1/ What music album(s) did you listen to the most in 2012?
2/ What was the best movie you saw in 2012?
3/ What was your best trip in 2012?
I didn’t move that much this year, so my best trip has been to The Myhanian Falls in the deepest range of my imagination where you can live free, love and be loved, and also sing whatever you want on the nicest playgrounds… My best trips were my dreams.
4/ What was the best restaurant you went to in 2012?
Not the best but at least a good one: NYC/ZEN Palate (666 9th ave and 46 th st. )
5/ In all sports combined, who was the best athlete of 2012?
Tony Estanguet, kayak champ for the third time.
Pete Jacobs, Australian winner of the Iron Man / Hawaï
6/ What was the best exhibit you saw in 2012?
Foundation of Storm King. Big Scuptures. (1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY 12553)
7/ What material did you use the most in 2012?
My computer, my paintbrushes.
8/ What color(s) did you use the most in 2012?
Black, white and orange fluo.
9/ What was your biggest accomplishment in 2012?
And, also, I went back to swimming every day for the last three months.
10/ What was your most interesting encounter in 2012?
I think I re-discovered the depth of the love I have for the one I’m living with for more than 20 years…
1/ Which of the popular sports in the United States do you follow the most?
I watch tennis all year round. I sometimes manage to go to the U.S. Open, but not this year. I understand the issues of this sport that I practice when I can. Besides tennis, I follow baseball, football and ultimate fighting.
I would not say that I’m a fan, because true fans know everything about their team and I know almost nothing. However, I love the Yankees. When I used to live in France, I already knew the names of Babe Ruth, Joe Di Maggio, Mickey Mantle. Now, I follow the feats of Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. A few years ago, I took a picture in downtown New York with all the Yankees teammates wearing Jeter’s #2 jersey.
In football, I like the N.Y. Giants. I am one of the 70 million spectators watching the Super bowl. We won the last one and it was a great time to be in Manhattan.
Recently, I also discovered the violent ultimate fighting. It seems that it’ll replace boxing. With weird tattoos to scare the devils, they’re not beauty but beasts. Sure they smash eyebrows and strangle dragons, but the commitment of these gladiators is 100%, and yet they are still able to show respect to one another. I liked Randy Couture for his courage and energy to the bottom of the California Kid Urijah Faber.
I also like golf and basketball sometimes, but not all season long. If sport is a religion for some, none of us have the same mystical approach to a religion: faithful believers go to the synagogue every week, some others just go for the feasts or big events, and finally some go only for Kippur. I’d say that I’m part of the last group. I am concerned, but I usually have some things that come primer on my schedule.
2/ You have completed your installation called “Manhattan” not long ago. What was the most challenging part of accomplishing this piece?
For starters, it was the first time I had to work artistically with a team. I usually work alone, so nobody knows my recipes, my “tricks” and my rituals. But in order to get it accomplished, I had to reveal some secrets to those who accompanied me in this embodiment.
In addition, I didn’t have my tools, and it took some time to get the material with which I’m used to work.
Finally, we had to work fast, because time was running out and the inspiration as well. Fortunately, the team of sculptors and artists who gave me a hand rapidly understood the spine of the project. I showed them a sketchbook, with a lot of drawings that I had done, and they quickly assimilated the challenge. Everyone prepared drafts, and then I corrected their basis.
It was a little trickier to find the tint, color and ingredients that gave the right appearance to the sculptures, (a kind of a dark brown black and indefinable shade). We worked very hard during all of our time spent in this large warehouse plant fallow, abandoned for years, left to itself as an industrial wasteland. I planned to build 70 to 80 sculptures, and we were able to make a hundred. We ended up exhausted, drained, but very pleased with the result.
I hope that this “Manhattan” installation will circulate around the world. I’m sure lots of people would love to see it here in the MOMA.
3/ Which album (or song) will remind you of the summer 2012?
I really liked the new album of Joe Jackson, called “the Duke” that came out in June: ten covers of Duke Ellington, more or less known pieces, including the famous “Caravan“, “Mood Indigo” and “I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues“. I think the album is very well produced, both in the style of the time and yet very modern. It fits with the spirit of Joe Jackson. Fast and playful, it seems light but there is depth, as if nothing mattered, apparently. Excellent musicians around him (Iggy Pop even came to a piece), and I am sure that those who will see him live, will come out full of energy.
CharlElie, September 3rd, 2012 – from New York, NY.
- We know you were invited to the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney and Athens. What would be your best Olympic memory?
