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Kaneel: A proud and simple feeling

img  Tobias Fischer

At almost an hour, your new album "Here Is A Heart So You Can Remember How Much I Hate You" is almost twice as long as your previous two releases. Was there some sort of story that had to be told on this epic scale?
Actually, it's a little bit more complicated than that... I mean, it's ALWAYS a little bit more complicated don't you think? To begin with, I should explain that I almost gave up anything I made between the years 2007 and 2008 except for a few singles that were released on various net compilations, mostly on Camomille. These were years I had troubles focusing on many things due to many money issues and boring long commutes as I was working and living in different cities. During these years, I kept releasing some songs for various demo-scene-oriented purposes, be it discmags (executable magazines) or compos (internet or demoparties).
There are many reasons I kept doing so and I must admit the main one is because I found it way funnier to go back to my first love: making music in DOS applications using only short samples; let's be honest, adding a size restriction is even funnier. The second reason would be that weirdly, I always find my path to inspiration faster when I go back to these kinds of applications. Everything is Keyboard-oriented, there are many shortcuts, you don’t need anything else, just write down notes in a row and here you go. Going back to that made me able to realize what I lost during those years and I think it made me go back into more simple music but written in a better way. In the beginning of the year 2009, I decided it was really a shame these songs could only be enjoyed by fellow sceners... and exporting a module as a mp3 wouldn't be interesting enough as it would be 100% dry and unproduced. So I decided I would run into a long postproduction process involving exporting correctly each song instrument by instrument and mix them down correctly. And here we are: Something which is indeed a collection of many tracks composed between 2007 and 2009 but still make sense as a whole.

The title suggests some sort of bipolar attitude to life; of sadness and joy, love and hate being closely related. Would you say this is a constant in your work?
More than the common idea about the similarities between “Love” and “Hate”, it's the fact I'm like that. I wasn't aware of it before but now I know it's the way I work. I can be a nice person and a second right after, want to badly hurt some persons for no apparent reason and would wage a war at anybody who just tried to poke my legs in public. Not that I'm a complicated person, it's just that I try to protect myself the best that I can. I guess it's the same with anybody who has been suffering from various bad jokes about his physical appearance. People just don't know how much it hurts and how much it can change their targets into some unpredictable beings. So basically, the title means something else because if you really read into the lines, I'm angry but still, want to show people something about myself they didn't see at first, something they wouldn’t have expected. When I came up with it, I really liked the way it was articulated.

    * Here is a heart?
    * So what???
    * So you can remember how much I hate you
    * Wait… what?

And yeah, this is something constant but I never really noticed my music was a mix of feelings until some friends of mine told me that behind the rather "cute sounding", there is something unexpectedly awkward behind it - I'm still trying to figure out whether this qualifies as a compliment or not ...

How would you describe your artistic development from your first full-length "I've sketched it a while ago" to the new material?

Try > fail > self-punish > retry. Eventually, in the end, it works and if it doesn't, I start getting concerned.
Back when I wasn't even naming myself "kaneel", I was into making nice instrumental (and cheesy, so cheesy) music on my computer. When I discovered more influences into the different electronic music subgenres, it opened a lot more doors and I decided I would try to mix many of these influences. "I've sketched it a while ago" is actually a short story I wanted to tell to people when I was younger, I didn't know exactly how to story-tell it... basically, you could call this album "experimental" as I was experimenting with many different processes as much on the musical side as on the real life side.
Since I finished this album, I decided to think about the mistakes I thought I'd made and to try and improve different things. I actually never think about the artistic side, I'm not the only judge here and not the best to talk about my music, I play with my instruments (a computer can be a damn nice instrument by itself) and see what happens. The rest is only "words" and I prefer focusing on "notes". Sometimes indeed, I'll think about a sound like a movement, a lead as a colour and most of the time, I like to imagine people dancing to my songs and when I say dancing, I think about waltz or modern jazz and it helps me focusing on the song.
Oh god, I really imagine someone ending with some "jazzy hands" of one of my new "work in progress"!

