Singer and composer Jean-Louis Murat died Thursday at the age of 71. We are republishing today an interview given to Figaro in 2017, on the occasion of the publication of his album Works on the N89.
Le Figaro. - What was the trigger for this album?
Jean-Louis Murat. - I entered the studio with my hands in my pockets, with nothing. Not a word, not a melody. It was interesting. I had contacted my collaborator Denis Clavaizolle to offer him to work for two or three days. The first day, we had the title song. Very quickly, I couldn't stop. We would have made a triple album if Denis hadn't stopped me. There were at least 120 tracks per title. The principle was that each melodic line is accompanied by two substitute lines so that I have a choice when mixing. And the texts were written at the very end. On this record, everything has been done scrupulously upside down.
Musician Jean-Louis Murat is dead
Did you derive particular pleasure from it?
It's one of the discs during the conception of which I felt the best. Before, I had chained about fifteen albums recorded in one week. There, we spent 52 days shooting. I haven't taken this long on a record since Cheyenne Autumn. The way we make music today has nothing to do with the methods of the 1980s and 1990s. I realized the acceleration of time. Never have humans experienced such an acceleration. We have to review everything, which is fortunate. Some complain about it, I find it sensational in terms of creativity. We're not going to spend our time whining. If I hadn't made this record, I would have stopped the music.
“I was no longer in line with the drive of the time. All my latest records are complete nonsense in terms of design."
Did you feel like you had reached the end of something?
I was no longer in line with the drive of the time. All my latest records are completely absurd in terms of design. It was while doing Morituri that I realized it. The Bataclan attack sparked that in me. I said to myself: “It is no longer possible. We can no longer set up stages like that, make music like in the last century. I had decided to sell all my guitars. I did a voluntary withdrawal of about a year during which I did not write a song or touch an instrument. DIY (electricity, plaster, painting, carpentry) compensated.
Is this the first time you have felt this?
Before this break, I had the impression of being a Neanderthal man, I felt out of step. For a long time I deceived myself by going to work in Nashville or New York, but I had had enough of this behavior as a perfect vassal of American music. Today, Bob Dylan or Neil Young are no longer the leaders. I discovered an endless love for Frank Ocean or Kendrick Lamar. I was fed up with the Lagarde and Michard side of Dylan.
What was the consequence of this frustration?
I walked into uncharted territory that made me shake up the usual order of things and approach the process backwards. I had to have no ideas, not be sentimental or romantic. Go back to something instinctive. I would save a few intros from the Stones, the last place in our culture where there is still Eros and Dionysus. I who have always been a big fan of Oasis, I was flabbergasted by Liam Gallagher's record, which stinks of Tony Blair. By reading a little Derrida, I adopted this process of deconstruction: we dismantle everything, we clean everything and we rebuild something.
How has your appetite for music returned?
It's listening to high doses of new artists that made me want. Kendrick Lamar in particular. I started a little book called Kendrick and me. At 14, my life changed with the discovery of Otis Redding. Today, my life restarts thanks to Kendrick Lamar. He is my saviour: he is honest, intelligent, sensual, he has it all figured out. He is wonderful.
Do you feel like you are witnessing the end of a world?
Yes, we feel that when reading Vernon Subutex, by Virginie Despentes. The disappearance of a world is often a very rapid phenomenon. Listening to Dylan or Neil Young these days is like listening to a Te Deum. Out of the question when you have children to raise. As mine tell me, I'm on fire. We have no choice: either we let ourselves be taken in by the tilting and wavering world, or we walk away saying “I'm not interested”. I'm very happy to have made this record. Lamar and DIY brought me back to music.