Without any hesitation, I have kept a much stronger memory of the Sydney Olympic Games as those in Athens, Greece. The ambiance in Sydney was much better. All the Australian people were present behind their champ’s, and the organization. The stadiums were crowded and thousands of people were involved.
In Athens, it seemed to me that it was much more political. The games had been imposed for the symbolic impact, “back to the source” of the games, and also for the profit it could generate. It was a kind concept of communication, exactly what the media love, and indeed the biggest building was the one devoted to the press and television staff, a real temple devoted to the communication god. But the stadiums were empty. The input places for competitions were far too expensive. Beside the sports competition, hotels and amenities had also lift up their prices, multiplied by 5, 10 (and sometimes more), hoping they could refund the enormous debt they had contracted, they tried to make money with every little bit. Stadiums were empty, so they seated the few spectators in the axis of the cameras… At night nothing was happening outside the official congregation’s stuff.
In Athens all was dark at night, in Sydney, there was the festive atmosphere in the streets, bands of music playing everywhere, open bars, people singing, dancing, transportation was easy, and there was a feeling of celebration.
Once I came back, I wrote a little essay entitled “Olympic souvenirs” to keep somewhere the memory of what I had shared in Australia. This little book mingled drawings I had done on site, and texts I wrote in the short periods of night between the everyday competitions…
- You participated in many charities. Some of them are very well known such as “Les Restos du Coeurs” and “Les Enfants de la Terre”, but also many small ones. How important do you think it is to help those who are in need?
One says that even if you cannot interfere by yourself on the consequences of the global warming, at least you can close your window in the winter… You can always act for the general interest. It is a purpose of consciousness. Rather than confessing our sins, and striking our ribs with a flexible wand, I think it is best to try to make some services that can help in proportion to the investment you can make.
I was one of the first artists drifting the benefit of one concert for “les Restos du Coeur” (“Restaurants of the Heart”) created by my friend Coluche, even before it turned out to be the big money-machine once the show biz put a hand on it.
Concerning the “Les Enfants de la Terre” (“Children of the Earth”) I did it for Yannick Noah, because I found that this initiative was generous. Children from the suburbs are often bored, and it was good to bring tennis to them.
This was some times ago, I used to do this when I was living in France but I still do it here, once I’m an American citizen now. Last Sunday, I went in a studio in New Jersey, where we recorded “Au clair de la lune” (“In the moonlight“) with Dan Rieser, Norah Jones‘ drummer, and Patrick Derivaz on bass. It turns out that “In the moonlight” is the first sequence of singing music ever recorded in the world by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, who recorded these notes April 9, 1860, the oldest record of a voice now known (fourteen years before Thomas Edison).
Mine is a “full” version of the song. I think the arrangement will surprise many, who will discover that the content is not at all what we imagine when we listen only to the first verses… The advantage of all the downloads of this song will supply the funds of an association fighting for research against cancer .
** Pioneers for a cure: http://pioneersforacure.org/
I was the first “International” artist from the list who had previously done it. Only the Israelis, and Americans (pure strain) participated in this project so far, but I’m sure this site is dedicated to global development: who can refuse to record a song of his heritage, knowing in a free version it is a charity that concerns us all?
The idea of the project is excellent: it is a piece from the public domain and all the downloads will be allocated to a particular association that deals with treatment, counseling, and any related research to fight cancer. This is a smart way to use the net, music and song! You will be informed when my song will be on-line.
- Since the Fort Reveur tour is over and you won’t be performing for a couple of months, what are your plans for this summer 2012?
This summer I will return to France for a few weeks. I have to work on a major 3D project, an installation of my sculptures called “Manhattan”. There will be 80 sculptures assembled. This will happen during a festival of Art & Architecture presented in a former factory located near Belfort in Europe.
The installation “Manhattan” will then go to Senlis, (close to Paris) and it will also be presented in Nancy, during spring 2013, as a master piece ending a large retrospective exhibition of my works organized by the Lorraine region from where I come.
This summer, I also plan to start doing some gigs here and there on the repertoire of songs from the album “Be Yourself / CharlElie & The Truth”. This is what I have recorded, which is now finished.
We will maybe talk some more about it later, when it will be more accurate. We started the first meetings with some record labels to see how the disc could come out. It takes quite some time now, because making profits from music is not what it used to be, and record companies are very shy and conservative, and they do not want to throw money randomly. It seems the adventure of music was long time ago. Today, apart from the stock market that does whatever it wants, everything else is under control …
But myself, I have left unchecked.
