REFLECTIONS ON THE SPACE NEEDED BY MAKERS, PART IV: THE CONS OF AN OUTSIDE STUDIO SPACE, AND HOW HEALTH PROBLEMS CAN SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE. Back for the penultimate instalment in my series of reflections on studio spaces, before I show you my brand new home studio in Barcelona! I hinted in a post last year that events beyond my control were preventing me from making progress on new music, and I will delve into this in this post, but if you are a maker thinking of getting your own space, I urge you to read the rest, as it may contain information that you have not thought about! In the last post I was telling you about all the positive aspects of having my own music space in San Sebastián, and yet my relationship with that space was always a love-hate, rollercoaster one. For every advantage it had I could think of a disadvantage, and some of these proved to be really problematic in the long run. The dampness problem, which I already mentioned, had multiple origins and therefore could not be solved (especially not by me as a mere tenant). The last thing you want when you have precious instruments and gear is for them to go mouldy, and I ended up having to store my cherished violas da gamba at home. I tried to monitor the state of my other instruments and gear as best as I could, but got really worried again last year as I started to own quite a few high-quality electronic analogue instruments, including a very valuable vintage piece. As I packed for the move to Barcelona in January and was faced with mould-covered item upon mould-covered item, I realized it was indeed high time I faced the reality of the situation: a damp studio is *not* a viable long-term solution for storing your instruments, nor is it ideal for a human being to work in such conditions. There can also be serious safety issues in the old spaces that we makers often end up working in, in this current context of real estate madness. It would take too long to tell the whole story here, but in the winter of early 2017, as I had two electrical heaters on, an electrical fire started in one of the studio walls: I was thankfully downstairs at that moment, so was able to see the flames and act right away, with the fire being put out swiftly and no damage being done to the studio apart from the trace of flames on the wall. It scared the hell out of me though, and even though the firemen who came and inspected the place told me the electrical installation was correct, I never felt completely safe afterwards (why hadn’t the fuses blown?), and I still shudder to think of what could have happened if I had been upstairs in the mezzanine space at the time the fire started. Another issue that never went away was the noise one: ultimately, a non-professionally soundproofed ground floor space giving onto a street will always have noise issues. At the time of The weighing of the heart, so much outside noise filtered through the old doors that, after fruitless attempts at recording late at night, I ended up having to record – also late at night – in our flat. I did manage to record the vocals in bits and bobs at the studio in a small corner which I tried to isolate as best as I could (I felt too shy to record vocals at home as it was my first time singing!). In late 2013 my landlord agreed to replace the doors and windows with triple glazing, which improved the problem but did not solve it (street noise still filtered through the area of the metal blind, and noise also came from the building’s elevator). As I moved to more and more electronically-enhanced close-miked instruments (Captain of None) and then to fully electronic (A flame my love, a frequency), I was thankfully less dependent on having a completely silent environment, but the problem remained acute for vocals (out of desperation, I recorded the vocals for A flame at home, on a couple of miraculously quiet days). Finally, there is the maintenance aspect: even if you’re not a cleanliness freak, you do have to take care of your space, and when it opens onto a street, that also means having to clean dog poo, dog and/or human pee right in front of your door or *on* your door, cigarette butts and all sorts of rubbish, as well as the grime from car exhausts ... Now you might think I’m exaggerating a little bit with this one, but this actually takes me to my final point. Last year I found out that my severe exhaustion – which I initially thought was due to overworking – was due to an autoimmune chronic health problem – thankfully not a life-or-death problem, but one that can seriously alter your quality of life, and in my case left me unable to work for months on end. In the first half of 2018 I went to the studio only very occasionally in order to rehearse for the shows I had planned back then. After this, as my energy levels plummeted even further, I went there even less. I not only felt really down about not being able to do my work, I also stressed out at the thought of all the gear collecting mould in the dark unopened studio, not to mention the financial waste of paying rent on a space you’re not actively using. But whenever I tried to go, the 5 minutes it took me to walk there, pulling up the heavy metal blind, and possibly cleaning whatever mess there was to clean in front of my door - all this was already a huge drain on my energy, and at best I sometimes sang a little, read an instructions manual, connected a few instruments and vaguely went about trying to make music, and gave up in less than an hour, overwhelmed by the need to lie down and rest. For the first time in years, I started to think that if I had a music space at home, perhaps I would be able to “catch” more easily the moments when I did feel OK, and this was when the idea of moving back to a home studio situation became not only acceptable but even *attractive* to me again. My health issue is now more or less under control thanks to the help of medication, but even though I am now feeling ok, I do not take good health and normal energy levels for granted anymore, and feel confident that right now, having direct access to my workspace from within my home is the ideal solution. I thank you for reading me this far, I hope that this series somehow may have been illuminating if you too are facing the dilemma of where to pursue your creative practice, and I’d be delighted to read your comments if you want to share what your own experience is or has been!!!
