La Blogothèque Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:08:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What happened at Michelberger Music Festival Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:33:05 +0000

We still all remember when, on the first day, after a quick visit of the Funkhaus, we let all those prestigious musicians – coming from the UK, France, Peru, Norway, the US to play together – take possession of the place, the studios and the auditoriums of the former east-German radio. They weren’t too overconfident. We could feel a mix of astonishment and excitation floating around those massive empty halls, dusty rooms and labyrinthine corridors – just like what you feel before jumping in the deep end of pool for the first time as a kid. Those musicians were there to create, to collaborate freely, and basically, to do whatever they wanted, and none of them knew what to do at the time. To be honest, we didn’t really know what we were filming either.

We were there thanks to Tom and Nadine, the owners of the Michelberger hotel. They had decided to launch a unique festival, Michelberger Music based on a very simple thing: inviting 100 artists for a week at the hotel so they could work together to create a 2-day festival unlike any other during which the shows would be the result of a week of collaborations. Justin Vernon, the Dessner brothers, Vincent Moon, Tom and Nadine were in charge of inviting all the musicians and leading them all. And it worked perfectly.

Past the astonishment, this week was magical. The more it was going on, the more the old concrete walls of the Funkhaus were getting thiner, thanks to the multiple creative bubbles that were exploding everywhere in the building. Here, The Staves were improvising harmonies to go with a new Kings of Convenience song. There, Damien Rice was on rehearsal with a choir of 30 people. In a little room, an old Czech viol player was jamming on some loops created by Thom and Joe from Alt-J. The collective Stargaze was playing strings for whoever wanted them to, whether it was Poliça, Shara Worden or the rappers from Kill the Vultures. Under a tree, Erlend Øye was teaching an italian song to a bunch of musicians sat in the grass…

During the festival, the audience had no idea what they were going to see. Thirty of them would watch the Dessner brothers delicately sewing the tracks of the next National album ; a hundred of them would see Vincent Moon showing his footage of some sacred rituals while Senyawa was playing ; 500 people would sat on the floor in a huge auditorium, facing Bon Iver and a choir. This unique week was all about surprising, collaborating and sharing unexpected moments, and we got lucky enough to film it. Jeremiah, Colin Solal Cardo, Aelred Nils, Thomas Rabillon and Ilan Cohen ran everywhere, going from one room to another, to get the footage we are now so proud to show.


]]> 0
Lewis del Mar, Blaenavon & Isaac Gracie Wed, 04 Jan 2017 14:58:17 +0000 I’m not going to explain why one of our sound directors was dressed as a tiger, nor how Seon from Lewis del Mar ended up wearing aforementioned tiger costume after the show. I’m not going to tell you how many times we had to mop our office floor the next day to clean the weird confettis and cake mixture it was covered in. Nor how said cake did some kind of back flip, miraculously landed on our production manager’s hand, and then less-miraculously landed on my face, our director’s face, our boss’ face, and more or less any faces that was close enough to be reached.

What I can tell you though, is how the three bands we had invited to celebrate our 50th Soirée de Poche wanted this anniversary to be a memorable moment. How Danny, Seon, Drew, Nick and Max from Lewis del Mar played all their songs like they never did before, the latter even swapping his drum kit for a drumpad he spent a whole day programming. How Blaenavon went full acoustic, Frank and Ben succeeding each other on the upright piano, Harris standing behind a minimal drum kit. And how Isaac Gracie, whom we already filmed earlier last year, started his set outside, without a mic, and closed it with a special version of “Last Words” featuring Blaenavon’s Frank and Lewis del Mar’s Danny.

I could tell you how proud we were when we saw these three bands talking and playing together. The joy we felt when we watched Thomas Baas painting some of the Soirée de Poche posters he’s been drawing for us so kindly since 2008, live on our office wall. The shambolic bliss that filled the room when Lewis del Mar, Blaenavon and Isaac Gracie covered all together “Creep” by Radiohead, while everyone was singing with them on the top of their lungs.