Besides that, I will also have a little time to go swimming, play some tennis, read in the shade, exchange some words under the bower, and share barbecues in the garden with some friends… and then, there will always be those unexpected moments, those we all love to share.
CharlElie, July 2nd, 2012 – from New York, NY.
- 1) We know you design tattoos and have some yourself. Is there anything different about coming up with a design that will be printed on somebody forever?
The tattoos that I draw are quite symbolic. They are more suggestions… The question is not to know whether the design is ephemeral or forever, but if it has enough content to stand the test of time. I make it, but the drawing is not for me, I respond to a request, same thing when you’re composing a movie soundtrack: I’m adapting myself to the constraints. My drawing is a unique thought for the one who asked me for it.
For more on tattoos designed by CharlElie: CharlElie & Tattoos
- Can you share an anecdote about any of your tattoos?
Last winter, I went to San Diego to visit my daughter. In the street leading to the beach, there were a lot of lit and colorful tattoo shops, pretty far from the greasy dark side of the evil bikers mythology. It seemed as natural to get a tattoo there as to go to the hairdresser. And, by the way, they have an extensive experience on the thing. I had a design in mind that I wanted on the shoulder. One day, when I had some time to waste, I decided to take my chances. The guy was free right away, so I did it. No premonition, no presumption or divination, it happened like that: you want it, you have it! A tattoo is like a scar, it tells a story. A tattoo is a solid link with one’s own origin. Every time I look at this tattoo, I think of my daughter in San Diego…
- 2) Roland Garros, the tennis French Open, is approaching, and we often see you there. Which player will you root for this year?
Well, it is a sensitive issue, a tricky question. There is a great clay court specialist called Nadal, but this guy is as fragile as a precision engineering. He was very disoriented in Madrid because the organizers decided to change the color of the surface, turned to blue this year. Djokovic also was not happy about it, but then, Federer took the opportunity to win the 74th title of his career.
He just got up to the second place of the world ranking, and he is on the track to becoming first. Maybe, it could also create (again) a big surprise in Roland Garros …
- Compared to other big tournaments, what do you think is so special about Roland Garros?
First, the clay of Roland Garros is the slowest of all surfaces that count for the Grand Slam. Players have more time to organize their play. Exchanges last long. It’s a matter of physical strength; it takes a lot of endurance. Plus, it happens in Paris, a magical city that fascinates those who haven’t been there. Winning in Paris is like stepping up in the history of tennis.
- 3) The Fort Reveur Tour ended a month ago; can you share one of your favorite memories?
The tour ended with a somewhat abrupt ending, like a film that breaks in the middle of projection, except that it was on purpose. We got along very well together, and for the latest dates there was as much excitement as for the first ones. The theaters were full and hot. Sure, we could have done a couple more dates, but they would have been stretched out from mid-May to mid-August and I didn’t want to feel like a wave that, despite all momentum, slowly goes on to die on the beach. That is why, I decided to stop at the high point of the Tour.
I remember a lot of dates. Every night was special. Let’s say… The second night at the Casino de Paris was extra-special as Yannick Noah, Louis Bertignac and Benjamin Biolay came to perform on one or another song with me on stage. I also remember Brest, in front of 15 000 people, and Nancy, which was filmed for a DVD that might come out this winter…
There was also a concert this year in March for a music festival in Gaillac/Albi. That night, I was sharing the stage with Sansévérino. I guess he knew my music, but I’m pretty sure that he had never seen us on stage. When the musicians started the sound-check, he was on the side of the stage, tuning his guitars. He didn’t really pay attention to them. Then, I arrived and things were put in place. Suddenly, Stephane (Sansévérino) stopped what he was doing, and went down to the empty hall. I could see him standing in front of the soundboard, and saying: Damn, whaa! That sounds heavy…!
In the evening, the hall was crowded, completely sold out. Sansévérino was playing for the opening. I went on backstage to see him during his performance, and I felt that he had really put all in. Then, we played a magical concert for a white-hot room. We also had a raging set. When I came down, it was late but Stéphane waited for the concert to end to give me a hug before hitting the road with his big bus … Next day, facing the medias, the producer of the festival found graceful words to celebrate that night. Moments like that warm the heart. These are some dates, but we have tones of other memories. This tour was one of the best ones.
CharlElie, May 18th, 2012 – from New York, NY.
- Where does your passion for travelling and meeting people come from? (from Patrick Raffier)
I don’t know. My parents were not real adventurers, but they were used to travel every year in a different country. I dreamed of the world, staring at the photos that my mother used to take with her Kodak camera. Also, it might come from the « beat » culture of the road. Bob Dylan (and then Kerouac that I read afterward) gave me that sense of absolute freedom. Nothing to win, nothing to lose… Maybe, it comes from a certain desire to make myself surprised by the unexpected.