MY LEAF ALBUMS NOW DISTRIBUTED BY THRILL JOCKEY AND THE WEIGHING OF THE HEART BY MORR MUSIC! Four months ago I was telling you about how I had finally recovered the rights to my first 3 albums and EP after a long legal battle, and I am so so very happy to let you know that finally, those records are available again, and have found a new loving home thanks to Thrill Jockey Records! Not only that, but my least-widely available album, 2013’s The weighing of the heart, originally released on Second Language Music in 2013, is now available via anost.net, the record mailorder of Morr Music. So here’s the lowdown: we only bought part of the Leaf vinyl stock, not all of it, and we did not buy any of the CD stock. Please note: 1) All the albums are available on black vinyl on both my Bandcamp and Thrill Jockey’s webshop, but for coloured vinyl, please compare between Bandcamp and the TJ webshop, as availability will vary. 2) Bandcamp orders are now fulfilled by Thrill Jockey *from the US* – which is great news for those of you who live over there and so far had to pay prohibitive shipping prices from the UK. 3) If you live outside the US, then it might be best for you to shop from Thrill Jockey’s webshop, which can send from both the US *and* the UK. 4) If you are after CDs of my early output, the best place to get them now is Thrill Jockey’s webshop, and they will ship from the UK: the available quantities are extremely limited, and it’s unlikely that my albums will ever be reprinted on CD, which is a dying format, so take advantage of the few dozen copies that remain. 5) The Beacon Sound tapes are available again on my Bandcamp, shipping from the US. A few are also still available directly from Beacon Sound's webshop. 6) The weighing of the heart is now for sale on CD and vinyl via my Bandcamp and anost.net, the record mailorder of Morr Music – in both cases getting shipped from Germany, with – I’m pleased to say - fairly competitive pricing for non-EU customers (at least much better than the ridiculous Spanish postage fees I had to charge you!). A big thank you to Morr Music, a huge one to Thrill Jockey Records, Nicole Kasper in particular for handling all the dirty work of putting things up for sale, and the biggest thank you of all goes to Thrill Jockey’s Bettina Richards for all her help in making this happen and giving a new life to those records – THANK YOU BETTINA!!! 😊 And to celebrate, here’s the beautiful video made by Makino Takashi for “Humming fields” from The weighing of the heart back in 2013! 😊 https://colleencolleen.bandcamp.com/merch http://www.thrilljockey.com/artists/colleen https://www.anost.net/en/Products/Colleen-The-Weighing-Of-The-Heart/
REFLECTIONS ON THE SPACE NEEDED BY MAKERS, PART III: MOVING TO SAN SEBASTIAN AND THE PROS OF AN OUTSIDE-THE-HOME STUDIO SPACE. When I decided to move to San Sebastián in 2010, I knew that I would not have the option of working from home as I did in Paris, as the flat where I would live simply did not have a sufficient amount of space available, and I was also acutely aware of being clearly in need of a space where I could focus on going back to making music, far away from the potential distractions of home, whether that meant replying to emails, getting the laundry done, or trying that new cake recipe (I was really passionate about cooking back then!). I went in search of the ideal “local” (the Spanish word for ground floor or basement spaces not intended for living), no easy task given how insanely expensive San Sebastián already was, and ended up finding one in a neglected area of my neighbourhood: even though it stank of mould (it hadn’t been used in years and was formerly a brinery distributing olives and guindilla peppers to the local bars), I immediately felt drawn to its high wooden ceiling and overall feel. It also seemed like just the right amount of space, with 21m2 downstairs, and a mezzanine of roughly the same size, high enough for me to stand up, welcome my ceramics, vinyl and music book collection, and instrument cases - and more crucially, this mezzanine could act as a “cushion” protecting the 1st floor neighbours from the sound of my music. It was also really close to where I lived, and a mere 5 minutes walk from the Zurriola beach – what more could I want? We set about “improving” it as best as we could, with a super conservative budget given that I initially thought I wouldn’t necessarily spend many years there, and you can see our work in the 3 before/after pictures. The doors were from the 1940s, so to say they were drafty is an understatement, half of the ground was just bare ground and so uneven we couldn’t even add flooring and had to make do with just covering it with some kind of aluminium-coated material and bamboo carpets, and the mould problem never did go away: the city is built on sand, meaning most ground level places have damp rising from the ground. In spite of all these flaws, the place provided me with what I needed most: concentration. I had no smartphone at the time, and the place had no internet connection: when I went there, the only thing I could possibly make was music, and so I did. I also found that the fact I was paying rent each month on that space meant that I felt guilty when not using it, and this also pushed me to show up and use the space even when I felt I’d rather just take some time off. Having more space meant that I was able to slowly upgrade in all the necessary areas (near field monitors with sub and PA with sub were especially game changers) and buy instruments I wouldn’t have dreamt of having in a flat, such as a floor tom. Even more crucially, I finally felt and knew no one could hear me, which gave me the psychological freedom to try the things I was afraid of trying in my flat, starting with singing, and then learning percussion. The next step was discovering the joys of rehearsing on a real PA with my amplified treble viola da gamba and discovering the power of bass once I added an octaver pedal to my viola for “Captain of None”. I can safely say that without this space, my music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did. But renting this space was not without problems, and that’s what I’ll tell you about in the next instalment. Thanks for reading as always! 😊
