AS HE IS PREPARING THE RELEASE OF HIS DEBUT SOLO ALBUM “A SHIP, LIKE A GHOST, LIKE A CELL”, PARIS-BASED SINGER-SONGWRITER FORAYS INTO FOLK MUSIC WITH A TENSION THAT WOULD MAKE NICK DRAKE SOUND LIKE A YOGI MASTER, AND A PROMISING ELECTRONIC TWIST. AT PAST MIDNIGHT, HE TELLS US MORE ABOUT IT.
Captn: Let’s start with the basics: name, age, occupation?
Thomas: Thomas Mery; already old; it depends.
Captn: Can you explain the genesis of your current project?
Thomas: After the end of Purr, I tried many things with my computer and my guitar. Very experimental, a bit hermetic. It wasn’t always relevant, and sometimes it was. I think I wanted to find out my own way of mixing electronics and guitar.
The best way to get a clearer view of the genesis is to read what’s on my site www.thomas-mery.net. I wrote a summary of what happened until the end of 2003. What comes next remains to be written.
Thomas: Probably because I have an oversized ego, and I always think I can do everything by myself. Of course I come to realize that it’s not true, but then it’s too late, I’m already on my own, so I keep going…
Or else, because no one understands me anyway, and I absolutely wanted to express what I had deep inside, and explore every facet of my complex and tortured personality.
Or else because I was fed up with bands and compromises, and I’m grumpy, and it’s easier to rehearse on my own, and I get more money when I’m paid for a show.
Or for all those reasons at once, and for other ones I am not thinking of tonight.
Captn: From listening to your performance at the Batofar with Rivulets and Elephant Micah, then to your acoustic demo, we could notice that you are focusing more and more on songwriting, with a sparer, folkier sound. Is it a deliberate choice to restrict yourself to your voice and acoustic guitar? Is it a transition, or a new approach to your music? What about your experiences with electronics?
Thomas: People at Dora Dorovitch encouraged me to come back to songwriting, and I am thankful for that. I learned to play the guitar more decently, and I think it’s worth it. It’s not over yet, I still need to go ahead, and electronics are coming back little by little. It was a necessary step. Now I need to keep practicing the guitar, start experimenting again, play the piano, work on my breath in order to sing better, write songs that make you cry (or almost). Little by little, I think that I’m getting closer to where I wanna go to, but it takes time; more than I expected.
Captn: Can you tell us more about your songwriting process? Where? When? In which state of mind?
At my place in front of my computer, railing at the poor download speed of an American TV series episode (preferably HBO’s); at my grand-mother’s, in the small house at the back –the children’s one- thinking that what is past is past; on a bed in Rio, wondering how I got there; in my head around Saint-Germain-en-Laye at 5:30 am, completely enlightened by an idea that would turn out not to be that good; in my bed watching an episode of a US series (preferably HBO’s), thinking it might be time to sleep now.
Captn: 2 words on your lyrics: what do they relate to? Why don’t you try singing in French again like on Open Transport?
Thomas: Oh, I think French will come back.
As for what the songs are about… About how I see things through a plastic film; about how I’ll lose a lot of blood tonight; about how much we dream and hope and imagine; about how much I am scared; about the staircase that lights up from time to time as I look through the window; about how deep things are hidden; about places where I can say things at night when I don’t see what’s around, about steep slopes and running water, and emptiness, and nodes that allow me to go through vast expanses; about such things.
Captn: A few words on your label, Dora Dorovitch?
Thomas: I met Francis Esteves in Sevilla 4 years ago, and then Cédric and Guilhem, people with a passion for music (and more…), who have supported and encouraged me.
Captn: What are your short/mid/long-term projects?
Thomas: I am mixing my album next week, and I’m looking for gigs. I will keep writing songs and less structured tracks as well, some in French, some in English. I am also going to work on a video project that is important to me, and which involves video and computer. I will continue what we have initiated with Marie Daubert, and Benoît Toulemonde, i.e. a collective/video label project called “Shif-t”, to produce DVDs of each of us. Marie is releasing a video entitled “Flicker” to which I wrote the soundtrack, Benoît a video entitled “Thai Polaroid”, and I, a piece called “Smoke”, which I made long ago, but that we are now releasing as an object per se, with a sleeve, etc. This is still an embryonic stage, but we’ve got time.
Captn: To conclude on something other than yourself, can you please tell us what is moving you now, in music, onscreen, in art, in the world, in life?
Thomas: The last episode of Six Feet Under, but the very end… hum… well, I cried a lot…
Like many, I was really moved by Joanna Newsom’s debut album.
I’m not listening to Elis Regina so much now, but “Elis & Tom” was my last Spring’s soundtrack.
What is moving me right now is the end of the Summer, I saw yesterday the last sunset, and soon leaves will cover the ground (how romantic!).
And please, listen to Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” (Hello Earth).
- « A ship, like a ghost, like a cell », debut solo album out May 22, 2006 on Dora Dorovitch and Shif-t, distributed by Discograph.
- « Acoustic Demo », http://www.shif-t.net/ May 2005.
- « hallonSaft », Sundays in Spring 2004.
- « I Matter » 10′, Dora Dorovitch 2003.
- « Open Transport », Prohibited records 2000.
- « Whales Lead To The Deep Sea », Prohibited records 1997.
- « Trust / Apple Juice » 7′, Prohibited records 1996.
- « Playdoh », Ultraviolet 1999.
- « Fragments », Peter I’m Flying 2003.
- « Glamoroso », Dora Dorovitch 2003.
- « Des Courbes de choses invisibles », Dora Dorovitch 2003.