27/11/12 - ARCHIPEL/LÉGENDE
It's a single that was meant to sound like "new wave". It's definitely not new wave rock but rather new wave synthpop (are we surprised here? no!)... The month of October was marked by a work experience that I'll never forget. I was asked by a good friend of mine from Vancouver - her name is Maiko Bae Yamamoto - to assist her in the teaching of a class at the National Theatre School of Canada. The reason why I was qualified for this - because, as you can image, I am not a theatre person per se - is that I have some experience in sound design for theatre and Maiko thought it'd be great to work on a workshop that would combine movement theatre (her expertise) and sound. I was delighted by the idea but I was even more pleased once I was in the class for the first time, on October 9th (I somehow remember the date becaue it was right after I came back from a trip to Vancouver where I worked on the music of an animation film by my friend Cindy Mochizuki, another Vancouver friend of Japanese decent!).
The National Theatre School has a French and an English program that are completely seperate - which has always been strange to be but... welcome to Canada... All I knew about "our" students is that they were part of the second year "acting" program of the "English side". I had no clue what to expect really. I knew their ages... between 18 and 21 or so. I guess other people my age feel completely disconnected with people around their late teens but it's never been hard for me because my sister is 20 and my brother 18... I talk to them as if they were my age, really. So meeting the eleven students of the acting class was not that challenging, and it felt easier than it felt stressful. It was actually exciting, no less. Eleven names, eleven faces. The project I knew was going to involve eleven stories, eleven "islands", eleven performances. And in parallel to all that, it was time for me to work on Phase... eleven!
So, in a few words, here is the concept of the project - called Archipelagos - that Maiko and I worked on with the NTSC students (the concept is Maiko's!). First, the students were asked to bring to the class one song that had a personal meaning to them. We played each song in the classroom and they each told why they felt connected to their song. This was just the first step of the project. Then, the students were asked to think of one personal story and one legend / myth. They shared their personal stories first. It was a really intense moment as some of the stories were painful to tell for the students, there was a whole deal of emotion in the air. But they were really brave and generous with the group and felt ready to work from those stories. The personal stories were the second step in the making of the project. The third step consisted in telling a legend or a myth through movement. This is the part that Maiko worked on with the students. So they each came up with a sequence of movements that lasted about 3 minutes. While performing the movements, the students were asked to tell their legend in a way that would incorporate elements of their personal stories. Later we had to find out a way to use the songs that they first brought to the class. My work was to help them a way to transform the song by isolating different elements of it (the meoldy, the rythm, the mood, the lyrics) so that they could create a sound cue to support their storytelling.
The result of Archipelagos was stunning. The studio where we worked was divided in 11 "islands",each occupied by a different student. Each student had to bring one chair, a light source, a prop and different elements to create a set for their "island". The performance was done so that the there could only be 11 audience members at a time in the studio. Each story was told to 1 member of the audience at a time. The stories lasted around 3 minutes and when everyone was done, the audience members would be guided to a different island... 11 stories in total, told to a different person each time... And each time the story was told, there would be one interruption in order to highlight one island with a sound cue. The music created quite magical moments: the whole room would get filled with music and all the attention would be drawn to one island in particular... The music used was very different from one island to the other: Prince, Debussy, Portishead, Sigur Ros, The Rolling Stones to name a few.
I could have summarized this in a few words only but I feel like it's important to tell in details how the project was created as I found it deeply moving, inspiring, fun and challenging at the same time. I think the students felt the same. I was so moved by the whole thing that I thought I had no choice but to write a song about it. So you can make the connections now and see how the project made me take different decisions about Phase 11:
realizing how absurd the division between French and English wihtin one "national school" can be --> I'll make the song bilingual, in reference to Montreal just by doing so and indirectly
- Archipelagos was about telling a story of a legend through movement --> I'll use that in the lyrics and I'm going to call my song Archipel/Légende in reference to the piece
- loving working with the students --> I'll talk to them directly in my song "you're legend, your story, you're telling in movement, bring your own song"...
- being fascinated with the work of the students on their movement --> I'll ask them to perform their movement for the Phase 11 video...
B-SIDE: MEMORI (TRÉSOR RMX)
This is Phase 11. Hope you enjoy it. The b-side is a remix of Memori by my friends Trésors. Check out their new album. They rock and I hope to be performing shows with them next year. To be continued...