Double Delights: Cerise - Popincourt

Cerise - St. Nick.

Background promo - LA by way of Chicago songstress Cerise is set to release her debut album 'Smoke Screen Dreams,' on June 24. 

Although music has been integral to Cerise's life since as far back as she can remember, it was her teenage days spent listening to such dark and romantic luminaries as The Cure, Bauhaus and Siouxsie And The Banshees that had the most dramatic effect. "That was the first time music really spoke to me," she remembers. "The darkness and beauty of those bands seduced me into this other world and having a big interest in music. But it always seemed like it was the hardest thing in the world to actually do. To me, being a musician in a band seemed like being a ballerina- like you had to be trained for it from the age of six to become this amazing artist."

With Cerise's interests in modelling and photography initially taking a front seat, any thoughts of being a musician were put on the back burner until she met Peter Gabriel protégé Joseph Arthur in 2003. The Ohioan singer-songwriter taught Cerise the key idea that anyone could be a musician, and there's never a better time to be a musician than right now. "He's happy to try anything and write a song with anyone if the inspiration is there. So I would hang out with him a lot and just help with some vocals or whatever else he needed at the time. That got me interested in how music is created. Before that, it was a process that was hidden from me." It was a laissezfaire attitude to creativity that Cerise put into practise herself when she decided to buy a guitar as a present for herself. Within three weeks, she was writing her own songs under the continued encouragement and mentorship of Arthur. It was then that Cerise began to realise that even if you do put your favourite artists on a pedestal, trying to clamber up to that level yourself is the most challenging and exciting journey that anyone can ever undertake.

Some of the songs on Cerise's upcoming album have been crafted over a period of several years but her decision to work long and hard before unveiling her music publicly is already paying off. Helped by the mixing talents of Matt Boynton (Bat For Lashes/MGMT), layers of sound and texture gives her music a cryptic, dreamlike allure while Cerise's voice also helps enhance the ethereal feel by managing to inhabit a starkly beautiful place somewhere between Nico and Hope Sandoval. That otherworldly feel is something that Cerise is determined to bring to her live performance too. "I'm trying to create an atmosphere when I'm on stage," she concludes. "I like it when a live show has a feeling that envelops you and takes you to another place entirely. That's the thing I loved about the bands I heard growing up- the way they could transport you without you even realising."

The song 'St. Nick' is one of two songs I have heard from the forthcoming nine track album, and both bode well for the release. With the featured song there is a darker brooding feel within the music that makes for an excellent backdrop to Cerise's vocals. My impression across the two songs is that of dream pop with some deeper vibes, all good so far.


Popincourt - I Found Out.

Background promo - Some try all their lives to record the new “Village Green” (The Kinks) or the new “Never mind the bollocks”‘ (The Sex Pistols). Popincourt would prefer a follow up to “Café bleu” (The Style Council). The project might seem less ambitious but it is certainly more original, probably more realistic and no less genuine for someone who has always been influenced by Paul Weller. A man not only attached to the heritage of Small Faces, The Herd, and The Jam, but one who also lives in the 21st century – without dismissing the 80s, or at least what remains worth listening in 2016, such as The Style Council therefore, Elvis Costello, XTC or Aztec Camera (the aerial guitars of ‘The Risk of losing you’ or ‘I found out’); the 90s and the touch of British jazz that the trumpets bring to ‘A new dimension to modern love’, acid jazz maybe, he would rather call it ‘Blue eyed soul’; the 2000s and a Burgalat production, full of vintage keyboards (wurlitzer, philicorda…) and sophisticated cords like on ‘The First flower of spring’.

Popincourt was created over several years. From the first bands in Rouen, Nantes, Bordeaux and Paris, before a formative exile to London, where he founded ‘les Hommes Responsables’ with Phil King, ex bass player of Lush and Jesus & Mary Chain, followed a return to France where he will collaborate with Perio and play the organ in concert with French Boutik. During all these years, the man himself had time to appreciate what makes a difference: an entire devotion to the verse/chorus/transition above and beyond technical virtuosity; the overall importance of melodies; the groove in the service of the songs, not the other way round. The repertoire is built over a decade. An unreleased EP to taste the water in 2013, before moving to the next level. A small team is formed with people met at concerts. Hervé Bouétard, the drummer of Bertrand Burgalat, is behind the drums . Ken Stringfellow on the bass following his time with the Posies, Big Star and R.E.M. Gabriela Giacoman, the singer of French Boutik, is doing the backing vocals. Sébastien Souchois, the composer of the soundtracks for ‘Candidat’ and ‘Mes amis, mes amours’, arranged the brass and supervises the production. Finally it is at the studios of Nicolas Dufournet, ex-business partner of Michel Gondry and Etienne Charry at the heart of Oui Oui, that the Popincourt’s album is recorded.

To sing about love stories is not always easy, but here is someone who has lived more than 25 years without succumbing to the model that so often makes French rock ridiculous. In fact he sings in English claiming “It is easier and more natural in terms of what I listen to”. A French album for the British maybe, but certainly not a revival album!

The above comment in the final paragraph "A French album for the British maybe" brought an instant smile to my face. OK so we Brits and our neighbours have a little bit of history, but why not? The song 'I Found Out' certainly has the influences of some fine British bands, and stands on it's own right, as one very catchy melodic pop/rock song. I shall return the complement and play some fine Françoise Hardy or possibly even Serge Gainsbourg songs later today...