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#8

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

He is imposing and shy, his hands are too big for his keyboard, and he’s like a fragile little boy when he sings. We walked down the street with Owen Ashworth and his pocket Casiotone.

#8.1 – Calloused fingers won’t make you strong Edith Wong

Réal : Vincent Moon

Shot in Paris, May 2006

#8.2 – Seattle, Washington

Réal : Vincent Moon

Shot in Paris, May 2006

Place de Vosges, the end of May in Paris. The weather is terrible. Owen Ashworth just recorded a session for Radio Campus, and he gave us permission to kidnap him (so to speak–this guy could reduce us to a pulp without a second thought) to have him play some songs. We set up in the courtyard of the Sully Hotel, facing a giant wall of ivy that is perpetually enchanted by hundreds of birds. But the moment the first feeble note of the synthesizer rang out, we got thrown out by a zealous bouncer.

We resumed our wandering. Owen had the cardboard suitcase full of synths slung over his shoulder, poorly closed by 2 old straps, which serves as Casiotone’s musical foundation. The wind is blowing hard, really hard, making it tricky to record the sound outside. A delicate perfume of disaster starts to float over our little project.

“Hey, there’s a phone booth over there; we can play there.” The most perceptive viewers will recognize Manur’s acerbic irony, the dry humor you almost don’t catch. Owen is wedged in the booth, Vincent Moon struggles to squeeze in with the camera, and from the outside you barely hear little snippets of what he plays and sings inside. But that’s exactly what makes it great: it’s “Seattle, Washington”–“the first song I wrote”, Owen tells us. It’s one of the most heartbreaking songs of all, a story of geographical instability and of failed moves, based on his own experience. In the cramped solitude of the phone booth, Casiotone remembers his saddest low points—and it’s precisely because of them that he is able to chase away other demons.

Next came a depressive version of “Calloused Fingers Won’t Make You Strong, Edith Wong” (with an American star whom readers of Libération will surely recognize), and “Tonight Was a Disaster”, which the wind succeeds in stealing from us. We saved two chapters of this short Manual of Disaster: hang on to them, because they’re with you now.