Monday, 11 May 2009

feature: sébastien tellier part 2 : what else?

The last piece I wrote on Tellier was a bit of a history lesson / background (milieu if you will). I'm not a historian or a journalist, so I'm now going to transport you into my everyday, mainly omitting the other Record Makers artists as they each deserve their own feature and because this release was what I worked on the most . If you don't like reading, don't then. If you want to skip to a .zip file of all the cool downloads, just click here. Shit, did that not work? Try again.

Paris me manque.

This time last year my day would start at nine. I'd venture out for croissants and baguette, maybe brioche and blueberries, even capotes from the metro if I was lucky. Leisurely breakfast, café, make my sandwich before dashing down the six flights of stairs, through some business backstreets to the Métro at Notre Dame de Llorette (line 12). Headphones on, plugging into my balladeur MP3. I'd imagine I would distract the tourists on their way to Sacré Coeur with excessively loud electro. They invariably would get the cable car to their Parisian skyline tourist paradise, fantasies of François Truffaut and Jacques Brel interrupted by Surkin and Krazy Baldhead.

It is one hell of a walk to be fair, but one I would have done had I not been in a permanent state of rush, hungover, fatigue. I think I walked to work twice, despite it only being a little over a mile. The reason for this was two monumental hills. The first up Rue des Martyrs, my favourite street in the whole of Paris and home to some of the best boulangeries. The second being from Pigalle the walk up to the incredible view at Sacré Coeur and over the other side. Once you reach the top though, it's hardly anything. A casual stroll down cobbles to Rue André Messager far away from my usual brisk pace from Jules Joffrin métro as I attempt to be the first one there. Occasionally happened.

My first task, if there first, was to sidestep the dogshit and push the shutters up revealing our beautiful postered window, a quasi-statement of intent, detailing the releases to date for all the passers by in the 18eme. Email could wait, as I'd usually have checked it before I left home / before I went to bed, so the first and most important part of the day after the bisous greeting was to stumble towards the Néspresso machine where I'd have 4 to 5 times daily reveries of being George Clooney. Well-versed in the nine available flavours listed in order of preference (Ristretto, Arpeggio, Roma, Livanto, Capriccio, Fortissio Lungo, Vivalto Lungo, Finesso Lungo). I may have got the colours wrong but they afforded me a rainbow of differing kick-starts and pick-me ups that I couldn't have lived without.

The morning was an exciting time, mainly because stuff usually arrived by post, courcier etc. My favourite had to be the products (promos, vinyls, T-shirts) as I'm like a kid at Christmas when packages come through the door. One of the first was the Sexuality promo. Roche is an incredible, opening track...twenty seconds of waves and pianos before the beat drops and a visceral journey begins. In a sense, I think that is why it remains my favourite. The intensity of it just overwhelms me. Aside from that, it took me a while to lock into the groove of Sexuality. It was always going to happen, constant exposure usually leads to relenting. Divine was the track we decided to get the blogosophere moist. It worked a treat but, in my opinion, it doesn't capture the overall feel of the record. If you want to really get into it, listen to Une Heure. It was the first track written for the record, originating from a rejected Tellier remix of a well-known British act. The band in question? I'm not going to shit stir, but translate Tellier's biggest hit into English and you'll have an idea of their biggest hit.

Sébastien Tellier - Une Heure

So the morning would stretch out. Sometimes I'd tidy the stock room as it is the kind of thing you can do semi-conscious and it's a cool and dark place. I'd play with the badges and finger the insane amounts of random AIR vinyl that is there lying around. Sometimes, there would be photoshoots. I'd make coffee for people surrounded by bags and bags and bags of clothes. A woman resting a camera on my arm and asking me to stick on some tunes whilst I'm painstakingly cataloguing the press on Excel. I chose Holy Fuck. She liked it. Before Eurovision, we had a Swedish TV crew come in and ask Séb a few questions. Big TV light and boom right next to my face, thankfully I didn't have to look at all the videos of the other contestants. I'd send countless emails deleting rapidshare / megaupload files. Change the Tellier mood on myspace and snigger to myself at all the reactions of the 'friends' who actually think he's horny. I can't think why anybody would be upset to find out an artist doesn't manage their own online presence when they are spending that time making music.

Another wonderful mid-morning arrival was remixes via email. The day the Danger Divine remix came through was exciting. Remix of last year? Quite possibly. Here's a radio edit instrumental so you can really listen to Franck at work and understand what a master he is.

Sébastien Tellier - Divine (Danger Remix Radio Edit Instrumental)

For lunch, if I had failed to make some kind of Port-Salut baguette, I'd head out. My options:
1) grec - kebab basically. but with harissa. yum
2) sandwich from monoprix. boring
3) sandwich from anywhere on rue de poteau. slightly less boring
4) the italian paninis on rue le tort. mortel. L'italien is all I'm going to say. (highly recommended!!!)

Then flan nature.

Chocolate flan is a big mistake.

Once I met my friend Sam for a romantic lunch and to chat business/how to be a player. He writes for Bricolage Music, The Guardian and the M.E.N. He's on good terms with James Ford, Gaspard, you know those cats, he's so much cooler than me [but also modest enough to find editing this article, especially this paragraph, a tormenting and invariably beguiling experience - Sam]. We went up to Rue Ordener and had a nice salmon tagliatelle. During the lunch, this track came on. We felt compelled to touch each others hands. It was a beautiful moment.

