You're this season's Artist in residence at the Philharmonie, a very particular season, and it will be the fourth time that you come here but the first time without a huge audience. There will be a small, very very small audience. What I wanted to ask is how your relationship with the audience has changed – has it changed? – during the last months, whether you appreciate it more, whether you see it differently?
I would lie if I said there was no difference of course. When I had the chance to play music live, so a few months ago, in this situation, I used to talk to people because I felt this weird thing for them, so I told them: “Guys, you feel strange. We feel the same, but we are here, together, and we have to feel comfortable because it's still a concert, and we're still sharing something, you know, even if it's hard times. So you're welcome to enjoy it and to show it, and don't be shy”. For us it's also important to play music of course.
Yeah, I can imagine. I find it a very good approach to just tell them...
It broke the ice because then, after saying: “You feel strange, it's a strange night, but you're still here” and then… Yes, actually, we feel strange. Even if they were not aware of that, it's just a feeling, and then they realise: “Yeah it's like before, but it's completely not like before”. It's kind of a new start, a new way to enjoy the live music.
Another important way of enjoying live music has become the livestreams that have multiplied during the last months. What are the advantages and also disadvantages of livestreams from your point of view?
I don't know, maybe it's too soon to talk about that because, for sure, this is a thing where we were about to go, you know, in the future, but it just grows exponentially. What I'm sure about is, a live concert, being in the room with the musician, it's completely different than being behind the screen. So, yes of course, this is a great thing. People are stuck at home and can see a concert or whatever, but, still, you cannot feel the same thing when it's live. For now, I could just say that, and then let's see what happens.
What do you think has to be the role of music during such difficult times? Is it like just diverting people, some enjoyment and getting your mind off the problems, or does it also have to reflect the current situation in a way? How do you see yourself also and your work in this?
Let's say, I'll talk for myself, because for me it's just a way to – I mean I'm a musician, this is my passion, I need music to live, I mean not financially, I mean just to breathe, and to not go completely nuts-. So I practiced my instrument but I wrote a lot of music, a lot! For sure, it will reflect what happened during this period. I couldn't say "yeah I wrote this tune because of this and this, because of Corona" and so on, but it's just my feelings at this time. And I wrote so many, so many tunes! And because this is something really new, really tough and we never expected something like that.. So we react as we can, and for me a way to, maybe, refresh myself, if I could say that, was to write music. So, for sure, when we will have the opportunity to play these new things, it will have a special taste, I would say. Is there a very sad or a very reflected taste to it or is it just all the multitude of emotions one has during this pandemic? I think that the thing which is amazing with music is you could think about something, an emotion when you are writing the music, then you play it and - everyone is different - for one person it's gonna be: "Yeah, I felt sadness", for another one: "I felt really happy and joy" and so on. So, I prefer to leave it completely open because my feelings… it is just a view, a perspective. But for the people who are going to listen to it, it's up to them, because I have made so many different kinds of music, so I'm just a big fan of music in general, and so there are many, many different influences. When I play in a concert, live music, the image, the picture I have in my mind is just to take the people with my hand, but they are driving. So it's like I take you with me but you are in charge, and let yourself feel free to think about what you want. I won't say this is it. I don't have the truth. I don't have the way to get to the emotion. Everyone is special and this is what I like.
You have worked with an enormous amount of musicians and artists and I wonder, when you start working with someone, do you have an immediate intuition whether this is going to work out or do you need some time for the relation to develop and then find out whether this is going to be a long lasting and fruitful relation?
Well, it depends. If I am in charge for example and I have to play with a new musician, for sure it's just a feeling because first of all you hear the music, so you're looking at many different things, also at the face and the way ... thanks to the streaming and many other things we can see people playing live and you know how they – the body language which is also important - and at the beginning for sure this is just a hint. Yeah, most of the time I have a good feeling, I can feel that maybe it could work. Afterwards, when we meet with the people, of course, sometimes, it takes more time or just adjustment. But in my case, we're just here to serve the music. Let's say I'm composing, this is my tunes, so I'm supposed to know what I am talking about. But it's wrong, because, okay, I wrote the tune but when I give it to someone, it's just a new interpretation and I don't want to say anything because I'm really curious about the way people are going to approach this tune or another one. And then the thing for me is to be really relaxed because sometimes, it goes completely in another way and I'm like: "yeah, actually, I didn't think about this but okay, let's keep cool, because who am I to know if this is the right thing or the wrong thing". It's not an ego thing, it's not "you serve my music", no. Actually, we are just in the same room and we just want to play the music, so let's go there or there, let's find the truth together.
This is beautiful. One collaboration where it obviously clicked is with Emile Parisien with whom you've worked for years. I think he's a good friend as well. I just wondered whether you think that the sound of your instrument, the accordion, and his instrument, the saxophone, whether they go particularly well together?
On the paper, accordion / soprano saxophone – definitely not sexy at all or whatever. It's just, “What?! What are you talking about?” But who knows? The second thing, which is for me the most important, we are not talking – maybe it's it could sound a little bit arrogant, but it's really not, because we're just talking about two people. I don't care if Emile is playing soprano saxophone or drums or whatever, the violin. When he plays his instrument, it's just an extension of him. The instrument is a tool and the way he's playing it, it’s just him expressing himself. So what I like is, with our two personalities, through our instruments, we just meet and fit really well. And then we just look: oh, this is an accordion, oh, this is a soprano saxophone, okay, why not? For sure this is the main thing for me. And after that we had to work because it could be really boring, just two instruments, during one hour and a half, you know, just playing. We think about the combinations, the rhythms, the texture, the harmony, the sounds, because just with our two instruments, we can produce many many different sounds and, of course, we didn't want to be bored on stage because people could feel that. With our instruments, we had to think about the way to express ourselves. But the first thing for me is just a meeting between two people.
Great, I can't wait to see this meeting, I mean not only of two people, but during the stream it will be of five people!
Yeah, very very old friends!
Really, all five of you?
Yes, with Emile, he's the latest, but for example with the drummer, I was in kindergarten.
Yeah, so he didn't grow up as much as I did, but at the same age, we were equals... and the other people, I mean, it's kind of a family music story, family on tour.
Now it's family in Luxembourg.
Yeah,I mean it's a tour but there is only one gig, so it's nice. A one tour gig, a new concept.
Thank you so much! As I said, I'm looking very much forward, I mean at least we have you as artist in
residence one time really at the Philharmonie, and let's hope it won't be the season's last time!
Vincent Peirani accordion
«Ihre Töne stehen für das, was in der jeweiligen Domäne neu und aufregend ist.» (BR-Klassik)
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