Slowly coming out of confinement… though music is far from being back on track. We were the first to be shut down, and will be the last to be opened back up. Musicians are staying busy as well as we can, and we try to keep on playing our part by bringing positive energy and relief into the world. Some good music has come out of it, and some great encounters!!
Here are the five videos that I’ve been responsible for putting together with the extraordinary singer Xavier Druot. As the videos went on, my arrangement and video editing skills drastically improved – at least the confinement helped my in that regard! On the ones with more people than just Xavier and me, my old friend Mitch Olivier is doing wonders with the mix. Several people in the videos recorded with their phones and still it sounds incredible, Mitch is really a magician. The musicians I called up are friends with extraordinary talent from around the world – Paris, Australia, UK, New York, Brussels, Corsica, Serbia, Madagascar, Denmark, Martinique…
While My Guitar Gently Weeps:
A Whiter Shade of Pale:
Here Comes The Sun:
Les Mots Bleus:
Don’t Dream It’s Over
Happy 2020 to everyone!!
If anyone is curious about where I’m coming from, please check out this beautiful documentary by Janus Køster-Rasmussen about my home town and the music education that a few legendary pioneers started there in the 1970s.
I feel strongly about this story, to the point that I spent the time doing the english subtitles myself to be able to share it with people outside of Denmark.
It’s important to me, because it’s a big part of my own story. I would never have become a musician without the people in this film.
I also think it’s important because it carries some important lessons about approaching music in a collective way that makes it better and more fun for everyone.
But most importantly, because it contains some essential truths about the central place music has in human existence and why it’s important to nurture it through education.
Like Astrid Elbek says in the film, it’s a basic ingredient for a meaningful life on a personal level, and for a meaningful society on a larger level.
If you’re in Paris on Wednesday October 16th, come around to La Cigale, it’s the MaMa festival, and we’re having a party ( https://www.facebook.com/events/la-cigale/think-zik-party-mama-festival/506102053456701/ ) with all the artists from the Think Zik! label – Imany, Faada Freddy, Paper Plane, Anwar, Yaya Minté and Ah The Unclear. 4 hours of music, and I have the honor of MD’ing the house band. I’ve also spent a good deal of the year working with the label on an upcoming acoustic, intimate record featuring all these artists, as well as some invited friends, incredible vocal talent, can’t wait for it to come out!
The Mylene Farmer concert movie that was filmed during the shows we did in June at the Paris La Défense Arena will be in 500 cinemas around France for one unique showing on November 7th at 20h. Check out the just released movie teaser/music video:
Also coming soon to cinema screens very soon on October 19th is the concert we did last month the the Cirque d’Hiver with the wildly talented, 13 year old Erza Muqoli and Vianney. Her debut record that I also had the privilege of playing on is out on October 25th.
The record I worked on a lot this spring/summer with Christophe Maé is coming out on October 25th, first single is out and is doing well on the radio. I’ll also be joining Christophe for some live shows, stay tuned!
Out this week is the beautiful movie “J’irai ou tu Iras” by Geraldine Nakkache. Camille did the soundtrack and I got to play piano on it!
In other news, I’m busy working this fall as a producer for Benabar’s next record for Sony with master A&R and beautiful friend Bertrand Lamblot. We have a great repertoire, and half of the record is done already, I think it will be a powerful collection of songs showing how much depth and range Benabar has gained over the years. It should be out in the early Spring if all goes well.
Also coming up with Bertrand and our wonderful studio band The Moonlight Shadows (Raphael Chassin, Laurent Vernerey, Thomas Coeuriot and your truly) is the record we did in the Spring for French legend Renaud, the album is called “Les mômes et les enfants d’abord” and will be out in November. Watch out!
Last show tonight with Mylene Farmer at the Paris La Défense Arena. This has been one intense and fun ride! 15 days of music and dance rehearsal, 12 days of production rehearsal, 130 people crew, 9 shows, 240.000 people in the audience, 16 dancers, 190 tons of equipment hanging from the ceiling, 1800 people to build the stage. The numbers are unbelievable!
