In Conversation with Musician Chassol

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A maestro among those in the know, French musician Chassol is a force to be reckoned with. With Indiamore, a rich mix of sounds that aims to represent life, sounds, motifs and traffic from Northern India, set for release on Monday 18th August, fashion and social media editor Ellie Craig takes a few minutes out to catch up with the man himself.

You’re known as an ‘experimental pianist,’ is this a label you’re happy with?
I guess people from the pop world would describe me that way while those from avant-garde or contemporary movements, would think I am way too tonal and in need of tonality! To be honest, I really don’t feel experimental. I find myself curious to investigate what I like, but all the chords or patterns that I play on the piano are so classical and normal.

How do you push the boundaries with your piano playing?
I always try to have two or three classical pieces that I am working on. These days, it’s Allegro Barbaro by Bartok, and some of Stravinsky’s Firebird for two pianos. I am also trying to develop a personal percussive-harmonic fingers technique. Finally, I sample my piano patterns and put them into a synthesizer and then play them with a piano technique. This has no limits.

Fellow pianist Benjamin Clementine has taken the musical world by storm and even played at Burberry’s latest men’s show, do you feel this genre of music is having a bit of a resurgence?
I really like Benjamin – we always see each other randomly in the street in Paris although I have to say that I have to say I have never been to one of his show yet…but will. I’m not sure if I’d call it a ‘resurgence’ though. If you are talking about piano soloists…it has never stopped. Just look at Keith Jarrett, who is sold out everywhere he goes even when he’s leaving the venue in the middle of his set!

You’ve been playing instruments since you were little, what was it that first attracted you to music?
My father put my sister and I into it. He was a saxophone player and a very good teacher. He had bands and was writing all the horn arrangements. I guess what attracted me to music first was the will to please him. Then I guess the great and strong power of the invisible happened.

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You’ve been championed by the likes of DJ Gilles Peterson and The Guardian, how does that feel?
I have been listening to Gilles’s artists on Talkin’ Loud since I was a teenager so it feels really great, I feel very proud. But knowing his background, his love for music, I guess it is almost to be expected that I would encounter him at some point.

He told me something very deep after I played Indiamore at his Worldwide Festival in July. He said that he listened to Indiamore three times in a row in his car with his son and that it was a real father-son moment he won’t forget. Exactly what a composer wants to hear.

As for The Guardian, I also feel proud because it is an old, renowned newspaper and a good way to start my first encounter with British audiences. I will be here for the London Jazz Festival on 16th of November with a new shows, so if those articles make people come to see me, I’ll be very glad.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I guess the show we did on the 2nd of June at Cité de la Musique in Paris, there was something kind of wonderful about it. We used images for the show that my small team and I shot during the Carnival in Martinique last year. When we came back, it took me two months to write the show and edit, cut and organise the images before rehearsing everything once with my brother-drummer Lawrence Clais. Cité de la Musique was sold out two weeks before which is a new thing for me! Even better, all of my friends were there.

You’ve already worked on film scores and are about to release your new album, is there anything else you still want to tick off your to-do list?
Nope, I like to leave the things on the to-do list; and do them again, and again, and again, and again, and again – as Robert Smith would say.

Find out more: Chassol releases Indiamore on Monday 18th August and will be performing at the London Jazz Festival on Sunday 16th November. Click here for more information.

Channel Chassol’s relaxed style with a pair of classic Converse:

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