Musicians’ Diary


Our thoughts, our creative steps, our everyday questioning about being musicians, emerging ideas & projects… and basically anything we want to share !

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List of Breton music essentials you’ve been waiting for!


Have you ever dream of a list of Breton music to listen to? Essentials that you could be introduced to ? Fascinated by breton fest-noz music and not knowing where to start from?

We’ve had the request quite often, and since we’re catching-up on all we postponed during Inês album recording and release, here it is: a WIP list of breton music that we like and that has influenced us. You can find the list on this section of tour web-site that we plan on up-dating regularly, as well as books recommended for artists, online ressources and links to the gear we use for music and video. But, without further due, let’s get in to the world of fest-noz and breton music: 

Fest-noz & modern breton music

From late XXc – 80’s and 90’s power!

From 00’s on

  • Karma – fest-noz, fest-noz by the Diwan generation.
  • Plantec – a band around two brothers, and in the beginning quite influenced by Ar Re Yaouank, then experimented also with some live electro.

Experimental, world, cross-over, others

  • Bugel Koar – Ar solier, with the singer Marthe Vassalo. A very interesting project, with a lot of gwerz (breton type of lament) from Trégor (and we love gwerz from Trégor!). N’ebaon the second album by the duet is also really good. (and more likely to be available)
  • Any album by/with Erik Marchand worth it! His collaboration with the french oud player Thierry Titi Robin in the 80’s: chants du centre Bretagne and An Tri Breur deeply and profoundly inspired and nourished our musical experiences. He’s also famous for his fusion world music with musicians from the Balkans. Our favorite ever is Pruna (although Unu, daou, tri easily available or Dor are totally worth it). Another favorite of ours is his collab with the french indie musician Rodolphe Burger which resulted in the unexpected album Before Bach.
  • Norkst and Kreiz Breizh Akademi. It sounds weird to add an album in which we personally performed, but when it was released in 2005, it was quite a unique project, both artistic and pedagogic, upon an idea from Erik Marchand. The project still goes on with several albums released by different KBA bands, but Norkst being the very first one, it certainly would be the one to listen to as it opened the road to all the later ones. (let us know if you’d like us to elaborate on the project!)
  • Au Café Breton by Rolland Becker and Regis Huiban. A project around breton music as played in the 20’s 30’s and influenced by Parisian accordion musette style (it has influenced a few fest-noz bands like Le Bour / Bodros )
  • Jacques Pellen – Celtic Procession. A project that started in the 90’s, with loads of versions, guests, etc, but generally with a jazz flavour.

Gwerz, kan ha diskan and a-capella albums

  • Tradition Chantée En Bretagne – Les Sources Du Barzaz Breiz Aujourd’Hui . More specialised, this is a collection of gatherings from the XXth century from songs that were previously to be found on the XIXc book “Barzaz Breizh”. Raw a-capella singing, but a treasure if you fancy authentic traditional style. The booklet is quite thick and very useful and contains all the lyrics with french translations.
  • Kan ha Diskan by Loeiz Roparz. A collection of kan ha diskan with several singers and Loeiz Roparz, known to be the “inventor” of fest-noz in its actual form.
  • Kan ha Diskan – Yann-Fañch Kemener. Kan ha diskan from Yann-Fañch Kemener with most of big names from the breton kan ha diskan scene, both old and new scene: Erik Marchand, Annie Ebrel, Patrick Marie, Valentine Colleter, Claudine Flohic, Marcel Guilloux, Ifig Troadeg. A must have!
  • Fest-Noz en Poher. Not very often available, but pay close attention to the name and picture, so far there isn’t any re-edit, but if it at some point would show up on the second hand market, be quick! Simone has practically learned all the basics from Kan ha Diskan with this excellent very traditional album. Features gavotte from Annie Ebrel with Noluen Le Buhez (excellent and brilliant energy!), from Fustec/Le Corre and Les Frères Dilasser – both huge favorites and role models for kan ha diskan when Yann was a child (and also probably the only recording available from the Dilasser Brothers).

