Recently writer and critic Robert Nagle made a list of 11 Incredible Musicians You Can Download for Free. Many of the musicians on this top list make their music freely available on Jamendo, a free and legal music sharing site. Several musicians appearing on this list also gave interviews to this blog (Read the other interviews). You can also download a free sampler containing full songs from artists profiled here.
Lonah’s Pieces has been one of the all-time favorites by listeners on Jamendo. Lonah is a Paris group described (with the help of Google Translation) as "dreams plastered to jazz and electro-rock hallucination." Noting influences as wide as Apollinaire and Ionesco, the band has an absurdist and even surreal style, combining jazz piano, rock guitar and techno beat. The female lead singer Raphaëlle (described as a former KGB spy — not for political reasons, but simply for the free vodka), has a dreamy and luscious voice, and yet the band complements her talent nicely with lots of interesting acoustic and electronic effects. One of my favorite pieces Les Amantes de cristal is a slow romantic dirge that reminds me of Mazzy Star (but with more melodrama and electronic effects). Fractale is a lovely understated song with a delightful keyboard, strings and a rapid catchy beat. Some of the more traditional arrangements use violins (Crepescule) while the melancholy Paris la mort use xylophones (reminding me of a lullaby even though the lyrics seem more melancholy). The final 2 songs Ombre and Visage d’ébène are tentative and philosophical and generally upbeat. The latest album Take your spoon and run is a bit of a departure. The lead song is a great electronic/dance song (in a Ladytron way) and Raphaëlle’s lyrics are absurd and fun. Mornings is a melodramatic rock ballad which ends in a great finale with the piano. Je te connais Beau Masque is a jazzy and whimsical song you’d expect to find in a Paris nightclub catering to rich Asian tourists. Whenever I listen to Lonah’s songs, I am never sure what is going to happen next; there are always rapid and unexpected shifts in style/rhythm/tempo. See also the early album Au fond du temps . In this interview I spoke with Eric who plays bass guitar. By the way, they have a fun fake-biography on their webpage. It’s in French, but Google Translate can be your friend.
Well, it’s always difficult to describe how you come up with an idea. It may come from a book we loved or from an imaginative vision (with its own distinctive aesthetic). We work together, exchanging ideas, while one of us usually leads the song to make sure we do not lose ourselves too much…
How has your geography influenced the kind of music you make?
Don’t think so, but quite difficult to answer. As you live in a place, you have to be influenced by what you listen to… But so many things influence you that it’s hard to tell which is the stronger.
What other musician or musicians have inspired you? Can you name someone who is not a musician who has provided inspiration for your creativity?
Musicians? Honestly, we listen to a lot of music; we are fans of Radiohead and Massive Attack, but it really depends of the tune… Lo’Jo Triban, the first album of Archive are important parts of our musical culture, too.
Someone who is not a musician? Ionesco or Eluard.
What is the most difficult part about being a musician?
Not being able to know how we sound like while playing, perhaps (which is a common problem for all musicians, while you’re on stage, the sound you hear is always quite different from what the public hears)
What is the best situation (i.e., time and place) for people to hear your music?
It’s probably best to ask listeners (not us). Personally, I think the ideal setting for hearing Lonah’s music would involve night and a cat.
You do a number of concerts. How do live performances of your songs compare with how you perform them in the studio?
Songs are quite different in live performances, because we truly want to offer something different from what you hear on the CDs. We use electronic samples and a video show to extend our little universe, but it’s something precious to know that every live performance is different from the others.
In what ways do musical people look at the world differently from nonmusical people?
I suppose that nonmusical people are less boring when they are drunk. Just a guess…
I just love that song, Les Amants De Cristal. I was wondering. Where did the inspiration come for that song?
This song is an adaptation from the original eponym from Binary Mind… and the text is about lovers who evolve in their own universe, forgetting everything else, living only for a small and precious moment that they want to last forever.