Lunch at the desk saved time usually and meant I could play whatever music I wanted really loud whilst the office was mine. Occasionally though my taste was probed, I'd get to offer suggestions for remixes as well as choose vinyl for the stereo. Everybody joined in really, Steve from Lucky Number and Derek from Neon Gold who was working with them at that point. Marc then decides. His judgment speaks for itself really. I was a little upset that some of the people I approached didn't come off. Album releases / recording / mastering being the primary reason for delay / snub. People are busy and sometimes they have the time, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they make it. Every remix is different and sometimes it just doesn't work and other times it's seamless. Other times, you get versions going back and forth until everybody's happy and then the remixer gets paid. However, I did suggest they get A-Trak to work on Kilometer in the final few months of my stage, after checking his work for Boys Noize and Kanye.

The genius of Record Makers is that they have the network. Remember that Guy-Manuel had never produced anybody outside of Daft Punk before. That didn't exactly happen by accident. With an artist like Tellier, people want to be a part of it. I don't think it's like that for everyone. Back to A-Trak, or Alain rather, he'd helped out Kavinsky before and he speaks French, being a Montréal native, so was well in the loop. It took a while, but his remix was well worth the wait. Quality is usually the reward for patience. Quite pleased the world likes it.

Sébastien Tellier - Kilometer (A-Trak Main)

More Néspressos would battle the afternoon slump. I'd listen to the demos with the other stagiaires, Augustin and Delphine. Record Makers demand a lot from their artists, they want people with clear, fresh ideas. You'd be surprised how many people send in stuff that just isn't really suitable. Their effort demands that it gets listened to, even though Marc went on record as saying the amount of good tapes received through the post is minute. Personal touch is key.

I'd book flights. I'd book boats. I'd ring up the IRS. I'd talk to French people on the phone with a 60/40 success rate. I'd burn promos. I'd go to La Poste, sidestepping dog shit on my way whilst saying bonjour to Camille next door at the booking agency. I'd translate interviews. The questions some people would ask. I sat in on a phoner with a German guy who proceeded to tell Séb that he watches porn with a friend sometime and one of the characters reminded him of Séb. He then told Séb that they call this character Sébastien after him. Weeeird people. I'd update the myspace, I'd change the myspace. I'd accept comments. I'd find vinyl quotes stateside. I'd chat to the US promo team. I'd go to Monoprix and buy ridiculous amounts of toilet paper.

The evening would come. I'd finish at 19h, sometimes later. Pick up half a baguette, fresh from the boulanger on my way home. Head out to Le Fourmi for drinks or the bar on Rue D'Orsel with my squeeze for 2€ demi's and sweets. Give her pink Tellier culottes. The gig nights were special. The first Sexuality live show was at the ICA. The first Parisien one was at the Pompidou Centre. I missed most of it because I was helping all the people on the list get in for the first night reviews. Second night I was watching the merch and chatting to the security dudes. I'd dash in each time for La Ritournelle though. The first time you hear that song live, it's like riding a wave of goosebumps that wash all over you. I can't really decide which time was more emotional. It's a toss-up between the Radio France show in early April and La Cigale at the end of April. I'd just been shunned the day before the radio show when I thought I was falling for someone, I was close to tears.

Anyway, La Cigale. April 30th 2008. Was an incredible evening. Got to dash out of work early to change before scaling Rue des Martyrs to the venue. Running the guestlist was intimidating because I'm not French and people who are on the list / think they are are often intimidating. It was also incredibly oversubscribed as Sébastien was flavour of the month, just a few weeks shy of his Eurovision performance. Hottest ticket in town and they trust me with the guestlist? Was a piece of piss though really. I did hope to see les Daft in the flesh but they snuck by when I went for a clope and I got ribbed by my cohorts. Previously, I had misheard a young lad and thought he said Guy-Manuel and I didn't really know what to say since he clearly could not have been Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. I had the wrong name though.

The show was incredible. Packed to the rafters, Séb had the crowd eating out of his hands. Two days after his Scala show in London, he really pulled out all the stops. He has my eternal respect for daring to play with himself and moan ecstatically in front of not only a few thousand people, but his parents and girlfriend's parents who had front row balcony seats. Take a listen for yourself now.

Sébastien Tellier - Sexual Sportswear (Live at the Cigale 30.04.08)

Just listen to that bass synth. Isn't it incredible? Visceral and warm in a way that the album can't be, because if it was it would just be messy. It brings it to life. An aside, I always felt this song owes a huge debt to Daft Punk's Veridis Quo in terms of the progression of the synthesizer effects. Is that fair?

Sébastien Tellier - La Ritournelle (Live at the Cigale 30.04.08)

The crowd is hanging on every word. Spine-tingling. He milks it a little, but it still reels everybody in.

Sébastien Tellier - L'Amour et La Violence (Live at the Cigale 30.04.08)

To call it La Ritournelle pt. II as the man himself does is almost a disservice to the track. Synths like iced gems at the end crowned the end of the set pre-encore.

The live show has since changed with a new band taking it up a notch, away from what could be considered a stereotypical electro artist stage setup and away from the comfort zone of long-time collaborateurs Stéphane Dalmais and Christophe Chassol. Shepherds Bush in January was a watershed moment. The crowd pogoing like mad to Divine was a frenzied reaction that proved that people don't just think of Séb as that guy who did La Ritournelle. Weirder still, some joker threw a beachball on stage and it felt for a split-second like the performance Eurovision could and should have been. So misunderstood. I can't wait to hear what he comes up with next. Don't ask me what it will be though.

///go to the Record Makers webshop. buy everything. make sure they never run out of Néspresso ever.
or go to iTunes.


Poppy said...

Me thinks you were living out the beat that my heart skipped? Without piano but with beats all the same.

Kathryn said...

Love it Dan x

jehan said...

I did have the brown leather jacket.

We actually had to turn Duris away from the gig at La Cigale. Think Daft Punk and Duris in one night would have been a bit too much.

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