Carnet de Voyage make what they like to call "Classical Electronica", where piano playing meets percussion and experimental elements from their machines. Their shows combine music and visual elements specifically adapted to the space they're playing in, which so far has included prestigious venues such as London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Paris’ Palais de Tokyo.
This hour-long podcast presents some of their unreleased tracks, edits, and a chilling selection of tracks from the likes of Guerre Froide, Iannis Xenakis, David Bowie and Phillip Glass. Enjoy the podcast and read more about the duo below.
Metric in Piano Phase (Carnet de Voyage rework) - Yves De Mey & Steve Reich
Ghostly Waltz - Carnet de Voyage
Sandtrommel - Kosmischer Läufer
So Weit So Gut - Harald Grosskopf
Electrodub 2 - Christ Carter
Mists - Iannis Xenakis
Kampfbereit - Front 242
Walking down E flat - Carnet de Voyage
In Pursuit of Excellence - Portion Control
Demain Berlin - Guerre Froide
Sa Fosca - Joan Bibiloni
Resistance On An Island with Cotton Mill Blues (Carnet de Voyage rework) - Joakim & Rzewski
Ballet Statique in A Flat - Conrad Schnitzler & Carnet de Voyage
Heroes (Aphex Twin remix) - David Bowie & Phillip Glass
-So Carnet de Voyage, can you first please quickly introduce yourselves.
We met at Venice Biennale a couple of years ago and hit if off straight away after sharing our mutual passion for music and food. As soon as we got back to London, we started with a lunch followed by a writing session which led to recording a few tracks, shooting videos and getting offered to play at Meltdown Festival at Southbank. Carnet de Voyage was born. The project is an ever evolving site specific live show with a modular format performance. We create a sonic and visual journey by revisiting diverse genres of music, sounds and videos and deliver a multi-sensorial experience with our original compositions and films. Each performance is unique to a space. We assess the acoustic resonance of a place (a few months before sometimes) and build our performance around the sonic possibilities and difficulities that come with it. And we worked with a few challenging spaces... Each performance reflects our musically illustrated sketches of a time and a place.
-How did you approach this Nocturama podcast? How did you select the tracks and what did you want to convey? It’s great, by the way!
The Nocturama inspiration came from a continuous uneasy and melancholic feeling of coldness…It probably has something to do with the weather! We wanted something that's not easy listening and sometimes challenging and atonal. The process was like building a puzzle: finding many small pieces to build the final picture. This required some re-work on the little pieces in order to make them fit with each other. Sometimes, it needs a key change, edit, remix or added effects…etc. We went through our record collection with the state of mind of what we would love to be listening to in the darkness of a winter's night, these songs came up very naturally in the selection. We wanted to take our audience on a journey and keep surprising them with an eclectic sound and genres which all convey to a similar emotion.
What is the best setting to enjoy it?
Mimi: Sitting by the fireplace with insomnia…
Rosey: Driving along a straight road with a constantly changing landscape..
What are your plans for the original tracks and remixes in there? Will 2016 see some new CdV releases?
We have included 3 original compositions (at 5mns, 29,30mns and 52,55mns) in the mix and yes we are working on a vinyl only release for 2016.
What were your highlights from the year gone by? Which shows stand out as highlights? Any funny memories?
Royal Academy of Arts and the Barbican for Doug Aiken’s Station to Station were at opposite ends of our performances. RA show was in a perfectly controlled environment, a high ceiling 18th century building with nearly 6 months of preparation. For the Barbican performance, we have been given an open to public space for 12 hours where guests participate in our setting up and rehearsal process. Both were fantastic experiences. There are many funny moments when we tour as our constant search of delicious food no matter where we go could sometimes bring us to the brink of a missing plane or a heated discussion with the promoter when our stomach is unsatisfied.
What is the ideal environment for a CdV live show?
Mimi: We take each new environment with its own acoustic characteristics. Obviously a Musikverein, Carnegie Hall or IRCAM would be amazing places to perform in but none performance spaces with challenging resonance could also be interesting to work with. We’d love to do an outdoor in the nature concert.
Rosey: Depending on the acoustics of the space, the first thing I’d have to decide is whether to use a grand piano or a keyboard. Finding the balance between the amplified sounds and the natural acoustics of a piano, is a complex process.
The show uses a lot of visual imagery and this can create some interesting technical challenges. At Meltdown festival, for example, we used 2 screens - front projection and back projection, a technical challenge as this requires quite a lot of depth behind the stage (back projection). So the ideal environment combines the perfect spacial dimensions with perfect acoustics.
The reality of course, is that we need to quickly adapt to a space that does not have all of these factors at our disposal and so CDV has evolved in such a way as to be able to adapt to pretty much any space. Ultimately, the most important thing is communicating with the audience through the performance.
Are there particular artists, performances, venues etc. that have heavily influenced what you do now?
