Marie Davidson: “Goodbye to the Dancefloor”?
We have been following the career of Marie Davidson and Pierre Guerineau with great interest. With one foot in Montreal and the other in Berlin, they produce a particularly innovative electronic music, as part of two projects: Marie Davidson's solo project and their duo ESSAIE PAS. Their musical world evolves between introspective “ambient” music and “minimal synth”, while displaying “clubbing” nu-disco / techno overtones. The whole is sublimated by “spoken word / voice-over”, declaimed or sung. The dreamlike character, almost cinematic, is omnipresent, as if you were listening to the soundtrack of an imaginary film.
We met Marie Davidson before her concert in Brussels, where she was presenting her new solo production, ‘Adieux au Dancefloor’, released by Cititrax, the second label of Veronica Vasicka, the boss of the famous New-York label Minimal Wave.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: How did you meet Veronica Vasicka?
Marie Davidson [Marie]: We played the same evening in Montreal in September 2015; that's how I met her.
RoD: The title ‘Farewell to the Dancefloor’ is a bit contradictory because the content is on the whole very dance-oriented.
Marie: Yes, but the track ‘Adieux au Dancefloor’ is placed at the end of the album; it's the little touch of black humour to close.
RoD: The title also corresponds to a period when you were a little tired of nightlife and clubbing?
Marie: Yes, yes, of course.
RoD: Especially in Berlin?
Marie: Yes, in Berlin but elsewhere too. Attention: I like dancing and dance music but the world of “nightlife” is tiresome, “draining”... I was feeling frustrated. Hence the desire to distance myself and make fun of it, with a little humour. There are so many “dark” songs on this subject, I wanted to do something...
RoD: ...a bit funny?
Marie: Yes, exactly.
RoD: The song has a French pop aspect, evoking Elli & Jacno, even Lio...
Marie: Yes, I would rather say Lio. There is a connection with French pop which is a bit unusual for me. It is also the only track of the album that was co-written with Pierre [Note: Guerineau]. I wrote the lyrics and the music but Pierre added his touch, his “French touch”, into the arrangements.
RoD: There is a link with ‘La Chute’, the last title of the ESSAIE PAS album, and with Christophe, a singer whom Pierre likes a lot...
Marie: Yes, exactly. There are many ideas that came from Pierre. It was very nice to work with him on this track.
RoD: On your album, there are also tracks that open doors to a new musical direction, for example ‘Inferno’.
Marie: It opens the gates of hell? (Laughs)
RoD: It is more techno-industrial, it has an ORPHX side...
Marie: I cannot hide the fact that ORPHX is a big influence for me. I did not think of it consciously when I composed ‘Inferno’ but there is clearly a link. They are friends of mine and a great source of inspiration. My new tracks go a little in this direction: they are more intense, more focussed on rhythm. There is always a melodic element but, the rhythmic side is more accentuated than before.
RoD: Besides, you've collaborated with ORPHX on their latest album. Notably on a song that I particularly like ‘Walk Into The Broken Night’: the music and voice create a universe which is quite different from what they usually do. It's pretty “dark”, almost “Gothic”...
Marie: They composed the song, including the lyrics. They listen to a lot of music and are influenced by all kinds of styles: shoegaze, industrial, new wave, cold wave, classical music. They are very open and have a great musical culture. In their last album, they wanted to incorporate some of their influences into their music, which is generally more techno.
RoD: Since you signed with DFA for ESSAIE PAS and with Cititrax for your solo album, have you noticed a change in the evolution of your career?
Marie: Yes, I get more proposals, more opportunities but overall I continue to do what I did before, as best I can.
RoD: I have even seen an article on ESSAIE PAS in The Guardian...
Marie: Yes, DFA did a lot of communication. On the Cititrax side, Veronica Vasicka did the artwork of the album herself, and she also did the mastering.
RoD: Since you've been in Berlin, I suppose you've found a lot of musicians and artists from all over the world, and especially from Montreal and New York.
Marie: Yes, Berlin is a very cosmopolitan city.
RoD: I believe NIGHT MUSIK is in Berlin?
Marie: Yes, it's Shub Roy, a friend, who is from Montreal.
RoD: There's also ANCIENT METHODS and the entire techno-industrial scene...
Marie: I love ANCIENT METHODS but I do not know him personally.
RoD: It's Michael Wollenhaupt, he's very nice.
Marie: I also like the project he has with ORPHX: ESCHATON.
RoD: What have you been listening to lately?
Marie: I've been listening to SCHWEFELGELB's new release; they friends of mine [Note: it's the EP ‘Dahinter Das Gesicht’].
RoD: Yes, Sid Lamar and Eddy! It's very techno-EBM.
Marie: Indeed. It is super modern, very well done and very efficient.
RoD: And if you had to select a “classic”, the song that was a flash for you when you were young and that defined what you were going to become musically?
Marie: First, there was NIRVANA, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, when I was seven years old. But there isn't really a song that defined my style, since I cannot even describe my style... (laughs). It's a combination of so many things.
RoD: Yes, there's disco, soundtrack music... Even THE DOORS were important for you, right?
Marie: Yes, I love THE DOORS. But wait, there is a song that still touches me enormously today. It's ‘You Forget To Answer’ which is on the album ‘The End’ by NICO. When I heard it, there was a change in my life.
RoD: In what way?
Marie: I could not explain it, it's metaphysical. When I listen to the song now, it still makes me feel the same way: I have chills. It's a musical and aesthetic language that corresponds to me. It touches me right to the heart. It is an album produced by John Cale, which dates from 1974. Brian Eno plays synthesizers on certain tracks.
RoD: What's nice with NICO is that it's super “dark”. Even in her previous albums, which are very minimal, it is very dark, just because of her voice. She is perhaps the first “gothic” singer in history!
Marie: Yes, that's probably true! (laughs)
RoD: In your influences, there is also John Carpenter's soundtrack music, I think, right? For instance ‘Assault on Precinct 13’?
Marie: Yes! And even more ‘Halloween III’. John Carpenter did not realize it but he made the music and it's just huge. It is also an important reference for me.
RoD: Are you working on new tracks right now?
Marie: Yes, I'm always working on new stuff. It's something that will never change: I'll always make music. Don't worry about that (laughs)...
RoD: Thank you, Marie!
Marie: Thank you.
To order the album ‘Adieux au Dancefloor’ by Marie Davidson, visit the Cititrax / Minimal Wave website: http://minimalwave.com/releases/release/adieux-au-dancefloor/
Marie Davidson on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariedavidson.official
Listen to the interview of Marie Davidson and Pierre Guerineau dating from August 2015 HERE