Friday, 22 April 2011 12:54

Wired in #9: Namasté

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Finally, I get to post about a great band from France! Namasté is probably one of the hippest bands in Paris these days, they've just won the « Lance-Toi En Live » Ricard SA Music Live prize and have been playing cities all over France. It's hard to put their songs into a category, but they could probably be described as something between pop and hip hop. More importantly though, their music puts you in a great mood for spring time and it's definitely time for them to become known all over Europe. Check out E&M's interview with their singer and co-founder Raphaël Cornet!

E&M: Raphaël, you and Kenzo founded the band. Can you tell us a bit about how it all came together?

RC: Kenzo and I have been friends since childhood. Our mothers sang together and when he started playing keyboards, I started playing cello and drums. We started playing together when we were 9 or 10 but that was only briefly. A few years later we met up again and jammed on some jazz classics like 'Caravan'. We didn't see much of each other during high school but in 2006 we began the Namaste adventure. Kenzo was at the keys, I picked up the guitar and started singing and we added a couple of other musicians to perform with us in local bars. In the past 2 years, Kenzo and I have remained the core of the band with various others coming and leaving. Today, the band is Kenzo, Octavio on the cello, Benoit on the bass, Reda on the drums and me.

E&M: How does having a cello in your band shape your sound?

RC: Being a typical classical instrument, the cello really adds an interesting layer to our sound. It allows us to harmonise different parts of our songs or add subtle melodies that make the arrangement more interesting. It also allows us to differentiate our songs from other pop-based songs which only have drums, guitars, bass and keys. The cello can really give you goosebumps, it's such a majestic sound.

E&M: Do you still remember what your motivations and dreams were the day you decided to learn to play music? 

RC: I was 6 when I learned to play music. At the time, I didn't have any expectations except playing for the sake of it. I had an amazing cello teacher at the time, Flore Meyer, and I think she really helped me love music and therefore have the dreams that come with loving music. She really broadened my horizons.

E&M: How come you write some of your songs in English? 

RC: I started singing after listening to Ray Charles, Finlay Quaye and more recently, Fink, Etta James, Bob Marley, etc. All these guys have a particular timbre that gives me the shivers. They all sing in English and that might be why I started writing in English too. Later though I discovered the pleasure of writing lyrics in French from time to time but I'll still feel the need to add some English in the middle of some French...I was raised in France but grew up listening to English tunes.

E&M: Which European city do you find most inspiring? 

RC: London, Paris, Berlin!

E&M: What are your upcoming plans and projects?

RC: Conquer the world. In all seriousness, the past two years have been great. We released our first EP which did really well with the press and gave us the opportunity to perform a lot. We also won a couple indie prizes such as the Prix Paris Jeunes Talents which helped. A month ago, we won the Prix Ricard SA Music Live which will really open a lot of doors. We'll be touring this summer throughout France, opening for Julien Dore and Puggy, and we'll be releasing a new EP during that tour which we're recording now. The plan after that is to continue to tour and keep on working on our first album. Stay tuned...!

"E&M: What are your upcoming plans and projects?' RC: Conquer the world."

E&M: And what is the most exciting part about playing live? 

RC: In one of their songs, the singer from Cypress Hill says about music "It's a fun job, but it's still a job". He's right in so many ways. We're very fortunate to be able to focus on doing what we love: making music and sharing it with other people. But ultimately, we can't forget that it's a job: there's a ton of responsibility and you have to be very creative, especially in today's changing music industry. The best part though, is when we're together working on an album or on a stage...the bigger the better.

E&M: With which musician or band would you like to preform or record something one day? 

RC: I've been thinking about this but don't really know yet. It depends on so many things. Off the top of my head: Saul Williams, Mos Def or Erykah Badu.

E&M: In "Girl" it seems like The Doors have inspired a part of your lyrics, you also play a version of the classic "What a wonderful World".  In which way have other artists shaped your music?

RC: Generally speaking, the genres we listen to the most are reflected in our music. I've listened to a lot of Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul, and French Pop, and you'll find subtle allusions to each of these genres in our songs. I'm sure specific artists influence us more than others but I can't tell you to what extent. For example, I've never really listened to The Doors. I knew this part of their lyrics, like a lot of people, and so it's a part of my life and a part of my own lyrics. When I write, I don't really know what's gonna come out. I'm not improvising but I'm following a feeling, a sensation, a melody, that's somewhere in my head and at some point...I can hear it and am able to write it down. 

E&M: And finally, what does Europe mean to you? 

RC: When I think of Europe, I think mostly of the cultural exchange that goes on. As time goes by, I started listening to a lot of music from different European countries and going to music festivals in other countries too. That's an incredibly rewarding experience and has without a doubt shaped how I think of my own work. For example, I had a great time at the Dour Festival when I went two years ago. I also love going to London and hitting some great vinyl stores. I've also been listening to Sigur Ros for a while. So yeah, for me, Europe is great because it brings different people and different cultures closer and closer.

For more on Namasté check out facebook.com/musicnamaste as well as their website wearenamaste.com, where you can download the single L'absurde for free.

Last modified on Sunday, 01 May 2011 16:23

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