My work is eclectic, personal and experimental. The many musics I have heard and loved — be it flamenco, punk rock, Delta blues, western classical music, rap or Canadian singer-songwriters — end up mixing up in the sounds I produce, giving them the disorderly rich quality of collages. I wish I had clearly defined roots and a stable style to boast about, but sadly, this is not the case. I am a child of Youtube.
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Flamenco "with an accent"
Flamenco is a deeply rooted yet culturally mixed tradition of dance, song and guitar. I have sacrificed a big chunk of my life to its complexities, and still feel completely green when I play it. That is why I say that I play flamenco "with an accent" : I am an outsider, that is a fact, even though my favorite flamenco is probably the "pure" one. I mainly learn from the early recordings (Pastora and Tomás Pavón, Manuel Torre, Juan Mojama, Antonio Chacón…) but still appreciate some of the modern masters such as Enrique Morente, Camarón de la Isla, Diego el Cigala or José Mercé.
Now, this is what happens when I play for dance :
And here's a bit of fusion between flamenco and other styles such as rock or folk music :
Original songs and other adventures
I was playing in the Parisian subway when a headhunter for the French version of « American Idol » (Nouvelle Star) came up to me and told me I would make the ideal candidate for the 2014 batch. At first, I refused : up to that point, I had been idolizing Tom Waits on sidewalks, invoking Jack White in dirty pubs and mimicking Leonard Cohen in open mics. Nevertheless, the appeal of a new adventure got ahold of me, and I ended up in fourth position.
Since then, I have played many concerts, written innumerable unfinished songs, and even recorded some of the latter. My songwriting heroes are : Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, Tom Waits, José Gonzalez, David Bowie and, more recently, Aldous Harding.
If I can, I prefer not working alone. Collaborations give me energy and inspiration. Otherwise, I have a tendency for depression and self-criticism.
And finally, as any other self-taught, playing-guitar-in-my-bedroom kind of musician, I have a very extensive repertoire of covers, which ranges from Portishead to Daniel Balavoine, Nina Simone, Radiohead and even Queens Of The Stone Age :
My musical journey
As a kid I was often caught dancing frantically to whatever came out of the radio, according to a very reliable source (my mother). The Cranberries and Native American music were what really induced my trance.
As a teenager, I got obsessed with the rhythmic and lyrical worlds of Eminem and Rage Against the Machine, while still enjoying the original soundtrack of the Harry Potter movies on my little cassette player. I then started playing in bands that covered pop-punk songs (by Green Day or Simple Plan) and Brit-Pop hits (Oasis, Arctic Monkeys...) before turning my ears to more classic forms of rock (Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Stooges). I also found great pleasure losing myself in the iconoclastic songwriting styles of indie bands such as Radiohead and Kings of Leon.
The eight years I spent studying in Paris were my folk and blues years. Artists like Nick Drake, José Gonzalez, C.W. Stoneking were my idols. I remember spending long, dreamy afternoons, listening to the constant rumbling of trains entering the Gare du Nord, trying to figure out how Robert Johnson did his fingerpicking on « Love In Vain » or how Son House played his bottleneck on « Death Letter Blues ». I remember deafening practice sessions in basements, trying to replicate the raw power of The White Stripes. Above all, I remember finding solace and consolation in Leonard Cohen, the deep, bittersweet vibration of his voice late at night.
Cohen’s guitar playing is certainly one of the things that opened me up to Flamenco music — did you know he learned from a Spaniard in Montreal, back in the sixties ? A few years later, and after an intense dive into show-business (Nouvelle Star), I was packing my bags to go to Andalusia. The plan was as simple as it was absurdly ambitious : I was going to play like Paco de Lucia, and sing like Camarón de la Isla. That may not be quite what I achieved, but I can tell it was - and still is - a fascinating journey.
I am now in Montreal, singing traditional flamenco for dance, but also blending my different influences in my solo recordings or in the different projects that I participate in. The FlamenCohen project is particularly important to me, as it creates a dialogue between the two main pillars of my musical identity : the intimate, intellectual, ambiguous poetry of Leonard Cohen with the raw, fast-paced, explicit cries of flamenco music.
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"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without no loss of enthusiasm."
Winston Churchill, or Abraham Lincoln