The french are lauded for all things artistic. So when a French band teamed up with desi folk rockers Swarathma, it sent high alert to our curiosity meter. We decided to check out the performance by Vendeurs D’Enclumes at Zorba as part of Bonjour India festival.
And we caught up with Valerian Renault from the band — a sextet who hail from Orleans in central France and have been developing their musical style for the past eight years combining classical music influences and jazzy vibrations. They combine saxophones, guitars, drums, and bass lines with with Renault’s voice to sing on silliness, life and love. Here are excerpts:
What kind of music you like to explore and what is your inspiration?
We are looking for a harmonious balance between voice and music. As a songwriter, my inspiration comes from singers such as Brel, Ferré or Léotard. These artistes were able, through their poetry, to seize and sublimate emotions, making them universal and timeless.
The musicians find their inspiration in jazz, rock or classical music. They use notes, as I use words, to translate emotions.
How do you go about ideating a new song ?
For me, a song starts with a feeling, an emotion. Often, these are small things, everyday emotions, common to everyone. My work consists in putting them into words and notes and then magnify them, develop them and make poetic so to make them more intense and universal. The only thing then left is to sing...
Live performance or recording?
Those are two very different approaches of the same work. The studio allows a minute, even perfectionist, approach to music while a live performance allows for energy and spontaneity. For me, the two are inseparable and complimentary but the pleasure of being on stage is more intense and the stage is, for me, where the songs take their full sense.
How have reality shows and the internet changed the industry ?
Internet has positively changed the music industry, allowing artistes to promote themselves easily and to audiences to have access to a huge cultural diversity.
As for reality shows, I feel their influence is harmful. In my opinion, reality shows contribute to the perversion of the idea of art. People now consider art not in itself but as a mean to become famous. As if the only objective of being an artiste should be to be a celebrity, which is, in my mind, pure heresy! To sing, dance, act... that is the most important part and it should be sufficient! Success and celebrity are only simple accidents — often independent of talent or artistic quality — but are in no way an outcome.
What was your best tour?
Each tour is unique but the tours in Quebec, Russia and India will remain in my memory forever.
Do you face language problem ?
I don’t take the musical preferences of our public into consideration. To adapt our music would be to betray it. This being said, singing for people who do not understand my language changes my approach. In Russia, India or Nepal, we accentuate even further the musical energy or the theatrical interpretation to compensate for the linguistic pit. Each time this happens, it is a very rich experience from which we learn a lot.
How was your Delhi experience?
A treat. A sublime location, a large crowd, both receptive and enthusiastic, and a lovely meeting, both artistically and humanly, with the band Swarathma.
We unfortunately did not really have time to discover the city itself... We’ll have to come back!