I have long wanted to understand what was happening, and why people react like this or like that.
We do not see the game the same way when you’re in the stands or when you’re on the field. When you travel the codes change, the rules are different, the laws, the value given to things is different in each country.
In another pragmatic way, you disorder yourself by challenging your perception: new flavors, new recipes, new perfumes… When you’re abroad, people’s eyes and their habits are also different. When you’re elsewhere, you’re penetrated by new emotions that help to interpret your own existence.
With that being said, since I settled in New York, I don’t think I have the same craving for traveling (and I don’t have quite the same availability too). Now, the whole world passes in front of my eyes behind the windows of my gallery, or comes in for a few international words…
- Where do you find such strong power of creation? (from Patrick Raffier)
The energy comes from the pleasure I take in the act of creating Art. Inventing is drunkenness; it turns you into a turtle as we say. I don’t take it seriously. I mean… I don’t care. I know the end of something is the beginning of something else. Every creation brings you to another, because you want to correct it, and do better. There is no ending in painting, sculpture, photography, music and poetry.
It seems to me that I see things that are invisible to others, and it is my duty, my mission, my charge to share these with thw world.
As a kid, I felt that some easy obvious things for me didn’t seem that simple for others. I must express my inner under pressure precious feelings.
Can’t control it. It’s pretty tiring, but I do not grant the right to listen to the fatigue. I can’t escape it. I MUST do it. If not, I feel guilty. This comes from a moral sense of duty that has been taught. Art is useful.
- Do you remember the people you meet along your journeys and how do they influence your creation work? (from Patrick Raffier)
I remember some, yes. Memories and characters are like seeds in my brain, they’re the roots of any legend…I don’t have a very good memory so I keep some notes on papers, or my pocket books. Some of these people I met, eventually suggested songs or short novels, inspired by their confessions, stories or secrets.
At the same time, I don’t let them haunt me. It’s good to forget. I don’t let it freeze by nostalgia. You are fresh when you feel empty.
- Do you already have new melodies and songs in your mind? (from Bernard Quirici)
I always have something in mind. I cannot stop thinking, except when the TV programs drug me. As a neuroleptic or a sleeping pill, the TV takes us into trances as catalepsy. To avoid getting deeper into a viewer submission, I take notes on what people say. I have notebooks full of figures and numbers.
When I’m lonesome in my artspace, when I walk in the street, on my scooter in Paris or when I pedal my bike in New York, when I read a book or a scenario, I hear notes in my head. When I wanna hear them, then I whistle. I’m not good at that, but I like to whistle.
If I had to record a CD tomorrow, I could do it but I’ve heard of a market asphyxiation, a media suffocation, caused by an overproduction. So now, I impose myself some vacancy. These business reasons prevent me from doing a new album tomorrow…. So I wait and I leave it so it matures as I do some other things. As Paul Audi the philosopher says: “By a system of repentances, we are eager to erase the traces by making some other ones, which gives rise to other repentances, other corrections…etc.
- What about projects with other artists in the music industry? (from Bernard Quirici)
It might work, but it is rare that the two protagonists find their account. We’re lone minds, each one goes in his way.
In the obsession of the novelty, some crazy artistic directors would love to associate humans and horses, women and fishes, to give a Centaur or a siren. They say that a certain « voyeur » audience is fond of duets. But for me, only rare associations between two artists work. That is when we come to a junction with an equal power of seduction. Otherwise these forced marriages sound wrong, like absurd genetic transplants, consequence of mad scientists expectations… have you watched the movie of John Frankenheimer: The Island of Doctor Moreau?
Do you believe that miscegenation would tend to create the ideal work?
I’m not a fan of duets. That turns quickly into a battle. In addition to this, it takes time to convince managers, the entourage and the planets around the star…
- I love all of your albums and shows, and every time you come out with something new, I am already looking forward to the next one. I heard the Fort Reveur Tour was exceptionally good, but unfortunately I was not able to attend any of the concerts. Is there a live DVD or CD expected for the Fort Reveur Tour? (from Alain Lande)
Eight cameras covered the Fort Reveur Tour Show we played in July 2011 in Nancy. It’s a good night that deserves to be released on DVD. It has been mixed and it is finished. I was told that this should be broadcasted on television, I was delighted, but nothing happened… now I regret it. I do not understand why there are no plans for it? Perhaps, because the DVD market is in crisis…
Many of my shows were recorded on video, but none of them were ever released on DVD. I’m not an enough popular artist. Apparently, my work doesn’t concern the mass audience…
- Check out more photos: Live concert photos of CharlElie by Nicolas Gaire
CharlElie, April 10th, 2012 – from Paris, France.
