Cecile Colleen

Cecile Colleen is a Parisian who writes precious sound-collages. This Friday, her first US tour commences at the Warehouse in Washington, D.C. - the complete dates are as follows:

Earlier this year, I conducted an email interview with Colleen. Below is the transcript.

are you a sound conservationist? by which i mean that on everyone alive wants answers, the songs seem to be not only songs but snapshots of moments in time and space that you felt an emotional pull toward.

i'm not sure what you mean by sound conservationist, and i have to admit that it feels a bit strange for me to talk about songs which are now, for some of them, three years old. I know that people often talk to me about my music in terms of how it brings you to imagine things, but i have to say that when i make music, it's primarily about just that: music. But what this means for me exactly and concretely is hard to explain, because music is the most important thing in my life, whether i'm recording some songs, playing a live show, or learning to play an instrument. Basically the primary motive behind me making music is the urge to hear something and be moved by it, and reach that myself and not just by relying on other people's music.

your ear definitely leans toward trebly, unsteady sounds. may i ask why?

I'm not sure if it's trebly sounds so much as a tendency (at least in the first album) to use filters because i love the hiss and treble range associated with old recordings — and for sure that's a love of mine, i love old things in general, old objects, gramophones, mechanical music instruments, and the like. I'm not a computer geek at all and don't spend my time marveling at all the software and gear existing.

do you listen to music while riding public transportation? does this inspire ideas?

i do, a lot, although thanks to now working part time i have to take public transport a lot less than before, but when i play live i always use public transport to go to the place where i'm playing, so that does mean quite a bit of traveling and having time to listen to music while watching landscapes or just daydreaming. Because i've been so busy in the past year and a half, public transport has actually offered me some very valuable time off, the only time when it was ok for me to do nothing but listen to music. But I wouldn't say it inspires musical ideas as such.

how different are performing and recording to you? do you approach them differently?

Recording and performing are bound to be different if only because of where they happen, especially in my case: when i record music, i'm completely on my own, from beginning to end. No one helps me to record, and i don't ask anybody's opinion on what i'm about to record, or what i've recorded. So it's just me alone in my living room.

Of course performing is completely the opposite, it's really about giving my music to the audience and hoping that some people will be moved by it.

The one point they do have in common is that in creative terms, they really feed each other: i want to create new pieces because i don't want to play the same things over and over again in the live shows, especially if it's in a city where i've played before, and part of those new pieces might end up being recorded, perhaps for a future release. Or if i've recorded something, i'll try to see how i can come up with some kind of live version of it (if it's technically feasible — sometimes it's just not possible).

They are two different facets of making music but i really enjoy them both.

are your performances successful? are you happy with them?

i have to say that so far, over the course of two years, i've been a very happy performer nine times out of ten: occasionally i will have some awful technical problems, or an audience with a couple of difficult members (this is sometimes enough to ruin it for everyone, especially the other members of the audience who just want to enjoy the music in peace — and my music does require silence), but apart from that i feel i've been incredibly lucky with audiences and how my live shows have been received.

i love the immediacy of live playing, the give and response that you rarely have with a record, except if people write to you to tell you that they love it.

there are always things that i could have played better during a show, so i often have the feeling that i could have done better, but then again i don't obsess over it, perfection in playing is not what live shows are about or certainly not what MY live shows are about, and i don't think that's what people come to see me for, so i always judge a show by what i felt (was i enjoying myself when i was playing? did i manage to forget that i was doing this strange thing — performing in front of people — and enjoy the music i was making?) and how the audience responded. If they seemed happy then i'm happy too.