Oiseaux-Têmpete:” Each album we made was a worthwhile human and artistic adventure”

Oiseaux-Têmpete:” Each album we made was a worthwhile human and artistic adventure”

| Abril 12, 2017 4:59 pm

Oiseaux-Têmpete:” Each album we made was a worthwhile human and artistic adventure”

| Abril 12, 2017 4:59 pm
Oiseaux-Tempête, french duo formed by Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul (both members of Farewell Poetry and Le Réveil des Tropiques), will release their latest studio album with the label of Sub Rosa on April 14. Al-‘An! الآن  (and your night is your shadow – the fairy tale of piece of land to make our dreams) was recorded in Beirut, with the help of local musicians, and also in France with the contribution of Mondkopf, well respected producer on the electronic scene.

Threshold Magazine (TM) – AL-‘AN ! الآن is the third part of your journey through the Mediterranean. You were in Greece (2013), Istanbul and Sicily (2015), and lastly Beirut. Which of these sites did you enjoy the most?

Frédéric – All of them! The Mediterranean area is one of the most beautiful and fascinating parts of the world, a cradle of civilization for Europe, Middle-East and parts of Africa! Just to talk about Romans ruins, how would you choose between the immense chance you could have standing in front of Baalbek, the Acropolis and the Valley of Temples in Agrigento? No need to choose at all, just to embrace… More seriously, the last trip we made for AL-‘AN! in Lebanon was a total warm blast in our minds and in our hearts. We felt home in Beirut.

Stéphane – I think the most important trip we’ve made all together was the last one in Lebanon. We stayed there for a month and more and we took the time to really feel the pulse of Beirut city, to meet its musicians, filmmakers, and a collection of different people, so brave and open minded. For an occidental citizen the place could seem a bit chaotic and fucked up for the first couple of days, but soon, if you embrace it and let it go, you discover the most generous city I’ve had the luck to visit. “This city could be a bitch” as they say overthere, but which big city is not ?

TM – Why did you name your album AL-‘AN ! الآن (And your night is your shadow — a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams)?

Stéphane – Al-‘An ! means “now!” in English, we wanted to highlight the eagerness, the hunger to live you can feel in this city and somehow within the world. A collective will to try to put the spotlight on the emergency to live in the present, to act right now, not tomorrow, till it’s possible. Everything can collapse or sink or die tomorrow. Even if the world is on fire, afraid and tempted to inward-looking attitudes, there’s hope.

Frédéric – The subtitle – a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams – is an extract from a poem by Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish whom words are very present in this album (his voice can be heard in the track “The Offering” and our friend G.W.Sok is reading a Darwish’s poem in “Through The Speech Of Stars”).

TM – How would you rate your record from 1 to 10? Is there any song you would like to highlight?

Stéphane – I don’t think that we’re the best judges to rate our own records, the listeners will do so, but there’s no doubt that we worked like never before on this last opus. We ‘tempted the devil’ and jumped into this record without any idea, it was only improvisation with all these musicians we met. It could have been a disaster, but that’s the way we do things, taking risks. “Through the Speech of Stars” is kind of a piece with its seventeen minutes of silence and growls but “Carnaval” is a track that completely overwhelmed us.

Frédéric – I hate so much grades, competition or separations… The only thing which is valuable for me is to do your best to make your friends and yourself proud of something – which is in this case to reflect the generosity of the musical guests from Middle-East to Europe we asked to play with us on this record: Sharif Sehnaoui, Charbel Haber, Abed & Ali from Two Or The Dragon, Youmna Saba, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, G.W.Sok, Mondkopf, Stéphane Rives… We worked kind of hard for this during the editing and the mixing process in Paris. I am definitely thinking an album more as a whole experience than a collection of single tracks.

Artwork of Al-‘An! الآن
TM – Your music embraces jazz characteristic instruments but also riffs from stoner rock, always combining an essentially experimental vein. Is your creative process based on improvisation? 

Stéphane – Totally. For the first record in 2013 we had a couple of ideas that came from the first rehearsals we did, but since, we always want to feel a bit of danger and spontaneity, like beginners. Our trick is to immerse ourselves into the sound, like in a warm bubble of noise. If it’s ok, then we can experiment, but most of the time we’re just letting go what we have inside of us. Without any question. “Ca passe ou ça casse !” ( make-or-break) . It has to be free, fluent, evident. Every time we tried to “compose” we failed, we lost time in studio and lost ourselves in complex structures. A thing we hate!

Frédéric – I guess our music is just beside any genres. Not really because we choosed it, but because our languages are wide-opened, like sponges in a way. We’re not specialists, we are lovers of music. In that sense we are trying to play ourselves several instruments not to become some virtuoso jacks-of-all-trades but rather to push our own musical boundaries. In the improvisation process you have to listen first! Then your background, what you like or want to experiment is coming back, this little noise or melody is jumping into your ears or your fingers, and something with the whole is maybe beginning to happen. Free-jazz, ambient, rockish, krautstuff directions or even a song, all is then possible if you’re connected. Creation is like a deep well, you have to dig!

TM – Since the formation of the band to date, do you feel that the concept behind Oiseaux-Tempete has undergone changes? If so, what were the points / situations that marked these phases?