Enjoy, and let us know in the comment section if you have any request or suggestion!

Links are amazon affiliated, if you decide to buy any of these based on our recommendations, please, do use our links, you will pay the exact same price, but we’ll receive a little percentage that can help us producing more music and share more useful links.

Also, this list is based on our personal musical journey, on what made a difference to us, and also on our personal tastes! This ain’t meant to be a chart, or any “ultimate” listing! Get inspired, enjoy our story sharing, but create your own story and connection with breton music.

Blog, Musicians' Diary

Special price & big dream sharing.


One of the things we weren’t expecting while preparing Inês project album, was the huge raise in postage costs happening on the 1st of July in France. It costs 9,60€ for each piece to Europe, and 10,60€ for the rest of the world. Which is …. huge!

But here’s the good news! We are in Greece working on promo+new ideas+new videos+new concerts, and postage is extremely cheap, you get to spare over 5€, we’ll be here until the 26th of October morning, so take your chance! After that you’ll have to wait for us to come next to your place on tour 🙂 Which is cool too! (and if you have any suggestion, as usual, one single click here and let us know: astrakanpoject@gmail.com )

nea peramos post office succesful artist selling music albums around the world
Nea Peramos Post-office

 

Honestly, Nea Peramos is very special to us! Outside Brittany, it’s our perfect ideal place on the sea, the light is brilliant to paint, take pictures, shoot videos, dream and imagine costumes and stage lights. It’s also so close from Istanbul, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Serbia… All these places that inspire us, are part of who we are, and find their way to our music. We left back in 2015, but we promis, we are doing all we can to get back here part time, because this is the place we can make magic happen, this is the place we get to be creative, and also, we have about 3 album projects that we’d love to see happening very soon, and we know we need to be somewhere between two worlds to have the balance we need to create.

dream board - live in Greece to create amazing art and music
Nea Peramos – east Macedonia

So, please, take a breath, and wish it along with us: we’re very soon back to Nea Peramos! Thank you! Trugarez!

 

§ Simone.

Blog, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

On the (music) road. A long (emotional) road.


We’ve arrived in Greece after 2 weeks travel across the Balkan region (mostly Serbia and North Macedonia) that we miss so much. It had been 2 years since we hadn’t been around, and it really feels like we’re reunited with an ambiance that is deeply part of who we are – or rather have become.

 

We are very happy we had the plan to travel once the album would be released. We did some little promo before our departure, and thanks to the Internet (and easy cheap sim cards!), we can easily manage the rest of it for when we’ll be back to France early November.

Our happiness comes also from a more relaxed way from our behalf to deal with the album release. It’s a true fact that with the experience, we get better at it. And I’m not necessarily referring to the contacts, or the sequence of what needs to be done. That’s the easiest part in a way.

I’m here rather referring to the emotional part of the release, how having a limited audience in a niche style affects what we can do at release time. Basically, despite of the nice support we got during the crowdfunding campaign, we didn’t have huge crowds waiting for Inês album. Also, we got amazing feedback from some media, but also plenty of no replies from radios we’ve worked with previously. From people too. Some sales in the first week, though nothing exceptional.

Honestly, it can be an artist’heart’s killer! But as I said, we now plan for it, and planning for what we most love in the world *travelling* certainly smooths all the mixed feelings we experience. And don’t get us wrong! We do enjoy every bit of this amazing project, all is part of the game, it’s just music after-all, isn’t it? And as years pass by we do improve at staying motivated and grateful no matter what.

http://www.astrakanproject.bandcamp.com/album/in-s

§ Simone.

 

 

 

Blog, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

Ar Chaseadenn – The Hunt


Our Kid has grown with the story of Pedro and Inês, even before we started to compose for Inês album. Here’s his version of the Hunt (n.III on the album), in French, but during next UK tour we’ll train him to do it in English 🙂 All illustrated elements are to be found in Inês book.