Yes, I could tell you how the smiles on the audience’ faces got bigger and bigger while they were discovering three bands whose music carried us all year, and how happy we were when we saw the growing smiles of these nine musicians whose spontaneity and talent got our heads spinning that night.

But if I’m honest, the best way to see and feel all this is to watch the film we made of it, turn the volume up (and put a tiger costume on).

Bonus: to celebrate this anniversary, Arte Concert is now also rebroadcasting the Soirées de Poche we did with Feist, Villagers, Beirut and Charles Bradley. You can watch them all here.

Photo : © Loll Willems

]]> 0
Alicia Keys Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:43:59 +0000 She comes out the improvised dressing room we created upstairs and goes down the tight staircase. The audience is having drinks and chatting. She walks in, gets to the bar, and starts chatting with some of the people at the counter there. A young man tries to flirt with her. She smiles, gets a drink, and walks slowly towards the Rhodes set up in the middle of the room at le Comptoir Général. People are still talking, clinking glasses. She sits down, and our heads starts spinning. Because we have no idea what will happen next. We don’t know anything about what she’s thinking right now, what she’s going to do, and the ball is in her court now.

It’s Alicia Keys. Alicia Keys. An artist who comes from another planet to us, a planet where millions of records are sold, where songs are known by everybody, where shows are in stadiums. She’s the one that you only get to see on TV, whom you’d never get a chance to talk in person, and whose life is so different from yours that you can’t even start guessing what she’s thinking right now and how she’s going to deal with what’s going to happen soon. She’s there, with just a Rhodes and her musician on double-bass. No mic. A few meters away from a couple of fans. We know she’s going to play well, no doubt. But we don’t know if she’s going to live that moment like we will, if she’s willing to get her head spinning like we do, and if she’ll enjoy the atmosphere we created for her.

She says hello, she starts singing. Oh god, the way she sings. It’s amazing, she plays so well. Her sound is round, warm, and her voice is haunting, powerful and hazy. The lights are cosy, and the audience – completely overwhelmed – claps like it’s the end of the world after the first two songs. The only two songs she was supposed to play. And then she does something crazy: because people are clapping so hard, because everyone is screaming joyfully, she smiles. A sincere, spontaneous, childlike smile. I’ll always remember this smile, this amazing, deeply moving smile, and I’ll never forget the moment I understood we touched Alicia Keys, an artist we thought we would never reach.

And then, the evening really started. Here is the film we made out of it.

]]> 0
Local Natives Wed, 09 Nov 2016 14:20:43 +0000 We love Local Natives. We love them so much that we already filmed a Take Away Show with them, a Soirée de Poche, another Take Away Show, and a third Take Away Show. It feels like seeing our little American cousins when they come to France, and honestly, we would do anything for our favourite kids.

But when Taylor said he wanted to jump in the Seine river, we had to say no. He then replied he’d jump in the Canal Saint-Martin instead, and we had to say no again. And when he told us he’d jump in the Canal Saint-Martin with his guitar and our mics, we replied “no way“.

So he jumped in the Canal de l’Ourq instead.

We can do whatever we want“, right?

As I’m writing these lines, he’s still grounded in his room.

]]> 0
Love, hate and James Blake Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:43:15 +0000 San Francisco’s Treasure Island Music Festival, which marked its tenth and final year on said island this October before, as is rumored, heading to Oakland, has long made a point of generously accommodating its audience: music never issues from its two stages simultaneously, giving you the chance to savor every last act on the bill; its terrifically-curated lineup is divided between more dance-y acts on one day and more rock-centric acts on the other, making one-day tickets practical; even though attendance hits 20,000 over the course of the weekend, the event creates a sense of intimacy that contrasts starkly with the soullessness of the #EvilCorporateFestivals of the world. So by the end of the first day of this year’s festival, then, why did it seem like Treasure Island had abandoned their fans, and like their fans had abandoned them as well?

