Hello Thibaut, or do you prefer Raymonde?
Hi Jürgen, as you wish. Or whatever you come up with. I’d be curious.
What is the world to you? The monde you refer to in your artist’s name?
The world is an illusion that should be taken with humour and humility, even when I’m a bigmouth with moderate anxiety. However, “monde” in my artist’s name… it’s more of a coincidence, a concourse of circumstances I’d say. It’s the combination of Raymond and deux, Raymond II, which sounds pretty similar to Raymonde in French, which is, in its turn, derived from Raymond IV.
I wanted to find a simple name, not something too common or symbolic, because that would have too much of an influence. I considered “silence” at first, as a tribute to the only sound that is impossible to create musically, but I might have ended up making nothing. So, I tried something with the name that’s always been used for me: Thibaut de Raymond. After “de” comes “Raymond”. It actually means Thibaut OF Raymond. Anyways, I found the name Raymond rather funny, a bit archaic, a bit pathetic, referring the France of yesteryear. It made me feel like going for a stroll in my marcel to go buy bread, enjoy nature, see the sun set in the mountains, listen to the dawn chorus. The IV refers to the number of speakers that surround me when I perform quadrophonically.
We could continue this game of references - we could make even more associations. Although Ray doesn’t really mean anything in French, it still sounds like other words in French: the sea animal, a split in a hairdo, the split between the buttocks. A funny association between something one is eager to show and something which is kept hidden out of shame. It could also refer to the note “re” or the God Re or Ra, Sun Ra...
Your music is rooted in many traditions, how did that come about?
First of all, I like the idea of oral traditions, of transmitting and learning by ear. Actually, it’s more like this: when a sound comes at you, one way or another, without really knowing where it comes from, to hear it and to see it also and then to feel it and digest it… it’s like food and the mouth, you know… and what comes out has to be fertile. As if it’s music from beyond the grave that lives on today and keeps influencing people. Recycling and such. I have the impression that life is made up of cycles that cross and interfere all of the time, causing patterns and structures. Rhythm fascinates me by instinct. Rhythm is primordial in many traditions. It’s got me hooked. And once you’re in, you find it’s an inexhaustible source.
What are your influences? And where or how did you pick them up?
Ooh, that’s quite hard to say. When speaking of music, ever since I discovered musique concrète and Sun Ra, anything can be an influence. All the styles of the past, present and future, if I were able to listen to the future. Influences come and go, like cycles. The pieces I make for different carriers are more simple than my concert pieces, which are often improvised and more experimental, more rich in sonorous material from all the genres I absorb as time moves on. I have a sonorous cooking pot and I just see what comes out. I have the impression that I’m trying to make a musical entity appear during my concerts, like an invocation. I’m just there, trying to balance the forces, but eventually the music gives birth to itself. Even if plenty of sounds are produced by me, once in the cooking pot it’s not important anymore. It has happened that children were playing with my setup producing the most amazing stuff.
You work with tapes and a 4-track, or so I’ve been told by the information I found on the almost black hole called the Internet. Do these tapes contain merely self-produced material or do you use found material and other’s music too?
Both. It’s the same thing for me. It’s sounds put to tape, at a certain time, put together in a haphazardly manner onto the cassette tape. I speed the material up, I speed it down, I mix it all in function of what that sound dictates.
Most of the time it’s self-produced material, from an improvisation I made with rhythms or a synthesizer or an acoustic instrument. I also pick up stuff from traditional songs that I mix altogether. Or there is also a capella hip hop voices like one Notorious B.I.G. for example that I often use live, because he has a fuckin’ good flow. Whether you dub it slow or fast, it’s always good flow!
You did an in-depth study of Voodoo rhythms. Where did you start?
To be honest, I don’t really know. I just followed the rhythms I fell across when listening randomly. Haiti is also a sacred corner of the world. Voodoo culture and Haitian history can really interest me when I have time to dive into that matter. It’s a big source of inspiration when I’m looking for ways to surpass myself.
In his book Inner Sound, Jonathan Weinel links Voodoo trance and shamanism to techno and rave culture. He surely is not the first one to do so, but what is interesting in his book is that he’s also linking psychedelics to that and, in that, he points out that because of the use of psychedelics in arts and music, the general perception has also altered along with that. We have gotten used to so much strange sounds that are actually quite psychedelic on the one hand and on the other side we have come to take art, both audio and video clearly inspired by psychedelic experiences, for granted. He then further projects this into the future and claims that technology might eventually replace drugs. Any thoughts on that yourself? What role does psychedelia play in your art? What role does trance play? What role does communion play?
I don’t know the book, but it sounds interesting. Psychedelia can open doors. It must really have had an impact on perception too, much like World War I or Dadaism, I like to think. Everything has its motors.
Personally, I only like to take natural hallucinogens. Also, I have never been in the situation to be able to take in music and sound in that state. The psychedelic effects are in themselves already pretty intense. Besides that, I’m quite the smoker. It can help to relax while playing, but I also smoke because I’m quite anxious. In the end, every time I’ve taken a substance before playing, I’ve had the impression that I felt less close to my music and my position as a medium of this music. I felt more like a spectator of my own physical and mental state. Nevertheless, sometimes I have a little bit before playing.
I can’t really talk about “trance” or “the zone”. Communion? That reminds me of the Communcards in 1871 or “trans-substantiation” according to the dictionary. Love and anarchy! That’s not a bad cocktail, is it?
You sometimes perform in a quadraphonic setting. What is the difference with a stereo performance, besides the more spatial experience?
I’m not too fond of the traditional frontal approach of performing. When I perform in stereo, I try to hide in the crowd, in front of the sound system, and when I play in quad I try to put myself in the center to hear the speaker balance as much as possible but with as little light as possible. I love playing in the dark, as dark I can. I stop looking at my faders, it adds a bit of a physical thing. Trying to free oneself from perception and besides, I don’t really care for people watching me, that’s not interesting at all, I only want people to “float”. People can stand in front of each other, anywhere, basically, like at a ball. It provokes encounters for both sound and humans. I would also like to have more animals at my concerts, but they’re hard to motivate, not unlike spirits or UFOs and I don’t have a decoder yet… Also, I use polyrhythms and canon when I play in quad, so the pieces may be perceived differently depending on your position in the room.
I quite like the idea that nothing is determined, always mutating, things just come and go. I have never played a single piece that appeared on a carrier… well… except for “la ritournelle des particules” which is a thing I composed a couple of years ago on 4-track cassette and which I redub every so often...
What makes you decide to perform stereo or quadra?
When possible, I perform in quad; if not, in stereo, and if that’s not possible, I play in mono, and if that’s not possible… I don’t know. I’ve never tried.