Monday, 17 December 2018

Blank page (blank sheet)

Ròm ~ writing the film score... The situation isn't new... I am sitting in front of the piano or my computer, and nothing comes out. Mind you, it's my third long feature film this year, so that may be understandable. And I am to have finished everything in about two weeks, and Franco is coming this afternoon to record his guitar parts, and my head is blank and I haven't written down a single note...

Friday, 14 December 2018

Bonjour.... I feel I could stay in bed the whole day today...
First lie in in months!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Half past midnight. Paris. I was in the metro, headphones on, iPod playing Philip Glass and reading a book. I stood up to get off the train and put the book in my bag. I noticed a grey-haired, bearded middle-aged man with a dark blue woolen hat on, drinking a can of beer. As the doors were about to open I felt someone tap lightly on my coat. It was the man. He was pointing up at my bag, his dark eyes twinkling . "Do you like it?". As he saw my confused expression, he added "The book!". I was reading Virginie Despentes' Vernon Subutex

"Yes, I do like it! Very much!", I replied. 

The man smiled. "First or second?". A young girl was watching our exchange with a puzzled look. 

"I'm reading the first tome" I said. "It's great", the man continued. He seemed so pleased and smiled broadly. The door signal was ringing. It was time to get off. I looked back one more time and made a thumb up sign to him. 

It wasn't the first time I had this kind of connection, this sense of kinship with other readers on the train. It was heartwarming.

Friday, 7 December 2018

I don't mind long days of hard work when I get do much joy out of what I do. I must have spent one of the happiest and most fulfilling week of my life, working on, editing composing, mixing and finalising the score for the black and white and silent reworking of The Third Wife, now entitled Between Shadow and Soul - which was the film first title before Ash changed it to 'The Third Wife'.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Time and time

I just came back from 4 days in Toulouse where I worked on the music editing for our 'secret' black and white film project. 

A lots of music has been written for it. Hours and hours. Much more than anybody would for a film, many tell me. Ash and Julie, the editor played with all the pieces I had sent them. The first draft already surprised me more than pleasantly, as they used the music in ways I didn't expect. Naturally, the next step will be to bring all the pieces and bits together to create a coherent musical flow. 

Then more magic happened, on the very last moment before I was leaving for the aiport. I still had no plan for the end credit. "I will take care of that later when I'm back in Paris" I said to Ash.
Then for some reason, Julie suddenly played a track I had composed for the lost DunHuang project Silk x 21. It was one of the pieces that Ash and Julie had liked when they spent a whole day listening to all the music I had sent them. "We love that one" Ash said. It's a pity it isn't in the film..." 
"Wait a minute... it would actually be very nice for the end credit!" Ash's eyes lit up! "Oh YES!!! That's a brilliant idea!!!" 
We tried it and indeed it worked very well.
"Now..." I continued "We have to introduce that theme somewhere in the film, so it doesn't feel like a peacock in the living-room."
It was an elegiac melody sung by a male voice, backed by a male choir, with a string section part in the middle. But the style and mood was more... Slavic.
Ash didn't say anything and waited for me to go on.
"Julie, I will give you a cello track that plays that theme alone and we can put it in the scene when May is watching the second wife and her daughters sing under the moonlight.
"YEEEEAHHHH" Ash was overjoyed.
"But it still feels a tad odd to have this Slavic chanting in your film"
"I don't care!!!" Ash cried out with a big smile. "I like it!!!"
"Maybe... Yes! maybe we should re-record a female voice for the end credit. I will re-structure the piece, of course, and add musical motives from the film. But the female voice will make much more sense." I thought of Isabelle.
Ash loved the idea. That will happen when we work together again at PolySon with Roman.

I was bewildered by how pieces which I wrote one years before 'The Third Wife' began shooting, had been patiently waiting to be used, as if my intuition or inspiration had anticipated what was to come years after...
The three of us were stunned in a state of wonder.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

 Visa application for Canada done. And next week, I will fly to Toronto for the TIFF! Yay!

Friday, 27 July 2018

Bienvenue in Paree...

A young black girl at the Gare Saint Lazare, working for the train station to help travellers and tourists:

Girl: "Oh it's very eezee, you go down down down of ze gare, hein! Trois niveaux, hein? And zen you follow ze panneau, d'accord? And you walk tout droit and you are arrivé!"

Tourist: ...