Mimi: We tend not to look around us too much in order to retain originality and freshness in what we do. However there are definitely heavy influences from the past that we bring into our music. I grew up with a father, an acoustic architect and collaborator of Pierre Boulez, forcing me to attend concrete music concert at IRCAM, listening to the likes of Oliver Messiaen and Innis Xenakis. Age 8, I really didn’t get serialism and was bored to death. But somehow my ears have retained the other possibilities of composing music, which can be very helpful.
Rosey: I studied composition & piano at The Royal College of Music in London, and had two major influences. My piano mentor, Yonty Solomon was an amazing musician who taught himself to read music when he was a teenager. He turned me on to the impressionists (Ravel, Debussy, Satie) Contemporary composers (György Ligeti, John Cage, Reich...) and most importantly, Improvisation. Every teaching session with him would begin with one hour of improvisation in a room with 2 huge grand pianos. My composing mentor Edwin Roxburgh, a protege of Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Philip Glass & Quincy Jones), taught me so much about harmony, texture and colour. These two men utterly nourished my musical palette and to a large extent are responsible for where I am musically now.
How do you find working as a duo? What are the main advantages and disadvantages?
Mimi: We are very complementary. I am instinctive so sometimes irrational with an obsession with percussions and electronic sounds. I need solitary time to rethink structure and production. Combined with Rosey’s melodic approach and harmonic sensibilities, we create something different…
Rosey: At the very start of the relationship, we explored various ways of collaborating. We both have very distinctive and personal work routines. I need to practise/compose at least 4 hours per day, and Mimi is also a very busy bee. Using the internet we exchange ideas, modify them, and then physically we meet and complete the process. What's great about this is that if we’re in completely different countries, it doesn’t stop the work process…
Late nights or early mornings?
Mimi: 100% late night.
Rosey: Night owl.
Favourite studio snack?
CDV: Organic crudités with various dips. We consume kilos…
Do you always make music together or do you also have solo projects?
Mimi: I work with fashion houses as music director. It ranges from programming to film score and producing show soundtracks and DJing.
Rosey: I’m just finishing a piano concerto album with The English Chamber Orchestra (Ravel - Britten). Also a long term project of piano improvisations (acoustic & electronic) and working on some film scores.
How similar are your music and fashion tastes in general?
Mimi: For Carnet de Voyage, we keep our style as minimal and austere as possible. Clothes should not take the attention away from our performance. We wear pieces that work with the lighting and monochrome is our uniform. Off stage, I am more a tomboy with a splash of glitter...
Rosey: I love fashion - in terms of performance, I like to feel good, look good but also be able to move in a comfortable way, I have a resistance to certain commercial aspects of the fashion industry (branding). For me, fashion will always remain an entirely personal, idiosyncratic aspect of my life.
Who would you most like to play your music to and why?
Mimi: Anyone who would like to escape reality for 30minutes.
Rosey: Anyone who's open to a wide range of musical styles and aesthetics….
The last track on your podcast is a remix of a David Bowie - was he a strong influence on you both? Do you have a favourite track of his?
Mimi: Like many, I was affected by Bowies’s passing. He was one of the rare examples that an artist/musician could age gracefully and keep exploring various art forms without being affected by fame, wealth, ageism, death…He managed to create transcendence with his work which is not the case of many pop artists. The world just seems less creative without him. This last track is Aphex Twin's take on Phillip Glass’s Symphony No4 “Heroes” recored in 1996 based on Bowie’s Heroes album which was recorded in Berlin 20 years earlier…It has got all the ingredients we wanted to finish this Nocturama for GEIST with. It’s hard to pick only one favourite Bowie track but 'Wild is the Wind' could make you cry. Even if it’s a cover, Bowie made it his.
Rosey: 'China Girl' :-) His Lets Dance album is such a beautfiul combo of blues and funk and pure Bowie - got to love Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar.
What kind of music do you like to relax to?
Mimi: It changes all the time but at the moment, I listen to a lot of Conrad Schnitzler, Dawn of Midi, Cluster, Eno, Bill Evans and Tangerine Dream’s “Zeit” album to chill.
Rosey: To be honest, I think a certain amount of silence a day is very important (especially outside of your music studio environment). There is so much noise pollution within our culture, in every space you go into now, that one has to actually self-consciously clean the ears.
… to dance to?
Mimi: Cold Wave all the way.
Rosey: It changes, but recently Ornette Colemann’s Blue Connotation made me want to dance. Then Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing live at Carnegie Hall came on, and that also made me want to dance.
to work to?
Know any funny jokes?
Mimi: I never remember any but happy to enjoy others'.
Rosey: You’d laugh if you heard us trying to deliver a punchline.
Finally, outside of music, what are your hopes and expectations for 2016?
Mimi: Too many to name...
Rosey: There are huge number of world problems building up... I do hope for some kind of humanitarian resolution to the refugee crisis.