What's the balance between lyrics and music in your work ? What comes first
I don't really have a pattern for writing. I keep a notebook. Sometimes I just get a line, other times everything comes at once. Ideas perculating in the meantime. My favorite songs happen in the morning; get up, make some coffee and write a song. That doesn't happen very often. I've been sleeping in too much lately.
Is it a problem if we (French or generally non-English speaking listeners) do not understand your lyrics? Do the listeners have to catch a particular message in your music, or just feel certain emotions you try to transcribe ?
There's no great message in the lyrics, and it would be nice to think that the records could stand on atmosphere alone, but I'm not sure if that's true. I did write a song in French, for the next record. Not because I'm concerned about being misunderstood, but because i love the way the language sounds. I'd love to be fluent. But there will always be someone out there who doesn't understand the lyrics, even if you speak twenty languages. You can't worry about that. It's pointless.
I do get self-conscious about it on tour, though. It's embarrassing. I'm embarrassed to be an English-speaker when I'm in Europe. I hate that awful American tourist attitude of assuming the world should be obliged to speak English. So I just try to keep my mouth shut. I get by okay in France, they're always very gracious. They appreciate the effort when they see I can speak a little French. Someplace like Germany, on the other hand: forget about it. I can politely order a drink in German, but that's about it. Then you get up on stage, expecting these people to listen to you. Why should they? You're walking in the footsteps of a million assholes.
Do you think your music can be appreciated by everyone ? Do you care at all
No, I'm an elitist. That's not something I'm proud of, but I don't believe in popular art. It's a contradiction in terms, because the general public has an unadventurous mind. Most people don't want to be affected by music; they want something to hear in the car, on their way to the office in the morning. Something they can switch on and off, like the air-conditioner. Maybe something a little heavier on the weekend. And it's not just music, you know, it's everything. Art, style, films. They don't want to watch Vivre Sa Vie, they don't need that hassle; they want to watch the new Spielberg movie. I'm not putting those people down, you understand, I just can't relate to them. So I don't create for them.
Listen, I'm not Jealous Boy; I don't envy someone else for being in all the magazines. That's no loss for me. But this appetite for mediocrity, cheap sentimentality... it does upset me. Of course I care. Other people's bad taste is distressing. I sit here sometimes just despising it. It's not healthy. It makes me physically weak.
Do you consider your work as experimental ?
In a way, sure. Not "Experimental" in the genre sense.
What does the use of a beatbox bring you ? a quasi-hypnotical rhythmic pattern,
the freedom of not having to follow a particular grid ? Did you ever think of
working with a "traditional band", guitar, bass and drums
let's say ?
This is just a question of aesthetics to me. I like electronic and organic sounds equally. Probably for different reasons, but I don't really get into conceptualizing instruments that way. I have no quarrel with traditional bands.
chroniques de Frankie Sparo
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