France’s unique and soul-shimmering bluesman, Youri Defrance, will return to Brisbane for the Australian release of his new EP, ‘The Turning Point’.
His songs are both familiar and foreign, melding traditional charm with his evolving landscapes. “My music allows everyone to discover shamanism and the sacred bond that connects it to nature by going to a secular tradition often regarded as mysterious,” Youri says, “but accessible if tamely approached with humility and curiosity.”
What is psyche blues?
It’s the union, the meeting of two forces: shamanism and scientists.
What is Mongolian throat singing?
Okay, the best is to learn a bit about the subject before asking the question because there are many different styles. I often sing Tuvas style called kargyraa and Mongol kevliin xöömi or xarkiraa xöömi. To be more clear, this is polyphonic singing, but in two different frequencies, singing with one voice. Overtone singing was born in Siberia (Tuvans, -50° in winter!), created with the sound of Mongolian river. For Australians it can sound like the didgeridoo... I also use the throat singing with my morin khuur (horse-head violin) for meditations.
How is it different to singing like you would in the shower? Crazy Australia question; it all depends if an Aboriginal spider (size of my hand) takes a shower with me ;)
How do you train your voice to sing from your throat?
The Tsaatan shamane I met during my last trip taught me a lot… but not the technic, more the relationship with listening to the wild nature and ancestors.
How would you describe the vibe of your music?
Psyché blues or Delta blues, rock mixed with Ethnic tribes… I mainly use in concert acoustic or reso phonic guitar and Mongolian fiddle plus a bass rhythm opposite with my foot.
Are most of your songs in English, French or both languages?
I sing in English because your rhythm of language is more interesting than the French. After nine months of travelling around the world, I miss the French poetry... I think the experienced will influence my new vinyl project 2015 on returning to Paris.
You say your music “allows everyone to discover shamanism”, what does this mean?
My music communicates with the spirits. When I play in concert I have two sets that are completely different; the first is easy and the second is more complex because it is a time when I compose with other people ... if the audience listens, not my ego embroidered with sequins but the sounds from our ancestors, our inner road, animal totem, then it's a discovery and sharing of shamanism.
What is shamanism?
A medicine with ancestral spirits: animal, nature and human… The human being is made of a body and one or more invisible components, often referred to as ‘souls’ who survive death. The world is also double. There is this world – visible, everyday, profound – and another world.
What/ who influences your songwriting?
The tree of life… be inspired by all that affects the love and his antonym.
Can you tell us the story behind your new EP 'The Turning Point'?
Long history, mainly the transformation towards the light. The message is anti-nuclear in Mongolia, hydrolic fracturing growth – the turning point of the human balance. Anyway, it’s better to listen my EP.
Has your music lead you to travel exotic places?
Yes, me voilà maintenant en Australie! Two years ago, I came to play your country and I took the time to meet the first men in a reservation 300km from Alice Springs (Warlpiri tribe); an experience hard and deep; we recorded the following track in Yuendumu:
My biggest connection was in Mongolia; I recorded another track during my first trip in Khovsgol Lake, near the Siberian border. The last eight months I spent time in the USA, between Red Nake and Sioux Lakota (Native Indian). Good and bad! Next trip is in January, where I will be in Japan. Anywhere my music helps to connect easily with different cultures, it's necessary for me to stay nomad and make sharing with people universal.
Do you have any new year's resolutions for 2015?
I have many projects including a double vinyl with a photo book in relation to my world tour, but the most important thing now, I have to finish my shamanic initiation.
Youri Defrance plays the Brisbane Jazz Club on Saturday 3 January and The Junk Bar, Brisbane, Sunday 4 January.