Frédéric – I don’t think so, really. We just probably tried to go further, step by step. To stay aware about where this magical feeling we collectively touched sometimes in the improvisation would lead us – for the next walk, the next tour, the next idea or challenge. Each album we made was a worthwhile human and artistic adventure in itself

Stéphane – Maybe we endorsed and embraced the political statement of our music more easily now. Or maybe we just get older and accept that even waking up in a world as it is nowadays, is political. A kind of duty to hope and intelligence.

TM – What was it like working with Mondkopf?

Stéphane – Cool and easy. Frédéric has a band called FOUDRE! with him and the duo SAAAD. We just met Mondkopf a couple of years ago, and he quickly became a friend, a buddy and a mate. His musical approach is very instinctive, clever and free, so it was a “piece of cake” to work with him. We barely discussed about the process, we just trust each others and again, jumped into it. He got such talent for applying textures to sounds and strange noises, playing with its machines effortlessly, like breathing the air. It’s a bit disturbing ! ahahaha

Frédéric – Paul aka Mondkopf is just a brillant maestro and a great improviser. In AL-‘AN! I love how his electronic chimeras were so easily intertwined in our global sound, with a great melodic and at a same time abstract feeling. The idea for this album was to go deeper into the electronic thing. By the past we already used analog synths sometimes, and Stéphane was digging into his modular thing since some months before going to Lebanon… The sound of Beirut’s city itself was calling for this electronic stuff. When we were back in Paris to do some sessions in France, Mondkopf was our guy!

TM – Of the places where you played, which was the one that marked you the most? Do you have any specific episodes you would like to share?

Stéphane – We played in really strange places sometimes, like a train station, churches, a planetarium or psychedelic festival where people were stage diving on our slowcore songs ! One of the best gig we made was maybe in Belgium, in Brussels, the place where our label Sub Rosa is based. It was the first time they saw us live, and it was really really good, we were so happy for them. It was a kind of inconscient gift, to thank them for supporting us since the beginning of the band, I guess…

Frédéric – Ok, as straight-away highlights I would say the last two shows we made in Paris, as usually I don’t like so much to play in our city… Too much pressure, maybe? But last January in FGO Barbara with G.W.Sok & Gareth Davis was a blast. I felt us ready for the next live chapter of the band. And last November in the church of St-Merry in Paris with Stéphane Rives & Mondkopf as guests, and our friends from the panarabic ensemble Karkhana playing before us: that was a moving moment to be able to listen to the music of Karkhana in a XVIth century old gothic church in Paris after dreaming with Sharif of this possible shared bill few months before in a Syrian restaurant in Beirut…

TM – With regard to digital media, do you feel that the existence of platforms such as the Bandcamp facilitated the dissemination of your music with a new audience? Are your listeners mostly French or international?

Frédéric – Probably half/half. Sub Rosa is a label from Belgium with international physical and digital distributors which are helping spreading the world here and there. Internet is an awesome tool in itself to discover and to share new music and Bandcamp is hundred times more fair than any Spotify or Deezer shit to give a bit of the money back to artists who are often paying from their own pocket their recording sessions. Even in 2017, I still personally prefer to buy vinyls of the music I like when I can than to buy digital informations or to listen to music -even rare gems- on youtube. Don’t be afraid by grabbing yourself a physical copy when it does exist – that’s the message and the only way to keep us alive!

Stéphane – Our listeners are coming from a bit everywhere and it’s really great, with tools like Soundcloud you can monitor the different countries. Since we released the second single “I Don’t Know What Or Why (Mish Aaref Eish w Leish)” with Tamer Abu Ghazaleh a lot of listens are coming from Egypt and Middle East in general, we’re glad to reach such an audience. Our Bandcamp is barely new, so we can’t really say. We’re not really “for” digital companies such as Apple Music or Spotify… It’s not like you have to pay to like a music, but with such a flood, you can be quickly drowned, and for ten bucks you got anything, why would you care more for this band or another! I don’t know, it’s not like this but does the shrink cure you if you don’t pay ? Music needs an emotional implication to have density.

TM – What have you heard lately?

Frédéric – Some extracts from the upcoming Pools of Light by Jessica Moss, the reissue of Moshi by Barney Wilen, Killer Road by Soundwalk Collective featuring Patti Smith & Jess Paris Smith, Day to Day by Sarathy Korwar, Burj Al Imam by ‘A’ Trio & Alan Bishop, South From Here by Winter Family, Glitches & Drones by The Bunny Tylers, Tumblers from the Vault by Syrinx. And a lot of long and old tracks by Oum Kalthoum.

Stéphane – We’re big fans of Beak> or Raime but recently we discovered some crazy new Middle-East music like Alif, The Dwarfs Of East Agouza, Maurice Louca, Two Or The Dgraon and a lot of others. We just made an upcoming mixtape with this material called Wa Habibi – Middle-East Sonic Love – stay tuned!

TM – What songs / bands would you recommend to the people who will read this interview?

Frédéric – Yudaghdegh Al-ra3ey Wala Al-Ghanam and A Granular Buzuk by Jerusalem In My Heart, Sun City Girls, Liberation Music Orchestra by Charlie Haden, God is Good by OM, They Fall, But You Don’t by Mondkopf, The Night by Morphine, Step across The Border by Fred Frith, Badawi, Johnny Kafta Anti-vegetarian Orchestra and Karkhana.

Stéphane – Bish Bosh from Scott Walker, the french and extraordinary band called Bästard and their Acoustic Machine triple LP, Dalëk , the cold trilogy of The Cure, Nisennenmondai, Master Musicians of Bukkake, Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk and maybe the best french band these days Headwar.