LIVE AT THE JAZZ FESTIVAL: EMILIE SIMON

Posted on June 25th, 2010 by .

Emilie Simon, the French songstress that is taking the american indie music scene by storm is back in town.

Before her Jazz Fest show on Saturday, June 26 as part of the fest’s late night series (show starts at 11:59 PM), I spoke to Emilie Simon, who has a musical background as eclectic and intriguing as her live show …

It’s fair to say that you probably haven’t seen many live shows like Emilie Simon’s – she plays piano and guitar, sings (in French and English) and manipulates all manner of instruments and electronics through a cyborg-like arm attachment. Her new album, The Big Machine, gives a peak into her distinctive music, which has elements of jazz, pop, classical and electronic music all melded together as her Kate Bush-ian vocals waft overtop. It also functions as something of a love letter to New York, the city she lives in when not in Paris.

It’s equally fair to say that you also don’t come across many musicians with a resume like the one she’s put together. She’s classically-trained, has Masters in musicology from the Sorbonne, studied electroacoustics at the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), wrote the original score for March of the Penguins, and I feel it’s important to note, is totally and utterly charming. I asked how this all-over-the-map background had informed her music.

“I started as a child, very young, I was at the conservatory when I was 7. I had different bands, I went to a jazz school, then got into contemporary music and went to the Sorbonne and then to IRCAM to learn a bit more about the culture of sound, the texture of the sounds,” explains Simon. “That was a major turn for my career- it was like seeing colour when you knew only black and white. I feel like I have a bag of a bunch of things: classical, jazz, electroacoustics, electronic production. I love doing different things, different challenges, to keep being creative. But really, I just love songs, I love the details of writing songs.”

When asked about how she comes up with the structure of her live show, it was no surprise to hear that it’s something that is always evolving. “I change it all the time. I keep adding stuff, remixing stuff, it’s like my playground. I can be a bit more experimental. I also have a band, so in that case it’s a different vibe, even if it’s the same song. For Montréal, I’m doing something special- it’s my solo set up and all the electronics but also with my drummer. I think it will be something very interesting.”

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