 

Blog, DIY Album, Musicians' Diary

Hard-copy is not dead & about music visual identity


This unique piece of Artwork travels to Ireland as a reward for contributions to our Crowdfund campaign. Yann has been a few time to Ireland, but I haven’t so far… I’m hoping this painting is opening the road for me, it’s still a dream to go and visit some of the incredible megalithic sites as well as sites linked with Celtic Irish Culture. Performing there would obviously be a bonus 🙂 Let’s send this wish out into the winds!

Music is a classic performed by The Bothy Band in 1976/77 and released in 1996. Full version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aWl_qdUK1o

 

And this one is on its way to the South of France…

ines bras

 

We are still only realizing how slowly incorporating my artwork into the project has become part of it, part of its identity, and has considerably impacted too the way we now envision projects. With the small audience we have, we probably wouldn’t have been able to reach the goal on the Crowdfunding campaign. The artwork is what has generated interest, it made it easy to post regular visual up-dates whereas posting music studio ones could feel a bit of the same.

When we went to local record labels with the project last year, I could sometimes hear something like “is it a book or is it a music album?” “how can we promote it if we’re not sure what it is?” “if it’s a book with just the lyrics, then it might just be a booklet, not a book.”

 

Once again, we are shown that what is hard to understand in the beginning is what makes us stand out and makes us different, and thus helps getting our project been noticed. In a way, the strong visual identity we’ve developed over the years balances the fact that the language we use can sometimes be an obstacle to dive in into our music.

Now that we started to get fantastic and lovely feedback from people receiving the first orders, we also can feel how the visual impact the way they perceive the music afterwards – so far in a very positive way.

Photo Joelle

Every music style is different, but in our case, we can confirm that we get to earn some money from hard copies sales while we barely make any sales on digital-only editions. We even had already a couple of people that ordered first the digital edition (that still includes the book in pdf) and re-ordered the hard-copy, and that was just the first week!

Is there any conclusion? While we hear very often that digital is the future, we can see exceptions all the time, and personaly it’s not what we’ve been noticing (since 2012, we’ve released 3 hard-copies and 2 digital only). Is there any rule? And who makes up the rules? As artists, we are creative people, and being creative is also something we can apply to the way we connect with our particular audience. We still have a lot to learn on that field, but the last months of conceiving and releasing Inês project has certainly been very inspiring in that field.

To be followed!

– Simone.

Blog, Musicians' Diary

Postage & Plans


Very exciting days for Astrakan Project team – since Monday we’ve been processing rawards for contributions to the crowfound campaign and pre-orders, and it’s such a delight to see our music heading towards so many places : France of course, UK, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Turkey, Qatar ! Preparing the packages makes us feel like travelling already!

Walking packages...
Walking packages…

Biggest challenge was to pack safely the artwork on canvases, but it’s all done, and all these beauties are on their way to their new home.

Next on our schedule is an interview in Rennes for radio bleu Armorique in Breton, and then head to the Balkans and Northern Greece from where we’ll be processing orders, scheduling promo for when we’re back as well as booking gigs for upcoming months. (Any suggestion of places we could perform at? astrakanproject@gmail.com !).

Blog, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

Inês is out for good!


We are so – so – so happy that it’s all falling into place! The books have arrived and their colour are brilliant! They reflect very much what I had in mind when I envisioned Inês album. It’s also a personal relief that all went well, after all it’s our first book edited ever, and editing so many pages (96) in full colour with a lot of pictures (that’s the least one can say) was quite a challenge! Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

Only one place to get it: http://astrakanproject.bandcamp.com/album/in-s

We’ll try to take decent pictures from the book tomorrow, and talk a bit more of the final rush… but you still can enjoy the music in the meantime.

Blog, Musicians' Diary, Sound & Video

Official release day + pre-sale!


Drum roll! The CDs have arrived, we only need now the books, but… Inês will officially be shipped out on the 18/09/18 ! You can pre-order both digital edition and hard copy right now from Bandcamp as usual:

We’ve set up a very tiny price for the pre-sales on digital, until the 18/09/18, it includes 59′ (!) epic music and the 98 pages full colour book with lyrics and translations in French and English (+facts and stories).

