Fiddling with Stars
With cello bows instead of scissors, Jorane might look as if she's coming right off of a Tim Burton movie. Cello in hands and tied firmly between the legs alongside her dreamy voice, a fairytale is becoming reality for the young French Canadian cellist/songwriter, as she offers The You and the Now (Aquarius; 2004), her first album in English, to an ever-evolving audience around the world.
"The cello is really my first source of inspiration. It has something so direct about it that communicates so well what I am," indicates the 28 year-old, known for flamboyant and passionate live performances where she's nearly melting with her instrument.
We are meeting up at Quebec City's main concert hall while she is touring with her band across Canada and her native province of Quebec, where she still has her strongest fanbase. Before Christmas, she also did an extensive set of shows in Germany, France, Austria and even one show at London's Jazz festival, travelling between the biggest European cities to promote her new CD.
That album, The You and the Now, was produced in Los Angeles by Michael Brook, well-reputed for collaborating with the likes of Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, and for producing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Djivan Gasparyan and myriad of other artists, mainly for Peter Gabriel's Real World imprint.
"I wanted to work with a producer able to open up my horizons, to help me reach my own mountain's top," explains Jorane. "When my manager [Sébastien Nasra] told me that he met Michael in Los Angeles and that he was interested in my music, I couldn't even think that it would be possible to work with him," she adds. "Michael can work with so many distinct universes. He is able to bring up front the light, the pearl in each artist."
On The You and the Now, the use of the English language was the sharpest change of direction for Jorane, who released a first album mostly in French (Vent Fou,1999) and a second album more instrumental, but with her own imaginary language, a kind of onomatopoeia-driven singing (16 mm, 2000). Half of the songs on her latest album were written three years ago in the backwoods of Sainte-Monique (in Quebec province) with singer-songwriter Simon Wilcox. "It wasn't necessarily for the album," emphasizes Jorane. "It was a creation trip that was so spontaneous, so pure and so true. It really did me some good. We found together a fine limit where I was able to keep my intimacy while unveiling a little more of my story." Lisa Germano and Shira Myrow co-wrote three other songs on the CD.
The You and the Now also features a duet written by Daniel Lanois, the only song in French. "Pour ton sourire" includes U2's producer's vocals and distinctive guitar playing. "Daniel Lanois is an artist who I admire deeply," says Jorane, delighted to speak about this collaboration. "I saw him perform that song in a couple of shows, but he never put it on record. I really wanted to ask him to sing it with him on my album. So, when I was in Los Angeles working with Michael, I thought it was the time or never to do it," adds the cellist.
Jorane's album contains one cover song: the surprising Donna Summers' disco classic "I Feel Love." With a bursty cello intro replacing the old analog synth part, fiery tablas and lush middle-eastern strings, the song takes another path completely. "I wanted to make a cover on this album and Michael liked the idea, but we tried a couple of songs without any success," tells Jorane. "One day, we were talking about a turntable he bought a long time ago and that Donna Summers' EP was on it for some reasons. Then, I clicked, went to the cello and found the main part," continues the expressive young woman.
Outside of imports, The You and the Now will probably be more widely distributed in the U.S. in May of this year. "We are talking right now with a really cool music label. They want to release my new album, but they also want to put some of my previous wordless music on it", explains enthusiastically Jorane. "It is really important for me, because we speak the same language and they seem to be very interested with the more artistic part of my work," she says.
And for Jorane, the artistic part of her work is not only confined to music as she fiddles with everything around her music: photography, artwork, textures, lights or colors. "The other day, I saw a picture of an accordionist that was unbelievable – he had accordions instead of his arms. That was magnificent," she says, with sparkling eyes. "I really like that side of things too, although I still think my main role in life is to keep composing, to search how to musically communicate my emotions."
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