The founder, artist and musician behind the uniquely creative project Technology and Bones, Alix Tucou, stopped by this month to talk about his journey in music and the meanings behind the album Portraits.
We talk production, bass trombone, story-telling, conceptualisation, and plenty more. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Alix – what a pleasure, thanks for the interview, and congratulations for the wonderful new album!
Just to set the scene a little, where are you at the moment, and what have you been busy with this week?
Hi, thanks for having me! Right now I am home in New York, this week I have been playing some concerts in the city (Latin Music, Hot Jazz and Funk), teaching Music Theory in a dance school and composing new material for Technology And Bones.
It feels good being busy again !
What inspired the Technology and Bones project – how did the idea come about, and what was your musical role prior to this?
The concept of Technology And Bones was born from 2 distincts discoveries in a matter of one month in 2014. First I discovered a website called, at this time, www.workwithsounds.com (now Sound of Changes) in which they collected sounds from technologies replaced by modern evolution…they collect the sounds in order to archive the Sound Legacy of those machines that would be never used and heard again and I found this fascinating.
The second discovery was when I watched Birdman from Alejandro Innaritu… the OST was composed by Jazz Drummer Antonio Sanchez, and is exclusively drumming during the whole movie. I was blown up by the musicality of the combination of the drums with the sound edit of the movie.
Then I discovered that when I was a kid my dad used to record all sorts of sounds from home (it could be the sound of the heaters, chemnee, plumbery or garden natural sounds). It gave to me a sensibility to the fact that it was possible to listen to everything as Music, it depends just on how your perceive it… A little bit like when Marcel Duchamp decided to put everyday objects in a museum…it was a scandal but it changed the perception of “What is Art?”.
I started the compositions for my first album with a big influence of Brian Eno (entitled Technology and Bones). To fund this album I did crowd funding and for some generous contributors I decided naturally to draw musical portraits for them (album Dedication to the Bones) and this concept directly influenced my composing process and finality of Portraits.
Prior to this personal project I use to play, arrange and compose for all sorts of different bands back in France.
What does the album Portraits represent?
Mainly, Portraits represents “Imaginary” Art Exhibition Catalog… Imagine you are in an Art Gallery with all those 8 pieces of Music which are on exhibition, and then as catalog you get the album instead of a written catalog.
How did the production elements come to life – was there a heavy editing process?
A lot editing was processed for the soundscapes and musical backgrounds…Soundscapes are like the underlayment of the Music, I take a lot of time to craft the good ambience to be able to improvise semi-freely with confidence with my Bass Trombone.
I use to choose full takes on instruments I play in order to keep the music alive and not sterilized by a perfect editing… As it’s produced music I used this process to make it more organic in order to give “imperfect perfection”… at least, I try my best!
How did you decide upon each title and inner concept and scene?
Each title is directly related to the subject of the sonic portrait. See you, See You was a sentence we had in our first conversation with my wife Carla, and naturally went as title of her Portrait. Dormire con i Fantasmi was the title of an exhibition of Maurizio Pometti, Ce Balcon is a reference to a memory we have Simon Denizart (Pianist) and I back in Montreal in 2015 etc…
With the improvisation aspect – did you ever regret a take, or make a mistake and start over? Or do you have to completely trust yourself, and simply commit to the moment?
A little bit of both aspects… I try to balance. Usually I do 3 or 4 full takes maximum on recording session by songs. Then I can re-do some ideas I play than I want to nail. Usually I know that after 4 takes I kind of repeat myself and always prefer keeping it “fresh”.
With years of experience in a Studio I taught myself to be more objective and humble on my level of playing… There is always something to improve but you cannot play more than what you are capable of at the time you are recording!
You state that your intentions are to stimulate the imagination – do you aim to have every listener wandering a similar realm, or losing themselves to an entirely unique world in every case? Do you have to relinquish control to a degree, once the work is released and in the hands of its audience?
I mainly prefer that the listener makes its own imagination wandering with what they feel and imagine… and if they lose themselves in an entirely unique world that they create, for me it is a beautiful result of my music, it could not make me happier in fact…
What sort of projects or artists have featured protagonists or central characters and stories, that have influenced your creative route with this album?
I have had a big influence from visual artists and more generally from the people I made the portraits. I tried to take music composition as a painter creates a work of Art with the inspiration of beautiful discussions with my wife who works in Contemporary Arts and made the visuals of the album.
Then Musically I was influenced by Brian Eno Works, Frank Zappa (huge fan), Jacob Collier for the modern approach and Deep Listenning movement.
Are you inspired by any particular movies or stage shows, other forms of escapism?
Going into Nature is my main drive in fact… I had the chance to reside in Sicily during the production of the album. The landscapes, the Mediterranean Sea and all the culture this Island has to offer inspired me a lot (and I think you can hear it, ahah).
What first drew you to bass trombone, and do you have a second and third instrumental go-to?
I started music with playing piano very young… Then I discovered the Tenor Trombone and it completely took me away from piano. At the age of 21 I started the Bass Trombone in my Conservatory in Bordeaux and I will remember the first sounds out of it… from that point I knew I found my musical voice.
I used to play a little bit of Tuba, basic piano and synthesizers.
Is there a live tour or show to follow, and if so – what can we expect from that?
Unfortunately nothing scheduled for now but I am working on a New York Premiere Show, the sooner the better!
What’s something about you that people might be surprised to hear?
I love Nature but for now I love living in such a big city as New York…it is like an urban jungle, a permanent paradox that I like!
What’s next for you creatively?
Now I am working on a new project in continuation of Portraits. It is called Music on Canvas where I dedicate myself in drawing portraits of Contemporary Art Painters exclusively… like a Musical biography of the Artist I choose. I started with emerging artists from Sicily and now starting with worldwide renown artists like Alberto Burri, Nikki de Saint Phalle etc…
I regularly update my website with this new material to listen exclusively on my dedicated page You can listen to them here.
Thank you So Much for the interview !!
Thank you, Alix!
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