INTERVIEW IN TURKISH ON T24! I've had the great pleasure of being interviewed lengthily for Turkish magazine T24, you can find a link to the interview here! https://t24.com.tr/yazarlar/seden-mestan/dinginlik-omur-boyu-colleen,22034 Thanks so much to Kod Müzik Organizasyon for inviting me to play last week, and to the audience who came to the show! :-) The photo is one I took in a small side street of Istanbul, I love the sweet calm poetry emanating from this mural painting, and hope I will be back soon in this incredible city :-)))
REFLECTIONS ON THE SPACE NEEDED BY MAKERS, PART II: HOME STUDIO VS OUTSIDE-OF-THE-HOME STUDIO, MY PARIS EXPERIENCE AND THE LIMITS OF WORKING FROM HOME IN A NON-DEDICATED SPACE. Disclaimer: You will note that I’m not talking of home studio vs professional studio: I’m well aware that a truly professional recording studio is not the same as using a shop/workshop-type space and turning into a studio-of-sorts, which is exactly what I did in San Sebastián. At no point was it set up to record other acts at a professional “commercial” level, which would be a venture of a different kind, requiring a technical know-how which I do not possess and a financial investment that would no make sense for the “unusual” solo recording musician that I am. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m talking about the possibility of opting for a workspace that’s outside the home, as opposed to having to make music inside your home – and even within those two ends of the spectrum, there are variations (dedicated space vs using a room that already fulfils another daily life purpose for instance). Of course a few people have the luxury of having a professional-grade studio inside their home, but they are so few and far between that I’m not really thinking of them here! Also, my reasons for *not* recording in a professional studio are beyond the scope of this discussion, but even if I did record in a professional studio, I would still need a place to *make* music. I would like to go back in time and share a bit more about where and how I recorded my first three albums. The Colleen project was born during my two years preparing the agrégation d’anglais in Paris and then completing teacher training (2000-2002): borrowing records and trying to make music using software on a computer I’d bought the previous year to write my master’s thesis were the only two things I allowed myself during that time. I lived in a 17 m2 studio flat in the XVème arrondissement, and “Everyone alive wants answers” (2003) was born in that tiny space. When I got the opportunity to do my first shows, I immediately felt like reconnecting with the guitar, and I had by then developed a strong interest in musical instruments from various time periods and geographical areas. With my teacher’s salary, I started to gather a few instruments and sampling pedals, and the studio flat became very crowded indeed. The year after the release of my first album, I found a 40 m2 flat – a luxury in Paris for a single person, and when I started to make music in the tiny living-room, it could have been Versailles as far as I was concerned! I recorded all of my second album “The Golden morning breaks” (2005) in that living room, with gear of extremely poor quality, but it somehow worked out perfectly for the sound I was looking for. However, when I switched to the bass viola da gamba - by far the best quality instrument I’d ever owned – for ”Les ondes silencieuses” (2007), I was faced with the blatant problem of a discrepancy between how great the viola sounded in itself and how poor it sounded when I tried to record it with my very limited gear and technique. Mastering engineer Emiliano Flores, who is also an apt recording engineer, came to the rescue and – interestingly for the purposes of this discussion – he proceeded to record me playing a great deal of “Les ondes” in the attic at his parents’ house in the suburbs of Paris – so again, not a professional studio space by any means. I took notes of the mike placements he was using, and he sold me the mike I still use to this day on all my albums, along with a good preamp. I was then able to record the rest of the album at home, mostly parts that needed more layering and/or improvisation, or the spinet song (I got a harpsichord player to rent me a spinet for a month – this is the picture that you see, taken by Iker Spozio as part of the study material for the album’s artwork). By now you’ve probably understood how intimate the whole recording process is for me, and I became determined to learn enough to *not* have to rely on someone else’s expertise again if it could be avoided. But while the lack of space, of intimacy (this became a big one when I decided to try to learn to sing in early 2010!) and fear of disturbing my neighbours were three real problems in Paris, they weren’t the biggest: CONCENTRATION was. By 2008, even though I had stopped teaching in 2006, I was chronically stressed out through overworking, problems with the label that released my records, and an overwhelming, neverending administrative and email burden. I would start making music, but the urge to check emails to see if something had arrived, been sorted, etc, was just too strong. I have told this story in an even more detailed way in two longs posts published on my blog years and years ago, so won’t repeat it here, but will just mention again that it was during stone carving lessons, reflecting on the way my teacher worked (in a garden, from more or less 8 am till 8 pm, with – obviously – no computer in sight) that I finally understood that my biggest problem was indeed a concentration problem, and that I needed to get rid of all distractions, and build a new discipline for myself, within a new space.