For the next “Get CharlElie’s answer“, you get to be the interviewer !
Send us a question (in English or French) at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will select the best 3 to send to CharlElie !
Now, you can ask the question you had in mind for so long…
You have until Tuesday, April 5th to send your question, so everybody will get the answers for the next weekend !
- We know you worked and became friends with Coluche. Can you tell us how you met him and what this relationship brought you?
One night, after my first show in Paris, a journalist took me to Coluche’s house. There were parties every night at his house. I arrived around 1.30 AM, and many people were there already, famous people, actors, musicians, celebrities. A few hours later, Coluche came to me, asking me who I was. We talked a little. I knew nothing about show business and he gave me some tips and precious advice.
Sometime later, Veronica, Coluche’s spouse came to see me backstage of one of my concerts in the suburbs of Paris to tell me that she loved the show. I was about to hit the road back to Nancy when she suggested that I could eventually sleep at their house. On this occasion, I met Coluche once again, and shortly after he asked me to share the scene of a theater where he would be playing in the early evening. I agreed.
That evening, after he left the stage, it was my turn. The room emptied in part, nevertheless, someone named Jean Henri Meunier stayed. Jean Henri Meunier would later introduce me to Chris Blackwell.
Indirectly, Coluche changed my life. For a few years after that, I continued to visit Coluche’s family every time I was in Paris, and I often slept at their home.
- Once you said: « Things have a meaning, things have a shape. Design is the meaning of the shape. » You have designed watches, shoes, and other objects, and you now expose at Dunes with the work of Richard Shemtov. What is your relation with the design industry?
I believe that Art is a proposal. Art is a raw expression of the sentimental power; Art is an unsolved riddle. The work of craftsmen is a know-how: a work of mastery under control. A designer has a map in his head, he knows where he goes. A designer redoes his draft until he reaches the image of his dream.
Expressing his uncontrolled emotions, an artist is motivated by a flow of contrary ideas. Most of the time, his message is not clear. The artist does not exactly know what he wants; he relieves himself of his feelings.
Designers have a certain sense of organization. They drive their aesthetic with a specific purpose in mind, they ‘re like the communicators who vehicles special meanings, with a pre-concerted idea of their goal.
When I draw objects, (watches, shoes or whatever) which must be executed by others, by machines or in series, then I have to condense my thoughts. A design must be both obvious and labeled.
- The New Yorker lifestyle can be very stressful and challenging. You work a lot and do not sleep much. You travel, you perform with full energy, you write, you always have a bunch of projects going on. This lifestyle is very demanding and tiring, so what do you do when you need to relax?
As you say this New-York stress has a strong hold on me. I love it as much as I hate it. Like a drug, you’re addicted to it. Not easy to say, take it or leave it! When I’m not in this effervescence, I feel guilty. I fear of missing something. I spent too much time dreaming of it. In France, sometimes, it takes months to come to a final decision, and I suffered from these delays. Now I’m under pressure, but I chose it. I’m on a wire; I have no security belt. I climb on my bare feet but I don’t look back.
I’m just too scared to stop, paralyzed on the steep face. When I slow down, I feel that all I do might be useless. When you act, you’re in a train that you must feed constantly. When I ask myself: why do I make all this ?…then I can become upset.
My job is as heavy and deep as it is light and trivial. Art is a speculation of love and hate. It’s a gambling. I’m excited like any gamblers.
When I do nothing, my mind gets tangled. Knots appear in the threads, and it freezes the trigger. I lose my clairvoyance and my objectivity.
To relax outdoor, I might play tennis, (nothing’s better for me to clear up my brain), exercise my body in many ways, walk in the streets at night, (visit the Apple store after midnight), go to a museum, go fishing on a boat, take a plane to somewhere “beachy”, have a BBQ party with some lazy cool local friends.
To relax indoor, nothing better than: make love, play cards with some friends, read magazines, surf on the net, cross your hands or go to the synagogue, watch silly programs on TV. But sometimes it’s not enough. I fall asleep rarely before 2.30 AM.
If sleep does not come when I’m spiritually flooded, sometimes my last chance to relax is to complete crosswords, and loose myself in a well of silence.
