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Ahead of his forthcoming Irish tour, French-born guitar virtuoso Stephane Wrembel shares some insight...
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 21 Sep 2012
Wrembel is preparing to return to Ireland for a nationwide tour in support of new album Origins. The Brooklyn-based musician received critical acclaim last year upon providing the theme song to Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris.
You can catch the prodigious talent when he plays in the following venues next month:
National Concert Hall, Dublin - October 4
Lavery's Pavillion, Belfast - October 5
Dolan's Warehouse, Limerick - October 6
INEC Gleneagle Hotel, Kerry - October 7
Roisin Dubh, Galway - October 8
Hot Press caught up with Wrembel ahead of his Irish visit:
On his previous time in Ireland
"I’ve been to the south, to Cork and the Ring of Tara and the Ring of Kerry. I think they’re historically amazing. I was completely blown away by the countryside, it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s extremely inspiring too. But what really blew me away was the music. There is music everywhere. Everyone sings. Everyone dances. Music is so integrated into life in Ireland and it’s such an incredible thing. For it to be completely part of life over there is absolutely outstanding. I went to see a concert, a traditional Irish show, performed entirely by little kids.
"I was staying in a friend’s house and his son goes to music school so he was playing the flute and the bodhran and then you see all these kids playing, it’s amazing. They learn the flute through their fingers, not with notes. It reminded me exactly of the gypsies in France who I learned to play guitar with. I was trained classical on piano in a competition school but then I played with the gypsies and it opened me up to all these different ways of learning. That’s how it should be, really."
The New York scene
"Music in New York is a little bit crazy. The thing with New York is that there is style but the whole idea seems to be fusion, melding things together. You’re exposed to so many genres and cultures in the city, so much of everything. It all blends together, but naturally somehow. You always have different sounds in your ears in New York and that comes across in your own music."
His approach to music
"The way I conceive music is completely like film scoring. When I compose a song, it’s based on an image or an atmosphere. There’s a situation and I use whatever is in my arsenal of sounds to create that. I just don’t think about it too much. With something like ‘Tsunami’, it just came to me. I tried to picture the vibe in Japan and then tried to play that.
"I don’t know if it fits into any specific style or even a Japanese vibe but the first song on the record – ‘Voice From The Desert’ is inspired by the blues and American colours but there is also elements of Indian and African music on there too. I use whatever I need to create a certain colour which hopefully will translate how I feel about a certain situation to the listener. It goes beyond style. I don’t think I belong to a certain style."
Providing the theme for Midnight In Paris
"Woody Allen's producer Helen Robin called me and asked me if I could write a theme that would represent the magic of Paris. ‘Can you capture the magic of Paris?’, she asked. But, she told me that unfortunately she wouldn’t be able to tell me the plot of the film as it was a secret! I was like, ‘Ok, whatever, I will try’. And so I was thinking about Paris and how everyone imagines it; a romantic city, magical things happening.
"As a more concrete thing, I thought of my friend’s restaurant in New York, a very hip bistro with music and there is an incredible vibe in there. So I thought about writing the kind of song that I could play there and I named it 'Bistro Fada' after his restaurant. When I sent the song to Helen she got back to me in two hours and said, ‘You got it!'"
Performing at the Academy Awards
"An incredible experience. It’s so big. I never experienced something that big. The whole production has a several million dollar budget. It’s completely crazy. First thing, we had to meet with Hans Zimmer. It’s amazing to be in his studio and talk to him about music. Dealing with a full orchestra of people and that kind of pressure is tricky enough but the producer of the Oscars is in the studio with you at the same time. It’s good pressure though. Being part of such a big machine is incredible. You have the top musicians in the world with you and playing with them for a week, being surrounded by that level of production… it’s just crazy."