Tuesday, July 25, 2017

30 Years of House Music – St Germain

St Germain‘Cold Case’ would certainly be the first thing coming to my mind whenever thinking of St Germain! I would pretty well imagine the actors of this famous US series (Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino, John Finn and cohorts) applying new technical methods to use them on the surviving evidence to re-analyze the causes and hopefully come with conclusive results in front of such a mystery…
French producer Ludovic Navarre stands to me (like many of you, I suppose) as an enigma. A bit like Lil’ Louis, I would be tempted to say. A rough diamond, juding by his obvious talent, although totally away from the system, able to remain silent for countless years before resurfacing without warning! This bringing me back to the souvenir of a meeting we had back in 2000 right before the release of his ‘Tourist’ album on Blue Note, featuring gems such as ‘Rose Rouge’, ‘So Flute’ and ‘Sure Thing’.

Back at the time, we’d already remained for 7 years without seeing each other. The first time being back in 1993 on the heels of the release of his ‘Inferno EP’ along with his friend Shazz under the Ln’S guise on Fnac Music Dance Division, the ancestor of Laurent Garnier and Eric Morand‘s F Communications imprint. A label which, already back then, produced promotional jackets with the mention ‘French Touch’!
“You haven’t changed”, he said to me when we met. “And myself neither, as you may have noticed. I still feel hard talkin’ about me!
I didn’t stay inactive though. I’ve been working with my computer and taking the necessary time to get to know and understand the musicians. Working with musicians is something which I wanted to do soon after the release of my first single as St Germain…
Like many in such a situation, I’m a self-made man. But as the musicians and myself are living in different worlds, this period has been very profitable, as I could hear things they were not getting and vice-versa.

When asked about how he felt when speaking of “Computer Jazz” (an expression used by Compost Records label head Michael Reinboth) regarding his music, he said: “I’d rather talk about “Black Computer” as far as I’m concerned, as I’m more touched by Black Music in general than by Jazz in particular.”
Not surprising then when coming to hear he never felt particularly attracted by the so called French Touch which took the world by storm back in the day, even though he’s considered as one of its initiators with his ‘Boulevard’ album released 20 years ago on F-Com. “I didn’t really appreciate what happened musically at the time. Sure, there have been some nice things happening, but the whole has become kind weird soon after. Ths explaining why I felt like I had to take some distance. I never had a feeling of loneliness though, as I’ve always felt some expectation about my music. That silence adding much to the mystery around him, and also certainly the demand. “That’s why I never felt like I had to rush. Things might have been different though if ever I had been forgotten…”

A loner seems like more appropriate to define the temper of our man… “More a matter of meetings that didn’t happen”, he said. “And more specifically in France where the Rock culture is omnipresent. I got into Black Music on my own when I was 7 or 8, without the push of anybody. I’ve never listened to a lot of House at home. I’ve always been more into Blues, Jazz, Funk, Reggae or Soul. I came with with ‘Tourist’ as the title of my second album on Blue Note, because I just think this is what I am. I love Africa, America, Cuba, Jamaica, and you can get a bit of everything from there in my music. A bit of Reggae, Jazz, Funk altogether which is for me a form of tourism…
Back to his separation from F-Communications, he explained: “I would just say, as it’s sometimes the case regarding a relationship, that we probably didn’t meet at the right time. It was surely too early for F-Com which was still on some maturing process at the time. I mean I was working with musicians back then, and this has probably looked to heavy for them to promote a band as opposed to a musician, which made it kinda hard for my live performances…”

Another 15 years would go since the release of St Germain‘s ‘Tourist’ album. No need to say an eternity and way enough to let many of us believe that he’d definitely put an end to his artistic activities until the mysterious arrival in May 2014 of a remix he did on Gregory Porter‘s ‘Musical Genocide‘. A teaser for some more back then? Definitely what is was, juding by the fact he’d released a brand new cut – the no suprisingly titled ‘Real Blues’ offering a so to say new environment for legendary Country/Blues singer Lightin’ Hopkins‘s ‘You Caused My Heart To Weep’ – in May 2015, as an appetizer of a brand new self-titled album released a few months after followed by a worldwide tour…

Chosen few
St Germain – Boulevard (The Complete Series) (F Communications)
St Germain – Tourist (Blue Note)
St Germain – Memento (Warner Jazz France)
St Germain – St Germain (Parlophone / Warner Music France)

In the series…
30 Years of House Music (Pt. 2) – A Guy Called Gerald

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