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France’s Melancholic Melodists, In Their Own Words

How would you describe yourself…

Jean-Benoit Dunckel: I’m a human being who is passionate about music. I’m a worker too. 

Nicolas Godin: An old-fashioned man, an optimistic melancholic.

How did music change you…

JB: It allowed me to communicate because I couldn’t before. I make the sounds of my feelings. 

N: Music to me was like a fish discovering water, it’s my world…I saw the instruments as friends.

What do you do away from music…

JB: I walk in the mountains, in Tibet, in Nepal. lt’s inspiring, dangerous. 

N: I walk the streets of Paris and I read books. I don’t do sport.

What’s your biggest vice…

JB: I have no vices. Any time I would succumb to a vice I’d try not to do it. 

N: Wine. It’s the origin of life, bigger than Darwin, God, religion.

When was the last time you were embarrassed…

JB: ln an interview in | Germany. I was talking about a track we had just finished, ‘So Light Is Her Footfall’. I was explaining how the song was speaking about the grace of a woman, in her ankles and her legs, the way she walks, in her weight, and as I was saying that I looked up and I was talking to a really, really, super-fat girl.

N: l am often embarrassed, in interviews, what we say in France we can’t always say in other countries.

Do you have any formal qualifications…

JB: A license of physics, from the University Of Science in Paris.

N: I’m a trained architect, I did seven years of it because I couldn’t get my music published.

When was the last time you cried… 

JB: On the plane to New York. I was reading [Jiro] Taniguchi’s L’Orme Du Caucase, a comic book both beautiful and sad. 

N: I cry a lot. The last time, probably when I watched a sad movie.

Vinyl, CD or MP3…

JB: Vinyl of course, it sounds much better and it stays around forever.

N: Vinyl, it captures the sound as played in the studio, the source.

What is your most treasured possession…

JB: A painting a friend made. lt’s a sexual, erotic painting but really stylish and beautiful. 

N: My 1926 Steinway piano. When you play it, life comes out of it. I am sure it has a ghost inside it.

And the best book you’ve read…

JB: Pierre Clostermann’s The Big Show, He was a French pilot in the RAF in World War II, and he survived over 300 missions. It made me think life is so easy for me.

N:Marcel Proust’s A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu. Everything we experience is written in it.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty…

JB: lt depends if I want to drink it. lf it is beer, it is half empty, if it is whisky I wouldn’t drink it and see the full half.

N: Many French people  will say it’s half empty. We complain all the time.

What is your greatest regret… 

JB: ln the past I insisted too much, trying to make things work. If something is wrong you shouldn’t waste too much time insisting. 

N: I regret everything.

What happens when we die…

JB: Something we call the soul survives us, but we don’t know what the soul is. It’s not a matter of believing in God.

N: l have no idea. That’s why we are so scared of dying.

How would you like to be remembered…

JB: A man attracted by beauty. 

N: Most things I do for myself so I really don’t care.

© Lois WilsonMOJO, November 2009

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