Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Journey to the past

Seeing death drift around beloved ones is never easy. My uncle may live a few years more, a few months more. He’ll have an appointment with the doctors to decide whether or not he’ll be operated. But at the age of 80, it’s unlikely that he will come out stronger and cured.
He’s already taken his decision. However, we are all searching for alternative solutions to strengthen him. Medicinal plants, ayurvedic remedies, acupuncture…There must other ways then this lethal operation.
So we met, my parents and I, at my uncle’s place. I hadn’t come there for at least ten years. He and his wife have always lived there, as far as my memory can take me, a modest one room flat in the outskirt of Paris: two beds on either side of the room, the old wooden dining table in the middle covered by a big glass plate, a big closet against the wall where he stores his most treasured belongings and walls covered with his paintings. As a child, the miniature size of the flat already struck me. There was just enough room to circulate around the table.
The sight of the flat today devastated me. No wonder he has got lung cancer. It was impossible to breathe, so stuffed was the room. Piles of letters, boxes, jars, more boxes, pamphlets, books and souvenirs from the many pilgrimages they made even a few years back. The air mustn’t have been renewed for centuries.

He showed us his sketches. Some of them were quite beautiful, some of them were average. He’s going to prepare more to show us next time. He took us to a room next door that used to be his workshop – and now more of a storage room, and exhibited a large sized painting.
If the sketches didn’t leave the strong impression I wished they’d have on me, these big paintings were on the contrary, very compelling, especially the more abstract ones that were inspired by dreams and wanderings in nature. He’s created a particular shade of blue that I find beautiful and that he’s used throughout his work.
"This painting is for you to take."
My mother was deeply moved. My father kept silent, but I knew he felt the same.
"When I’m gone, the rest will be yours as well."

I scanned a few sketches and put them in my computer. I don’t know what this book will be. We need to see the rest of his work. I guess his earlier production might be more interesting.
It will take more time than what my parents think. If we want to do something worthwhile, the object has to be thoroughly conceived, with a precise direction. To do just a sketchbook to give away to friends and acquaintances will be pointless. This man has lived a unique life, filled with joys but also lots of frustration. He’s an excellent writer and has penned wonderful texts and poems.
The enthusiasm aside, I just wonder how that can happen. It’s such an amount of work. And this shade of death makes me feel uneasy.


It’s so good to do nothing. As Nicolas said to me, I am two months ahead of my own schedule. So that’s a wonderful opportunity to take care of me, reconnect on a deeper level and enjoy the time. Nothing is never really nothing anyway. I nurture myself with positive thoughts, good food and enjoyable activities.
My ideas become clearer. I feel joy in me. The creative dragon will soon come back to me.

I have been in touch with Talvin Singh lately. At first I didn’t believe it was him, but then, why shouldn’t it be? We’ll try to hook up next time he comes to Paris, or when I come to London. He’s got 137 songs waiting to be mastered! And I have only 4 for the new album, some of them I have written some time ago already!

Butterfly Rider
The Blessing
Battle of Wits
Well Battle of Wits is only in my head. I still haven’t recorded anything yet.
I have bumped into a drummer girl, Tatiana, who knew me from the time I played with Michèle Atlani. Last century, that was!
I don’t know why, I feel I want to work with her. There was a positive vibe emanating from her. Of course, I still have Musoso in mind. But he’s stuck in the suburb as a family boy, still afraid to leave the nest and tell mama he’s a grown up now. 25 years old! That’s no baby, no mo’!

My fantasy is that Talvin Singh played the tablas on a couple of my songs. I had that wish back then when I was writing Circlesong. Allon Conway had met him in London and given him a demo of mine, but the story froze at that stage and was left there, somewhere between two clouds. The wish still persisted and I see no reason why it shouldn’t happen now.
Well it’s full moon tonight and my mind is running wild.
But I haven’t felt that serene in ages.

Monday, 27 August 2007


An uncle of mine – I call him uncle because he’s like family, has discovered he’s got lung cancer. He is a painter who came to Paris in the 1950’s and claims to have met everyone: Michèle Morgan, Orson Welles, Zao Wou Ki, Henry Miller, Henri de Montherlant… the other names escaped me…The line between his imagination and what really happens is now part of the mystery.
I’m going to see him tomorrow to have a look at all the sketches he’s drawn throughout his life and make a selection for a little artbook project about his work, something that could be entitled A Vietnamese painter In Paris, a compilation of letters, sketches and little comments or memories from such and such places, such and such people.
And suddenly this character will emerge from the unknown and surprise people who do not know of this idealized time of the Paris of the 50’s, Saint-Germain, artists and writers seen through his eyes. I’m curious to see what treasures he’s hiding in his drawers.

It took me some time to see Nicolas again. I didn’t want to rush things. What he had told me really shook me and a couple of months were hardly enough to ease my mind and soul.
We eventually met some ten days ago for a walk. The sight of this tall and sharp young man made me feel uncomfortable, yet I tried to keep my composure and waited to see what he would say. 
We decided to meet in the Quartier Latin. Starbucks Café on the bouvevard Saint Michel. We could have picked some better place, but I was in no mood for anything fancy. 
Of course I was happy to see him. But more cautious as well. I'm too happy when tension finds its resolution. My parents were never able to solve their issues with each other. I try to learn the lesson and not be afraid to step into the electric zone. I'm aware that's the way Nicolas is and that I should expect other volcanic outbursts from him. 