CharlElie, February 12th, 2012 – from New York, NY.
- Have you a particular memory of an artist with whom you really enjoyed performing?
A few years ago after a show in the South of France, I went back on stage for a song with a group called Tinariwen, who plays their own Touareg music. This famous group plays a true “Camel Blues”, better than smoke. It’s a combination of blues from the desert and traditional music, sung in Tamashek, their own language. They were habited by the music. Exchanging with these men took me to a very strong inner voyage. It seemed that we could almost understand each others through the music; like a dialog without words.
A quite different experience was to play a duet with Benjamin Biolay at Le Casino de Paris. This guy is amazing. He’s an impressive songwriter; he has his own style – quite different from mine. There is a mutual respect between us. He knows my songs so well, that that night we joined beyond the meaning of the songs.
And, I must name also a bluesman from Chicago called Studebaker John, whose voice was for me as particlurar as Dr John, with whom I played in Le Printemps de Bourges in the 90’s. Studebaker John inspired me to go to Chicago to record Casque NU, and when he agreed to sing on “Chicago night Blues” it felt like a “the dream came true”.
- Your guitar player, Karim Attoumane, always delivers one hell of a show. How did you meet him?
Karim is perhaps the most accomplished guitarist with whom I have ever played. He’s wild, committed and professional. He reaches amazing notes sometimes that I wouldn’t even have imagined. On stage, he’ s a terrific performer and he captures the audience. He throws himself through the music, and takes musical risks, like an acrobat on a wire. When he has his guitar in his hands, it seems as if nothing bad can happen.
Two or three years before he joined me, I saw him playing in a cheap student rock-contest. He didn’t win, but made such a good impression that he remained in my memory during all this time. I could not forget the guy.
At that time, I was playing with another great left handed guitarist called Alice Botté. We had a long history together, and I did not see any good reasons to replace him.
But then one day Alice had an inability to break free of a duty, and Karim came. Since then, he has never left me. I enjoy playing with him. He is great ! He’s a real guitar hero, and in addition, he is smart, and quite funny, and we can talk about different matters together.
My music would be very different today if he was not there.
And again, I think we’ re are only at the beginning of the story …
- We notice a frequent use of wood in your artwork. Can you explain this choice of material and do you feel a particular connection to it?
Yes, I don’t know why I like wood, perhaps because the resin of the wood smells good.
Maybe because it reminds me of my childhood, when I used to play during holidays afternoons in the workshop behind the shop where my father and my mother sold antique furniture. I liked to retrieve bones of old wood that had been thrown out by the carpenters and joiners working with my father. Perhaps, it could be for the sensual aspect of timber, which can be soft or hard, according to the given shapes.
Perhaps for its historical aspect, because it brings us back into Noah’s Ark during the flood; like a remains of the Bible time.
Perhaps because the wood is alive, even disguised as a board or palette.
Maybe for all these reasons at once, I like to include wood in my Art.
CharlElie, December 16th, 2011 – from New York, NY.
- Have you ever thought about teaching art in a university?
People seem to like asking me this question. It is probably because they have seen me making speeches during conferences and meetings, and because there’s not a single day without me trying to explain what creating is to my visitors at the REGallery NYC.
I could certainly talk about art and creation, or explain what “Multism” means. Multism will be the topic of my lecture at the Sorbonne in a few days.
Who knows? Maybe one day someone will ask me to have a chair for a university.
My qualifications would allow me to, but I’ve never done it yet. I was too busy, and to tell you the truth, I am still a bit scared of that particular atmosphere in the corridors and rooms of the French Universities.
If it happens here in the U.S., I could eventually accept it, but I don’t know, it really depends where…
- What is the best concert or performer you have ever seen live on stage?
Three shows left me a special feeling:
First, there is the Dollar Brand concert, a South African jazz pianist, where he played a series of pieces in tribute to Duke Ellington. It was 1973, in my hometown of Nancy, and it moved me to tears.
Then, there is a concert by Tom Verlaine in Paris at the Locomotive. It was in the late 2000s. He displayed beautiful mind control and everything was imperfect.
And finally, an extraordinary Bob Dylan concert at the United Palace Theater in Harlem in November 2008, where I went with one of my daughters.
In life there are ups and downs, but that night I got stuck to the ceiling. The ancient temple turned into a theater. It was divine.
Impressive ease, and he was (for once) generous. Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan, an entity full of power. He’s not a protest songwriter anymore; he is just a great artist. He performed as if he was at home. Accompanied by a hell of a group, he gave life to the dough of his pieces like potter mania clay. It received full spirit. Everything was strong and perfect, even the musicians had style in their gray suits.
