Under the pseudonym SAGE, derived from Sagittarius, Ambroise Willaume is releasing his first solo EP ‘In Between’. The result is this superbly promising first EP; where the very personal meets with the collective (‘In Between’, ‘Last Call Couples’), and where melancholy becomes disarming (in ‘Summer Rain’).
Sage will perform a concert in Café de la Danse (Paris) on 29 January.
Thanks to SAGE and Jeremy
It’s an accumulation of different circumstances. Three years ago, on our second tour with Revolver, we started to have different desires, dreams and goals within the band and we were mostly afraid of being tired of doing the same shows, same promotions… We felt like we had reached our limits, that we wanted to do different things.
One went back to his first love which was classical music, another went on a round the world trip and as for me I wanted to discover new musical horizons without compromising. You always compromise when you’re part of a band.
Do you write your lyrics and compose your melodies on your own ?
Yes, I do. However, Benjamin Lebeau intervenes during the production stage and it may happen that his input changes or influences the song or the melody. It turns more into a collaboration then.
Which artists influence you the most ?
I enjoy many artists and I enjoy listening to their music but they don’t necessarily influence me. I appreciate very much Connan Mockasin’s music or Mac DeMarco’s. I go and see them in concert or I buy their albums, but I try to create on my own and not to be influenced too much. I have constantly listened to Neil Young music and especially his melancholic songs, I love Harvest Moon and Dreaming man. I admire and respect James Blacke and I really enjoy his minimal approach, it’s something that I think I have in my music.
Can you talk to us about your latest EP ? How was your collaboration with Benjamin Lebeau from The Shoes ?
Benjamin and I have known each other for a long time and have been collaborating on others’ productions for several years. We met four years ago while both working on Woodkid first EP, we helped him finalise and structure the melodies and arrangements. We used to work on the same projects so it was only natural to ask for his opinion on my own creations. He immediately wanted to collaborate and help me.
Regarding your collaboration with Woodkid, have you planned to collaborate together again ?
We regularly ask each other feedback on our projects, we respect each other’s opinion and critical eye but at the moment I don’t know if we will work on something, but I would love to.
You did the opening act for Christine and the Queens, French revelation 2014. What was your impressions ?
We have known each other for a long time, we used to do radio shows and interviews together back in 2012. She would come up with her computer, her glitter… and you could see the talent. I found her amazing from the start and I was scared that people would not really have access to her talent and her music. Now she’s at the top and it is well deserved. Back then our band was a little bit more famous than her so now it is the other way round. Doing the opening act for her first Cigale show was positively weird because being a solo artist now, it is like starting all over again so I was opening for her while I had more stage experience but it was wonderful and she is an amazing person as well as an amazing artist.
Can you tell us a few words about your upcoming album and when it will be available ?
I’m actually working on it right now. When I was writing the songs for my EP, I was in a creative rush. I wrote about 30 or 40 songs so basically I’m reworking some of them and that will be the album. It will also be my first album based and created with a piano, I’m normally a guitarist. So I’m experimenting on several levels, melodies, production, instrumentalisation. It’s supposed to be out this summer, normally, but working on some songs takes some time.
Can you describe it with three words ?
Experimental, pop, melancholic
You mentioned the word melancholic several times, are you a melancholic person ?
Not really, I consider myself as a happy person however my creation process allows me to release the melancholic side of me.
At what point do you consider that a song is completed ?
It’s something that comes naturally, for me, if you have a doubt on a song, that means it is not done yet. A song consists in a whole of different tangible, organic elements. It is variable, sometimes a song will be written within an hour, sometimes it will take six months. Regarding composition itself, I personally think that it should be quick and natural, we are in something spontaneous. If you have to fight against it and rewrite it several times that usually means it’s not right.
We really like all the visuals from your EP, whose idea was this ?
It is Ismael Moumin (photographer) who is behind this visual identity. I really like his technique of cuts and pastes. He’s been doing it for quite some time now and I thought that it would illustrate the atmosphere of the EP perfectly. I usually don’t like to be on the front cover, I prefer to let my work speak for itself and he translated it perfectly. He also directed the video of « In Between ».
Your concert at Le Café de la Danse is coming very soon, what do you expect from it ?
It will be my first solo concert, it will be a reality check, I’m going to see the crowd’s reaction to my songs and music for the first time. I don’t really know how it will go. Maybe people will be very calm or they are going to love it and have a good reaction. I invited a quartet (Code) on stage to present something between electro music and acoustics.
What are the next steps for you ?
After Le Café de la Danse I’m heading to the USA for several shows in New York and Los Angeles. After that, I’m heading back to the studio to finish my album. I’m also working on different projects with different artists and I’m collaborating on some movie soundtracks. I need to diversify, it is rather hard for me to get stuck on only one project. I like to experiment different arts, scenes, artistic worlds.