REFLECTIONS ON THE SPACE NEEDED BY MAKERS, PART I: LEAVING SAN SEBASTIAN AND MY MUSIC STUDIO, OR THE CHAOS OF HAVING TO DOWNSIZE 27 YEARS OF MUSIC-MAKING. This post has been almost 3 months in the making: at the end of 2018 my partner in life and in art Iker Spozio and myself decided to leave San Sebastián, meaning I’ve had to leave the space I rented for 8 and a half years to make music, a ground-level former olive and pepper brinery. My music has evolved along with the spaces where I’ve lived and worked, and for the past 3 months my mind has been filled with reflections on the very peculiar necessities that come with being an artist – or a maker of any kind indeed – and the even more specific problematics of musicians. I initially wanted to illustrate this post with a picture of the completely empty studio once the removal men had come and taken everything, or one of the pictures I took while the boxes were piling up, but I lost both sets of photographs – an indication of how mentally intense the whole process was, and how times of personal change are not times to communicate, but to get things done. So instead I’m sharing again my favourite picture of the studio, taken by Isabel Dublang for the Resident Advisor Machine Love feature about my music published in 2017, one of the many photos that will remain as mementos of a space that was very dear to me and fundamental in the evolution of my sound over my 4th, 5th and 6th albums. The challenge presented by leaving a 40 m2 space (21 m2 of ground floor where the music got done + 19 m2 of storage space in a mezzanine space upstairs) and selecting the gear and objects that could fit into a 14 m2 space within a flat (*not* a studio space separate from my new home) was very real, turning those couple of January weeks into a time of taking stock not only of what I had physically accumulated over the past 8 and a half years (plus everything musical that I've bought since the age of 15 - a 27-year-period all in all!), but also stock of how much I’ve changed as a musician, and how my needs are no longer the same. Indeed – and I will deal with this in future posts – it is in great part the very evolution of my needs and desires that has permitted me to contemplate going back to a home-studio-style setup. So I would like to take the opportunity of this big life change to write about a subject that’s seldom approached and that seems to me even more crucial to explore in a time of real estate madness: how to make your space work for your needs, no matter what your circumstances are. In particular I’d like to talk about the home studio vs outside-of-the-home studio, the pros and cons of each according to my own (of course very subjective) experience. More soon!
FIRST SHOW EVER IN ISTANBUL ON MARCH 22ND! After a long silence I'm pleased to be back in action both musically and very soon in words too, and I'm very excited to let you know I'll be playing my first Turkish show ever in Istanbul on March 22nd, sharing the bill with none other than Matt Elliott/The Third Eye Foundation! The show is held at Borusan Sanat and is organised by Kod Müzik Organizasyon, thank you! :-) https://www.borusansanat.com/en/performances_5/borusan-music-house_35/concert_nova-muzak-29-matt-elliott-vacarme-colleen_196/
ELE KING INTERVIEW IN JAPANESE + KEEPING ON MAKING MY OWN CLOTHES My first full-length interview in Japanese is available on ele-king! I had the pleasure of doing this interview while playing in Tokyo last month, thanks a lot to Ele King and the amazing Oshi Kunii of PLANCHA who release my records in Japan! http://www.ele-king.net/interviews/006650/ On the interview’s photos (by Yasuhiro Ohara), I’m wearing a jacket which is one of my favorite makes ever (for those of you who didn’t catch last year’s post series entitled Make your own clothes!, well, I make my own clothes ;-): I am now most filling in the gaps in my wardrobe (I haven’t bought any clothes in almost 3 years, with very rare exceptions, which means that when my older shop-bought clothes fall apart, I try to find the time to make those clothes myself). I really needed a mid-season jacket that wouldn’t get dirty too quickly (I love spending time outdoors) and was travelling-compatible (ie does not take a lot of room and does not crease like crazy when you have to rumple it up in 2 seconds onboard a packed plane). I also wanted to cut down on my fabric scraps, because when you sew, you invariably end up with lots of these. I had failed some winter trousers by using wool coating that was too thick, so I turned these into shorts, and ended up with the bottom parts and a few other scraps; there was also a black tailored jacket which I had acquired as a misguided youth in my early 20s, and which my mother kept in a wardrobe as the coating was of really good quality: I deconstructed the jacket, and since it contained tons of seams and cuts, I realized I would just be able to use the fabric scraps, and not the actual jacket parts (by this I mean I could not salvage entire sleeves or fronts). The way to go was color blocking and hacking a basic short jacket pattern (the Ivanne S Magnesium) into a teddy/bomber-style jacket, therefore