I suppose one cannot write a Folk album without featuring a harmonica. Interestingly enough for the song “L’inspiration” I tried everything for the solo, from sitar to gospel choir, to psychedelic voices and other horns and flutes and percussions…. It is only when I decided to collaborate with Leon on testing various things for another song that I thought …maybe he could give a try on this song solo just out of curiosity. What a beautiful line he wrote once heard it was difficult to come back to all other aborted weird ideas of mine…..


    “L’Inspiration” took many twists and turns before reaching its current state. We tried many versions with acoustic guitars and pianos … but the one thing that really stood out is the great guitars part from Christopher Campbell from Jamaica. What a soulful take he proposed with 2 guitars spiralling and blending together. All the other instruments were recorded around this great take! Hope you will like it. 😊


    In order to get a 70’s sound from a Rhodes piano and electric pianos lines I did reach out to Dave Lagrande based in Nashville. Through an online collaboration he recorded the Rhodes behind La Nuit, Inspiration and several other songs. He found the right balance between keeping things simple but slightly jazzy and his beautifully crafted licks give a warm sound to those songs. Thanks again Dave!


    I always wanted to collaborate with Ali Sehir and add some eastern vibe to my music through his very interesting violas and clarinet lines. I approached him at the early stage of the song “La Nuit” and we did not succeed to collaborate yet as the song was in a too early draft stage, still very folk and did not meet with the generic vibe we were after. It is only 3 months later once Flamenco guitars were added that the door of creativity opened and I contacted him again. He wrote those amazing melodies and did create an improvised outro that fits the song so well and brings it to another very different level. We did also work together in another song which might or might not end up on the album. What a talented artist!


    After the solo I wanted to finish the song (outro) on a different note and wrote some vocals parts for a Spanish singer. I have been advised to contact the amazing Agus Vivo from the band “La Femme D’Argent”. She kindly agreed to record some vocals for the ending as well as backing the Spanish chorus in Javier recording studio in Argentina.  If you don’t know this band, I strongly advise you have a listen 😊


    Following the recording of a Flamenco guitars solo and intro I had in mind to include another vocal line that would highlight the genre and make it stand out from other songs on the album. I contacted singer Azahar López who kindly agreed to embark on this online collaboration. It took very few takes to align on these beautiful vocal lines that bridges the solo to the outro. She then improvised further giving some depth to the song through her passionate voice. Once again feeling very grateful to have had the chance to have Azahar contributing to the album.    


    “La Nuit” started as a standard folk song, the funny story of a man in love…. like many others light romantic songs. Then the chorus developed and behind the smiles unfolded another theme, the suffering of not being loved back. In order to keep the balance between the sadness and the more upbeat parts I came with the idea to sing a piece in Spanish and highlight it with some percussions that have been played with non-other than Daniel Sadownick. The song could have stayed as is, but the story had it otherwise. Tiptoeing around for collaborations I looked for Flamenco artists and started to brainstorm with the very talented guitarist Arturo Ramon on writing a guitar solo. His melodies were brilliant and soon I was using some guitar parts to write an introduction as well and we started a back and forth jam. Following these collaborations, the song took a very different turn for a latin vibe which I wanted to explore further. But this is another story …. 😊


    During the arrangement work on “Les Bras Tendus” Roby Tola was talking about the mood of the song and how it took him back to a city in France where he heard someone playing in the street an accordion melody while people passed him without noticing him. I wanted to build on it and started looking for an accordion player that would bring the French culture and a Slavic sadness that would fit the theme of the song which is about ending up living in the streets. I met Yuri Yadchenko online and he recorded a beautiful introduction that sets the mood to the song and helped bringing it together. We also did collaborate in another song that might or might not end up on the album. 


    Maybe one of the first song I was able to complete in 2019 “Envolez moi” started with a horn section. Using my iphoneand sitting on a caffe facing the sea I spent 5 hours straight writing various lines and melodies and harmonies. It is only when my battery ran out that I ran home to record those on Cubase. It worked. Caffe is aware of my strange music hobby and erratic behaviour, bless them 😊 Only months later did I start looking for horns arranger and met online Kelly. We tried to rearrange the piece, but I always came back to initial melody and arrangement, which you can find on the album.


