Another reality for French rocker

Updated: 2014-02-16 08:37

By Chen Nan(China Daily)

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Matthieu Chedid, the French rock singer-songwriter, who is better known by his stage name -M-, had too much emotion to deal with during his first tour in China in 2010. He saw the Great Wall, experienced three unforgettable shows and had his first collaboration with a Chinese musician, Shanghai-based Cha Cha.

As part of his Asian tour in 2014, Chedid will return to China with his new album, I1, which includes a song remix, Detache toi, featuring Cha Cha and her Shanghai-Amsterdam trip-hop duo project, called AM 444. The duo will also be on board with Chedid during his China tour.

"My first tour in China was an incredible adventure," recalls the 42-year-old musician. "It made me realize that this kind of China-France music collaboration is actually quite rare. This time I really want to meet people and get closer to local musicians and their universe."

Chedid's musical crush on Cha Cha was followed by listening to several Chinese musicians, including Second Hand Rose and Nova Heart, which were introduced by Kaiguan Culture, a cultural agency based in Beijing.

Despite having never seen each other, he felt that he had something in common with Cha Cha after spending weeks digging into all her past songs, which finally gave birth to a remix version of AM 444's tune, Shenjing Moshao, literally meaning nerve endings.

The song blends Cha Cha and Chedid's voices as well as adding the chemistry of guitar chords to the duo's Dutch producer Jay Soul's tunes.

"I tried to create a universe around her, to compose this song that I see like a sort of short film, a sensual and enigmatic piece, which mirrors well my Chinese fantasies," he says.

Shenjing Moshao, according to Cha Cha, sounds like we have a conversation in the song through our voices."

Chedid had a philosophical and traditional vision of China before he actually came to the country. He likes Taoism and Confucianism very much. "For me, China was another reality, a sort of fantasy, something inaccessible," he says.

According to Leo de Boisgisson from Kaiguan Culture, who brought Chedid to China in 2010, the musician is a curious person, who is always looking forward to learning from different people and cultures. During the tour, he asked for a guzheng (zither) player to teach him to play the instrument only a few hours before his show.

"We called a guzheng teacher, who came straight to the venue and taught him some basics. A few hours later, he was playing guzheng onstage," says Boisgisson.

Chedid's China tour includes Wuhan, Shanghai and Beijing.

First appearing in the 1990s with a playful look, an M-shaped haircut, and pink suits only Prince or Elton John would wear, Chedid glowed in the French pop rock scene with his song craft, guitar sound and half-real, half-disguised character onstage.

Born into a family of artists - his father is a famous French pop singer, his grandmother is a writer and his sister is a concert director - Chedid started to form his own style and invent his stage character and songs under the "M" sign, which is a way of distancing his work from that of his family's established reputation.

Another reality for French rocker

He formed a band, called Crazy Babies, with a bunch of friends, who were like him, that is, sons of French pop singers. Later, he had a blues band with friends. "Funnily, for my first concert I actually had to perform for all these pop singers, our dads, who were our first audience and were observing us, mumbling and experiencing," he recalls. "I learned everything onstage, not at a music school."

He gained international fame through his recording of the song Belleville Rendez-vous for the soundtrack of the 2003 animated film The Triplets of Belleville in both French and English. The song was nominated for a 2004 Academy Award.

As for his different persona on and off the stage, Chedid describes it as "a yin and yang thing indeed" and "I need both things, the fanciness and the calm".

"In my private life I am pretty shy and reserved but I am much more explosive onstage," he says. "That's why I like the Taoists so much I guess, because of the duality they see in each thing and which my grandmother used to feel, too. It has always inspired me."

Now, he is moving toward simplicity as a musician and he believes that the ultimate goal in music is silence.

"We're in a world where there is no space left, a world of too much information and too little time and I think that the artist should be doing the opposite to this," he says. "I want to celebrate life and I think that most of the music masterpieces that have marked the world have this sort of resonance where silence can exist."

 Another reality for French rocker

French rock singer-songwriter Matthieu Chedid will come to China with his new album, I1. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 02/16/2014 page9)