After four EP, Clément Bazin, the ‘man of steel’ as we called him, offers us his first debut album Everything Matters which comes out on April 27th.
This virtuoso of steeldrum makes us discover or rediscover his cold instrument with a warm sound in different registers and emotions. A certain duality between colored waves and emotional luggage.
Everything Matters is a delicious cocktail with exotic flavors to savor in the atmosphere of the tropical heat.
Merci à Clément Bazin
Jérémy / Bureau Batcave
Photos : Die Frau
Interview : Renaud VELIN
I agree, there are many invitations through this album and it was my intention to make an album that was not limited to one style. I have never really done that in my music and it’s not like that either that I conceive the electronic music which is very broad also. So yes, there are several different styles with an important ‘fil rouge’ which is the steeldrum. I am trying to decontextualize this instrument. It is a very marqued and connoted instrument. I wanted to change that. Usually people associates that sound to a cruise in the Carraibes with a little flower crown, that is why I wanted to put it in another context, to put it into a music more electronic which can be happy or melancholic sometimes, cold or warmly, … Of course, the album has a dancing vibes but I also wanted to hear this instrument in other contexts and to show that it can provide a lot more of feelings than the one that people usually know. I wanted a plural album on emotions, not just a single evocation or a single color. Even inside each songs, we can find several emotions, several readings. So I tried in this album to have this diversity while keeping a ‘fil rouge’ that is the steeldrum.
This diversity, this mixture of emotions, it’s very you. It comes a lot from your own personality, no ?
Totally, yes. I started the music with the steeldrum when I was about 12 years old and I only played that for years. The steeldrum is a sound that comes from Trinidad and Tobago, a small island in the southern Caribbean. Traditionally, we play Calypso with this instrument so a music from Trinidad that sounds very Caribbean and and it’s only many years later when I did my first EP that I discovered the production of electronic music. I discovered that I could create and compose solo music. I have very different influences indeed. I came from the orchestra, I played steelband music with a very niche music and after that I fell in love with the English electronic music in the early 2000s from Mount Kimbie to James Blake, I also listened to a lot of American Hip-hop so whatever happens I do not want to do only one gender of music. I love cultivated in my music that diversity that I have in me.
But I am still wondering what is the sense of this title Everything Matters ? What did u mean by that ?
I wanted a strong and evocative title and that puts the listener very quickly in an explicit state of mind. Electronic music does not dictate to you through a text an emotion. It will resonate with everyone’s imagination in a very singular way. I wanted a title that connects everyone to his life, to what happens to him. Whether you live hard or happy moments, everything matters. The love you give and receive is a precious good, you have to pay attention to it. Loneliness is important too, hard moments made me grow and more mature. I do not write songs myself, I will not tell you that through a song but that’s why I wanted a title that evokes that and resonates in everyone. It may seem naive to say that everything matters but it is something that I really think especially in this very detached and almost nihilistic time.
Clearly, the new single Catch Me printed the colour of your album, a joyfull refreshing invitation to the dancefloor and to play love games. It is solar and punchy ! Even the songs which are more chill and peaceful (That feeling, Movement or Lullaby), for me there is no melancholia in it but brightness like a warm elegant chill out. The key words for that album are heat and love. That was the main desire of this album, no ?
It is true that I composed most of this album between spring and summer of last year with a desire that the summer lasts. We were in Montreal when we wrote Catch Me, it was nice and hot and of course we captured and printed this vibes in the song.
As for quieter songs, I like the idea of melancholy but that is not dark or hard but it can come from happy moments. We can be melancholy of a very happy moment and it makes us sad but it is a melancholy that comes from a great joy as in That feeling. And it is in this kind of context and emotion that I wanted to put the steeldrum. It is a steel instrument but has very warm resonances. I find that steel has a very cold side in a way but it matches very well with different vibes to release a warm sound and emotions. It’s an ambivalent instrument that blends well into pop songs as well as more melancholic songs.
