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15 Questions to Vincent Bergeron

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Great. You know, I was feeling really bad these last months or so. Almost without any drive or energy. Kind of scary for some time. Lately, it's been the complete opposite. That's true, I need to create to feel alive. Right now, I'm starting my most ambitious project. I'm in Victoriaville, Québec (Canada).


What’s on your schedule right now?
In this new project - part time thing between summer jobs and writing activities – I will work both on a movie script and on the soundtrack that goes with it. The movie soundtrack is in fact just like a new album with vocals and all. But, It will be composed with the movie script in mind. At the same time, I'll write the script with the movie soundtrack in mind.

When I was a child, I was the most unconfident writer. I wanted to wrote a long and epic fantasy story, but stopped after three pages. A new idea : three more pages, can't concentrate on that any more...

Now I'm doing it, but with a format I feel comfortable with : movie script. It's never about writing super beautiful sentences, but always about creative ideas put on paper quiet fast. That's what you do when you prefer movies to books and can't concentrate for too long on something, even if I'm getting better at this lately.

I already have the main story in my head : something I work on since several years already. So far, I'm thinking the final result should be rather easy to adapt on the screen. I'm starting cinema studies in fall. Should help...

Even, if it's never done, I'll be happy to sell it with the music. As long as I can see the final result in my head...


What or who was your biggest influence as an artist? Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
I always hated profoundly the idea of movement or tradition. Maybe because these ideas involve being part of something with other people. It seems to be a natural way of thinking for most people : make up categories for everything and be part of a group sharing a certain philosophy.

When I was a child, I looked at others with wondering eyes while asking myself why we're they always in groups trying to do the same things ? What's the point ! I hate this idea and I don't need it. I felt like I had nothing in common with anybody.

Lately, I remembered these early thoughts of mine while reading biographies from several artists I adore. They are almost all people who works best in solitude. How's that ? I didn't know it when I first discovered their art. How does it comes across so obvious in their art so that I can relate to it ? It's magical!!!

As a teen, I think someone like Björk saved me from bad influences when I was the most unmotivated person. I felt like she was out of my own imagination to save me, someone I could relate to for many reasons : someone singing about enjoying solitude and making songs that didn't follow mainstream patterns. All these unknown sounds : I had some distant memories about having heard them in a previous life. I didn't expect her to keep reinventing herself the way she do. She's opening so much people minds. In some way, she is collage artist who collaborate with other musicians. She's everything at once. I could write a 1000 pages book about this genius...

Leonard Berstein Discusses Charles Ives : mmm...a great little interview found on mp3 ! He's talking about atonality when describing him, but his music is in fact bitonal I think. I wouldn't know for sure. Yes, he wrote his stuff before Schoenberg and Stravinsky. It got nothing in common though : It sounds like United States democratic values in hell !!! Got to love it with what's happening right now. A collage artist before anything else : full of stolen popular musical lines combined in a way that made every one of them feel out of context. Since his music education was approximative, he changed to way I saw contemporary and avant-garde musics : not just something for the highly educated ones with a PhD in music composition.

Obviously, I have to name these people in equal measure too : Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) ; Brian Eno ;  Léo Ferré at his best, most amazing french poetry over brilliant orchestration ; Captain Beefheart ; Kate Bush ; My Bloody Valentine ; Radiohead (more Kid A in terms of influence) ; Sonic Youth ; Velvet Underground and so on, so on...go off..go off...go off...


What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I'm kind of puzzled about this question. Now with the Internet anyone can discover someone like me – even with my terrible marketing skills getting in the way ;) but no one have time to listen to it seriously. It seems everyone is listening to music on a very superficial, unmeaning way. Musicians seems to do the same thing by multiplying the uninspired albums instead of taking their time between each release. Every label is building a really specific sound ; all their artists are clones ? This way, a label can sell a minimum of copies to cool jerks who can't make the difference between an innovator and an imitator. All ideas I've been thinking about lately. I hope I'm wrong about all these negative waves.

Even if I don't expect everyone to have a spiritual relation with music, it's like nobody cares in this world. I hear studio professionals in interviews talking about music being something you listen to in the background. What ?? Let's say I would not want to work with them. It's why anything truly brilliant is called pretentious right now. Because it consumes time. Time is what people - and reviewers in particular - are missing to separate all the good things from the bad ones. They might want it back, but they don't have time to think about it...

