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Nicolas Michaux - Democracy can only function if people are aware of what’s going on and willing to participate in the political process

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Nicolas Michaux - Democracy can only function if people are aware of what’s going on and willing to participate in the political process

Nicolas Michaux is a singer-songwriter and music producer. Born and bred in Belgium he now divides his time between Brussels, and the Danish island of Samso, where he writes and records. Michaux released the critically acclaimed debut album “A La Vie A La Mort” in 2016. His second album “Amour Colère” will be out now on September 25. We had a nice conversation with Nicolas about the past, the new release of course, and the future. But also about corona and how the world is changing.. Or how it should be.

Nicolas, you've been in the music business for a while, because our readers (and I too) are quite curious. How did it all start?
Yes that’s true. I started a first band when I was still a teenager around 2004. The band was called Eté 67. We were all from Liège and used to play a lot in the area at the time. It was fun to be on the road with my mates and very instructive to be involved at such a young age with the music business, the studios, the tours etc... That period in the band really allowed me to learn my trade.  Then the band split and after a small break I started my solo career in 2014 with the releases of my first two singles : ‘Nouveau Depart ‘and ‘A la vie à la mort. ‘

What are the heights and any depths to date?
I don’t know really. I don’t envision things exactly that way. I mean I try to focus on my work and try to do It honestly with a high level of commitment and concentration. But You can only put your best efforts ; you can’t command the consequences and this trade demands a lot of distance from the fruits of action. I mean you never know when something is going to be a success or not, there are so many parameters. I’ve enjoyed great times in my career but paradoxically It was not linked to such things as commercial success etc... The discovery is what’s the more thrilling for me. To unveil a song or even just a beautiful musical part is always a source of great joy.

You divided, according to I read your time between Denmark and Brussels? Your songs are partly in English and French? A very international road that you walk. Have you consciously chosen this approach? And why?
That’s right. I live partly in Brussels where I’m part of Capitane Records and partly on the island of Samsø where my girlfriend and our daughter reside. I don’t know If I chose all this consciously. I don’t think we choose that much in life. And certainly not who we fall in love with. But It’s true that in a way I orientated my pace without paying too much attention to frontiers and boundaries. I’ve always craved this kind of freedom from inherited determinisms. I mean living abroad a great part of the year and being in a relation with someone from another culture surely brought me a bit of distance from my natural environment and comfort zone. It makes you think with a little bit more relativity maybe. It brings to mind that things can be different from what you’re used to and that very few things are really natural ; most of them being socially and culturally constructed.

His music stands at the crossroads of different traditions: the great era of the French "chanson", the American songwriters, the Brit rock of the 60s, and the early new wave.’ I read the press release. How would you prefer to describe your music yourself?
It’s always a difficult question. I’m not at ease with musical genres and I always find It hard to categorize things ; especially my own music. And I think my music and my lyrics are made of all those things I can’t describe in real life.  But we could say my music sits somewhere between Indie Rock and Indie Pop and is influenced by the sound of the sixties and seventies. 

Which artists are your biggest source of inspiration and why?
You have the great american songwriters like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams, Lou Reed, Townes Van Zandt… because they’re all so cool and they just wrote all these amazing songs.
Then you have the early rock from the fifties and the sixties : The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Pink Floyd,… Rock is the music who triggered me to play when I was a teenager and I keep an instinctive and very powerful love for It.  And then you have the French tradition with singers like Léo Ferré, Barbara, Charles Trenet, Serge Gainsbourg, Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Jeanne Moreau…  For me, these artists have always been around. It’s the music my parents used to listen to at home.  But I also love things like the CBGB scene, the highlife from ghana and Its area, the Congolese rumba, Moondog, the clash, the Ethiopian jazz, the country-blues, the beach boys…. ; my tastes are very eclectic as long as I feel that the artists had something to say and were somehow part of what greil marcus once called the “invisible republic”. 

You released your debut in 2016, what were the reactions and has it opened certain - let's say - doors?
It did indeed. The album was mainly in French and it was released on a French label called Tôt ou tard. It got really good reviews in many newspapers and magazines. We toured extensively after the release giving more than one hundred shows in Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Germany and even a few in China.

