A conversation with French composer, Giani Caserotto:
Dingus: We’ve interviewed plenty of artists but never someone so ambient. What do you think the main difference is between your music and pop?
Caserotto: I usually don’t think about genre in music (then not about the difference between a certain type of music and mine). I think about intervals, harmony, sound, rhythm, form, energy, etc. For me it’s a more concrete way of thinking. I don’t bother about making pop, ambient, contemporary, or what-so-ever music.
As for Léanne, the main interest was sound. And maybe that is the difference between our music and pop, because when you’re composing a pop song you’ve got to think first about melody, lyrics, and harmony. For my part, I thought first about the sounds I wanted to hear, and then I chose the instruments. I wanted an analog sound that could create musical landscapes, an organic sound that developed as if it were living matter, in constant evolution. Therefore I used 2 electric guitars, a Fender Rhodes electric piano, Ondes Martenot (the French precursor of analog synths), and called upon a drummer who was more into sound than rhythm.
Yet some of our tracks have actually a lot to do with pop, because I composed them as pop songs, with melodies and harmonies that could be pop’s. The difference is the way of playing (ours is more open: each musician can play whatever he wants provided it serves the song) and the musicians’ constant attention to creating a collective sound composed of all our instruments.
Are the recordings a product of live improvisation or is everything planned?
Some tracks are the product of a total live improvisation within the studio, whereas others are based on a written framework composed of melodies and harmonies. In this latter case, improvisation still played a pivotal role because the musicians’ parts were not precisely determined and each musician had to invent his own part as he played. The score was quite loose. In the case of free improvisation, the only instruction was to work on sound matter. Form has resulted from this work on texture. According to me, only improvisation can make music so vivid and powerful. Besides, there isn’t any overdub nor editing, our music was left the way it was on the moment we played it.
How many musicians make up the band? What are their roles?
There are 5 musicians:
Julien Loutelier, an outstanding drummer who can play incredible sounds as well as crazy rhythms.
Augustin Viard who plays Ondes Martenot. He is a member of a pop music band but also performs a lot of contemporary music. I like his way of playing, with strange sounds, not only the delicate ones in Olivier Messian’s style: he can also play deep basses, psychedelic sounds, and harsh feedback-like sinusoids.
Alexandre Herer, on Fender Rhodes electric piano: a jazzman who really knows pop; he creates great sound textures with effect pedals.
Richard Comte is a crazy guitarist trying to find a link between free jazz, hardcore metal, and pop for young girls.
Myself, on guitar and composition. I tried to conduct these people in a way that they could play what they wanted to, but in order to produce what I wanted to hear.
Finally, I have to mention Pierre Favrez, a master of audio engineering with a golden ear.
The funny thing is that it was the first time we ever played together, I had never met two of them (Augustin and Alexandre) before we started recording. Some friends of mine had told me about them, and they turned out to be as inventive as I expected them to be.
All of them play their instruments in a very creative, personal way, and this is very important to me. They don’t do what is usually expected, but they serve the music and push it further.
To be fairly honest, this band was born because I had to record some music for a film (Léanne marche dans la neige – Léanne walks on snow –, by David Garnacho) and I casted the musicians just like actors, for their personality and their ability to play together. It worked beyond expectations, so we decided to keep on going as a band!
Do you ever see room for expansions? Are there any instruments you’d like to include?
Our band is as much a question of the musicians’ personality as a question of choosing the instruments. It would therefore be possible to play with other musicians who share our visions on music. Yet the more numerous the players are, the more difficult it is to create a homogeneous music, and the more difficult it is to dynamically respond when we play: there is more inertia. If I could include other instruments I would choose to expand what constitutes the group’s deeply rooted preoccupation with sound: electric instruments, more particularly analog synthesizers (as a matter of fact, Julien now plays on a Korg MS-10 and Augustin on a Micromoog).