For the limited edition hard-copy, you’ll receive:

  • Inês album on CD (59′ of awesome epic music!)
  • The book (96 full color pages): illustrated with Simone’s artwork, it includes full lyrics in Breton and their translations in English and French, and some facts about the music and story. It’s 24*16 cm / 9.44*6.30 inches
  • One A6 size postcard with the album artwork. (post-card printed at the back too). Limited edition only for pre-orders!
  • A handcrafted personal note.
  • Immediate download of the digital version of both the album and the book. 

Enjoy!

arrivee CDs kristen montage

Blog, DIY Album, Musicians' Diary

9 months or 4 years? + album Inês big up-date


Dear all,

It has been considerable long time without any up-date from us. Probably because sometimes our progress is so slow that we even barely seem to notice any.

For B album, I remember we started on the 1st of January 2014 on the very first drafts (though we had some ideas of compositions already, or had been working on them for live performances). Anyway, on the 1st of October 2014 we collected the promo samples freshly pressed from the factory. In the meantime we had recorded all the tracks, developed new sounds, new arrangements, done concerts in France, Belgium, and set up our 2 first UK tours, also set up all the legal side, made the artwork for the booklet, edited countless teasers and music videos. That’s 9 months sharp full time into music.

For Project Inês album we must have got the idea around july 2014. Actually while working on the lyrics for Gwerz Inês. The story was so deep that we couldn’t choose a proper angle until we thought we would leave most of it for next album.

Mid 2015 we were already doing some progress on the lyrics/music, and had many ideas about the concept. Broad lines, but most of it was there. At the end of summer 2015 the finances we had asside had gone, and we had to come back to Brittany full time where Yann has been mostly working full time as a teacher. We’ve done the best use we could of holidays for gigs/tours until 2017.

Ar Maured o kuitaat Iberia / The Moors driven away from the Peninsula. Artwork for the concept album Inês (medieval love story between Pedro King of Portugal and Inês de Castro)
Ar Maured o kuitaat Iberia / The Moors driven away from the Peninsula.

We’ve had many ideas for Inês Project. Many. Many musical directions that didn’t work, mostly because we realised it wouldn’t be doable for the 2 of us to set up the ambitious sounds we had in mind at first.

So we did what we always do: one step at the time, we do what is doable. We do with the limited time/money/means we have. We make the most of it, and try to go around limitations, turn them into challenges. Most of the time.

At least we try. When we look back we realise that maybe, we also lost a lot of time by not being focused enough in what matters : creating music. Sometimes we get bitter, anxious, and only see the limitations. They are challenging limitations. Not travelling much is a major source of sadness for sure. Everytime you leave the music for something else, you need to get back into the mood. As quickly as possible! But there’s no other way than to do with what is, right?

Almost 4 years later… that’s starting to be painful, at a certain time, we need to switch to something else too. So, to give you an clear up-date at where we are at…

  • Lyrics are mostly all written, there might be a need for some changes as we go threw the vocals recording.
  • We have all of the tracks structures, sounds, ambiances with minor changes that will occur once vocals will be in place.
  • Most of instruments played by Yann are finalised (guitars, drums, ud and violin).
  • We have a clearer idea about the guests and what they’re doing on which track.
  • We have a clear frame for our crowdfunding campaign (we’ll be using Indiegogo), time frame, money goals, rewards, etc…
  • I have a structure for most of the artwork for every song.

What’s still to be done:

  • Record all the vocals.
  • Get our guests’ tracks to add to the mix.
  • Create most of the artwork – and there’s a lot to be created. Confession time: I need to have to music before I actually can paint. Probably that’s a limiting belief as well!
  • Edit all the graphics for the booklet with all the lyrics + notes.
  • Finalise the mix/master.
  • Translate all the lyrics in French/English.
  • Set up and launch the crowdfunding campaign. That’s a huge part! Includes a lot of promo, editing some videos too, printing some artwork for rewards too. And for that… we need the artwork !
  • All the legal side of the project – taxes – authorisations – etc…

Put that way, we can’ say there hasn’t been any progress ! Wish us luck and plenty of energy.

A galon / with heart,

– Simone.