A Chat with Blue Coffee (22.09.2021)

Blue Coffee is covering a lot of ground with their album In and Out. Through the tracks, they delve into personal stories and the connection between feeling and different states of mind. Gautier Rodriguez (vocals, guitar), Nicolas de Bank (drums, vocal), Sebastien Tourel (bass) and François Debiol (guitar) come together for an unforgettable sound recorded in Rodriguez’s home studio. To delve into the band and their new album, Gautier Rodriguez took the time to chat to us about the band, their sound, the album, creative processes and much more!

OSR: How did the band first get together?

Rodriguez: We cannot say that we had chosen the moment to meet. I met Nico at the funeral of a mutual friend, a member of Nico’s group. It was the first time and we sang for the first time together with other friends during this painful moment.

This is how we met.

We saw each other again, 6 months later and that’s when we really talked about music and the project, which finally became common ground. When I went to see Nico and meet Seb in their studio, I was nervous, like on a first date. I had to check the correct route 3 to 4 times. I knew I had a unique opportunity to be able to play in a group after years of being kind of on my own musically.

What is special is that during the first rehearsal, 2 songs came out like this: ‘Silent’ and ‘Anytime You’re Gone’ which are both on the first album Silent. The first chords came out as if they were expected to come out at that time. I joined a group under reconstruction and it was only a little later that I suggested to Nico and Seb that they meet Francois. That’s when our certainty of creating our songs came true.

In the course of this year, once a first set was established, we had the chance to perform on stage at a local festival.

OSR: When you first started making music together, did you have an idea of the sound you wanted or has this evolved over time?

Rodriguez: It’s a bit of both, of course. What some describe as raw sound is above all a choice of having a direct sound, an almost live sound. The main idea was to make our studio sound as reproducible as possible on stage.

On the other hand, having little material requires being creative and persevering (laughs).

The album Silent and the album In and Out were recorded with exactly the same material under the same conditions. Yet we find that there is a gap between the two sound sides. I think now, it’s the songs that will change our sound and not the other way around.

OSR: Your album In and Out, is a combination of emotional transitions and personal stories. What prompted you to create this combination?

Rodriguez: The combination of the two happened naturally. After all, emotions drive stories.

Personally, I didn’t realize it until after the album was made because I don’t lend myself to metacognition when I compose. During these stages of creation, I let these aspects blend together and see how they resonate so that I can see what original identity emerges, no matter which. In addition, I have always liked the idea of leaving the freedom to everyone to have the choice to interpret, to feel what they see/listen/read etc, regardless of the intentions of the author. This is what guided me during my youth on songs or works of art: Often I did not have the keys to understand, so I created mine (laughs).

What happened for this album was along the same lines. At first, there is always the first impression. Then it gets richer as you listen to it. Of course, our neuroses carry us and there is this omnipresent paradox between catharsis and modesty. As a result, our music ultimately behaves like a drawing made up of several layers. I admit that it is pleasant for the mind not to remain in a certain linearity, to bring together ideas in order to obtain “something else” that we can bring to life differently.

OSR: The album touches on a number of social issues, are there any that are particularly close to you?

Rodriguez: Personally, I feel much closer to the serious damage that school bullying brings (you know, in my “undercover life”, I’m a teacher). This is one of the layers for the song ‘Minor Opening’.

In a more global context, I am sensitive to the lessons of the past that we do not retain, especially when it is necessary to make the right choices. It’s an element that makes up the state of mind of ‘Cats in Green’, where the journey between man and nature is underlying, although it can also feel like a simple fantasy love story.

Yes, the layers and the combinations (laughs).

OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with the idea as a whole or a single track?

Rodriguez: We have so many songs in reserve that we wanted to create an album for 2 reasons, to make them live finally and to quickly develop the possibility of having a set composed mainly of our songs for live performances. These needs guided the creative process.

Finally, concretely, and like many groups I suppose, it is often a back and forth between studios and rehearsals which finalizes the creation and the finalization of a piece. We still have a lot of songs on the bench, but now we might just go into a song-by-song creative process. Containment and ways of sharing music invite us to move towards that now.

OSR: You had to schedule your sessions together for once a month and studio sessions for the album 3 days per holiday. How do you feel this affected the album?

Rodriguez: I think the time constraint allowed us to give the best of ourselves because we know that we could not afford to waste these moments. It also allows us not to get lost in choices to make. No time! So much the better, generally if you gave me infinite time to make a song, well eternity might not be enough to be satisfied with its creation (laughs).

More seriously, I quite like the idea of being in the snapshot. Indeed, each session, each hour spent is so important even if honestly we do not realize it at the time. By operating like this, we know that we will not have the right to do it over and over again. Constraints lead to a lot of creativity. It is certainly a fragile balance because, beyond this organization, it is then the hours of sleep that were used to mix, master etc. The album nevertheless has a solid coherence despite this way of doing things. As if the bond affecting all these moments were never broken. In any case, that’s how I feel.

Blue Coffee

OSR: If people could listen to only one song from the album, which would you recommend and why?

Rodriguez: Ah! You want to torment me! I could try to turn my answer by telling you that each song has its own universe etc…

What is true is that there are really very different preferences depending on who is listening to the album, which is a real compliment to us because we didn’t want to “fill” the album. To come back to your difficult question, I think that personally, I would suggest ‘Minor Opening’. Not because it’s the first on the album, but because it’s a song that I carried for a long time and therefore there may be something older coming from me that is there. It gives off both a positive energy despite its content as well as an unstoppable feeling of hope.

OSR: If the band were pack animals, what would you be and why?

Rodriguez: Ah, I think that we would be a mixture between the animals of the film Madagascar, and the characters of the book of Alain Damasio, ‘The Horde of the Contrevent’. I guess your disappointment but this is the image that came to me. No wolves, flamingos, rats, bees, ants, dolphins, or prairie dogs etc.

On the one hand, the combination of characters from Madagascar corresponds to us in what we can experience and go through, such as the time when we played a rock concert in front of a drunken audience waiting for reggae, with our sound system going away during the concert. Then there are also resonances on the temperaments of characters, but I won’t tell you who could be who (laughs).

On the other hand, the characters in this book, who have an abnegation beyond everything to advance in their quest, who know exactly what to do within their horde. It corresponds more to our way of working our music and of not giving up even if we do everything by ourselves despite the difficulties encountered, do not live in a region which is not really a land where rock is present and must build everything from A to Z. A contrevent therefore.

OSR: What do you feel is the greatest influence on your music?

Rodriguez: Obviously, my neuroses (laughs), but that would be too simple and common. I can’t just give one. If I had to remember only 4 or 5 which fed my music as I went along:

  • 8-16 bit video game music I used to record with a mobile K7 recorder stuck on the tv, high record quality. Then the K7 were played in my parent’s car. Thank you Mom and Dad for your patience!
  • My intensive ‘pyjama’ bass practice in my bedroom as a teenager where I spent hours playing Police, Iron Maiden and ACDC.
  • A spectrum that stretches from Foo Fighters to Turin Brakes with Radiohead as an anchor.
  • My training course in rhythm and percussion during an animator training when I was more or less 20 years old, which made me understand that I liked and could compose.
  • My indecision in my love stories.

OSR: What else can we expect from you in the coming 12 months?

Rodriguez: The only positive point is that within 12 months, we hope to release at least 1 or 2 songs, and to give some concerts! Maybe a clip, we’ll see.

Anyway, we can’t wait!

Thanks to Gautier Rodriguez for chatting with us! You can find more about Blue Coffee on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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