allowing ever further use of scraps on the collar, cuffs and waistband. I spent almost 3 days just doing the color blocking (made more complicated by the fact that both fabrics had a nap) and top-stitching to keep the parts flat, but I ended up with almost zero scrap, and I now have a super comfy one-of-a-kind jacket (complete with matching shorts!) that has cost me (apart from my time) about 25 euros for the organic bamboo silk I used for the lining (available at the amazing fabric store Ray Stitch), elastic and zipper. Even though it was a lot of work, I’m so glad I took the time to do it, and increased my skill levels in the process! I wish you all a peaceful end of year, and will be back with fresh news next year, which hopefully will be better than this one. Love
THE STORY OF A SNAIL: IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT MY FIRST THREE ALBUMS AND EP. At midnight tonight, I will have fully recovered all rights to my first three albums and EP. My licencing contract with The Leaf Label, who originally released them in the 2000s and reissued them recently, was supposed to last until 2023, so recovering those rights hasn’t happened by chance. I would have liked to dazzle you with talks of "legal battle", conjuring up visions of myself as the noble musician clad in some kind of knight-like white armour. Instead let me tell you what this has really been like: a snail going up a hill. For several years. Every blade of grass surprisingly tall. Every stone a massive boulder that has to be patiently slogged around. But this little snail is finally at the top of the hill, and although it’s too exhausted and too cautious to rejoice right now, for fear this might be premature, it’s damn proud of its will to climb and of the climb itself, and is determined to enjoy the view. IN PRACTICAL TERMS… Let me get off my metaphorical snail ;-) One of the complicated things when regaining rights to albums that still exist as physical items is how to deal with the remaining stock (the unsold LPs and CDs, right now spread across many countries in distributor’s warehouses and shops). One option is to destroy the stock, which I did not contemplate. So the records will soon find their way to of a new partner who will be able to ensure their distribution and sale, although exactly when that will happen is beyond my control right now. Hopefully this is a matter of weeks, not months. In the meantime I have also had to remove those physical items from my Bandcamp page, since Leaf were shipping these on my behalf. I will of course let you know as soon as they are available again. As always – I’m repeating myself, and will keep doing it – thanks for your support.
IMAGES SAY SO LITTLE ABOUT LIFE AS WE REALLY LIVE IT. This image depicts my afternoon as it really happened: I really went to the beach, really studied Moog Music Inc.Grandmother’s manual, the sun really shone that way, and it really did look this lovely. I felt like taking a picture and sharing it with you, because I’ve shared so very little this year, and yet I realized I could not post this idyllic image without at least mentioning the unpictured counterpart to it: progress on making new music has been agonizingly slow this year due to circumstances beyond my control, and about which I will probably tell you more at some point, but which I feel unsure about sharing publicly now. Amidst the frustration I am feeling regarding my current inability to work on my music as much as I would want to, all I can do is try and make the best of my circumstances, and reading through a manual for the first time in such a beautiful place today was probably the best thing I could do. Like a good few people these days, I have grown uncertain about what consists in legitimately communicating with my audience and what feels and looks like some kind of semi-permanent promotion and display of the self (even the self as musician) complete with personal information which should probably remain just that: personal. However my life as a musician is of course impacted by my life as a flesh-and-blood person, hence a blur which I find not easy to navigate… You can be sure though that the first way in which I will always want to communicate with you is through music, and I have at least cause for celebration in the fact that I have so many ideas and ambitions for my seventh album. As always thanks for reading, and for listening to the music.
LIVE AT MUTEK JAPAN, MIRAIKAN, TOKYO TOMORROW 21:30-22:30 MUTEK Japan! Oh what a glorious day it's been here on my first post-jetlag rediscovery of Tokyo after more than 10 years of absence! It was national bank holiday Culture Day and the balmy weather, good mood all around and vocal feathered creatures made for amazing bird-and-people-watching! I do hope a lot of you can come to the show tomorrow as Japan is a long way from where I live and so it remains a special event for me!!! 😃 PS: below is just a wonderful restaurant, WE ARE THE FARM, hidden away but simultaneously right in the heart of Shibuya - I always wonder how Japanese cities can get away with such wild contrasts in appearance and sheer difference of size in the buildings😃...
