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ANTOINE BERJEAUT: WASTELAND

Antoine Berjeaut? He's a French trumpet player, producer, and composer who drifts effortlessly between jazz and new electronic landscapes. He's an active member of the Surnatural Orchestra and contributes to so many other projects which I'm not even gonna start to count. He's recorded heaps of amazing tunes and toured with people like Jeanne Balibar, Julien Lourau, Peter Von Poehl... Besides, he's also involved in music from different artistic fields like theater and film. You can imagine he's also no stranger to various international festivals. For me, he's a musical hero, a wonder child if you will. On top of everything he has been running his own band Wasteland for 3 years now. Wasteland is basically a group of epic French players performing together with the American rapper and poet Mike Ladd. You may remember Mike Ladd from the well-received piece "Holding It Down" (and many others) that he did with Vijay Iyer (a jazz pianist, composer, producer, electronic musician and writer from NYC). If you haven't, check that out, cause it's awesome. Wasteland music has this almost Miles Davis "Silent Way" vibe, but it also goes through its own improvised, minimalist, and fresh ways. Say YO to Antoine, find out all about Wasteland and his special talents that nobody yet knows about!

Photo: Vincent Lebrun
Hi Antonie! How's it going? How's your autumn looking so far?

Nice, we just released 2 LPs of Wasteland in 5 months! And we just started a collaboration with Dunose Productions for some international booking, so it all sounds very good at the moment. Need to keep that rhythm for the winter months too... 

How did you get so close to jazz in the first place, was there a particular reason?

Back in the 90's I was a big fan of Jazzmatazz, US3, but I didn't know Coltrane or Miles, so I bought a Blue note records because the cover looked hip and then I began to be a real jazz digger. I studied at the Paris Conservatory and met great young jazz musicians there who happen to be my friends now. We discovered contemporary music together, some electro-acoustic treatments, written classes... They gave me the strength to develop my own ideas of how jazz could sound in 2014.

Why the trumpet?

My very first CD was by Donald Byrd with very warm and funky sound. I wanted to imitate that. My brother took me to a concert of Wynton Marsalis and then I realised that trumpet was really the sound I was looking for. It's so close to the human voice...

Photo: 1.bp.blogspot.com
You've already worked on so many projects in 2014. Where and when did the first visions for Wasteland come from?

I had a kind of "residence" with a brand new quartet at Musiques au Comptoir in Fontenay, where we played four gigs in one year with long moments of rehearsal developing a personal repertoire. It sounded quite nice when I invited Mike Ladd on stage for a national radio broadcast. I heard the sound the last day and it was what I was looking for, it was simply terrific! I never heard that anywhere else. Took me a few months to write more music around Mike's texts for this particular band and then went to the studio. I wanted to keep this meeting fresh and make kind of a "live" CD in the studio. I brought Julien Lourau as a guest on the CD and finally welcomed him in the band. Jordi Pujol from Fresh Sound heard that and proposed to put it on Fresh Sound New Talent records.

Mike Ladd was already collaborating with some brilliant artists like Vijay Iyer in the past. Was he also one of your influences for making the album?

I really like Vijay Iyer's music but I knew Mike Ladd from his early works (Negrophilia) and the indie hip hop scene (Antipop Consortium, Def Jux...). I didn't hear the Vijay collaboration till last year. I always wanted to cross the line between this creative hip hop scene and the more free jazz direction. We met with producer Doctor L in his project, it took me 2 minutes to understand that I should go in that direction with him. Mike is very curious and has a unique approach to improvisation. He is equal to any other member of the sextet, so he's not just a front rapper with a backing band.

Photo: jazzdor.com
We find a wonderful mix of modern jazz, electronica, beat, and improvisation on Wasteland. Where did the idea of mixing such diverse music genres come from?

Childhood! Gilles Peterson and Mary Anne Hobbs were my heroes till 1992 and I globally missed the "acoustic live" feeling on all this great electronic records of 2000's. Aphex Twin, Burial, Flying Lotus are not strictly "live" performers, I thought I could have this IDM production with no samples, strictly live instruments on stage too, with beats, melody and poetry. Improvisation shows us the way to let music happen in the present.

You've worked with many musicians in the past like Denis Colin and Surnatural Orchestra, but Wasteland is the first album that's completely your own. What motivated you to take on a leading role in the making of this album?

Working as a sideman was very stimulating through the years and it gave me the needed musical vocabularies and more ideas as a leader and composer of this band. It’s very interesting how creative people that I collaborated with drive their own projects. Each one in his own way, these great artists have different approaches and they bring something different to the final result, because we are all looking for the same goal at the end. One can be collective, technical, selfish or spiritual, different creative paths are the key for bringing music higher. For me composition is a workshop which never ends. Forms and feelings often change from one concert to another. The music I write is done for that, that’s one part of the creative movement. Reminds me of Hemingway's words: "It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end". I feel the same for Wasteland, so I'm learning something everyday with the musicians on stage.

Photo: Vincent Lebrun
What are your plans for the future?

We'll continue to tour with the sextet with some new repertoire to come. Also after the remix LP out on Paris DJ's label, I'd like to develop a Wasteland remix from on stage too, with more machines and more guests on vocals and visuals. I should work on that during the next spring.

Please name one special talent you have that we don't know about. 

I speak Chinese!!

Thanks so much for your time and answers, I really appreciate it!

Photo: 3.bp.blogspot.com

My Slovenian readers can find Antoine and Mike Ladd next week (11th of November) at Cankarjev Dom where they'll jazz the evening away. Should be great! 

xxxx

4 comments:

  1. I'm definitely going to talk about him to my boyfriend. I'm sure he'll love his work :)

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  2. G I wish I could follow you around to these interviews, like, be your assistant or something. You sure do meet an awesome and talented bunch of people (and man can you interview too! I need to take pointers from you)

    Sxx
    www.daringcoco.com

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  3. r: That would be so cool! Maybe the next time you come to Porto :D

    ReplyDelete