When I started learning traditional songs from Brittany, I did like many singers from my generation did: I dove into the old recordings made from great Breton singers. At that time (from the 50’s on I would say, but a lot in the late 60’s until the 80’s), among the few people concerned by this wonderful culture, a few started to visit old singers at home to record them, some because they knew great songs, others because they had a nice voice, or a good sense of rhythm. Not all of them had been known as singers. The common points between all these recording is that most of them were made on private equipment (and even later on tape recorder) and also most of them were recorded in the kitchen.
Here’s a sample of the great singer José Bertrand (also known as “Madame Bertrand” or “Marie-José Bertrand”)
In many cultures, the kitchen is the heart of the house, the place where you gather to sing songs or tell stories. In Brittany it used to be so at the fireplace. Then although most of fireplaces had disappeared, been replaced by ceramics on the walls (hence the unique sound of kitchen recordings!) and electrical stove, it is still the place you get to discuss, drink bowls of coffee (no, no mug or cup, only bowls!), eat pancakes and butter cakes…
When trying new things or just discussing new songs, we cannot help but do it in the kitchen! Here’s some trial for next album (please, do notice our kitchen’ acoustic and natural reverb!)
We do have a special room for “serious” recording sessions, with silent acoustic, with a door that closes. But even on our first album, they are some tracks in which we never managed to bring as much spirit as on the first dirty kitchen trial. So, somewhere, hidden in the reverb, delays and effects, you still have the “kitchen spirit“!
PS: a recent recording with the most iconic songs from Madame Bertrand has been released (with improved sound!) (image links to Amazon)