I will have many fond memories of this time, but the most powerful thing I take away from the experience is the friendship that has developed within the band. My fellow band members Charlie Paxson, Sébastian Chouard, Joel Shearer, Vincent Bidal and Jonathan Noyce are as talented, professional and experienced as they are warm-hearted, funny, open-minded and completely crazy. Love them all! Enormous gratitude to the one and only Olivier Schulteis for bringing us together and doing such a fantastic job of preparing the arrangements and being the calm, efficient and all around lovely band leader that he always is.
The enormous crew is a collection of the best and nicest talent in France, and it was just remarkable that we made it through the entire run without any tension, conflicts, ego problems or unnecessary shows of authority despite the millions of euros at stake. Everybody worked perfectly together from beginning to end across the board – carpenters, riggers, blockers, catering, production, lighting, backline, music, security, stage management, design, etc etc.
Usually the vibe of a production directly reflects the mentality of the protagonists, and the fact that everything went so smoothly is a great testimony to the humanity and vision of the people that were at the center of the storm – Thierry Suc, Laurent Boutonnat and of course the one person the whole thing revolves around: Mylene Farmer. It’s awe-inspiring what they have built together over all these years, and I’m proud to have been a small part of it this year!
A great thanks and shoutout to Olivier Blanchard and Clavia for their support over the years, and for the Nord Stage 3s they provided for the show. The absolute reliability, the ease of the use necessary to deliver results quickly and most importantly the quality of the sounds are all at the highest level, and I couldn’t imagine doing this kind of show with any other keyboard.
The Alain Chamfort song that I arranged last year won the “Chanson de l’année” award from the UNAC. It’s on the album “Le Désordre des Choses” that I produced with Alain, which was also nominated in the “Album de chansons” category at the Victoires de la Musique 2019, and for a Globe De Cristal. Champagne for everyone!
I had a great time for a month at the Theatre du Rond Point with Alfredo Arias’ play “Madame Pink”. A pink poodle, the legendary Mark Plati composing, playing and band-leading, a wonderful international cast (Naples, Rome, Paris, Sicily, New York), giant teeth-shaped doors, the fantastic Giuseppe Burgarella on piano, off-the-hook costumes, my old friend Maxime Garoute in the band, and of course everything performed in Italian, but taking place in Miami.
When people ask me why there is such a disproportionately large amount of musicians coming from my fairly small Danish hometown Aarhus, I have a simple answer: “Leif Falk”. He was the one who revolutionized music teaching in the ‘60s as a young man passionate about New Orleans, Cuba, jazz and all sorts of rhythmic music, he created the institutions, opportunities and frameworks and he installed a feeling of joy, sharing, love of music, interaction, confidence and credibility in several generations of kids from Aarhus, many of whom ended up doing music for a living. Anybody had the right to play music in his world. I didn’t have much direct contact with him, but have felt the ripples of his revolutionary work and Herculean, 50-year long effort in so many ways. He went over to the other side this week along with his loving partner in all of these endeavors, Ivalo. They will be missed! They changed so many lives for the better, including mine!
This spring, Tété asked me to produce his next record with him. After having worked with him on his two previous records as a session musician, it was great to be more involved this time around. I’m first and foremost a great fan of Tété – he’s an incredible singer and writer, and he’s one of the few who has cracked the code of making the French language swing.
The record will be out in February and is called “Fauthentique”. The lyrics evolve around the concept of authenticity or the lack thereof in our age of fake news and digital manipulation of just about anything. The first single is “King Simili”, check it out!
Happy and proud to be joining Benjamin Biolay and Melvil Poupaud for their SONGBOOK tour. We already played a few shows this summer, and the concert is a great journey into the deeper ends of Biolay’s repertoire, as well as songs that have influenced both these handsome gentlemen. It’s an intense acoustic run until the spring, you can check out the dates here.
It’s great to be playing with Benjamin Biolay again. Time has flown since I toured with him in 2007, and he’s become a bonafide star in France in the meantime. His stage presence and musicality were already very strong back then, but he’s even more charismatic these days – playing, singing, writing and performing better than ever.