Us, your previous EP was a celebration of union and sharing, of gathering in all its forms. You launched in it, Distant, a featuring with the American singer Lia, single that you also incorporated here too. In this debut album, you increased that collaboration work, you develop a lot more of featurings with men and female vocals, with more lyrics. Explain to us the importance it has on your creation and the impact on this album.
I made some totally instrumental tunes but very soon the desire to compose a song came. Because despite all the beauty of the instrumental music, there is something magical and like a real challenge to create a pop song.
The magic thing about pop songs is that once you’ve finished listening to it, you can whistle the air and anyone recognizes the song right away and that’s what I love in the composition of a song, it is this challenge to look for an essence of the structure of the pop song. As a producer it’s an exciting challenge to face someone to get to this little 3 minutes of pop. So there is the challenge and of course the pleasure of working with a singer who offers something that I do not do : sing and write lyrics. With all these great artists, we worked in the studio, we talked about structures. We discussed a lot, I give them a free rein for the lyrics. When I went to Montreal, they had already listened to the music and already wrote part of their lyrics, we rearranged everything together and recorded everything in the same time. It was a real pleasure. When you are not a singer yourself, you always have a real admiration for people who are, you know. So this is all, as much admiration for singers as the challenge of creating pop songs.
Speaking of collaboration, you mentionned a bromance with Douchka (an another young talented beatmaker from the same label Nowadays Records), you may have the desire to work with him, to create something together or with another artist maybe ?
Yes ! We are both very busy on our projects at the moment but the desire is here, definitely. He set up a duet and this is something that I always dreamed of. I like the idea to not work alone and confronting ideas and make choices with others.
I really believe in exchanges and collaborative work. So for the future I really want a duet also and continue to produce for other artists. Last year, I produced a young singer who sent me demos and needed to be produced. I did it and I really enjoyed. This is something that I want to continue to develop.
For the last two years, you were a lot on tour, you wanted to develop and improve your work on stage. What are your impressions about it now after two years of evolution ? Are u happy with the result ?
When I started to be on stage alone, I was very happy to be able to create and think about an electro live solo, to think about how to reinterpret the music tracks in live, what to play, what part of improvisation, what part of loops and sequences, etc … I really had fun playing alone, feeling what the audience is giving you, it was really amazing, that was a discovery too for me. And then gradually, I had more and more want to have people with me on stage. I felt that I missing that more. And last November 30th, I did a concert at Gaîté Lyrique by inviting on stage with me some featurings and two friends who play steeldrum too. And it was so good that I thought it was obvious that if I went back on tour for the album, I have to go back with musicians on stage with me. For the audience and for sharing on stage, it’s too good to have people. I set up a team with a drummer and another musician who’s playing on keyboard and percussion and it’s really great, it’s a huge pleasure. We have just started but we will continue to play with this new formula all summer and early fall. I think I came to the end of a live solo and with people on stage with me, it brings such another dimension. It really brings a plus without distorting the music, keeping a very produced electronic. I really think we found a nice formula with my team and I rediscovered some songs like That feeling (song that we talked about earlier) by reinterpreting this song in live with other musicians who bring a real intensity to it. Besides, I invite all the people who read this interview to come and see us and share this pleasure with us. Because there is also simply the pleasure of being together and sharing with others. This is also the meaning of Everything Matters.
You started to play steeldrum in steelbands during many years, it would be a wish for you one day to play your music with a band again, like a philharmonic live session ?
Yes, exactly. We are working on that actually. We are setting up an open air concert with a steelband orchestra around mid June in Paris and also preparing a filmed live session with a reinterpretation of some songs for the occasion. These are my two loves. On one side orchestral music and on the other electronic music so when I can combine the two for me it’s a real pleasure. I really want to put on the spotlight and represent this little known instrument.
Steeldrum player, instrumentalist, producer, professor, …. How should I call you « Man of Steel » in reference of a Superman managing different talents in the same time or « Soprano of Steel » as a virtuose of your instrument ?
Ahah, I will take « Man of Steel » ! I like the idea of a super hero, it is cool. As a worthy defender and representative of the steeldrum !