Was part of the challenge taking your sound to a new level while still retaining your "cuteness"?
"Cute" has been an adjective I've often been linked with, even before I really started considering my music as "cute" so I guess I never really had to force myself to sound cute. Even when I start something that I don't want to be cute, in order to change, there is always a moment it naturally comes back to its sources, to what I am and how I think. Why struggle?  Again, is this really cuteness? If I start thinking about how not to make cute music, I end up making something different but still, you can hear it’s me... maybe because I make my own samples and so there are sounds I prefer amongst others and there are of course, colours I prefer. Lately I’m more into purple. It derives from  pink but it adds this nice brownish tone, very autumnal, a mix of feeling between sadness and happiness, nostalgia and melancholy.

There are both electronic and traditional acoustic instruments to be found on "Here is a Heart" - at least it sounds that way. I was under the impression that you're integrating both into a coherent sound rather than trying to use them for contrast-purposes ...
You know, I do think that sometimes, I think about contrasts but some other time, I just pick my usual "badly recorded" melodica samples from my own melodica and start fiddling around with it. It's the same when I use some more conventional samples. I never try to mirror real sounds because well, I believe that if I wanted the sounds from any real instruments, I better get samples from this instrument. 
I guess you were thinking about "La petite aiguille" when you wonder about this. This song has a particular story. I nearly moved on to a new apartment in Rouen, my hometown and while I almost finished setting up my desk, I heard about an oldschool weekly compo going back and I was like "oh fun! Something I could definitely invest some times into!" and here you are. The rules are pretty easy. You have a samplepack and one week to make a tune out of this samplepack, that's pretty common in what we call the "tracker scene" and it's always a nice challenge and a pleasure to see that nobody sounds the same…  I must add that using traditional instrument samples can be funny. It's like using some old wave synths with some 16bit samples and mixing them with some sine cycles, it's just sound kitshy but we are used to it!
Well, at least I am used to it as I grew up playing on 8bit consoles and switched to 16bit console and into some video games, there were these kitsh samples that I used to love so much, if well mixed with other synth sounds, it's always a top in my opinion, it brings so many memories and it's nice to see some people often compare some sounds I’ve been using with some of their favourite videogames! 

Sometimes, as on “Yoyo de vivre”, the track almost seems to play itself, happily rattling along for five minutes. Is this an ideal you strive for, of the machines turning into beings of their own and creating the music almost without external influences?
Do you know when you go into a club, you don't necessarily enjoy the music but as you like music itself, you start nodding your head a little bit more and weirdly, one of your feet is moving by itself? Well, it means it's well done. Not saying I done this as well as this of course but this is an example of what I call "a song that makes you move" and well, I didn't intend it to be like that, as usually, I never start a song knowing how it will end. When I finished making this one, I was really happy with its playful feeling, it made me think about a yoyo, hence the title. It goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on… (5 minutes later) oh, it's over!
This is the kind of surprise that make me enjoy making music in my bedroom for 11 years. You just start something on an idea, sometimes it's about a beat and some other times, it's about an arpeggio and then, it evolves and you finally pick up a title for it and once the title is set, it exists and at some moment, you just wonder if it's really yours or not. 

You've mentioned that you “don't choose to be chaotic”. So do you have any idea why and how this element (very elegantly by the way) enters into your music, then?

There is one tiny moment; one very very tiny moment I just do it. It's not a full decision, it just happens. Then, there is this moment where you wonder why you finally added it and if it is really so important but then I think to myself "Should I care? That is what happened, the story is made".
I heard so many times people telling me that if something is useless, it should be removed and they are not so wrong about this advice except that I, when it's related to my music, never follow any advices because I consider that if a mistake is made, well... it's made. Most people just rework their tracks until it's perfectly polished. Many are working with computers and let's be honest, it's way easier to correct small mistakes with computers than with an instrument. You would have to replay the whole sequence live. That simple fact made me think that if a track isn't perfect, it doesn't mean it's not interesting. During the past years, we've been hearing so many perfectly polished pop tunes made to make us enjoy them at first listening. We are living in a world of "undo" and if a track isn't perfect, let's make another one.
Okay, I admit I'm also a lazy guy.