LIVE AT MUTEK Japan IN TOKYO ON NOVEMBER 4TH 2018!!! I haven't played in Japan since 2008, so it's an understatement to say I'm excited to go back to a country that had such an influence on me when I first toured there in 2006 (the Japanese minimal/traditional aesthetics is all over my third album Les Ondes Silencieuses from 2007)! The show will take place at Miraikan (more info here https://mutek.jp/artists/2018/09/13/colleen-fr/), and it's the 4th time I'm playing Mutek (twice in Montreal and once in Barcelona), so a big thank you to their curating team for supporting my music! :-)
A FLAME VARIATIONS (LIVE IN THE MOOG SOUNDLAB)! The session I recorded back at the Moog Sound Lab in Asheville, NC in November 2017 while on the A flame my love, a frequency tour is now available for listening on Moog Music Inc.'s Soundcloud! Moog have sadly decided to stop the production of the Moogerfoogers, but I'm honored that they chose the session I recorded as the goodbye to these amazing units! https://www.moogmusic.com/news/farewell-moogerfooger The music you'll hear was recorded in a single afternoon, "Winter dawn" using the MF104M Analog Delay and MF105M MIDIMuRF just like on the album, while the four other recordings use the chord sequences from different songs on the album as starting points, revisiting them through a daisychain of MF101 Lowpass Filter, MF102 Ring Modulator, MF103 12-stage phaser and MF104M, with the last song also using the CP251 Control Processor. I absolutely loved exploring even deeper soundscapes through those pedals, and these versions give you a glimpse of what the next album will sound like in part (in part because there will be new intruments!). As always thanks for listening, and of course a huge thank you to the people at Moog, and a very special thank you too to Iker Spozio for the amazing artwork! :-)
WORK STARTS ON LP7! The very early stages of working on a new album are some of my favorite moments in the album-making process: I usually know where I want to be headed, but there is a world of difference between audio daydreaming and tangible sonic reality. So it’s a thrill to install new pieces of gear and get the first feel of how simultaneously challenging and fun the exploration of sound is going to be: everything still needs to be understood in depth, tested in all possible combinations, until slowly, those sonic glimpses start to gel into actual music. This is only part of the setup I intend to use, and there’s already so much to explore in there: whenever I see those 5 Moogerfoogers together, the French expression “brochette de Moogerfoogers” (“Moogerfooger skewer”) comes to my mind! Moog Music Inc. and Critter & Guitari
NUITS SONORES 10 MAI ET ARTICLE DANS NOISEY/VICE! Allez, une fois n'est pas coutume, un post en Français, pour vous rappeler que je joue à Lyon au Le Transbordeur à 20h30 ce jeudi 10 mai dans le cadre du très électronique Nuits sonores- le genre de festival que je n'aurais très certainement pas fait avant de sortir un album entièrement électronique (je vous laisse imaginer les difficultés d'amplification de la viole de gambe dans ce genre de contexte... mon setup actuel présente quelques difficultés techniques, mais au moins pas de problème de volume et pas de soundcheck stressant!) https://www.nuits-sonores.com/artistes/colleen/ J'en profite également pour vous signaler l'existence de ce long entretien paru il y a quelques semaines chez Noisey, effectué quelques jours après mon retour des Etats-Unis et quelques heures avant mon passage au BB Mix à Paris, d'où un certain laisser-aller dans mon Francais ;-) Le titre de l'article contient une erreur temporelle que sur le coup je n'ai même pas remarquée, puisque cela va faire 15 ans le mois prochain que mon premier album est sorti, donc on est bien au delà des 10 ans! Et oui, le titre est un peu exagéré, car je ne pense pas être "totalement snobée" en France, mais un peu quand même ;-) Je dirais plutôt que la France et moi, c'est un éternel rendez-vous manqué, un chien qui se mord la queue, une catch-22 situation... Mais je pense que personne n'a absolument toute la presse et toute l'attention du monde en sa faveur, et que j'ai déjà bien de la chance avec ce que j'ai :-)Sur ce, à bientôt à Lyon :-) https://noisey.vice.com/fr/article/xw5qx4/totalement-snobee-en-france-colleen-trace-depuis-dix-ans-une-voie-royale-a-linternational
ONE WARM SPARK WITH CLOSE UP MOOGERFOOGER ACTION + STOCKHOLM AND LYON! When I wrote earlier this year that as part of my plan to have a slow 2018 I would step back from being active on Facebook and my website, I didn’t know how true this would be! That and stepping back from accepting shows for a while have been two great and very necessary decisions and I finally feel more or less rested! Which is good news since I do have two shows in the next two weeks: Stockholm on Wednesday 3rd May at Fasching, and Lyon at Le Transbordeur/ Nuits sonores festival on 10th May! I took the opportunity of rehearsing this afternoon to shoot something I’ve been meaning to show you for a while: a close up of the Moog Music Inc. MF104M delay and MIDIMuRF action on “One warm spark”. Almost everyone understands what a delay does, but the MuRF is kind of hard to explain as it’s so versatile and unusual, so if you can forgive the low sound quality and absence of stereo (this was shot with my phone with the sound of the PA in my studio – in a physical setting or a stereo recording the sounds bounce between Left and Right, which makes it waaaay cooler since the MuRF filters are assigned to Left and Right channels), you will still see and hear clearly how manipulating the different parameters drastically affects what’s going on: when the video starts, the chord on the Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano is in hold mode, I’ve just switched on the delay and I’m augmenting feedback while toggling the Short/ Long switch until the loop feeds back on itself in a stable way. I then remove the LFO from the MuRF and start moving the envelope (first control on the left) and the filters up and down in rhythm with the music. This interplay goes on while the Mix control (at the top) is engaged fully (100%), until I move that control back to 50% rapidly and in rhythm 8 times. After that, I switch back to the short setting on the delay, reduce feedback, reengage the LFO on the MuRF, and go back to playing the song’s beginning chord progression while going to another envelope that’s similar to the beginning but more “fluid” sounding. The song ends with going back to the long setting on the delay, keeping only the 4 lowest filters on the MuRF, then engaging 2 more of them for the ending chords. I hope this video is useful as an illustration of what I’ve been talking in some interviews, which is how so-called effects can be used to create melodies and rhythm and not just be there for cosmetic enhancement! See Less
MUTEK BARCELONA TONIGHT! Back in Barcelona for the second time of my life only, last time was 12 years ago! And this keyboard-playing angel from a 14th century retablo in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya where I am right now seems to fit the bill (the keys are even similar to the Critter & Guitari ones!)😃 Doors open at 20:30 and the show is at 21:00 at the Institut Francais! Merci MUTEK Barcelona et Institut français Barcelona!
