Hello Roxane, how are you doing? Where are you at the moment?
I’m doing well. I’m currently in Brussels.
I first heard about your music through your collaboration with David Jarrin as Sage Alyte. I suppose this was not your first musical outlet. Can you briefly explain your musical background?
I started making music at the local music school in my village, and as I wanted to expand my practice, I ended up going to the conservatory at a different nearby village. Around that time, when I was about 14, I was working with a friend on Irish musical scores. It was my first duo. We played in church in Normandy. After that I stopped my classes during high school while improvising from time to time with friends. It was only when I started making the soundtracks for my videos that I began making music again. Meeting David Jarrin was also an important factor in that process.
Who were the people that inspired you to start making music? Were you listening to music before you started playing music yourself at all? And if so, what music was it?
When I was a child, as I began playing the violin, I would ask for CDs for Christmas. I’d listen to Paganini’s Caprices as well as a CD called Hilary Hahn Plays Bach. At home we also listened to a lot of medieval music, which I think had an impact on me. At the moment, a lot of the music that I listen to is on the MusicRepublic blog or on labels such as Ocora. I’m also a pretty big fan of Tomas Tello, Accident du Travail, Valentina Goncharova, Priscilla Ermel. And of course a lot of my friends: Me-and, Disposicion Asoleada, Ce soir, as well as Fureur de Vouivre, a fantastic group that I recently shared a bill with.
What’s your approach in your musical practice these days? Do you play other instruments then violin too? How do you start on a new piece? Do you improvise or are they composed in a certain way?
At the moment, I’m mainly exploring the percussive possibilities of the violin and trying to transform the violin into other instruments. While I mainly improvise, there are certainly recurring elements which I organise and use as compositional structures. I record in the forest, surrounded by the elements, birds singing and creeks babbling, in order to establish a fictional dialogue with them so they don’t only serve as sound decorations to merely layer the violin onto.
I was looking forward to seeing your new collaboration with dancer Siet Raeymaekers a lot. Sadly this concert got canceled as well. The name of this new project (Gebogen Ogen) is also one of the most beautiful band names I’ve heard in a long time. Can you tell us some more about it?
Yes, it began by wanting to meet up with Siet, among other reasons after seeing her dance in Quanta Qualia. Over the course of our sessions we progressively blurred the line between music and dance. It was mainly during our residence in March at the Château de Montholon that the piece took shape. Music was no longer solely a support for Siet to dance on, as I also became an active element through the physicality of playing the violin, and the gestures that the act implies gave way to postures that we invented and that gradually transformed into choreography. For this project, the idea is that of two life forms that exist in parallel dimensions and that try to communicate through the tools that they dispose of - sound and movement - without the possibility of visual contact. Thus we can’t see each other, only feel each other.
Knowing Sage Alyte and now this new joint venture with Siet, how important is collaborating for you? What’s the thing there that attracts you to do it? How do you look at it compared to your solo practice?
Indeed it’s beautiful and enriching to come into contact with other spheres. It implies other ways to discover the other that don’t go through spoken language. These collaborations allow for new worlds and possibilities to be created, which is really powerful. In my opinion, this becomes more attainable the more one’s own universe is developed. It’s one of the reasons why I consider solo output to be very important, as it’s an impressive form of liberty.
What will you play for us this Friday?
I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be playing on Friday, but I’ve already gathered some sounds and ideas for it. The architecture is nearly defined, but the improvisation will certainly transform.
We asked you to find yourself a place to play in where you normally wouldn’t go to create or perform music. With these covid restrictions this can be quite a challenge. Do you feel anything for putting yourself in unknown terrain when it comes to playing music? I mean this both physically and psychologically
I like playing music outdoors, in the forest for example - this way, another “audience” can listen as well. There is also direct interference from another stratum of sounds that comes from a wild environment and which interacts with the sounds you make, the latter which reverberate through the trees to reach wider distances. I’ve only been able to do this acoustically for the time being, which I consider an important factor to keep in my practice. It makes for a different, narrower link to the violin as the sound comes solely from the inside of the violin, close to the ears. When the machine is absent you can move more freely and carry out different gestures.
I was also able to see, with the project with Siet, the extent to which space can affect sound through its not only acoustic but also physical and energetic properties. During our residence we had an enormous space which was most likely the ancient chapel of the castle. The piece was amplified once we took it out of their initial space, which was our respective rooms. I have to say, though, I do enjoy what comes out of the intimacy of one’s own room.
I’ll be playing in a rather small space for this occasion, namely an apartment where the dining room is also the room, both a living room and working space. The audience will be made up of plants and spiders.