I have to admit I haven't listened to the latest album 'Amour Colére' yet. What can I expect? Give me a reason why I should buy this record?
Go for It then, give it a try, you’ll tell me. I’m not a good advertiser.

Does the title have a specific meaning, it is about love of course .. tell a little bit more about it?
Yeah. The title translates as “Love Anger”. But one friend of mine uses the expression in French as an equivalent to “make-up sex”. That’s how I found the title.  More seriously, in these recent years I’ve caught myself in between those two feelings of Love and Anger. And then I thought that what was true for me was maybe true for many people. When I’m in a city, I always tend to walk the streets as much as I can and I can see that the streets are filled with love and anger exactly as my heart is.

What are your personal expectations regarding this disc?
I’m not sure about that. I’m already thinking about the next one and about other projects we have with the label and I learnt not to expect too much from things I don’t control.  But still, I would be very pleased If people were listening to It for what It is. I mean I’m conscious that It’s a “difficult” and pretty “dark” record and I know I’m sometimes hard to categorize and sum up because of my multiple origins and influences and the bilingualism of my works. I wanted to give people the whole picture and not to limit myself for whatever reason. I wanted the record to speak for me and It does. I’m proud of It, no doubt. ;-)

We are still living in a corona crisis, which will not disappear this year, how do you deal with that as a person, musician and composer?
Obviously, Coronavirus sucks for so many reasons. But I try to see the predicament we’re In as an alarm and an encouragement to really change things.  We’re running to big disasters If we just keep on acting like bastards who don’t respect nature and other species. Coronavirus is an ecological issue, like the forest fires around the globes, the loss of biodiversity, the sea pollution and so forth...  The world is about to go up in flames and before the Corona I had the impression that most of people didn’t care and did prefer kill off their brains instead of  being involved in the political process. But now things are evolving and I have the feeling people want the power back. I think that’s good because that’s what democracy is about. It’s not about just turning in at the polling station. Democracy can only function If people are aware of what’s going on and willing to participate in the political process.

Have plans fallen into disrepair? Which?
Yeah, some gigs were postponed some others were just cancelled.  But we decided to focus on production and writing. As a label and a work collective Capitane Records now have Its own studio and an office in an old house in the middle of a park in southeast Brussels. And that’s great to know we have that and that we can focus on our work there. If shows can be set up, we’ll be pleased to play the gigs. If not, we will produce and record music for the next months.  Under The reefs Orchestra and Turner Cody are both on Capitane Records and are working on new music As a music producer I’m involved in these ventures as well. 

n these times a lot of questions are about that corona, this question I actually ask everyone involved. But how do you personally think the culture, which has been particularly hard hit, will survive this crisis?
Yeah culture is hard hit that’s true. But many other sectors are hard hit as well. Generally speaking, the word is getting more and more in egalitarian and disrespectful towards mother earth’s needs. I personally think that capitalism, as It unfolded the past decades, is a dangerous threat for humanity and earth alike. But like I said, at least now, It’s pretty obvious that the ruling class in leading us to the catastrophe. So things might finally change for the better If only we’re able to take back the wheel and drive in an other direction.  On October 7, Capitane Records and the FACIR set up a lecture by french sociologist Bernard Friot who is an historian of the social security and who advocates to turn progressively our back from capitalism by extending the social security to new sectors of activity among which housing, food, press, culture etc…  Its theory includes the establishment of a “salary for life” that would be considered as an unconditional human right.

What are the further plans, will the new release also be presented live?
Yes despite of Corona, we’ll play at Les Nuits Botanique on Octobre 1 in Brussels for a special Capitane Records label night featuring Under The Reefs Orchestra, Great Mountain Fire and myself. It’s sold out.  The same bill will play Trefpunt in Ghent on November 13th. It’s not sold out. ;-) 

I there also something like an end goal?
I’m not sure I get your question. An end goal to what ?  To change the world for the better with love, legitimate anger and music maybe ?  What else ?

Thanks for this nice conversation, unfortunately I could not do this face to face due to unforeseen circumstances, but I hope to meet you live at one of your gigs soon. Are there any gigs set for the fall and so on? feel free to put below. Big thanks!
Thank you  Met plezier !! 

Aanvullende informatie

  • Band Name: Nicolas Michaux
  • Date: 2020-09-10 22:00:00
  • Rating: 8
Gelezen: 223 keer
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