Al, your debut album “Time to Decide” was released two years ago and caused a big stir in the West Coast and AOR community. Did you expect this positive response?
“Time To Decide” has been a long process. It took three years to be composed, arranged and recorded. When the album came out, I was just happy with the finished work. It was only afterwards, seeing “Time To Decide” listed on big Spotify playlists and album top sales on Jet set records in Japan that I saw the nascent success of the album. I am very proud of the welcome received for the LP and Japan has been very supportive in this adventure.
Your new album “Planets” seamlessly follows the musical qualities of your debut album. What was your basic idea behind the new album?
I would say that I was generally in the same perspective as the first album with more maturity, I guess. The songs were composed with my acoustic guitar as the first ones but I put on new influences in the meantime while affirming the old ones.
Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
I am inspired by things that surround me, the world or past experiences. Once the melody is created, this what takes me into the stories I tell. The hard part is trying to make songs on personal things and make them universal.
How do you see your further development as an artist compared to your debut?
I have a deep desire to play my songs live as much as possible. For that, it is necessary that this second album makes me pass a course. You have to be able to move enough audience to fill the rooms. It is one of my first goals. And of course, composition is more than ever a part of my development. I have to progress and affirm more and more my musical personality.
Al, you recorded “Planets” live and analogue in Paris. Qualities you definitely hear on the album. Tell us a little bit about the recording process.
Indeed, we recorded everything live at “Question de Son” studio in Paris. We had a residence for one week to get ready for the studio. The group was already sounding very well. But when we recorded at the studio, we really found ourselves. Some songs were even rewritten during the session! It was magical. This is also why the album is called “Planets”. I was so happy with the recordings that I told the group that we had experienced a “planet alignment”.
What is the magic of analogue technology for you?
Analogue sound brings warmth and a roundness that is not found with any other support. Pascal Rioux and I could not have imagined this album recorded otherwise.
To what extent did Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon” play a role in the recordings?
It was very impressive at first. As a young artist and Pink Floyd fan, I realized the steps I had taken. I found myself recording on the console of “The Dark Side of the Moon”. It is certain that these parameters remain in part of our heads during the recording. Although the album is quite far from the musical aesthetics of Pink Floyd, some may see some winks.
Your new album impresses with a rich blend of genres and moods – connecting element is a deep understanding of Soul. Your roots are in the French Soul music scene. How important was Soul, R&B, but also AOR and West Coast music for your musical development?
I like this warm, solar and catchy side. But what I like the most is the power that these music styles seem quite simple and accessible, but finally, when you listen more carefully are thoughtful and even elaborated.
Which artists influenced you?
The list is long. In the classics, I would say every Motown artist, Tim Maia, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, America, George Benson, Al Jarreau and many more. Now there are Tame Impala, Tom Misch, Moses Sumney, Anderson .Paak, Leon Bridges and many others…
What characterizes a perfect West Coast song for you?
For me a West Coast song is a beautiful melody, sweet chords and it must make you want to drive with the open window.
“Planets” will be released again on the French label Favorite Recordings. The collaboration seems to be going very well. How did you get in touch with label owner Pascal Rioux?
I’ve met Pascal thanks to Florian Pellissier. He was my Jazz teacher at the time and during the breaks we were talking a lot. One day I played “Beautiful Lady” and he said “I know someone who can produce that”. Two years later I was on Pascal’s sofa listening to my demo. Pascal loved it and here we are now. I’m really proud to be part of Favorite Recordings, Pascal and I are real friends now.
Al, what are your next plans? Can we expect a Europe tour in the near future? I hope that “Planets” will have a good welcome. I think people that liked the first album will really love the second. For sure I’d be really happy to do as many gigs as possible!
Thank you very much for the interview!
You are welcome!
Photo: Favorite Recordings