Why did the physical release for "Here is a Heart" not work out the way you originally intended it?

Life. Boring.
I recently moved to Paris which has been acclaimed as the most expensive city in the world (based on many criteria of course). Me and my girl moved on and it has been quite expensive for us to rent an apartment and I'm pretty known for being a negative person who never believes in his projects if there are less than 2 persons pushing myself in order to finally achieve anything but hey, I'm working on it and I'm pretty sure someday I'll definitely rethink this project.
Weirdly enough, compared to what I said before, if I had to release something that is mine and hand-made and that people are actually paying for, I would want it perfectly crafted but "oh the great disaster", I'm the left-handed son of a jewel crafter, hand me scissors and I manage to cut myself… tell me to glue something and I become a hero at making a wonderful sculptures of... well, glue indeed.
I even managed to cut myself with a peeler!

How disappointed are you with the fact that there is not necessarily the biggest audience out there for your music and never enough media interest?

Be it white/black/grey/purple, I always react to anything. And indeed, it hurts to see you release something but some websites aren't talking about it. It's frustrating. And then, the worst happen when you realize you may be a bad composer. It's a possibility you should always contemplate. And it hurts badly. Everything changes. The Internet has changed. Releasing on the Internet during the early 2000's was different, and maybe easier. There were just a few netlabels, we all knew each other and we were sharing our sources. I sometimes feel that during the past years, it's been so much about "promoting" that the netlabel scene simply looks like anything else, there are mainstream acts and I feel so lost in a white noise. It can actually come from myself... the questioning.. it happens again and again.
To be honest, I don't even expect a bigger audience considering my music and the choice I make for it. But it's always ambiguous you see, I don't know what I want and I express myself about it... loud. 

You're redesigning your own site and there was also talk of Petite&Jolie folding. What's the latest news on that – are you stopping or merely taking the step to the next level?
There will necessarily be a next step. I still don't know where I'll go as these are dark times for releasing music and I really have troubles guessing what tomorrow will be like. I have the idea of cutting Petite&Jolie off the netlabel hub and just name it a collective. It would become a website people would check regularly because they like what we do. No stickers, freedom, only the share will remain. And we’ll provide more visibilities for illustrators too.  At the very moment, we are still thinking about it, designing a website is a hard and long task and I’m looking for more people to join the projects. I’m specialized in web front-end development, we have illustrators (including my friend Maxime Lethelier) and Ludovic Villain who is a graphic designer (the noble term: he knows about designing layouts). What we need is time and motivation... and beer, please, ship as much beer as you can to my address.

Would you say the game is worth the gamble? 
Gambling is good for entrepreneur. I have a day job and many passions aside so, basically, if I spend a bad day at work, I know I'll come back home and start my second life. It can be a simple night spent watching some series with my girlfriend or going outside and playing bike polo with some nice buddies… or I'll end up drinking beers with my Petite&Jolie associates while listening to music. Making music is a passion, it will remain a passion and even if I secretly dream about it would become more than a passion, I'll let serendipity do its job. And anyway, I’m afraid I may hate it if I was spending time on my music like it was a job. And anyway, I don't think I can stop making music. I can take a break but I'll always come back to it because it's been like that for years, because I love this simple feeling of having made something that you can proudly say it is yours. Nobody can mess up with it; it's the product of your own imagination! Oh damn, that sound naive doesn’t it?

Homepage: Kaneel
Homepage: Kaneel on MySpace
Homepage: Kaneel on Bandcamp
Homepage: Petite&Jolie Netlabel

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