Listen to 405 Radio
Ensemble // The 405 Interview

Ensemble // The 405 Interview

by Jonathan Mathews, 27 January 2011

Montreal-based musician Olivier Alary, aka Ensemble, has certainly hit 2011 running. This month he released his stunning new album, Excerpts, a record so beautiful that we felt compelled to find out more about what went into it. Hello! And how is 2011 treating you thus far? Great! I just came back from an incredible trip to India.
Photobucket
According to your Fat Cat Records 'profile' you look to 'explore the meeting point between melodic noise and disjointed pop.' By way of an introduction to your work, could you tell us a little about what you've found in this 'meeting'? I think there is a lot of room for pop music to become more adventurous and for experimental music to become more accessible. Somewhere between the two is a middle ground where you can reach many people and still challenge them and make them think about what they’re listening to. This is what I am aiming for. Before starting Ensemble, you studied architecture at college. Is this a long lost love or do you sometimes find yourself staring at buildings with tears in your eyes? I still find architecture fascinating, but I’ve always been more passionate about music. Aside from Ensemble, I have been developing a couple of sound installations. I find the relationship between the physicality of sound and space very interesting. Has your background in architecture had any bearing on your work as a musician? Probably more than architecture, film and visual arts have had a stronger impact on how I perceive and structure music.   You're originally from Toulouse and you're now based in Montreal, after living for a time in London. How have these shifts in surrounding impacted on your music? I left Toulouse to study sonic arts in London. Toulouse is a fairly provincial town so moving to London was very stimulating and challenging. I was surrounded by very talented people which helped to accelerate the development of ensemble and see it on a larger scale. I then moved briefly to New York to pursue my ambitions as a sound artist, but after a visit to Montreal, I decided to stay there. I was instantly charmed by the openness of the city (and the rent). Montreal also has a very interesting art scene. But what I find very striking here is the blend of Anglophone and francophone cultures. Living in Montreal has made me more aware of my French cultural heritage and it led me to start writing in French. Excerpts was definitely influenced by Montreal in that sense.   What other musicians have had a particular influence on your music? I have always been drawn to artists who’ve opened up musical genres. People such as Pharoah Sanders, Antonio Jobim, Robert Wyatt, and Arvo Part. Their music has depth and intelligence while still having a universal appeal. You've just released a beautiful new album this month called Excerpts. What were your intentions behind the record? Well, I always try to create something that I would like to listen to. My work inevitably explores and reflects my current concerns. For this album, I was interested in the confusion between fictive and real memories. I have been subjected to so many films, records and books that I sometimes cannot distinguish what I’ve lived from what I’ve seen, heard, or read. Music wise, I wanted excerpts to be a cross between song writing and experimental music. A lot of the songs on 'Excerpts' seem to mutate as they progress, suddenly transforming in sound and mood. How do you go about writing something like that? I follow my intuitions mainly. We usually start from a very simple structure, usually guitar & voice or piano & voice. Then Johannes and I work on the string arrangements and additional instrument arrangements. The songs had to stand in their minimal form before twisting them sonically. It’s easier to deconstruct something that is very clear at first. The album is meditative and largely soothing, but on some occasions there appears to be something a little more tumultuous lurking beneath the surface. Is that in any way a reflection of yourself? Well, I like creating music that operates on various levels. It’s more a reflection of what I like in an art piece more than on myself. I am far more chaotic and tumultuous than ensemble’s music. You've changed the lineup for this album. Do you intend to change your 'ensemble' with each new release or do you think you've found the perfect balance in Darcy Conroy and Johannes Malfatti? I have been working with Johannes since the second album. He’s a very close friend and an important collaborator. From now on, I cannot imagine ensemble without him. Darcy is important also, It took me a very long time to find a vocalist as talented as her.   Who would you most like to collaborate with? Mostly vocalists such as Chico Buarque, Robert Wyatt, Rufus Wainwright, and Stina Nordenstam. It's only January and you've already made your mark on 2011. What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Ensemble will be touring this Spring and Summer. I'm currently working on more film music, collaborating on an art project on generative music, and sketching Ensemble’s 4th album.
You can visit Ensemble by heading to http://www.ensemble-home.com Excerpts is out now via Fat Cat Records

Related Posts

  • Young The Giant // The 405 Interview

    Young The Giant // The 405 Interview

    by Ashley Davies

    Californian band Young The Giant are currently causing somewhat of a stir in the land of ‘The Music Business.’ They’ve been cutting their teeth touring the US and because of a Youtube video of one of their performances, which caught the eye of MTV execs, they'll now be playing the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. [read more]

  • Taffy Q&A

    Taffy Q&A

    by D.S Wadeson

    We catch up with Japanese alt-pop sensation Taffy to ask them about j-pop, the east/west divide and more. [read more]

  • Carcrashlander // The 405 Interview

    Carcrashlander // The 405 Interview

    by Kate Bradley

    Portland's CarCrashLander released their debut album Mountains On Our Backs last year, a moody, dark album with a certain musical eloquence throbbing through its breathy vocals and tender woodwind and brass parts. It's been on my iPod playlist for months, and is inimitably perfect for morning bus journeys or sleepless late nights. Carcrashlander's mastermind Cory Gray speaks to me about album art, holiday destinations and the new EP You Were Born in a Hospital, which can be downl... (continued) [read more]

  • Gagarin vs Bass Clef // The 405 Interview

    Gagarin vs Bass Clef // The 405 Interview

    by Danny Wright

    The multi-instrumentalist and producer, Gagarin (real name Graham Dowdall) has worked with a raft of influential figures including Nico, John Cale, Pere Ubu. Now, after releasing his brilliant and highly acclaimed new album Biophila, he’s worked with the equally pioneering Bass Clef on the release of new single ‘Third Rail’. [read more]

Comments

Follow Us

Recommended Posts

Popular Posts

Mailing List

Sign up to our weekly mailing list.

Around The Web