- 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 !
Make sure to watch this great 51 minute documentary on CharlElie “Les Statues de sa Liberté” (The Statues of his Liberty, 2011) diffused on French network France 3. A Véronique Buson et Sylvain Pierrel film co-produced by France Télévisions/Vosges Télévision/Images Plus/Supermouche Productions. This documentary includes exclusive interviews of his brother Tom Novembre, daughter Yamée, other close family friends and important characters in CharlElie’s life.
The documentary is currently being purchased by TV5 and will soon be diffused all over the world.