PHOTO CREDIT: Arthur Wollenweber
NOT since I reviewed Ellene Masri….
have I had the opportunity to investigate a French artist. She (Masri) has Parisian roots but is now based in the U.S. In terms of artists still in France, my exposure is quite limited. I discovered Louise Thiolon recently and was won by her heartfelt, romantic and incredible music. Her songs mix French, traditional sounds and more accessible mainstream elements. Her self-titled E.P. is a five-track release mixed by Bar Zalel and recorded at three different studios. I ask Thiolon about the recording process and what it was like collaborating with musicians like Cécile Pruvot, Andrew Mazingue and Marine Maire. She explains the origins of my favourite song, Le Goût du Chagrin, and what the music scene is like in France. I was keen to learn Thiolon’s idols and whether we can expect to see her in the U.K. soon.
Hi, Louise. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m having a great week!
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m a French singer-songwriter. I live in Paris and I started recording my music two years ago.
Your new (eponymous) E.P. has just been released. What can you tell me about the E.P. and the type of subjects you address?
It is my first E.P: a five-track album and it is talking about me; about how I started to realise that, sometimes, what I missed in life was to get to move. So, it starts with a statue that wants to get moving and open her eyes. These are my favorite themes.
Le Goût du Chagrin is a track stands out to me. Can you tell us a bit about that song?
Le Goût du Chagrin is about a journey into your deep emotions: a journey to find what you feel inside and finally to let go the sorrow.
It is someone who says he feels nothing and then, along the way, he finds different kinds of emotions and starts to move! Again, movement is important.
The E.P. was recorded at Aeronef Studio and Studio de la Chine. What was the experience like working in those facilities?
I also recorded at Studio Gouverneur in Paris. All three studios where great and I worked with good sound engineers.
Your ‘backing band’, as it were, includes Cécile Pruvot on viola and Bar Zalel. Have you always recorded with these musicians? How did you all get together?
I use to play with Bar Zalel in his own band, Cars on Rooftops – where Andrew Mazingue played the double bass. Cécile Pruvot and Marine Maire (cello) came together later. They were friends with Andrew so that’s how we got together!
Listening to your music and it bridges traditional French sounds and something modern and accessible. Which artists and performers have helped you create your unique and rich sound?
I love This Is the Kit – the band of Kate Stables, it’s one of my favourite bands. The sound, the arrangements and the song constructions are very good.
I also love Lhasa and the famous French singer Camille – for the very poetic universe she creates. Raphaële Lanadère is also an inspiration for lyrics and songwriting.
What is the music scene like where you are in France? Is there quite a lot of commercial music or more traditional, native sounds?
In Paris, the scene is very rich: lots of Jazz; a lot of French Pop that is actually growing fast with beautiful new bands. There are some traditional sounds too: from Swing to Eastern European or Middle Eastern.
I know you have just unveiled your debut E.P. but are you thinking ahead to new music and getting back in the studio?
Oh yes. I definitely would love to record an album soon!
Can you remember the moment you decided you wanted to get into music? Was it a family member or any particular incident that sparked that desire?
I always loved music. I played the piano very young; then percussions and guitar. I love learning to play new instruments. But, it is when I finished my studies – when I was twenty-one – that I decided to go to Paris to study Jazz and practice more intensively.
Are there any tour dates planned for this year? Maybe a chance seeing you in the U.K. at some point?
It is not planned yet but I’ve already played in the U.K. and I have friends there.
I love the U.K. and I want to go back soon!
How important is the support you get on social media in regards your drive and passion for music?
I think it’s important, especially now, because it can offer you some good opportunities to meet people and get some gigs… because, otherwise, it’s hard to get to play live.
So, yes, social media is a big part of the work at the beginning.
If you had to select the three albums that have meant the most to you; what would they be and why?
Tcheka – Nu Monda: because I’m in love with Cabo Verde’s music and the way he plays the guitar…
Camille – Le Fil: wonderful and poetic
Michel Petrucciani and Eddy Louis – Conférence de Presse: it is pure happiness to listen to them together!
Who are the new artists you recommend we investigate?
Have you any advice for songwriters coming through at the moment?
Oh, no. Just take the time to feel… and take courage!
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song (not one of yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.
Ok. You can play George Brassens’ J’ai Rendez-Vous Avec Vous; or Asa’s Maybe – if you prefer a song in English.
Follow Louise Thiolon
PHOTO CREDIT: Arthur Wollenweber