The answer was, in a word, rain. Cold, horizontal rain that blew off the Pacific Ocean and sent many festivalgoers scrambling for the exit before the sun had even set, rain that caused artists to show up late (or not at all) and made stages unsafe to play on. Yet as sets were delayed and cancelled, it was the festival’s lack of communication that was most frustrating. As a result, much of the information the crowd got came from social media. And it wasn’t pretty. Before the rain had even begun to fall, Twitter had become a warzone as disappointed festivalgoers (and a few artists) began hurling their fury – with a degree of vitriol typically reserved for shit-for-brains Trump fanatics – at the festival’s organizers, Noise Pop. While some of the accusations, like the DJ Duke Dumont’s claim that the festival threatened to not pay him, may never be verified one way or the other, you would have generally thought, reading the comments online, that the festival had commanded the rain to ruin everyone’s weekend. The event was advertised as rain-or-shine, and we got rain. Why did everyone expect a refund?

While the second day was reportedly a large improvement over the first (this writer chose to sit it out), it was still not without a big hitch: excessive wind forced James Blake to cancel his set. And so, it wasn’t until the day after the festival ended that it found its grand finale: a free James Blake show (free for Treasure Island ticketholders, that is, with attendance clearly marked as first-come first-serve) at the glitzy old Fox Theater in downtown Oakland. The performance was breathtaking, in part thanks to a sumptuous light show that would have been either lost, or non-existent, on a festival stage. The sound was immaculate and huge; the throbbing bass of “Limit to Your Love” invaded every inch of your body and shook the room; “Retrograde”’s climactic blast of synth crashed into you with the force of a Mack truck, accompanied by flashes of light that hit the heartstrings as strong as the eyes. The show ended with the understated “Measurements,” largely sung a cappella and met with a perfect silence that no festival could ever conjure. It was in that moment that we were reminded of the magic that Treasure Island has given us for the past ten years. It was in that moment that we became excited for what comes next.

Photo James Blake: © Kelly J. Owen

]]> 0
Francis Lung Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:13:43 +0000 I remember the first time I met Tom very well. It was the day WU LYF’s Go Tell Fire to the Mountain went out, and we ended up – God knows why – watching the Eiffel Tower lighting up under the rain, our arms covered in fake tattoos, a bottle of bad champagne in hand and an old grocery list covered in French films names in the pocket.

I also remember the first time I heard Tom’s voice very well. He had sent me a track recorded in his bedroom under the name of Francis Lung. The demo was “Brooklyn Girls”, a quiet but beautiful ballad full of reverb, way more melancholic than WU LYF’s intransigent stabs. I listened to the track on loop, before he sent me other treasures – “Faeher’s Son”, “Age Limits”, “Solemn”… – that I still cherish years later.

Tom’s voice has this soft fragility that breaks your heart as much as it cures its scars. There’s something of a tightrope walker about to fall in his songwriting and the way he performs his songs, always on the edge. He’s also capable of pushing his voice, giving it all, losing it all in the rawest way possible, and he can even make you dance on the ashes of his disillusionments when he and his band play “Selfish Man” or “Dance 4 Sorrow” on stage.

It’s this beautiful schizophrenia, this troubling double-dealing – Francis Lung might be the most realistic alter ego Tom could have created – that fascinates me, whether he is behind a piano or a guitar, like during the sunny afternoon we spent with him last April.


Francis Lung new ep, Mother’s Son Vol II, will be available on September 16th here.

]]> 0
Sasha Siem Thu, 01 Sep 2016 13:08:43 +0000 Sasha Siem, apart from being the finest tour guide in all of her Majesty’s kingdom, is a writer, singer and multi-instrumentalist with a new album set to be released October 28th. We spent a day in February walking the streets of London stopping in parks for songs, a gallery for an improvisation on a wind chime and in a voluminous hall to hear her beautiful cello and voice fill the space to the rafters with her music.