I didn’t know Melvil before this tour, but he’s as charming, educated, talented and dedicated as you would expect from someone with as rich and consistently good a career.
We did some studio preproduction to prepare the tour, which Benjamin elegantly turned into a limited edition album that was recently released! No CDs for this one, only vinyl or streaming, click here: SONGBOOK
Hope to see you on the road!
New series of videos for the song “En Attendant” from Alain Chamfort’s album “Le Désordre des Choses” that I produced with him. The song title means “While Waiting”, and the videos illustrate Alain and other people waiting, in the style of Andy Warhol’s screen tests, or Gérard Courant’s Cinématon.
“Your general notion is that doing something nice makes you more confident. With ideas I often find that it’s the opposite. With every good idea you have, it actually becomes more difficult, because it’s so hard to repeat. Of course you can’t repeat… this is where the pain comes in, when I talk about not being good enough, being afraid that you’re out of ideas. You mesure yourself against a lucky moment. And this is really, really painful. You had this one spark three years ago, and then a client asks you to do it again. And you think: “How can I… I won the lottery then. How can you ask me to win the lottery? Under pressure? With a gun to my head?” And this is something, before I consciously thought about it, I just realised: “I’m miserable”. But when I realised that my fears threatened to take a toll on my work, I decided I had to deal with them. “Relax, don’t be so hard on yourself. I actually totally disagree. You have to practice and become better.” Every athlete, every musician practices every day. Why should it be different for artists?”
From Morgan Neville’s Netflix documentary. Highly recommended!
New public account on Instagram for daily shots of concerts, studios, gear and maybe even some things completely unrelated to music!?!
This project was pretty different from what I usually do, and it was fun and instructive to work with my fellow Parisian expatriate friends Peter Corser, a great UK saxophonist, and Hasse Poulsen, the talented Danish free-jazz guitarist. There is some great guest talent on the record, including Egyptian poet Abdullah Miniawy and French singers André Minvielle and Sanseverino. Hope you’ll like it! More info here: http://www.sighfire.com
Last year I had the immense privilege of co-producing Alain Chamfort’s upcoming record with him, “Le Désordre des Choses”. I’ve played with Alain in the past, and I love his back catalogue. Some of the most elegant and sophisticated music and lyrics of French pop music, hands down. Imagine my enthusiasm, getting to produce the next chapter in this amazing songbook! It was a fluid and inspiring process, Alain is a great keyboard payer, so we had a lot fun. He is as sharp and adventurous as ever, no slowing down in sight despite a 50 year long career.
The first two songs are now online, to great critical response. I hope the fans and the critics will like the rest of the songs as well! The writing is particularly strong on this album, so hopefully the production does justice to the songs. The album will be released in April, stay tuned!
Really enjoying the Reface series! The CP model packs a Wurlitzer, two Rhodes, a Clavinet, a CP80 and a Toy Piano in a tiny yet enjoyable, and most importantly playable unit. Included are also various effects, and presets can be stored on an iPhone. It even runs on battery and has built-in speakers. Very inspiring and handy, you can work out ideas anywhere, including when work is being done on something else in the studio. Below is a video where I play around with the unit in my studio.
I’m starting a new project. Ever since I came to France 20 years ago, I’ve been frustrated to see how little interaction there is between the music scenes in Scandinavia and France. Over the next years, I’ll try to organise regular acoustic sessions bringing together artists in an intimate setting. With help from some good friends, I did a test session recently with the amazing guitarists Freddy Koella and Aske Jacoby. You can have a listen below!
If this dream is to become reality, I’ll need sponsors and grants, and the more traction I can get on my own, the better chances are of generating interest with partners. So please don’t hesitate to like, share and follow as much as you can. We’re on Facebook, WordPress and Youtube for the moment. Thanks for the help. And enjoy!
A year into the tour with Camille, and we’ll be going for a good while more, at least into the fall. Yesterday Camille won the Victoires de la Musique for tour/concert of the year! You can find the upcoming concerts above. And don’t forget to check out the concert we did at Pleyel, which is now online on the Arte website: