Jérôme Minière

Rarely, a single and only track can trigger an interview with an artist, whose existence we were totally unaware of. I like people with a philosophical approach to things, let alone artists. Not much one can do without philosophy, anyways. So, Frenchman Jérôme Minière’s philosophy and course is a rare model of a literally detached song maker. Jérôme flourished out of the borders of French song making. 

After his debut in the pioneering French label “Lithium Records” (Dominique A, Diabologum, Mendelson, etc.) - a little wonder of DIY music mentality - he left and settled in Quebec, Canada, where he lives until this day. The transition, however, was not only geographical. He himself embraced Canadian electro-pop music and furthermore, gave life to other artistic fields he had already studied back in France. Storytelling, theatre, dancing and cinema – with relevant studies, were occupations added to his life. As he says, laughing, “If you’re not Celine Dion, there’s no way you can make a living, just by producing only your own music in Canada”.

Minimalism, poetry, electro music, rhythm, eclecticism, curiosity and especially the need for freedom, is what is included in the meaning of the word “self-made” for Jérôme Minière. According to him, even to this day he still doesn’t know which chords he uses. Self-taught and timid since childhood, music intervened where reality was too harsh for him, allowing him to come out of his shell. In our interview, he admits to having played in bands since he was young, in order to attract girls because he was really shy. Today, although coping with the crowd under the stage, he finds comfort in obscurity. 

The track that led us to Jérôme Minière, was “La vérité est une espèce menacée”. It is a part of the French Rémy Poncet’s collection in the label “Objet Disques”, along with tracks from other artists about to collaborate with the company in their complete projects. In "spoken word", the way he usually writes his music, or better narrates, the track is essentially a poem that speaks of the truth metaphorically, as an endangered species. A gloomy landscape in a synthesizer and trip hop hypnotic rhythm, all in the mind of a subway traveller as he gazes out the window….

All these experiences have turned Minière into an essentially free electron that orbits around his sole desires: to create music that helps him stay away from all fake human needs. Spirituality is, after all, the essence of the world, though we tend to forget. 

Jérôme’s new work is out digitally on December 7th and during 2019 he is planning to release a new album withObjet Disques”. Coming up, our sincere conversation with the artist.


The Basement: Hello Jérôme! First of all, thank you for this interview about you and your music. Amazing new single "La vérité est une espèce menacée" on Objet Disque's compilation. Please, introduce yourself to us.
I was born in France, but I live in Montreal, Canada, for more than 20 years now. I studied film in Belgium but finally made music. I released my first 2 records in the late nineties with Lithium Records (a french label that launched artists like Dominique A., Françoiz Breut, Diabologum). Then I signed with La Tribu, a french canadian label, and released ten records with them. Since 2017, I mainly produce music by myself. There are two releases ahead, which respond to each other: « Dans la forêt numérique » (to be released online on December 7th) and « Une Clairière » (to be released by Objet Disque in winter 2019). Both albums share song « La vérité est une espèce menacée ». « Dans la forêt... » is a bit more into pop, and « Une clairière » is more exploratory.

The Basement: You were raised in Orléans, France but you now live in Canada. Tell us more about your childhood and how you got into music.
My father was listening to a lot of music, in many genres, curiosity drove his choices, buying a lot of vinyls, and he brought me to many shows during my childhood. It was in the late 70’s, and the ambiance was very peaceful and relax. I saw many many bands, in many genres, from hippie bands like Gong, to Brazilian music, Bob Marley, Joe Jackson, Stanley Clarke, XTC, the Police and french artists like Jacques Higelin, folk artists and others... So music was very important to me. It wasn’t a project, more like a way of living and adding taste, colors, and moods to reality. I especially remember, sitting in the back of my parent's car, driving back home or leaving somewhere at night, listening to music on the radio, staring at the sky, feeling hypnotized by the journey, and protected inside of the vehicule, connected to something bigger. I was an anxious and hypersensitive child, so music, imagination, and creativity helped me a lot.

The Basement: What are your music studies? Did you study composition?
I began piano when I was seven, but I was a very bad student. I heard things, melodies in my head, but I had a hard time to learn to read music, because it wasn’t natural to me. In my experience, music was more like an inner flow. Then, when I was a teenager, I played keyboards and composed for a band we created with my best friends. Our music wasn’t very good, but I was very fresh and eclectic, mixing new wave, hardcore punk and funk, all that was reachable. The main purpose was to seduce girls despite our shyness. At 17, I began to play guitar and sing in a new band which was more into noisy pop music. I learned guitar all by myself, and even today, I don’t know the name of the chords I play.

The Basement: Tell us more about your history in the music industry. Your Biography is full of cooperations with musicians, filmmakers and theatrical music productions.
The thing is, if you’re not Céline Dion, to make a living in Québec province (which has a vast territory but a small population), you have to do a lot of things, not just only your own music. And as I’m curious in many fields, I had the opportunity to work for and with other artists and it’s a great fulfillment for me. So I composed, arranged and wrote for other singers, for visual artists, for cinema and theatrical productions. For example, in the last ten years, I worked seven times with stage director Denis Marleau, and learnt a lot from him, composing music scores, ambient soundscapes and adapting Kurt Weill or Schubert pieces. In fact, I like to go in front of a crowd on stage, but it’s more natural for me to stay in the shade. I’m a quiet discreet person.

The Basement: Let's get back to 1996, at your first LP. How "Monde Pour N'importe Qui" make you feel when you published it?
For me, that was a dream come true! We recorded in Brussels where I was finishing film studies (in INSAS). We kept some songs that I had mixed on a 4 tracks tape recorder and we rearranged some with a more hi-fi sound. At this time I was obsessed with music using samples. I didn’t have one, just a multitrack sequencer and Roland U-110 (a multi-timbral rack synth). We added some audio editing and field recordings in the studio, like these Iranian drums on « La jalousie de la vierge Marie ».

The Basement: At many of your compositions, you use to build songs with spoken word. What is the reason for using that technique?
I can find two main reasons: my obsession is to tell stories, and I never felt like a great singer. So I did it this way, because I had to!

The Basement: Do you consider yourself as a pop music artist? What is your kind of music writing?
When asked, I often said that I’m a « half-popular » artist, which is quite true. People listening to the public broadcast and college radios in Canada know me, but those listening to commercial radios never heard a single note of my work. I admire some artists that are more radical than me, but I never felt I could be one of them because my tastes are very eclectic and unpure. The way we perceive music depends on the context.


The Basement: Comparing your starting years to your nowadays work, can you spot any major differences? Which were the most important experiences you came across and you will remember forever?
To tell it in a simple way: I began to sing more and more, and to look for simplicity. I also became more « professional », because I had to, working with great musicians and not just a sampler or a computer. In many ways it was great, but I also lost something on the way. And I think that recently, I chose to go back to my roots, to the DIY philosophy and to a renewed balance between minimalism and complexity, without complacency.

The Basement: How did you meet at first with Rémy Poncet of Objet Disques? Tell us more about the compilation.
A few years ago, a friend of mine in France, told me about Rémy’s project, Chevalrex, which reminded him of me, and furthermore, he had a song called « Orléans », suggesting it was also his hometown. And then, earlier this year, Rémy contacted me via Facebook to do a remix of one of his new songs.

We began to talk (on the phone, we never met in person yet!) and the vibe was instantly great between us. Rémy is amazing, doing a lot of things: music, graphic design and owning his own label Objet Disque, with a lot of taste and enthusiasm. I sent him my new songs and he picked some that he liked, including « La vérité... » which I already had released online in January 2018. We will release a record together in winter 2019. The compilation involves artists and bands that Rémy plans to release.

The Basement: What are you talking about in "La vérité est une espèce menacée" and when the track was composed?
This song was finished one year ago, a bit by accident. I have a lot of audio sessions in my computer that will often not end as a song. I was doing a cleanup, listening to these music sketches. « La Vérité... » was one of them, and I instantly felt that there was something to do with it. Except for the piano solo at the end, I didn’t work so much on it, every piece of the song was fitting naturally, including the text that was first written for another song. I must admit it’s rare that it happens this way. The text is a poem about truth as an endangered species, a conscious flow popping in the head of a metro passenger, mixing a lot of small impressions and metaphors. It’s a mental landscape.

The Basement: Can you pick one influential artist for you?
There are many, it’s a blend... The difficulty for me, was alway to pick one! In music... Let’s pick some: Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Alain Bashung, Serge Gainsbourg, Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt, Lou Reed, Mc Cartney and the Beatles, Daft Punk, Prince, Steve Reich, Mark Hollis and Talk Talk, Lhasa, Duke Ellington, Dominique A., Philippe Katerine, JJ Cale,Tortoise,To rococo rot, Nick Drake, Brigitte Fontaine, Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Ryuichi Sakamoto...

The Basement: Do you have any favourite contemporary artists? Propose to us some albums regardless of genres, that you think we must have a listen to.
My most recent « coups de coeurs » are: the latest album of Low, « Double Negative », an amazing work; Adrianne Lenker and her band Big Thief. Marc Melia, a Spanish composer living in Brussels.

The Basement: Any future plans?
I’d love to record a new ambient album. I made one in 2001, « Jérôme Minière présente Herri Kopter » which I’m very proud of, and since, I never was able to complete a follow-up.

The Basement: Make a wish you want to come true.
The world we live in needs all of our wishes these days. If I want my wish to come true, I have to keep it in my mind until it perhaps comes true.


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