘Ma-ha-bat-nha-ba-la-mat-da’ as the same words will also appear on the screen.
For the Prayer I will be standing centre stage, two singers on each side. We will be wearing ample black outfit and hardly moving during the whole song. I was thinking of  a Shenkai Juku dance piece I saw some years ago, where four dancers were standing on one side of a big plate filled with water, while red liquid was dropping from the ceiling like blood.  They wore what looked like a 19th century black dress with a red thread running in the middle, their shoulders and face pale white, and bold head, very much inspired by Butô. My cousin Marie who was to be our stylist had her plan of buying a new shop on the Île Saint-Louis hindered by the owner, a racist old French lady who wouldn’t sell it to others than pure breed French, even though she wouldn’t admit the fact, stating that she is left wing. Marie was to go to Viet Nam to have the clothes manufactured for her new autumn collection. She was supposed to design a whole series of clothes based on Chinese shirt and samurai pants. Well, who knows what can happen. I might also ask Nicolas then, hopefully six weeks won’t be too short a time for him.
The Prayer will be followed by Un-me. Nothing much to do stage-wise. I will still have the four singers with me for that song. The audience will be hearing the music for the first time and have a lot to discover, so might as well leave them time to find their marks and not do too much.
Since Love and long for someone is a poem, I want the text to appear on the screen. The idea would be to make a film of me lying on a bed while the text would scroll on my body. It would end with a close up of my eyes wide open. Will we do that???

Monday, 15 August 2005

Saturday, 13 August 2005

In Zürich

Techno beat thumping loudly from every street corner since this morning. From very quiet and clean, Zürich has turned into a wild outdoor club for the Street Parade.
At the moment, the music sounds like somebody desperately trying to get his tractor started as the church bells are ringing for the vespers maybe as an ultimate outdated effort to lead the people back to the right direction.
Not really different from the Gay Pride, although there is broader diversity of people, young people, old people, children, gays, Goths, drag queens, exotic creatures, a showcase of naked flesh or flaming coloured outfits ranging from hilarious to silly. This arrogant display of youth is arousing – I caught myself yearning for my young days, but people here are friendly and radiate a positive energy.

Now everyone in the house is sleeping, certainly gathering energy for a late night party at some club, for me the first since my joyous evenings at Air with Nolico.

Yesterday Marco organized a barbecue on the terrace for Simon, but the weather chose to play tricks on us, showcasing a beautiful sunny blue sky the whole day, and an army of dark clouds just when we started setting the table on the terrace. It suddenly rained hard when everybody was ready to eat, and of course stopped when all of us had brought the food back inside. The scenario repeated itself many times, but didn’t manage to spoil our pleasure.


Clubbing at the Volkstheater was fine, but the Dj was far from good, limiting himself to a mere monotonous techno beat with obvious breaks and no rhythm changes. I guess the best ever are still the ones I heard at Air in Tokyo. And where was Trevor Jackson?
I came back before everyone else. I’ve danced my ass off for a whole hour and a half, getting less and less space to move as time passed. I don’t pride myself to be able to dance the whole night through anymore. And the crap music put me off. 
I could see on the way home that Zürich was returning to its original state of clean and quiet. The streets were still dotted with colours and littered with broken glass and trampled cans, some people were squatting or lying down on the pavement. Soon the cleaning squad will perform their magic and the Street Parade will only be a blurred and confused memory, now washed away by the rain.

Those days in Zürich will have had their effect. I managed to cool down and tone up my mind and body. Three more days to go, certainly quietly if the rain decides to stay.

I got news from Jo Kanamori’s assistant, who told me I will be staying in a hotel about ten minutes by bike from the theatre. A bike! That will keep me in shape. Now they want a bio and a photo of me.
Which one shall I choose?

Simon sleeping

During the Love Parade

Thursday, 11 August 2005

Ein Traum

Restless night. I made on of those dreams were I was completely powerless in a tricky situation: I was to have staged two plays, as well as perform in them. But the evening came and I had no idea what was going to happen. We were not in a real theatre, more in a very big flat that somehow looked like a cinema, with club armchairs and cushions spread on the floor. The audience were about to get into the room, and I suddenly realized in a growing panic that I had never read my text, that we’d not even had one rehearsal, that no one knew what those two plays were about, but we had to go on stage all the same. I literally was saved by the bell, the church bell next to Marco’s flat that rings every quarter of an hour. What a sweat!

Monday, 8 August 2005

To be in Japan!

It’s official now. I’m going to Japan one week after my concert at the Café de la Danse. Jo Kanamori wants me to be composer in residence in Niigata until the premiere of his piece, that is one month and a half later. The flight and accommodation are paid, and I’ll receive a fairly nice amount of money for the work. They also wish to hear some drafts by early September. Ha ha ha.
That kept me awake the whole past night, as I was focused on very blurry ideas, musical shapes that were running through my mind, and visualizing myself in the situation - I will be in Niigata, in this beautiful theatre in the middle of this ghost city on the sea side. Oh yes, work on human sounds, a process I started on W.H.A. with Régine Chopinot. And I can’t even speak the language. How will my flat be? Or will I be staying in a hotel? What about cooking? I heard flows of human sounds. Work on this dogma that Cyril set. Twelve orders to follow. An interesting experiment is would be to only use twelve effects or plug-ins on one single breathing sound, and see how far I can go. Acoustic instruments. I want to use them as well. A piano and maybe some strings. Most of the electronic music I’ve heard lately are whether too abstract or conceptual, or lack warmth. My father always told me that being brilliant is one thing, but what matters the most is the idea – I would say the human experience which connects us to the universal. I could extend this to many other kinds of music, actually. People tend to be more impressed by the production, by the technicality of a piece which often hide the lack of depth.
So my thoughts wandered. For a time, I completely forgot that I was to finish the album and prepare for a concert – the power of the night, I was a double of myself, almost somebody else.  

Kristina and Philip left this morning. Another chapter begins. We shall remember our dinners together, the wine, the Hôtel du Nord. Our S.W.A.T.T. collective really did see the day this month of July. After each day of rehearsal, we would meet for a late dinner, provide by Chez An, and rejoice about being together and envision things in the future. On a refait le monde, my French friends would say when they tell me about their lengthy after-dinner talks. We might not wish to remodel the world, just build ours with lots of joy and pleasure in the process, and I do believe that is possible.
Simon trusts more and more his entrepreneurial sense, as I trust more and more that my days of lonely wandering are over. Kristina gets more and more involved with us, to the point that she thinks of quitting a few jobs to concentrate on our common projects. Constellation will be presented for the Resolution dance festival next year in London, I shall try to organize more concert, one in Japan for instance. My collaboration with Jo Kanamori will certainly be an open door for more opportunities. 

And now I’m on the train to Zürich. One week of doing nothing at all, eating those delicious Luxemburgerli, enjoying Marco’s sumptuous designy flat. Go swim in the lake among the swans – how camp! - something I’ve been craving for at least a whole year...