NUITS SONORES LYON 10TH MAY + FULL WEBSITE UPDATE + STUDIO PHOTOS BY ISABEL DUBLANG :-) Incroyable mais vrai, I have a rare date in France, 10th May in Lyon as part of the Nuits sonores festival, at Le Transbordeur! As I mentioned in December, I’m slowing down on the live front as my body and brain are not able to keep up with the intensity that travelling and planning for shows entail (it’s not the playing that’s the problem, I love it – it’s the stuff that I have to do to make that 1 hour of live music-making happen), so if one of my next shows is not too far from where you live, don’t miss it, as I definitely won’t play A flame my love, a frequency again in the same places: Den Haag / Rewire 2 March, Barcelona / MUTEK Barcelona 7 March, Stockholm/ Fasching3 May. https://www.nuits-sonores.com/artistes/colleen/ Also, at long last I’ve managed to gather the energy to do a full website update to include all the stuff that happened around the album release and the immediate tour that followed it: my website is meant to function as a kind of “resources” space, and it’s becoming a bit of a labyrinth, understandably so since I’m documenting 15 years of music-making as Colleen, and each album has been pretty different! So I wrote a blogpost to kind of guide you through all the stuff that's been added and which you may have missed! https://colleenplays.org/2018/02/13/nuits-sonores-lyon-10-may-and-full-website-update/ I'm leaving you with some photos taken by Isabel Dublang during our work session for the Resident Advisor article in September 2017, in which you can see my gear and a few close-up snippets of how I work! As always thanks for listening and reading! :-)
CTM Festival BERLIN TOMORROW! So happy to play Berlin, it's been 11 years almost to the day since the last time I played, on 30th January 2007 for CTM too! And to put me in a good mood, the Alps displayed their beauty for almost an hour on the plane from Bilbao to Munich, I'm particularly in love with that small cloud on the right :-)
SUMMER NIGHT (BAT ANTHEM)! Someone (thank you Canon Pence!) recently pointed out to me the existence of a video of me performing at Lisbon's Galeria Zé dos Bois the last song of my encores on the A flame my love, a frequency tour: it's a "happy" version of "Summer night (Bat song)", which I've titled "Summer night (Bat anthem)". For those of you who weren't at the shows and didn't hear my explanation for why I made this version, well, basically "Summer night (Bat song" was inspired by a profoundly peaceful experience at my parents' home in the summer of 2016, a seemingly unimportant moment of seeing a bat nearly flying into my bedroom, but on a night when I felt truly at peace with everything, the bat encapsulating the fragile and sometimes weird beauty and genius of all living things. Somehow the song that ended up on the album is one of the most melancholy sounding moments of the record, and when I was rehearsing for the shows I kind of stumbled upon a new sound combination that felt just right for an alternative version of the song. My singing is nowhere near perfect on this particular video and it's a tricky song to get right live (especially when I try to do the dubby echo on the word "night" at the end - it's really hard to not have it feedback wildly in a live setting!), but I thought I'd share it with you as this song in this version definitely makes me very happy :-) I'm thinking I should record it anyway and put it on Bandcamp, what do you think???