Tony Garnier – Bass; George narratives – Drums; Stu Kimball – Rhythm Guitar; Charlie Sexton – Lead Guitar; Donnie Herron – Viola Banjo, Electric Mandolin, Pedal Steel, Lap Steel. No super stars, but all good.
1. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (Bob on keyboard)
2. It Is not Me, Babe (Bob on guitar)
3. Man In The Long Black Coat (Bob on guitar)
4. It’s All Good (Bob on keyboard)
5. Spirit On The Water (Bob on keyboard and harp)
6. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob on harp center internship, Donnie on banjo)
7. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine) (Bob on keyboard)
8. Forgetful Heart (Bob on harp center internship, Donnie on violin)
9. Cold Irons Bound (Bob on harp center placement)
10. I Feel A Change Comin ‘On (Bob on keyboard)
11. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on keyboard)
12. Workingman’s Blues # 2 (Bob on harp center placement)
13. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on keyboard)
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob on harp center placement) again:
15. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on keyboard)
16. Jolene (Bob on keyboard)
17. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on keyboard)
Mix of old titles and more recent material, Dylan spent more time standing behind his keyboard than in front of the stage on guitar, but who cares.
It avoids the mannerisms and yet there is much elegance in all this.
It’s certainly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life.
- What is your favorite spot in New York?
I must convince you that it is my gallery working space on 362 West 36th (bet. 8th and 9th).
In the working midtown, a multi activity aerie, full of surprises. I love it. As they say: it’s a conjunction in the middle of the town where different forces and strains come together.
- You are known to be one of the first French artists to explore the benefits of Internet. When and why did you start using it?
When I started my first tour with my music in 1981, I used to carry presentation books and portfolios to demonstrate what were my visual perspectives. In 1995, Mario Salis (an Italian artist) let me perceive what could be the web prospective. Therefore, I focused on that new multimedia. It seemed that it was an ideal way for me to present my work. On the same screen, it was possible then to offer my writing, my poetry, my visual and music experiments. My website is online since February 1996.
- If you had not been able to live from your art, what do you think would have been your profession?
If I could live another life, I would try something else. Maybe a pharmacist to sell legal drugs and all kinds of chemically perfumed cleaning powders, or maybe I would be the CEO of a waste reprocessing plant, or I would be the Art Director in an advertising agency specialized in politics and prophecies, or just a garbage collector breaking tons of garbage in the jaws of my big truck in the middle of the night, or I would be that tennis coach hoping to find the gold nugget champ’ every time a child enters my club, or I’d like to be an intergalactic bloodhound, or a spiritual German Jewish shepherd, or a successful giant Chippendale, or a pornstar in a muppet show, or I don’t know… I would try to see life from a different angle.
- Your daughters’ names are Shaan and Yamée. Can you tell us how you came up with these original names?
Damn, you seem very well informed…actually, I’m not sure I want to reveal the depth of all my personal secrets. The only thing I can tell is that I wanted a five-letter name for each one of them. I wanted a strong first name. The fact is that my two daughters are unique in many ways…
CharlElie, October 18th, 2011 – from Paris, France.
- Photography and painting, what does combining them add to your work?
Photography is a capture. You’re in the real, and by extracting this moment from the all absolute, you make it special. In a way, you give it a certain meaning, a certain “importance”. Photography creates new symbols.
Painting is the formalization of the feelings. It is the expression of your deep invisible. Painting and creation is a dive into your own personal mystery. Painting is a door opened to your inner space. It’s a scanner of your soul, the radiography of your psyche.
Combining these two forms of expression allows me to slide on the tight line where the real becomes surreal.
- We know you gave hundreds of concerts, but which were the most memorable ones?
I have lots and lots of memories of my concerts, like an athlete can remember his efforts. But certain were more “important” than some others. Right away I’m thinking at least at ten shows:
- First Olympia / Paris 1981
- Knoxville / Tennessee 1982
- Copenhagen / Danemark1984
- Canberra /Australia 1986
- “Les Naïves” at the Odeon/Paris 1994
- Saint Gilles / La reunion, 1995
- House of Blues / Chicago 1997
- Hanoi, Vietnam / 1998
- Splashlight / New York 2006
- Casino / Paris 2011
I could name a lot of others, but maybe the one that will stay on my mind for a long time is the one in Surabaya, Indonesia, in 1986 during the Asian Tour. During the whole day, colorful cars covered with posters were driving around the streets, announcing the show with some loud speakers, as if it was a circus. At night, the theater was totally full, and after the show it was such a fired ambiance that we needed protection to reach the backyard dressing rooms …
- What is your favorite place in Paris?