At the same time, the best blogs are really an exciting thing and also a server like http://www.myspace.com/. It's the complete opposite of all these publications which change their flash design every 6 months and close after two years. The information is everywhere and nobody recommend the same artists. It give a chance to a lot of musicians who hope to have their own public and to be discovered without investing any money (since they don't have any).

So, it's a confusing time for music, but It could be positive in a really near futur, even if some artists tend to give less importance to craft then productivity (more improvised music collaborations, less long studio sessions).


What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?

Something I've never heard in a certain context. It have more to do with context for me. I prefer a new narrative logic to pure sound exploration.


How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
I'm bored with almost all sound exploration, noise projects. I might as well go outside, talk a walk and hear all these strange sounds going on in every day life. Much more musical.

I hate improvisation for that : It's much more fun for the musicians than the listeners.
Composition is about organizing sound the way people can relate to it. It's about respecting listeners too. It doesn't mean everyone can relate to it, but if you can relate to it, some other people can ; In my case, few I guess, but I accepted this reality long ago...


How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
It depends on how I feel about it when I'm working on a piece. For Why Do I Remain Calm, a cello is only used to make noises I find beautiful in relation with the melodies. Electronic sounds are mostly sound effects in my music. The structure give them a precise role, but they are not really composed. I'm thinking of exploring more with my voice in a near future, improvising instead of following the other melodies...


What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
I've only made one live performance in my life. It was this year for a radio show. (Available on my web site). I need to learn to sing less loud! I have this tendency to sing over the top, really theatrical-like. On Casse-tête de l'Existence, I decided to have fun with it. On L'Art du Désarroi, It's more half-serious, half-parody. Next album : all serious ? I admire really soulful singers. I'm not a natural humorist who can't relate to emotional singers, but I think it's best to be funny when you are still searching for your voice...


A lot of people feel that some of the radical experiments of modern compositions can no longer be qualified as “music”. Would you draw a border – and if so, where?
No border. It all depends on how use the sounds : the way you organize them. If you read old reviews from the beginning of the 20th century, you can recognize people complaints from today. Except, in certain contexts, dissonance is enjoyed now. Let's be patient...


Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning ?
Categories people love to make up. I understand the utility of this and they often help me to make music choices (listening selections), but...I want best of both worlds.

What I love best about music : the mental associations you can make up in your mind. Happy music can be sad, angry music can be beautiful and according to the memories you have associated them with, all tones don't have the same feel to you. Charles Ives understood that. 


Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a political/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?

I think you can only be good at something if you care for it. I must admit this : I don't care for politics. It's like a dying system to me. Something that will be changed eventually. Before, it needs to die. I'm able to enjoy artists who love to talk about politics though, even if it have a tendency to make records date badly.

If people can relate to my music, it's a positive influence I can have.


True or false: People need to be educated about  music, before they can really appreciate it.
My father teaches classical guitar. Obviously, he was the first one to told me this : musicians don't listen to music the way most people do. Since I sing, I do feel I know a lot more about what makes a good singer, but still not much.

Music education helps to have a deeper understanding of music. Education can destroy a lot of bad influences in you. But, It can also destroy or at least make you forget about some of your best ideas. Since I prefer self-made musicians, I think anybody can enjoy anything if this person is ready for it in his life. Education is optional, but it's a great option.


Imagine a situation in which there’d be no such thing as copyright and everybody were free to use musical material as a basis for their own compositions – would that be an improvement to the current situation?
Limitation can makes you creative. In my music, almost all chords are changed, moved back and forth so that they sounds like new recordings. It would be less complicated to record with musicians. But, then, I could lose all the ideas I'm getting by manipulating recordings I don't know much about.


You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Right now, I would say : Björk ; Radiohead (with their new songs!) ; Fiery Furnaces ; Hella ; Animal Collective ; Kaki King ; Arcade Fire ; Dälek ; Brian Wilson ; Bob Drake ; and plenty of unpublished cd'r artists.


Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
For the moment, it's developing itself in my head. (See question # 2).


Discography:

Dark Tension (1997-1999)
Cerebral Divisions (2000-2002)
Collage Series (2001)
U.S.A. (2003)
Casse-tete de l'Existence (2003-2004)
L'art du Desarroi

Homepage:
Vincent Bergeron
Vincent Bergeron at MySpace

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