La Blogothèque Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:51:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wedding, an unreleased track Thu, 23 Jun 2016 12:42:02 +0000 They were the first band featured in our “And Now Watch Them Grow” serie and in a couple of months, Wedding have grown quickly.

The duo, half-Mancunian, half-Berliner, just signed with Balaclava Records label (home of the also very talented Homeshake, Mild High Club and Yuk) to reissue their very first EP, Ruth.
The new edition will be available on July 8th, and to celebrate this great news, you can now listen to an unreleased track in form of an ode to the North of England: “Cherry Avenue” and purchase it on bandcamp.

See them live
september 17th @ Freakender Festival, Glasgow
october 8th @ Neighbourhood Festival, Manchester
Wedding will tour in Europe in november.

Photo credit : Sophia Larigakis

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Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, Sophie Hunger, Nick Mulvey & Songhoy Blues | Tribute to Montreux Jazz Thu, 16 Jun 2016 13:13:16 +0000 It’s a mountain overhanging a big lake. A green, bucolic mountain. The kind of place where you expect to find the treasure at the end of the rainbow. This mountain’s real treasure however, is hidden in a vast chalet – a chalet which shelters over fifty years of popular music history.

The chalet can be found in the idyllic setting of Montreaux, a city where you could picture yourself aging gracefully, gazing at alpine pastures while reading Nabokov, drinking local white wine and breathing the Leman lake surroundings’ pure air. It’s the last place you would associate with the sweaty, druggy all-night jam sessions and creative explosions that have taken place here every year since Montreaux Jazz Festival started in 1967.

Looking at the festival’s history and how many legendary songs were recorded here will make your head spin – just like how our heads started spinning when the Montreux Jazz Festival team asked us to come and make a movie there. We discovered closets filled with thousands of live music film rolls, audio rolls and VHS – which were deemed so precious to the world’s music history that they were made part of the UNESCO world heritage collection in 2013. We saw big names everywhere – Gilberto Gil, New Order, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone – and made new discoveries too (Bessie Smith, Dorothy Donegan, Harlem’s Boys Choir to name a few). The music we found and stories we heard inspired us to share our fascination with the culture and the spirit of Montreux.

It’s the same fascination young musicians tend to have when they come to play Montreux Jazz for the first time. Benjamin Booker was speechless when he saw Montreux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs’ chalet and how many legendary musicians had left their mark here.

He was the first artist we filmed for the movie we shot last summer. Booker turned Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” into a resigned lament, his soft and rasping voice almost bringing us to tears. Songhoy Blues sang a translated version of “Smoke on the Water” exactly where smoke coming from the Casino’s fire started to invaded the Leman lake more than 40 years ago while Deep Purple was recording in Montreux. Sophie Hunger and Nick Mulvey met for the very first time and stripped down Prince’s “Purple Rain” together, dazzling the beautiful Montreux Palace with their immediate and overwhelming bond. And Aloe Blacc paid tribute in the most perfect way to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Sunshine of Your Love” in Claude Nobs’ chalet where everything started, and where music will keep being celebrated for ever.


Montreux Jazz Festival, 50th anniversary – 1st to 16th July 2016 in Montreux, Switzerland. All infos and line-up the festival’s website.

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

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