Could you describe the environment in which you get inspired, live, compose, organize your thoughts?
I do not grant myself too much time to rehears. I build my music on stage, live. I love spontaneity. On the other hand, I live in Puy-en-Velay, a small village in France's Massif Central and walking in the woods and mountains is very important to me.
In an interview you have mentioned the importance of listening. Is it a daily practice or a state of mind? How do you mentally “record” what you hear – do you translate it in visual references, you make notations etc- ?
Listening is indeed something essential but it is definitely an attitude or stance towards my work and everyday life; a listening activity not focused on the sound object but open to all the acoustic phenomena and the various spaces of sound, from source to the internal ear. I like to move my attention towards these new occurring locations of sound when one detaches from its origin. It is impossible to record these phenomena. Above all, it is about an attitude towards listening that requires the listener's concentration beyond his ego. Also, if certain music works directly in this way, it is an attitude that one can grow in every listening contexts, including daily life.
What is the story behind your relationship with the vielle à roue (hurdy gurdy)? When did it start and what was so appealing about it?
I started playing the hurdy gurdy at the age of 12. My father is a musician, a fiddler, and therefore I grew up in an enabling environment for discovering and learning how to play it. I was quickly taken up by its rich sound spectrum and omnipresent drone.
When has traditional music caught your attention? Was it a constant presence?
I have played traditional music from the beginning, within the “néo folk” genre which tends towards a generalization and standardization of traditional French music. Because of this I quickly lost interest and devoted myself to experimental music until I discovered the recordings of Antonin Chabrier, a fiddler from Massif Central, compiled in the '70s. I was struck by the sound's force and energy emerging from that fiddle, dissonant yet full of subtleties. Thus I have become interested in this kind of music and through this I have met musicians such as Basile Brémaud or Jacques Puech with whom I play today.
You have solo projects but you also play in two bands, “Toad” with Pierre-Vincent Fortunier and Guilhem Lacroux and “France” with Jeremie Sauvage and Mathieu Tilly. Tell me what are you investigating in your solo work, your relationship with these trios and how it enriches your sound experience.
As a matter of fact, I have dozens of projects – indeed “Toad” and “France”among them, but many other groups emerged from “La Nòvia” such as “Trio Puech Gourdon Brémaud”, “Le Verdouble” (hurdy gurdy duo with Yvan Etienne), La Baracande, Jéricho... . There is also a duo with Antez and solo projects. Also, I made autonomous sound devices in exhibition contexts. Each of these projects has its own particularities, from traditional music bands to sound installation, but what characterizes my work as a whole is the constant drone and a radical form of experiencing sound.
I have noticed in some video footages that during your performing with “France” or “Toad”, people go totally wild and dance like madmen. Are you aware of the effect you have on your audience during a performance? And if so, does it influence you in some way?
I don't think I am fully aware of the effect my music has on the audience. But I particularly like dance and making people dance. I also love the moment of equilibrium when there is a flow of energy among musicians and dancers which enables an instant loss of control.
What is the distinction between recorded material and live performance? What happens in both contexts?
I have always preferred live to recording. I see recordings and so the records as archives, like a flattening of music. It reflects only a small part of music. All elements related to a context, instead of music, cannot be recorded, and can be found only provided that one has experienced a concert. That doesn't keep me from listening to recordings.
I have noticed that except for using sound amplifiers you don't try to control the sound. Could you tell me more about the freedom you allow the sound and if you do control (manipulate) it from time to time?
What interests me is the process. In implementing the process, one works with an initial idea that will be submitted to transformations induced by the surrounding context (architectural and social) in which it is generated. That implies allowing the acoustic phenomena to exist. As for my work, some projects are more focused on this idea of process, while others run back and forth between different processes and fixing pre-established musical elements.
How has the “La Novia” collective influenced you and how is it to take part in such a group?