    For « Envolez moi » we wanted to have a different feeling from the rest of the album which is more folk oriented and bring some variety. From the Rhodes to the guitars all was pushing us towards a more electric sound and this is no surprise that I started to look for a saxophone player.  I met Hugo online and with his impressive credentials (Icehouse, Andrew Farriss (INXS) Holy Holy and Riley Pearce ) I felt honoured to have him playing on my album. You can hear more of his soulful takes here.


    The last song I wrote for the album is about our fathers and elders, their legacy… At the time of the songwriting my father was critically ill in the hospital. As he has been living in African during the last years of his life, I decided for “La Memoire” to use some African folk elements and mix themwith a traditional folk acoustic guitar and vocal. More than giving it a feel I wanted it to be part embedded in the song. Meaning I wanted to go beyond using African percussions and instruments but collaborate with a singer using the question – answer that is common in traditional African music.
    I have been very lucky to meet Karismatik and he agreed to join the project and recorded the various artists in his studio in Senegal during 2020. He introduced me to Ombré who kindly agreed to sing some of the lines I wrote for the backing vocals but took it to another level when writing some solo parts text and music. His beautiful melodies and very interesting rhythm signature have transformed this song and I feel very grateful to have had the chance to meet and collaborate with Ombre and Karismatik.
    The outro part of the song “La Memoire” which I called “An African Prayer” is a mix of classical and African instruments and voices. I wrote it as I was facing my father passing and wanted to channel emotions in the song. Great and very emotional contribution from Ombré on this part again!


    In my pre 20’s I did 3 years of classical piano and had the dream to learn counterpoint, harmonization. Life had it other way and I could not follow this path for some years. As I resumed songwriting in 2018 I slowly went back to my passion for classical music and the study of orchestration. I spent time reading scoresheet, attending classical concerts, reading books about how to score for an orchestra. With recent technology some digital music plug ins are able to emulate instruments sound and dynamic quite well (if you are patient enough to program them for hours) and I started to invest time and money in those. I wrote 2 songs that are more classical influenced and 1 is on the album being released this summer, called “Fermer les Yeux”.
    This song took many shapes and forms. Written around some repetitive notes patterns on acoustic guitar, changed to piano to electric guitars… and finally end up being using classical instruments and piano to tell this story. The vision was to offer a classical score using Flutes, Clarinets, Bassoon, Strings and from the Horns family only a light French Horn to keep sound quite aerial.
    My journey brought me back to collaborate with Javier Zacharias, a talented and awarded multi instrumentalist and film scoring composer. Javier has been mentoring my work on classical composition, sitting with me (online) for long nights to rearrange classical instruments parts, brainstorm, rewrite and start again. For this song I am pleased to announce that Javier extended his collaboration and wrote some beautiful piano lines.
    Next for the song will be to collaborate with Roby Tola on fitting electric guitars to this classical piece. He came with a beautiful counter melody on the Oboe which will make its way to the final version of the song and give a very 70’s vibe to the chorus.
    The main vocal part has been recorded and special care has been put in backing vocals, knowing that I wanted to keep a light sound approach but also offer trademark harmonies.
    More to come soon.

    “Une Annee Formidable” is the first single from the Les Rivières Folk album. Recorded during 2020, it marks a collaboration between several folk and country artists, who worked online from different countries. The single arranged by multi-awarded Italian musician Roberto Tola,  who toured and recorded with Bob Minzer, Tom Harrel, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Shakatak and many more.

    Une Année Formidable took folk colors from the first notes written. It was while imagining a banjo accompanying the chorus that I decided to contact Toby Wilson, a multi-instrumentalist based in the UK. He kindly accepted to collaborate on the song and rearranged and recorded the guitars and the banjo in his studio.

    After recording the musical core of Une Année Formidable we wanted to give the song some extra color with the addition of a slide guitar and solo guitar for the finale played by a country artist from the USA Paul Tooley. To accompany the chorus and the drums parts arranged by Roberto Tola, I wanted to flesh out the sound by collaborating once again with the percussionist Daniel Sadownick, a session musician from the USA who played for Taylor Swift, Joe Bonamassa.
Scroll Up