Thursday, 16 August 2007

The wind carries me away

Maybe those four words were a foreboding of what was really to happen. Jo just sent me a short message saying he cancelled the Brazil project.
Since I haven’t started anything on it, I can’t have any regret.
However, this decision was taken because PLAY 2 PLAY might be touring in South Korea, which is excellent news because the piece wasn’t likely to be performed anywhere unless the theatre has got a big budget for it.
So Jo didn’t want to ruin the chances for PLAY 2 PLAY to have a second life, which I can understand. Maybe it will be postponed for the following year.

I still think Jo is starting to crumble under his sense of duty. I’m not so sure Noism is a good future for him if the company prevents him from developing personal projects.

Well it’s time for me to write on my own wall. Hong Kong? New York? Taipei?

I was to have a lonely dinner at a Chinese noodle restaurant tonight. I was showed a table at the end of the room when I bumped into Amaury and two of his Asian friends who were about to start eating.
The youngest of the two turned out to be quite an adventurer in spite of his age – he’s only 22! But he has decided to leave France when he was 18 and travel to Asia to find his roots. China, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, then also Ireland, New York, and Rome…
His confidence in life was inspiring. He didn’t care about money. He’d find a job when he needed one, he’d find a place to stay when he’d look for one.

So inspiring….

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Collision / Friction / Quake / Explosion

Full moons are a time when I have no control over myself. I’m possessed by some force that can manipulate me like a puppet. I didn’t realize it at first, the last time. I only felt very irascible and touchy. I would startle at the slightest noise like that character from the Katherine Tate Show. My mind would become the prey of agonizing gushes of self doubt, I didn’t trust anything anymore, my future suddenly would seem grey and worthless to me. Nicolas’ words came back to haunt me like the Erinnyes.
What was happening? I hardly could recognize myself. Then as I biked along the river Seine, I understood. Up in the darkening sky shone the moon. Full beautiful. Unconcerned by the torments of her slaves!
It took a couple of days for the effect to wear out. The questions remain, but I can counter balance the doubts with more positive thoughts. How long shall I go on like that?

I got a reply from Maëlle about her dance piece. Everything should be going smoothly and simply. For once! I have all my ideas ready in my mind. I’m just waiting for her synopsis so to structure them. Now that I have written full scale ballets, a twenty-five minute piece seems like a child game to me.
Let’s not be too hasty and arrogant, though!

I finally received two photographs of Jo’s wedding. I was in shock when I saw his face. It was all puffy and tired. Not a happy wedding face. But I already had felt some slight disapproval when I read the news. Not about the fact that he was to marry Sawako. It was more the hastiness of the decision that startled me. I wish I could have called and talked to him. But who am I to say anything? We are only working together. I have no say to that. Yet I feel I should have opened my big mouth and told him what my intuition was whispering to me.
The timing was all wrong. He should have waited a few more months and take some time for himself. Jo is a man of responsibility. But this sense of duty prevents him from seeing the right path to follow. Now wasn’t the time to get married. Now was the time to find his true self again in order to step up to a new phase in his life. It was obvious that the stressful time he had to go through because of - or for his company was only an alert.
But Jo has shielded himself behind all these responsibilities and it isn’t likely that he’ll manage to get out of this muddy situation if he keeps on playing with these lousy cards.
I hope the new piece we’re going to do for the Brazil City Ballet will be a good opportunity for him to get some perspective.
He told me the key words about that piece:
Collision /  Friction / Quake / Explosion

Are they also key words about his subconscious?

Friday, 3 August 2007


My dreams are a really interesting as mirrors of my inner development. I cannot understand all the symbols but the imprint that it leaves the following morning is vivid. Last night, it was a complicated dream involving a train station, and me being asked to sing or play something. I was hearing the song Nature Boy but I found out it wasn’t the song as soon as I started singing it. It had morphed into something else in my dream! I woke up and wanted to write it down but before I could even think of getting a music sheet, I was falling asleep again. The dream went on with me improvising some Rachmaninov-like prelude to a song I was searching in a book. How I managed to play and search the song at the same time is beyond me… Then I heard a contrabass play behind me and knew it was Rémi. Some friends were gathering around the piano, including Vanessa. But we were constantly changing places and I could never finish or even start the song.
That certainly holds some revelation (too many projects in my mind?) but I felt good and confident when I woke up.
The dream might be a reflecting what I’m trying to set for an video interview that a young music journalist wants to do with me for an alternative music website named Miam.
His idea was to blend a simple and intimate performance with an interview. I thought of using Karen’s gorgeous flat and do the performance as I wander from one room to the next while the camera is following me. David, (the journalist who’s going to be in charge of the project) liked the fact that I’d come up with ideas of my own. Yet I wonder how well that can translate.
And what song shall I sing?