I love the XIXth century metallic architecture. Beside the Tour Eiffel, places like the “Gare de Lyon” station, the Grand Palais, Pavilion Baltard or the “Museum of Orsay” are really fascinating.
But I also love things and places from the Paris Art deco that came out in 1925.
CharlElie, September 26th, 2011 – from New York, NY
- What is the craziest thing you ever read about you?
In the 80′s, I produced 4 of Tom November’s albums. Him and I have different artist names, but we are brothers by blood. One day, a gay magazine badly informed, suggested that I helped my dear “boyfriend” Tom November to record his new album…
- When did you start to play tennis?
I started to play tennis exactly on November the 9th, 1989. I was on tour in Normandy, watching a report about the demolition of the Berlin Wall, when one of my musicians called to invite me to join them on the hotel’s court. Before, I had played a lot of table tennis, but had never played real tennis before; so I watched them through the window, and considering their freestyle technique, I decided to give it a try. When the manager came to pick us up to leave the hotel, I felt as he was withdrawing me something. Since then, beside some injuries, I’ve never quit. I love tennis.
- What does the RE-Gallery represent to you at this point of your career?
The RE -Gallery NYC is a snorkel. It allows me to swim underwater with my new creations. It’s also a gateway to America. People who enter in my workshop gallery know nothing about who I am, what I’ve done before.They’re just attracted to what they see. I got off the 19th floor where I used to work as an ascetic recluse for seven years, and I now find myself in the street, facing the movements of real life. My work is not anymore only mental, it’s a conjunction, an addition between the street reality and the music is in my head: it looks like what I see behind my windows.
CharlElie, September 1rst, 2011 – from New York, NY
- When and why did you decide to shave your head?
For Samson, Elvis and Marylin, for anyone, the hairstyle is like a hat, a cap.
This appearance has some meaning.
Your look means something for others who decipher your appearance.
Punk or rockabilly, trader or hippy, long hair, short hair, curlers or buns, braids or ponytails, a wig, a dye or a fringe can refer to a certain tribe.
Neither Boudiste or skinhead, one day, I decided to start my life, without any reference.
- What is it about Australia that made you record two albums over there?
Australia combines one of the most recent civilizations (ours) and one of the oldest (the Aborigines). Art is born in the subconscious; it reveals the mystery of the unspoken. My sister was living in Australia during the 90′s so I decided to go there to understand our differences. I related some of my experiences along two books: “Candy Dragons” and “The Hall of Mists”. I did lots of photos, my first photo-collages and photo poems came from there. I also recorded there two Cd’s : “Melbourne 1990” and “Victoria Spirit“,
- What are the main differences / challenges between composing a movie soundtrack and your own album?
I wrote 17 film scores. Each experience was different. Music should be heard without taking over. To create a mood is to find the right color of the film. Inspired by the scenario, it is like cutting a suit in history. I try to support the dialogues that others have written. When I write a song, I am the creator, but also the model who must wear it. So I write the words that I can easily interpret.
CharlElie, August 4th, 2011 – from Paris, France.
- How did you learn to play the piano?
My grany was a piano teacher and I started playing when I was six or seven. I was supervised by her but I had other professors. I loved to improvise and she didn’t like that so much. She used to listen to classical pieces reading the scores on her knees. She tought me how to listen to music, but she was a bit frustrating in terms of education. Anyway, I was 15 when she left us, and then I really started to do something for myself and I let my inspiration go, using all the different tricks and techniques that she gave me.
- What are you most scared of?
I’m scared of losing.
Losing who or what I love,
afraid of losing time,
losing an idea,
losing my mind
or losing the purpose of my life,
losing my ability to create, or drive my vehicule,
losing my power of understanding or my power of acting,
losing a match.
I don’t wanna be obliged to quit what I started,
before I see the result of my efforts.
I’m afraid of loneliness.
- When did you realize you were going to be famous?
Since I was a kid, lets say seven years old, I always acted as if I had a goal. Famous is for me the consequence of a success, something you achieved. Notoriety is a wind, it might turn. It requires a certain exigency, an opposition to the shared taste for conformity, a refusal of the confortable tendency to assimilation; make some choices and assume them. The stronger you feel in yourself, the stronger you can face the adversity.
CharlElie, July 25th 2011 – from Autrey-sur-Madon, Lorraine, France.