Between songs and theater, is “Magnetic Band” a way to escape the forced characters of the singing tour?
I especially wanted to sing on the Bouffes du Nord stage, which has an incredibly beautiful setting. It looks like Venice after a fire. And the head of Bouffes du Nord, Olivier Poubelle, said to me: “OK, but you have to stay for two weeks and it has to be a show and not a singing tour”. It was therefore necessary to invent a formula and I had the idea of finding myself in a recording studio with a strange sound engineer.
Is the idea to revive your songs, to re-orchestrate them?
Yes, I would use all the tracks recorded in beautiful studios with good musicians but which are not used. It’s pretty amazing material that needed to be disassembled, exposed. We see it on television when Stevie Wonder in front of his mixer dissects his piece “Pastime Paradise”, explaining how he works with this Hindu bell or this blanket of strings. It opens up other worlds of sound.
I perceive “Magnetic Band” as a great story, a mix of what I love most, music and writing short stories
A way to regenerate yourself?
Yes, by offering a real show and not a flashback to my 22 years of music. I see it as a great story, a mise en abyme, a mix of what I love most, music and writing short stories. In “Magnetic Tape”, there are disturbing or comic short stories that follow each other across the songs, in the presence of an unlikely sound engineer and a bit of a mentalist. Every night there is also an actor playing the uninvited guest: after Vincent Macaigne I had Éric Caravaca, Samuel Benchetrit, Benoit Belin, Arthur Teboul, the singer from Feu! Chatterton. I hope I can do the same on my trip.
Re-recording on the piano voice songs like “Let’s not leave angry”, “Le Bar de l’Hôtel”, “Dazzled by the night”, “Winter Wind”, “Caravan”, does it send you back to the past, to the road taken?
I do not know. I take about twenty songs that still seem beautiful to me. These highly refined versions, in piano-voice mode, withstand time and are cohesive in a journey that may seem incoherent.
Is “Magnetic Band” like an invitation to travel, to dream?
Like a waking dream with this sound engineer character who could be my double. We are in an imaginary, amazing world. Everything is allowed.
If nothing goes, I start playing piano, singing and everything passes
Aside from the contact with the public, what does the song bring you in terms of authorship, to the book?
Singing is my first love, it’s really what I want to do my whole life. If nothing goes, I start playing piano, singing and everything passes. I’m associated with something very powerful, music which is irreplaceable. The literature is great too, but it’s not my first love. It’s lonely work. Writers are the people I admire most in the world.
Who, for example,
Oh, there are so many! Kafka, Tolstoy, Georges Perec.
You think things went down with time, people forgot about you, and when you get back on stage, that bond still exists, and it has not been redeemed.
What does it mean to you to be a singer today?
A great chance. In all these years, for 22 years exactly, I have continued to make records, to give concerts, as at the Bouffes du Nord for ten evenings, and people come to see me, to applaud me. I get a lot of love and it’s very strong emotionally. To me, it’s almost unprecedented. You think things went down with time, people forgot about you, and when you get back on stage, that bond still exists, and it has not been redeemed. And it is overwhelming, very valuable, obvious and very tangible.
You have just released a collection of twelve short stories, “Une éclipse” (on Gallimard), and a new album, “Haute fidelity”. Is there a connection between the two? The taste for telling strange, comical, tender stories?
Both talk about love. The collection and the disk are very much connected. There is also fear, which is an interesting driver. When you go on stage, you have to let stage fright do its job. Even in writing, fears, fantasies, visions are necessary.
We are doing really well in Brittany because we have lived happy times
You have composed several film scores, most notably for Samuel Benchetrit (“Un voyage”, “Asphalt” and “Dog”). Do you want a movie?
Of course. I love the cinema. I’ve been trying to make a movie for a long time, but I do not have the means yet. It’s a very special project, full of imagination, written with my friend Samuel Benchetrit. It’s complicated, but I’m not giving up.
Your trip takes you to Brittany (to Vannes on April 27), where you have many ties to your wife, Mélanie Thierry. Do you come here often?
Yes, we have a real passion for Brittany. I like human spirit, sincerity, authenticity. We spend a lot of time there, almost a third of the year, with our two children who grew up here. We have many memories. Mélanie is of Breton origin. We feel really good there because we have lived happy moments. In addition, I would like to tour in Brittany and sing in Brest, Rennes and Saint-Brieuc.
“Magnetic tape” by Raphaël on Wednesday 27 April at the Palais des Arts in Vannes