]]> 0
Isaac Gracie Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:41:13 +0000 It was mid-May and it was raining heavily. His train was two hours late. He had to go back to London that evening. The waiter was pretty rude ; the bar wasn’t cheap. And we couldn’t decide where to shoot in this not so sexy area of Paris.

Isaac was a bit grumpy, convinced that everything would go wrong. I was exhausted, but excited to hear him sing again. We were both chain smoking. I wondered if the dry shampoo he brought helped relieve his anxiety (certainly a first for a Take Away Show).

Without the terrible Autumn-like weather, it would have been easy for us to film him in a bucolic set up, and it would have been even easier to count on his Hanson / pre-drugs Macaulay Culkin looks and locks to catch the camera’s eye.

But Isaac is way more than just a pretty face.

So we got as close as we could to his scratched, deep voice, a voice way older than its owner; so close to his raw, emotive and almost grunge music that “Last Words” and “Terrified” enveloped us completely as he sang them alone on guitar, without affectation or pretence.


Thanks a lot to Tom for his precious proofreading.

]]> 0
Money Wed, 06 Jul 2016 15:14:24 +0000 When I said “see you tomorrow”, they replied “maybe”. I have to admit that we trapped Money big time: the appointment was at 8am on a very cold February morning at St Merry’s Church, the day after their Parisian gig at Point Éphémère.

Let’s not maintain the unbearable suspense too long: they came, struggling with a bad hangover, sure, but ready to play in the freezing church even if it meant they could barely feel their fingers.

I’m not going to write about how much their sophomore record Suicide Songs, released this year, means to me. I already did a few months ago, and it was hard enough to find the words to describe my feelings towards this record then. This album is, whatever happens until December, my favourite album of the year – a beautiful, overwhelming and outrageous record that I will cherish until I die.

All I can say is that there was something haunting in the way Jamie recited his poem “prayer” before he started singing, and something almost sacred in the way they played an acoustic version of “You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky” on guitar and piano, with a cello and violin to give the track the scale it has on record.

While everyone was busy filming, playing and recording, I stayed still and got goosebumps. The temperature in the church had, surprisingly, nothing to do with it.


Special thanks to Benjamin for his proofreading.

]]> 0
Mumford & Sons feat. Baaba Maal at Philharmonie de Paris Wed, 29 Jun 2016 13:10:53 +0000 You leave a band on a sunny afternoon in front of a small venue, and next thing you know, they’re playing stadiums. Last time we were with Mumford & Sons, they were playing La Flèche d’Or in Paris. We had fun serenading a woman on her balcony with a French rendition of one of their songs. They were fresh, friendly, sweet and talented. Little (or maybe not so little) did they know, everything about to change for them. Everything was about to get big, quickly.

Skip to 2016, and Mumford & Sons now have as many vans full of gear as members in the band. They have roadies who ready everything for them at soundcheck. They tour with a chef. They play regularly to over 3000 people (minimum), and yet… here they are, fooling around with us again.

We are inside an empty Philharmonie de Paris (we wanted to play on the rooftop but the weather didn’t feel the same way). The Mumford’s slick, well-oiled road crew arrive early to ready the stage and I start to feel nervous about Marcus and his Sons arrival. When a band gets big so suddenly, you can’t help but worry that the pressure of fame can make a group lose their sense of humour. Thankfully, as soon as they started playing I knew it wasn’t the case. They played, and played and played, like kids on a school break. They played loud. They played well. And even if the song they sang wasn’t as tongue-in-cheek as the one they played for us a few years ago, I was genuinely moved by the joyful power of their music – the same feeling I had when we first met them. Marcus sang so loud that he had to stop before he hurt his voice.

Before leaving, however, he asked us if he could come back later in the afternoon with Bill Ryder-Jones, who was opening for them at the Zénith that night. Imagine if they did a Take Away Show together? (To be continued…)

Very special thanks to Thomas for his proof-reading and corrections.

]]> 0