Musicians' Diary

What kind of music do you play ?

Such an usual question, and such a hard one to answer ! Like most of bands, we really would love to have a simple answer to that question. And somehow we’ll have to find it very soon if we want our album to get some exposure at the right places.

World music…

Generally, when talking about “world music”, what is referred to is some kind of western pop music with elements from culture from around the world.

But… we don’t really think we’re making pop music. When we work on a new song, we do compose a lot of new tunes, but they still have the structure, the scale, the style of some sung in Brittany for decades. So ?

Do we borrow elements from other traditions ? We do, for sure, not that we think “well, let’s give it a latin taste, it’s trendy”. It’s more about the fact that we do travel, meet other musicians, go to concerts here and there, and of course, we’ll get some influence.

Clarinet and drum players, Brittany, 1912
Clarinet and drum players, Brittany, 1912 [image source]
… vs traditional music

Our roots are without any doubt for us in Central Brittany.  But can we really say it’s traditional music from Brittany knowing that if you go there you’re very likely to hear a very different music from what we’re playing ? Isn’t traditional music what is recognised as such by a social group ? Would it mean we can’t claim our music to be “traditional music from central Brittany” despite of all the lyrics we’re using being from there ?

What kind of music do we play then ? We’ll try to come up with an answer !

Some links : (English) (French)

DIY Album

Just do it…

Although we both already had some experience in recording music, when we thought that our best option at the moment would be to self produce our album, we weren’t really prepared for the amount of work awaiting us.

Our first self-produced record was not a full album, but more a kind of EP, 32 min music, in a simple sleeve package since we intended also to use it for promotion. Although we produced/edited/distributed this record, we could afford for a studio for 2 days + 1 day for mixing. Our flute player took care of setting up some graphics for the cover. The music was quite simple to record, only vocal, flute and guitar. So was the mixing. And the music structures we were using were quite straightforward.

Then, we recorded with other projects, we had not much to do but to practice to get ready, show up on time, record. Not that we were earning money or even get paid for those projects, but at least, we add the feeling we were *musicians*.

astrakan project DIY album mixing at home


With Astrakan Project, things are slightly different. For the first time, we’re talking about producing by-ourselves a full album, but also not without enough money to pay for the normal usual expected things… studio, sound engineer, graphic artist,… Many things are a question of money. Not only, but still. Not enough money means that we could afford for one or two days in a studio, but that this amount of time would never be enough to get the music we had in our heads.

From this objective assessment, we deduced that we had two options. (1) wait to have the financial support of an hypothetical label that would invest in our project (2) do as many things by ourselves as we could, whatever the time it may take, whatever we would have to learn on the way.

You all know by now that we choose the second option. And the truth is… we don’t have any regrets. Not only do we still feel like we are *musicians*, but we have another relation with “making music” that we’d never expected. We realise that by mixing ourselves, we are adding our personal spirit to the mix; by making our own covers from zero, any detail will add *a little something* to the music that will be heard afterwards. But… we still might need some holidays after that !

Sound & Video

Solstice bonus video

Here’s a very short video, since tonight is one of the shortest nights in the year, as a sneak sound from the upcoming album.

Simone made this video at the sun dawn last April while travelling in the Lebanese countryside. She got the idea that some drums could give this short sequence a ceremonial atmosphere.

The track itself is a bonus version of a tune’s intro called an dezertour, the story of a young man killed because he deserted the army. The rhythm is made by Davul (percution commonly used in the Balkans, Turkey, Iran, Iraq… find out more here) and Darbuka sounds. Then yesterday we added some voices, without really having any plans ahead and we like pretty much the result, it kind of reminds us of Albanian polyphonies.

DIY Album

But… why do you record an album ?

Yes, why ? For independent artists like us, the answer cant’ be straightforward. We could decide to record but not release “physically” an album. Make it only available for download. Many artists are successfully doing it.

From a commercial point of view, we know we’re not gonna make huge sells, although we have great hopes they’ll cover the release’ expenses.  So, why ? The fact is : a record-less musician isn’t to be considered seriously, by anyone, professional or not. We sometimes get the feeling of a nether-ending cycle : no album => no review => no tour => no production => no album =>… So… we have to find a starting point !

in the studio : a home studio at home
Recording at home

From a creative point of view, and this is the most important part for us, we need to record some of our music so that we can move forward, so that we have something concrete on our path. A kind of milestone. Something we can refer to. Putting our tunes into a record is also a way to really go into details regarding our compositions. And it also differs from playing them live.

But right after the “why“, come the “how”… Although we both already had some experience in recording music, when we thought that our best option at the moment would be to fully self produce our album, we weren’t really prepared for the amount of work awaiting us. But that’s another story !

Sound & Video

Kan Al Lagouterion

1 Comment

… that we also call it “the drinking song”, traditional lyrics and tune from south of Brittany (Vannes area). The everyday life of a drunkard that eventually ends up in a ditch.

We had a lot of fun making this video, it’s our first attempt to make a more sophisticate video, and it’s quite a piece of work… we hope you’ll enjoy it !

Track recorded live last month in Beirut. The rest of the video was shot in Plougras’ roads in February 2012, in our rainy Brittany. It also contains many pictures from previous tours with other projects, in Brittany and in Belgium.