Tristesse Contemporaine: interview

How did the three of you meet and why did you decide to get together to form a band?

Three of us live in Paris.
Narumi and Maik: we met in Telaviv during the time we played with Telepopmusik, (Maik was one of the many singers and Narumi played keyboards) we had 2 weeks of residency for the preparation of their tour.  During the stay we became inseparable, talking all time about things we love, music, books, films and art. Since then we’ve become best friends.
Leo and Narumi: we were introduced by a friend in common when Aswefall (Leo’s band) were looking for a keyboard player for concerts. When Aswefall returned from doing some shows in Japan, the three of us became very close friends, Maik also sang a song on the second Aswefall album. 
When Leo and Narumi started to making music, without a clear idea of the musical path, “we realised that they needed the singer, as we are very close friend, it was natural to ask to Maik to sing.” When we finished our first song, “51 ways To Leave Your Lover”, we didn’t even have our band name but we were thinking: we should continue, it’s worth to continuing because something special was happening when three of us were working together.

Where did the name, Tristesse Contemporaine originate from?
We chose the name because it’s beautiful and because it’s French.
It comes from the name of the book written in 1899, by Belgian art historian and critic, Hippolyte Fierens Gevaert. It’s an essay about the great moral and intellectual trends of the nineteenth century. Leo used to work in a philosophy bookshop, near the Sorbonne, when he found the book, he kept it because of the impact that title gave. We were looking for our band name in French which could relate with the country we are living in. Then Leo remembered this book, he showed it to us, we all found it beautiful and we immediately decided to take this name. 
How would you describe the sound of your self-titled debut album?
Obsession, Melancholia, Analogue sounds, and Dreams.
The album has a very striking image on the cover. Can you tell us about it?
It’s a painting by Marie Vidon, french artist. The name of this painting is called “la danse” She explained that it represents :  “the vulgarity and monstrosity of the world, and little girl who is going to learn how to dance…”

How do you go about writing/ producing music and were do the ideas for the words come from – for example on Empty Hearts?
We usually have the same feelings about the songs and what we need to add or take away to make them sound good for us, we listen and talk a lot and when one of us has strong a idea we always try to see if we can make it work, for the song we’re working on or even another song.
The most important thing is our songs are made when all three of us are together. We can’t find what we’re looking for if we’re not three. We start from one idea, for example a guitar riff or bass or synthesiser then we put on the voices. From the moment the voice and lyrics are added, we start to see which direction the song wants to we start to add other instruments or sound effects, and arrange step by step and we don’t hesitate to take it off initial idea if another colour makes more sense and takes more importance. For this album, we recorded a lot of rhythms during the apéro, with everything we could find in the studio, pens, beer cans, chopsticks, sugar containers, kettles and even the mic stand…

Can you tell us about any of the instruments/ software etc used to create your sound?
Roland Juno 106, Sequential circuits Prophet 600, Sequential circuits, Drum Tracks, Eventide H3500, DP4, chopsticks, cucumbers, pens, sugar cans etc….

Tell us about your influences and how they inform the music that you create?
Our influence is not limited to the music. We’re obsessed by the dreams and the universes created by all our favourite writers/artists like, Charles Bukowski, John Fante, Hubert Selby Jr., Jean Luc Godard, Nico, Talkovsky, Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Cassavetes, Haruki Murakami, Tove Jansson…
When we are making music, we try to inject our songs with the  same kind of sensations.
We are also attracted to certain sensations from the past and the present that some of the bands from the 80’s or post punk era can give. These are songs we listened to a lot when we were young so it’s possible that these influences lie within our songs, the sound of a warm bass, a cold guitar, a dead voice and solo, dreamy keyboards. But we don’t try, if we did it would sound like shit. We follow the feelings and sensations our song can give.
We really believe in the characters in our favourite books and in the dialogue of our favourite movies, when we look into the faces in photographs, we feel like we know the lives, the vices, the sorrows and the happiness these people live. For us, all these elements are as real as the real world that surrounds us.



Tone Of Arc
Shaking The Baby/ No Pushers
No.19 Music

And so the story continues with Tone Of Arc and this deliciously funky production that combines effortless cool with heavy-duty electronics. Providing a taster of what’s in store from his forthcoming album for the label Derrick Boyd’s distinctive ‘live’ style incorporates all that’s hot at this very moment: creatively treated voices saying something alongside irresistibly dark-bass notes, with imaginative arrangements of percussion and sound. No Pushers, then expands those boundaries by delving further and deeper with sumptuous keys and almost jazzy Rhodes that feel comfortably warm, while reverberating vocals remain tastefully soulful. Outstanding.

release: May 21


Aidan Lavelle
Tinnitus EP

Not in any way to make light of Tinnitus but this does sound good. The title track sizzles with sparkling sythns which offset the deep beats and bass perfectly, and it’s those very notes that give the production such a unique feel. You could say, hypnotic and even apply the words trance inducing…
Stronger, feels moodier and again plays challenging keys off against throbbing rhythms, ending up seemingly sinister with its unsettling, insistent vocal edits driving the distraction. Play It, almost lightens the mood with funkier feeling drums and bass, though also retains its playful sense of experimentation and probing, nearly ambient, sounds.


Tristesse Contemporaine
Tristesse Contemporaine
Dirty / Pschent

An excellent debut album from, Tristesse Contemporaine whose electrifying take on new-wave is all at once dangerously exciting, yet always deeply emotional. Love the way the words play with the late seventies inspired guitar sounds on some tracks and the tension these arrangements inspire. For starters can’t get enough of the beginning number, Empty Hearts which is a case in point with its Hook styled bassline, Magazine beats and icy cool vocals sounding so in-vogue it hurts. But, it’s certainly not all about historical reference points as the album plays very much like today with spoken words rapping over irresistible rhythms and uniquely, contemporary electronics. Try the video to I Didn’t Know below and you’ll get a piece of the action…

release:  May 21


Various Artists
Paper Cuts #1
Paper Recordings

Desperately trying to avoid the cliché but there actually is: something for everyone on here. That is if your mind is open to touches of everything from Balearic to Latin, to House and Disco, plus with most shades coloured in-between you could also pretty much use that other cliché: essential. Music like the Mudds Width and Comfort remix of Key boy ‘Viva Blue’ makes you pray for summer days to materialise sooner rather than later (U.K) while Flash Atkins, Crazy P and Neil Diablo will have you gravitating towards the nearest dancefloor. But that’s probably to undersell the sum total of the twenty two tracks which are offered here on what is essentially a first-rate compilation.

release: May 21


Bill Withers
Just As I Am

Bill Withers debut album from 1971 gets a timely reissue care of bbr and a record that contains not only Harlem and Ain’t No Sunshine, but also Grandma’s Hands can really only be regarded as a classic. If you were lucky enough to catch BBC 4’s recent excellent documentary: Still Bill then this album is all the more profound as his experienced wit and wisdom can benefit us all. Produced by Booker T. Jones this still sounds incredible today and there are a couple of great covers to witness too, namely Let It Be and Everybody’s Talkin’. But don’t miss out on the exquisitely mournful Hope She’ll Be Happier and or the blues/ rock inflected Better Off Dead either – indeed don’t go missing out on any of it!