ELECTRONICS SETUP VIDEO + CREATIVE INDEPENDENT INTERVIEW! Happy new year everyone! I have a video and an interview to share with you to start this year, both creation-focused, which I think is the right way to start the year! The Thrill Jockey Records folks took advantage of my presence in Chicago on November 3rd for my show at the Museum of Contemporary Art to ask me to present the gear that was used to make "A flame my love, a frequency" in studio, and which I also use live: I don't even know how I managed to explain all of this, given that this was after the show and at the end of my infamous first-week-of-touring-where-i-burn-transformers-then-buy-the-wrong-transformers-and-still-don't-have-my-own-transformers-by-the-4th-show, I had slept 2 hours and spent the whole day trying to locate transformers until I finally did find them... Let's say I was tired but relieved ;-) Anyway, I'm glad we filmed this, as this is something I wanted to do anyway! If you have any technical questions please don't hesitate to ask! Thanks a lot to Julia Dratel for doing the filming! And Moog Music Inc., Critter & Guitari and Soundcraft Mixers for the amazing gear! And the following is one of my favourite interviews ever, from a great website, The Creative Independent: https://thecreativeindependent.com/people/cecile-schott-on-being-self-sufficient-and-the-benefits-of-bird-watching/ An entire interview centered on what it means to be creative over the years, how you can try to preserve that flame, and if you don't have time to read the whole thing, I recommend reading just my reply to the last question "Is there something that you wish somebody had told you when you were first starting out?" So here's to a peaceful and slowly creative 2018 :-)
BEST OF 2017 LISTS, LISBON PHOTOS AND MANIFESTO XXI INTERVIEW IN FRENCH! As I’m slowly recovering from my pharyngitis, I’m reflecting on a year full of learning and artistic and human experiences. I do think I reached the limits of my physical and psychological capacities, so my aim for 2018 will be to prioritize rest and a sense of slowness over productivity, online presence and live shows. Which leads me to end of the year lists. A flame my love, a frequency has without a doubt led me to work the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life, so even though I do think any “best of the year” list has to be taken for what it is – a reflection of the magazine/webzine’s tastes, and not some kind of “objective truth” –, in a world inundated with thousands of new albums every year, I am grateful that the album has made it to several best of 2017 lists, reaching number 2 on FACT Magazine, and is included in the lists of The Vinyl Factory, The Quietus, the Vinyl District, Textura, Tiny Mix Tapes, and a couple more. http://www.factmag.com/2017/12/20/best-albums-2017/ This photo of me is from a series that the super talented Portuguese photographer Vera Marmelo took during the soundcheck and show at Lisbon’s Galeria Ze Dos Bois earlier this month. I don’t know why my hand is in that position (trying to see the audience? realising I dialled something wrong in the dozens of settings I have to change for each song??? ), but I just really like that photo, its softness encapsulates the sense of trust and well-being that I feel whenever I play in that very special venue :-))) You can see the whole series here http://v-miopia.blogspot.com.es/2017/12/colleen-na-zdb.html?m=1 Last but not least, pour les Francophones, un long entretien fait avant mon concert au festival BBMix pour Manifesto XXI, où l’on évoque Delia Derbyshire, le passage de prof d’anglais à musicienne à temps plein, Facebook, ma récente session chez Moog, et plein d’autres choses liées au dernier album et à mon approche musicale en général ! Merci Alice ! :-) https://manifesto-21.com/rencontre-colleen-dela-frequences/
BAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS: ALIEN DISKO CANCELLATION AND MORE EUROPEAN DATES IN THE SPRING INCLUDING CTM, REWIRE AND MUTEK I am so sorry to have to cancel my participation in Alien Disko Festival tomorrow in Munich: I was really looking forward to playing this beautifully-curated festival, but I felt on the verge of falling ill all week, and now it’s happened: I have pharyngitis, and having had it last year just before a concert, I know that travelling with this and attempting to play and sing is a *really* bad idea, as the symptoms get worse with travelling and working. I know that for sure I would end up with a fever and generally worsened symptoms that would probably prevent me from performing anyway. It is only the second time in 14 years of live playing and more than 220 shows that I cancel a show for health reasons, so if I’m doing it it’s because it’s really necessary. I do apologize to those of you who were hoping to see me there… Ironically, I do have some very good news to announce on the live European front: I have some really exciting dates lined up for this spring, here goes 1 February 2018, Berlin, Germany – CTM Festival, HAU 1 Theatre http://www.ctm-festival.de/festival-2018/programme/ http://www.ctm-festival.de/festival-2018/tickets/ 2 March 2018, Den Haag, Holland – (P)Rewire with Laurel Halo, Korzo Theatre Rewire https://www.rewirefestival.nl/event/prewire-x-korzo-laurel-halo-and-colleen - tickets on sale this Saturday 10.00 CEST 7 March 2018, Barcelona, Spain – MUTEK Barcelona, Institut Français https://www.facebook.com/Mutekes/ http://entradas.lavanguardia.com/evento/mutek9/ 3 May 2018, Stockholm, Sweden – Fasching – full announcement and tickets available next week http://www.fasching.se/ I hope to see you there, and in the meantime, I'm going to have a nice long rest so I can be in the best of shapes to play again!
STRANDED IN LONDON, THANK YOU LISBON AND LONDON, AND FRENCH RADIO VIDEO! Here I am stranded for three extra days in London because my flight was cancelled in Stansted on Sunday because of the bad weather and well, how do you fit thousands of passengers on the next day's flights???... The answer is you don't... Thankfully my heart is still full of the warmth you my incredible London audience gave me on Saturday night, thanks so much and I really mean it 😃😃😃 In Lisbon I also had a sh.t.y airline situation (overbooking with a famous Portuguese airline that got sorted out only because a sick passenger could not travel...) and an amazing audience, so thank you so much everyone, as well as ZDB and Baba Yaga's Hut! I'm repeating myself but beyond the pleasure of playing live, you are the real reason why I just don't stop travelling altogether, since the stress and exhaustion are real when these airport situations start piling up (and they do). Fingers crossed for Munich's Alien Disko on Saturday! I'll leave you with this video of the session I did for France Inter a couple of weeks ago, did not know this video existed, I love the lights and mood, hope you will too! https://youtu.be/giwiTfWEWmw