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Interview with Kaneel

img  Tobias Fischer

Is music an emotional valve for you?
Ah. Isn't it the one question you know you have to ask because one can never sure about whether the person being interviewed is going to be honest or if he's going to emphasise the "artistic side" of his self. Well, it's hard to explain. Is there something I need to express through music? Not sure. I don't think so. Maybe? Why did I start to compose in my bedroom? Maybe I was bored and as music has always been something important in my life – cliché - I suppose it naturally turned into a hobby. Is it a need? Ask my girlfriend about when I haven't been fiddling around with my stuff (double meaning?) and I'm  getting impatient about anything. I don't try to explain it. It happened and now, I'm doing it. If I were to make a totally different kind of music, you wouldn't even have asked me the question.

Let's put it differently, then: What's the balance between frankness and irony in your music?
I just think that at some points, even if you're choosing an alias, you want this music to be yours and be a part of yourself. Irony and sarcasm are a part of myself, I use both of them when I want to be sure that people will understand me. And most of the time it's because I want to express how much I consider something should not be taken as seriously as it is. People just take themselves way too seriously. Of course, almost nobody ever takes me too seriously. But I just try to keep this attitude because it makes me be able to say whatever I want whenever I want. So I guess you could apply this to my music as well: whenever and however I want, small, big, serious or not, you make up your own idea about it. There's no balance. I also love to think there is a big dramatic side in my music. It links all of these attitudes you mentioned.

Has irony worked as a tool of establishing a deeper rapport with your audience or rather to estrange you from it?
Most people may find that ironic persons are funny at first, but in general they  tend to avoid them once they notice it's driving them down. At some point, you lose people's faith when they notice this irony is only about hiding the fact you really doubt in yourself and hate most things that aren't you because they're better than you ... or shinier than you. And you don't want to hang out with someone who doesn't have self-confidence right? Still, I think people can actually link my feelings to their feelings. I just appear the way I am in real life and it creates a particular connection with those following my work as a musician.

Are the discrete colour changes in the artwork to your albums references to these feelings?
It's nothing new that notes and progressions are capable of evoking colours, pictures or smells. The moniker of my project could likewise evoke a nice Autumn spent chilling on the sofa while drinking coffee with cinnamon and playing some videogames. I'm a nostalgic person, but I'm not talking about common nostalgia ... I'm talking about a morbid desire to go back into the past. A morbid desire that make you wonder if you made wrong moves and why can't you feel the same as before. It's only a few years ago that I noticed I was really attracted by some chords and tones and I linked these to shades of pink. Lately, it's more purple to me, but I'm pretty sure it's because it's autumn! Let's see what spring will bring, it's always new and refreshing during this period. I may add that I come from Normandy, from Rouen to be precise. It's a romantic city with a lot of middle age buildings and a huge beautiful cathedral. In this region of France, you can feel all seasons and see time passing by. It's really inspiring I believe.

How does the translation process from a particular mood or feeling into music work?
Is it really my mood making the music ... or the music I'm composing making my mood? In any case, I don't think things are going in one direction only. It's really a special feeling. It is, most of the time, about the tone of a chord that finally moves into a progression of triads or an arpeggio that will move me in a particular way. It often starts with a simple sine to soothe myself after I'm back from work or after the subway routine and most of the time it's unexpected. Don't even think I'm going to make something sad or happy and please, don't think I do compose when I'm sad  - because when I say I'm sad, it means I'm down and this is leading me to hate myself and making a new tune become mostly impossible in this case because everything I'll play will sound dull to my ears. So first, there is a need to make music and then, what I'm playing is leading me somewhere that could be unexpected because I was in the right mood ... and yeah, the right mood could be the bad mood.

So the process of composing is as important as the composition resulting from it?
I was discussing this about two days ago with a friend of mine. I'm into starting new tunes because it sounds like a new adventure! I just love it when I find a theme that exactly fits my mood and I'm able to spend four or five hours on it with no breaks and just end up making the first three or four minutes during this single row ... but damn it, how much I really do hate going back to it after ... you know, I could finish it but first, I have a job to keep and it's already 2 a.m. and well, you don't want to rush it too much right? And seriously it's almost like the story is already written and you're just trying to write a happy end to it.

In which way has your own way of writing, arranging and producing music changed over the years?
When I started making music at home, the whole process was simple. First, I had no instruments back then so I just loaded a tracking program into DOS  so I could compose music. During these first years, I had to learn composing but I felt more and more limited by the sound I was using. So I decided I should start getting into making new sounds that would actually be mine. I had this feeling it would make my music more personal. Then I had my first hardware synthesizers so it made me want to fiddle more with synthesizers in general, not just fiddle with presets. Nowadays, I would say the next challenge is related to production. I clearly suck at it and the simple fact it's mostly about reading first and hearing next. I try to gather ideas by hearing only because well, I never have been good on the "studying and applying" of methods, I need to get dirty I guess, to understand it by myself. So somehow, if you want me to sum things up, I would say it went from the joy of  discovering a new world to never-ending and passionate experimentation to the final boring struggle of making it sound properly ... eventually.

How much do you rely on things "happening" by themselves instead of forcing them?

When you start getting interested in the rules of music composing, you just notice there are a lot - call me captain obvious – which means you can make a whole tune with actually no personal ideas just by following the rules. So indeed, intuition is very important because it is, again, what will make the difference between your music and the music composed by other people. The thing about "intuition" is that it's not something that is necessarily "better". It's like when you're damn sure it's the right "way" to follow, you tell people it's ok, you're pretty sure about it - but in the end, you really hope you're not going to the wrong side.

Do you set yourself certain rules before sitting down to compose?

Almost no recycling. No presets. No sample CDs unless I really need something I couldn't do by myself and that would be legitimate to get from somewhere else. For example, if I want to bring some drum samples in order to add a tone to a drum sound, I'll start chopping down some funk percussion but apart from that particular process, I really push myself into doing everything from A to Z ... except my tools of course but trust me, I really wish I would have the patience to create my own tools. The idea is that there is just too much to get from the Internet, samples, presets and finally, who really is making his own music by using his own sound? That sounds stupid I guess and I know the audience will not notice and even care about it but when I'm attending a gig and I hear a cliché-sound that I feel is not needed at all, I feel as though the guy didn't try hard enough. It's like buying a drum machine, using its factory samples on a simple pattern and claiming it to be the product of your own imagination ... I have this Yamaha dx200 groovebox machines, I still haven't fiddled enough with it and I'm pretty bored about the samples. But every time I'm done with it, be sure I tried my best to make it scream (insert male pose picture here).

So certain restrictions can constitute a way of keeping things interesting?

I enjoy the idea of being "nothing more and nothing less" than someone who makes music in his bedroom. There are so many serious people around and I'm simply being honest with myself. I didn't even try to be something bigger. It takes a lot to remain humble even when one has a tiny audience and even if this tiny audience is made of zealots one plans to send against unbelievers - ok, we'll talk about this evil plan someday ... And let's be honest, most musicians started out in their bedrooms. It's about being true to what and who you are and stating it like it's something you should actually be proud of ... but when you talk to people about your hobby they just don't understand you're making music for so many years and you're still "unknown", as though you failed and should stop. Perhaps I should consider buying a house and getting busy with gardening.

By Tobias Fischer

Image by Fred Margueron

Kaneel Discography:
La Pink Note (Petite&Jolie) 2008   
I've Sketched It A While Ago (Apegenine) 2008   
Here Is A Heart So You Can Remember How Much I Hate You (Petite&Jolie) 2010   


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