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Finished the music for the end credits of Song Lang. Solo violin by Koji, strings, percussion, and the piano reprising the elegy at the very end. I asked Leon to sing a couple of lines in cải lương style so that the audience dive once more in the atmosphere of the film before leaving the theatre. A few details to readjust, but I think the score for the film is now completed. I can't believe I managed given the conditions and the limited time I had.

Now, three days left in Paris before the next chapter begins...

Saturday, 21 July 2018

"I'm afraid to forget as well, and as quickly as the others. To forget the earth is very rich but for the good of many species and not just one, be it the human one."

Thursday, 5 July 2018

I dreamed that I bumped into my dear friend Lara, who lives in Toronto.
"You know the great news?" I gleefully told her. "We will finally meet again after all these years! I will come to Canada!!!" 

The logic of dreams...

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The narrative reaches a point when trying to make sense of something equates putting all your energy to create a new illusion so not to face the fact that it all was built on an erroneous notion of ourselves, although it would have been impossible to realise that before having lived the life experience that led to the point when the narrative reaches a point when... 

Night time musing. Oh well... insomnia again. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Final days for the score of Song Lang, yet still a lot of music to revise and edit or new music to write... I had to... enrich the sound of the string ensemble, so I recorded a bit of my cello playing - 'playing' is a euphemism to describe what I did, but well, long notes to hold, I can manage!

Bientôt fini!!!


I (finally) received the contract for the film yesterday and I was slightly amused by the mention stating that "I shouldn't be drinking nor playing cards during work".
Obviously, the production company knows nought when it comes to dealing with composers. The contract was obviously made for the technicians... 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Ce matin, ce n'était pas un lapin mais Dennis qui fredonnait une autre 'perle' de La Compagnie Créole: C'est bon pour le moral.

Comme le remarquait Vanessa, "Il y en a qui connaissent leurs classiques!"
Bonne journée.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

 My mother's conversation makes less and less sense... I feel like I'm on drugs when I talk to her...

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Annoying when the travel agent doesn't do her job well and get the wrong month for the return flight... I double-checked the day but not the month. Now the 'fees' are more expensive than what I paid for the round trip.

If not, I shall return to Taipei next week...

Friday, 25 May 2018

Dream: I was with my brother at a concert. I was attending a gig given by a friend. A large section in the middle was inaccessible, as it was reserved for the VIP - the Silver Triangle as they called it. But there was nobody in there. Then the concert began. There was a gigantic screen. The stage was miniscule. And Björk appeared... Björk? For some reason, I was totally indifferent to that (when I love Björk in real life). My brother and I left after the first song and we walked toward the nearest metro station. During all the time, not a single word was exchanged... 

Sad and odd.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

 The title of my new album will be PERSONAL FICTION.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

New contract for the year signed with Mr. Kang, my landlord. Off for another year in this beloved flat of mine! I'm very fortunate to have such an understanding landlord who hasn't raised the rent for the past 8 years, and who sympathises with my situation as a musician. But he also knows how I take good care of his flat. "Your landlord likes you very much" my friend Ansel said. "And he's a feng shui specialist, so he knows it when he sees a good tenant!

So now, I can enjoy wandering from one room to another, wearing the sarong that I have recently have made in Vietnam after a unique piece that was offered to me by my dear goddess dancer friend Kristina!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Dream... I saw Jo in my dream last night. What happened before that scene is now blurry, but I remember seeing him coming out of the theatre after a rehearsal of NINA. As always I was very happy to see him, especially after such a long time. He told me that he was considering moving to another country to try something different, after nearly 15 years running his company Noism. I told him I was sorry I wouldn't be able to come to Shanghai to see the performances of NINA. Then it occured to me that if I was talking to him, I must be whether in Niigata, or in Shanghai with him... Then, of course I woke up...

I'm still trying to find a way to come. The visa issue is the one big obstacle. 

NINA - materialize sacrifice... Our first piece together. It changed the course of our lives. That was in 2005. I have rarely met an artist with whom I feel such a deep connection and creative kinship.

And Sawako will be dancing The Dream of the Swan next week in Hangzhou and Shanghai. That solo is our latest creative effort. I wish I could see it in realy life...


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

I dreamed that I had a baby daughter who had super powers. It was exhausting....

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A la maison...

I finished revising / rewriting the closing section of Nhà [Home] that Sébastien Ly commissioned me for his new project in Saigon. Not easy when musicians and equipment are in another country... But luckily enough, there is a digital piano at my cousin's place!

