Saturday, 16 January 2010

A concert?

My waiting under the rain in the winter cold won’t be for nothing in vain! I had lunch with Renaud Barillet, who is the director of La Bellevilloise in Paris. I took him to my favourite little Chinese restaurant in the Arts & Métiers area. We first met at a gig I gave in this little café-concert called Ailleurs near Bastille back then when I was working with Michèle Atlani, and we occasionally bumped into each other since then without really managing to take the time to sit down and talk. During my stay in Taipei, this urge to be back on stage was itching more and more and I had this vision of myself giving a concert in this venue. I boldly asked him about the possibility of concerts in March or April and he accepted. Things can be so simple sometime! I told him about my projects, and about
I’m so excited and I cannot hide it!
This time there will be no show, no dance. I will only concentrate of the music and the new songs.
I’m thinking about having the usual rock band formation, with the addition of some strings, a tabla player, backing vocalists and a beat boxer. I discarded the thought of playing on a digital piano, in spite of the awareness that it might be more economical. The piano is such an important part in my music, any sensible reasoning did not resist long. There’s no relationship to the instrument when one plays on a digital piano. Renaud knows a company that rents baby grand pianos for a fairly cheap price.

I will go to the venue next week and have a look at the place, pick the dates and go through all the arrangements for the contract. There are two possible venues at La Bellevilloise. In either case, I will have to sure to attract an audience of hundreds. Doable?  

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Back to Paris

Stop over in Bangkok. A waiting lounge full with blond haired travellers returning to Amsterdam from their vacation in Thailand. Most of them were in their t-shirts and flip-flops, obviously still forgetful of the cold that they left and which would greet them again…
I was hoping to see an Asian face among them, to prolong this four month stay in Asia a little more, to discard the fact that this was ending now. My final return to Paris as a Parisian!
The reality of my return to France hasn’t yet hit me, nor did the reality of my decision to leave my dear old Parisian flat and relocate in Taipei. I’m an old cuckoo bird that finally has to jump out of its nest, after having exhausted all possibilities.
The thought that I will no longer have to try so hard to be integrated in the French world is a relief. It may be a very familiar world which I know, love, appreciate and understand certainly much better than many 'true' French people. I am like an adopted son who finds his real parents and has to bid farewell to his adoptive ones. But I will always have this love for France in me. 

Saturday, 9 January 2010


My last days and of course, everyone suddenly wakes up and wants to meet me. On Boxing Day, I had been invited to join a home party with members of the National Theatre staff and artists, mainly dancers and choreographers. The ballet NINA seems to enjoy a good reputation and many of them voiced their wish to work with me in the future. Whether they have actually seen NINA, I don’t know; I guess it’s more a matter of people talking about it and being in the know.
The most interesting one I met wasn’t present at the party, but came to me on Facebook. It was LiangYen who sang praises of my music to him and pushed him to contact me. I am very grateful he did so. This young man, named Huang Yi is indeed an original one. From the very first second, I recognized that sacred fire. There’s nothing else in his life but dance and creation. When he’s not choreographing or dancing, he spends time taking pictures, making and editing videos of his work, writing and even making music. The intensity made me want to say yes at once.
I was asked to compose music for cello solo for a piece he is to choreograph for Cloudgate II, the younger and more contemporary-dance-oriented branch of Cloudgate. However the project would not be realised before 2012, for he has to waste the year 2011 doing his military service. 2011, 2012… And my mind still thinks we are on the edge of the millennium…
Huang Yi showed me some footage of his work. Played me the music he used for them: Arvo Pärt, Xenakis, Bach… I didn’t need to be convinced. I had already accepted.
The first step will be to write ten or fifteen minutes of that cello piece and present it to the audience in May. By my troth, I have plenty of music to extricate from my little brain!

I was invited to the opening of a photo exhibition of Si Chi Ko, one of Taiwanese top photographers at the Huashan Culture Park, a little village in the center or Taipei, composed of old buildings and warehouses dedicated to the arts. He and his wife came to see NINA at the National Theatre and were apparently deeply impressed by what they saw. “Jo Kanamori is a genius!” he told me, beaming. Si Chi Ko had lived in New York, and has seen – and photographed many companies, including Alvin Ailey in his heyday! His wife is also a dancer in her own right and she asked her assistant to hunt me down and get my contact. How did she manage the task? Through Facebook, natürlich!
Si Chi Ko impressed me as a man of many rich lives. He’s seen everything, been everywhere. But I was most of all completely taken by his warmth and gentleness.
One surprising detail I learned in our conversation was that he had an older brother, who lived and is now buried in Niigata! It’s been a few years now and he never had the chance or the time to go there and visit his brother’s grave. Niigata? I would be there in July to work on a new piece with Jo Kanamori, I told him. We toyed with the idea that it would be nice if he went to Niigata for the premiere. A double opportunity in one!
Jessie Fan, his wife, was sitting beside me and introduced her company. She had been working on a new dance piece that was to tour around the world, something about a sea-goddess called Mazu. She had the music written by her usual composer but ended up being dissatisfied by some sections of it. Since she was very impressed by my work with Jo, she was hoping I could do something for her, gave me a DVD the piece and asked me to have a look. To be honest, I am far more interested by her husband's work than hers.  

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year in Taipei

My first truly enjoyable New Years Eve in a long time. 
I tend to stay away from these compulsory celebrations for which one has to wear a gleeful expression on his face and act elated - as I also stay away from social drinking or recreational drugs. 
It’s less the New Year itself than this frenzy and desperate need to do anything to have fun. Partying is overrated and the best way to find out is to be there at the end of any party. I am always surprised to hear some party-goer friends of mine stating that they’re not really into partying and clubbing despite the obvious fact that they travel from one country to another especially to attend such and such event…

Dennis and François came to Taipei to see me – also to have fun. I was very touched by their presence. They’re becoming true and dear friends as months go by.
I took them to the hot springs – what did they actually enjoy the most, the hot spring or the spectacle of all these athletic looking men sweating in the hot pool and parading in their birthday suit? Allow me to pretend to make a guess.

It’s been many consecutive sleepless nights. I think tonight is the last. I’m much too exhausted. For our last evening, Dennis and François took me to a very high class Chinese restaurant near Zhongxiao Xinsheng, the kind of place usually populated by celebrities and very, very important people. However there was no one in sight tonight. Maybe they were recovering from the partying and celebrating.
We ended the night at Jump. I initially dreaded it, but quite enjoyed myself there, against all odd. The place was so crammed full that it was virtually impossible to light a cigarette. The air conditioning had been turned off, a clever trick to compel people to buy more drinks. It was Turkish bath meets Tokyo during rush hour.