Q&A Series - Frédéric D. Oberland
In celebration of the label's 100th release we put together a Q&A for some of the artists involved to give an insight into their artistic world and how they connected with Gizeh.
GZH100 - We Hovered With Short Wings is a compilation album celebrating Gizeh's 100th release. It features 21 exclusive tracks from artists who have been involved with the label over the past 18 years.
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FRÉDÉRIC D. OBERLAND
GZH35 - FareWell Poetry - Hoping for the Invisible to Ignite
GZH36 - Richard Knox & Frédéric D. Oberland - The Rustle of the Stars
GZH71 - FOUDRE! - Earth
GZH86 - FOUDRE! - Kami 神
Can you remember how you ended up first getting involved with Gizeh
Frédéric: Mmm... I would say October 2009? I guess Richard and I met in Paris during this Out Of The Blue Festival curated by Benoît Cholet at La Java in Paris. Richard and Elly were playing with Glissando and Trespassers William. My collective FareWell Poetry was also performing that night. The whole evening was amazing, a great party, I remember I played with half of my face tumefied ‘cause of some weird brawl the night before... A few months after, Rich and David Fenech joined FareWell Poetry for a Spring jam session at La Société de Curiosités and he asked us if we would like to join the Gizeh adventure with a possible LP album. Then we started also The Rustle of the Stars project together, joined by friends like Angela, Lidwine, Florence ; then The Freemartin Calf film and soundtrack release, then two FOUDRE! albums, then... Here we are now — eleven years later!
What are you currently finding inspiring?
In these dark times for everyone, I would say that everything that could be feeding my soul and my body would be welcome and inspiring: true art in general, love, friendship, humor and cuisine... I am more than ever amazed by the capacity of some of my close friends to keep hope in any case and to give it back to people, friends and unknowns, sharing what they have with passion and generosity. People are the key.
Since none of us have been able to tour this year, what have you been occupying yourself with?
To be honest, after years of touring with Oiseaux-Tempête and various projects, and loads of continuous daily work for my bands or for the label (NAHAL Recordings), this break came, as a personal level, first as a gift. Time to pause, to chill, to think, to enjoy doing nothing when my mind was not completely shocked with this worldwide Corona thing.... Actually I confirm that it is great to do nothing sometimes ;-) Then I've reconnected little by little with music, first without recording anything, without any specific idea or goal, just playing for myself, for the room, for my partner, something which will disappear straight away after being played. Simple as that. I took time to clean, to fix and to change a few things in my home-studio, selling gear I was not using anymore, and trying to find a few gems / synths I was looking for. In this almost new space, two different solo albums are now in the making. Also I composed a few original soundtracks, solo and with Oiseaux-Tempête. With Paul, Romain and Camille, we finished the editing, the arrangements and the mix of a new FOUDRE! album, 'Future Sabbath', which will be out on NAHAL next January. I'm also currently in the process of editing 10 years of analog photographs for an upcoming photobook with the Sun/Sun publishing house. Seems I found some stuff to enjoy myself and to balance my brand new laziness ;-)
My home-studio, 'Magnum Diva', is a big part of my living room basically with 4 big windows and loads of daylight, the whole located in a small street of Montmartre in Paris. The floor is made of wood and there is some space to relax and invite a few guests. My neighbours don’t complain that much so basically I can play and record loads of quiet / mid quiet stuff, like piano, acoustic instruments, synths / electronics and not too loud electric stuff. It is an old flat so if you play too loud the space will start to resonate too much which is an interesting way to find the right volume to play with and to find accurate dynamics. For years now, I've collected different vintage instruments, mics, boutique effects, hardware and amps; I'm trying now to have loads of gear which are already plugged in and ready to play, so the process to actually record is not too complicated if the inspiration is around. Ergonomics is often the key to “the right sound on the right take" which is actually the double thing every musician will look for when going in the studio. This freedom of choosing the right moment is a real benefit of the home-studio when talking about "feelings" in music. As we never really had even one dedicated rehearsing space with bands, from FareWell Poetry to Oiseaux-Tempête and FOUDRE!, "Magnum Diva" is the place where I've recorded and mixed tons of stuff since years like my solo albums, The Freemartin Calf OST, arrangements for FareWell Poetry ; every editings for Oiseaux-Tempête albums were also made here with Stéphane. But to be honest, the last years I also loved being able to go in nice and beautiful studios to record / to mix and to work with great sound engineers you can just trust and play, like Mer/Noir (run by Jean-Charles Bastion & Romain Poirier), Hotel2Tango (with Radwan Ghazi Mounmeh), Kerwax (with Christophe Chavanon), Tunefork (with Fadi Tabbal), Poptones (with Jean-Charles Versari)...
What does a regular day look like for you? Do you have routines or habitual ways you work?
Double big dose of dark coffee — "black as midnight on a moonless night". No sugar. Weed also, in balance, but I'm starting later now ;-). One eye on some alternative news from the world; then emails, emails, a looot... Since one year now, I'm trying to play every day a bit from at least one instrument and to find enough time to read during the week. To be sure to connect at least once a day on what I like to do instead of sometimes letting myself spend too much time on tiny screens... Generally, I love to balance this homework with "residency" periods, to be away, to travel, to get inspired by the outside.
What would be your dream collaboration?
David Lynch and Arvö Part and Claire Denis and Set Fire To Flames and Carlos Reygadas and Akosh S. and Nina Simone and Blade Runner and Gwana music all together? Wait, why is it not possible?
I'm so lucky to be surrounded by great and talented friends with whom I'm playing / have played / will play with or for. I'm blessed by them.
What was your entry point into playing music?
Piano when I was 6. Blixa Bargeld when I was 16.
How do you know when a record's finished?
This is a tough one. By intuition, really. Sometimes the album or the piece itself can say it to me, in its way, then it's very satisfying in the process. I like when things are building fast, instinctively. But sometimes you have to learn to wait. You could need more inspiration in apprehending the whole. Or there are just tiny details to fix but this could take ages. As an Oblique Strategies card could say: "Be patient, if possible". The material itself is always more important than an extra idea that you want to overlay. Sometimes also, an extra deadline decides for me, which could be helpful or frustrating. When an album is finished, I feel empty and full at the same time. And I like that. I will listen to it a couple of times, sometimes compulsively till the very end of the process, and when the record is out, I put it in limbo and don’t play it for years. It doesn’t belong to me anymore; my head is already somewhere else.
How do you balance health and productivity?
French paradox, loads of love, and team #nosport
Do you have a favourite Gizeh release or one that particularly resonates with you?
I will always be in love with this album from my friend Chantal Acda "Let Your Hands Be My Guide" produced by Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick ; this one just broke my little heart forever. Releases by bands from the core label crew like A-Sun Amissa, Fieldhead, Glissando are always inspiring for me. From the recent years, I deeply enjoyed Gizeh albums by Astrïd, Aidan Baker collaborations with Karen Willems and with Thor Harris & Simon Goff, Julia Kent & Jean D.L, Aging, and of course my dear Christine Ott
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