Hopefully the new version will be the right one! There isn't much communication with Sébastien. Sometime I wonder why I even accepted to join this project. He seemed apologetic when he approached me again, a year after we did [FEEL] in/out, after he realised what a manipulative b.... person that Sylvie Becquet actually was. I guess it takes two to tango or mambo. He wasn't to be surprised at what she did to him, though, seeing the histotu she had with other companies... Foolish or not, I'm always ready to forget past issues if the person seems to be sincere. This old desire to please, I suppose... However, he barely acknowledged me when I showed up at the Quynh gallery where Nhà is to have its premiere, 'busy' as he was with his team.
One good reason to do this project is to be back in Saigon. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

As the new version of my first short film is being finalised, I have been doing lots of reading, biographies or journals by or about Truffaut, Edward Yang, the Beat Generation, Mozart, Frida Kahlo... I am having lengthy conversations with friends and fellow artists... and I couldn't help but think that, even if we may not yet be fully aware of it, in our common struggles, our determination to go on and survive in the fast and narcissistic Internet age, to develop our projects, work and collaborate with others, keep our integrity despite the hardship, we form an artistic movement not unlike the French or Taiwanese Wave, the Beat Generation, or the Fluxus Movement. When I read about them, I can't help but see the similarities. I am thankful that they existed, that they left us such a wonderful legacy. I am inspired by people like Diaghilev, Erik Satie, Al Hansen, Franz Liszt or Truffaut. They give me the strength and the confidence to keep on, despite what I see and hear around me, despites those who doubt, despite the fact that, more often than not, I am on the verge of giving everything up. 

Nobody knows where all this will lead to, but I shall keep on contributing. 

So thank you my friends and fellow artists.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

I find it (slightly) amusing how Facebook, Instagram LINE & consort assault us with more and more advertisement but are kind enough to allow us to 'hide' those we do not wish to see by offering a very politically correct American way to 'express' our opinion: not relevant / see it to often / find it offensive, so it can help them to find more suitable advertisement to invade our space, privacy and mind - and to make a paraphrase of that famous phrase, "I want (more) therefore I am"...

Seeing how we are governed by fools nowadays, April's Fool shouldn't be a special day anymore... unless we're foolish enough to believe everything is alright...

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Scandal - or is it really?

There is this often used phrase about 'history  repeating'. There is also the fact that people forget very, very quickly. And with smartphones and internet, we are (very well) trained to shrink our ability to remember and memorise anything, facts or events. Because our dependence on them feeds the market. The more dependent people are, the more they sell. A similar pattern applies for any other addiction (cigarettes, alcohol...). I see all those people acting surprised and indignant after the recent Facebook scandal.  But ... do they remember a certain Edward Snowden? I agree it is a huge scandal, but I'm not at all surprised - sadly not at all surprised... 

Some people chose to leave. As an act of protest, perhaps rebellion? Or is just statemental? Fine, fine... Will they start writing letters again, send telegrams, and throw bottles in the sea? Wherever they go, whatever app they may use, it will be the same. If we really want this to change, we have to change the way we live, think, act and consume. That takes time. And lots of will. Do smartphones train us to achieve that? ... Not the occasional cream puff idealists.

There is this often used phrase about 'history repeating'. There is also the fact that people forget very, very quickly. And with smartphones and internet, we are very well trained to shrink our ability to remember and memorise. Because our dependence on them feeds the market. The more dependent people are, the more they sell. A similar pattern applies for any other addiction (cigarettes, alcohol, fashion, just anything actually...). I see all those people acting surprised and indignant after the recent Facebook scandal.  But ... do they remember a certain Edward Snowden? I agree it is a huge scandal, but I'm not at all surprised. 

Some people chose to leave. Fine. Will they start writing letters again, send telegrams, and throw bottles in the sea? Wherever they go, whatever app they may use, it is the same. If we really want this to change, we have to change the way we live, think, act and consume. That takes time. And a tremendously big dose of will. Do smartphones train us to achieve that? ... Not necessary for the occasional cream puff idealists.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018


Lunar New Year is in ten days. I have come back from Paris for nearly a month. I froze in time. I barely go out, except for getting food. In the past two weeks, I started to cook for myself again. Since my return, my body developped a weird reaction to what I eat here in Taipei. Perhaps the oil, perhaps all the chemicals they keep adding to make the dishes look more appetizing... My fingers were slightly numb, as if poisoned, the skin on their outer side beginning to dry up. I had already noticed that physical reaction each time I would go or come back from Paris. It slowly disappeared after three weeks, as I drank more fluids, particularly this wonderful artichoke tea from Vietnam. Perfect to cleanse one's liver and kidney.
I fell sick at some point. Fever. It struck me within minutes. I could feel it invade my body, ineluctably. An hour later, I was pinned to my bed.
Sleep was the only answer. I had experienced insomnia mixed with jetlag, and my sleeping pattern had been chaotic. Now all is fine again. I prefer to stay in the small guest room. I feel safer there. My nights had been noticeable better than those spent in the main bedroom, where I have the weird feeling that something, someone? was calling me back to the small guest room, as if the spirit there was annoyed that I would sleep elsewhere.
When the mind is weak, everything becomes real.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The jetlag effect... I wake up in the middle of the night. I don't know where I am. Whether it is Paris or Taipei. Or Saigon. I don't know whether I'm still in one of those weird dreams I often have. I recognise my room yet I wonder if it will not morph into another room that ressembles my room but turns out to be another one that feels familiar yet is totally foreign to me...

Will I dream again of buildings crumbling down because of violent storms...?

Sunday, 14 January 2018

I had bought Bi đừng sợ (Bi don't be afraid), one of the two films by Di Phan Dang that are available on DVD in France. The film was praised as a good example of the emergence of Vietnamese cinema. My father was looking forward to watching it.

Then came the screening evening with my parents. I had no idea what the film was really about. 

Beautiful photography. The little boy playing Bi was excellent. Scent of the Taiwanese New Wave, Tsai Ming Liang and Edward Yang in the way they depicted the change of society, the generation gap.

The story evolved three generations of a Vietnamese family in Hanoi. An ailing old man who comes back after a long time away, a married man who neglects his wife and sighs after a masseuse, his wife who tries to forget her husband's lack of affection by taking care of her father in law, the younger sister who teaches at the high school, desperately falls for one handsome boy and also looks for a potential husband, and the little boy Bi, who connects the three generations from his innocent eyes... (don't think of Yi Yi...)

Then came the first sex scene. Raw. The younger sister goes on a date to the beach and is being shagged on the rocks by the seaside. Nice view of the man's bum.

My father (after a while): "It is a what one calls a mating scene."
My mother: "Mating scene... Looks like cats and dogs!"

I didn't know what to say or do. We continued watching.

Then came the second sex scene: the sister is lusting for the young and pretty student and hides behind the high reeds to watch him play football with his friend in the fields. All the young men are shirtless. Rainstorm. The sister is stuck in the reeds. Unaware of her presence, the young student comes near the sister. He doesn't see her of course, but he needs to pee, which he does facing the camera. The sister gasps and so do we. 

No word from my parents. I could hear the crickets from the field...

Third scene: the sister is obviously very frustrated and, in the heat of the summer night, she goes down to the basement to get some ice and use one piece as a refreshing dildo.

More silence.

My mother (after a while): "What on earth is she doing...?"
My father: "Oh well... it is very hot..."

I was dead laughing inside, but was almost grateful that my mother had Alzheimer...
Then the fourth scene: the husband comes back home, drunk and deeply frustrated that his romancing to the masseuse didn't go anywhere. After a fight with his wife, he savagely shaggs her on the bed. Of course there is no music - there was practically no music in the film anyway, although, I was surprised to see the name of Vũ Nhật Tân, one of the Vietnamese composers my father has been supporting and promoting years ago.
All we heard wa the creaking of the bed frame. And the scene went on and on....


My father: "Mating... once more. It seems the younger generation of filmmakers need to say something about the subject..."

Needless to say that my father didn't ask to watch the other film I had bought. He handed back the other DVD without needing to add anything.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

 My nephew: "I want to sit next to my uncle."|
"Yes, because I have to enjoy every minute I have with my uncle."

My parents: !!!

My nephew: "Yes. My uncle lives far away, so when he is there, I want to seize every instant I have with him. It's the same with my best friend Clément. He also lives far away..."

My parents were stunned. Nobody could say anything to that. Six-year-old Vũ An knows life!

My nephew as a photographer, taking a photo of me and my parents:  "Oh! That one is not bad!"

Monday, 8 January 2018

My nephew Vũ An and his dear Lapin before going to bed...