Le Peuple de L’Herbe – Cuba

– It is perhaps the first time when, at the completion of an album we are entirely satisfied with everything: for the album itself where we have no regrets, after two or three weeks we say to yourselves yes we should have done that, that or that. Then, it’s really something when the disc is released and you are happy with it yourself. That’s not to say you are going to say to people: it’s the best album! It’s not that. But you are very happy and that is really important. We are pleased musically. We are happy financially…

Le Peuple de L’Herbe is very successful. One of the leading French electric music groups which have just released Cube – its third disc – is praised by the critics. According to the magazine Liberation they have given a lesson in skilful performing. DJ Stani, one of the founders of the group is very proud of it:

– I like Mission very much because JC does a super rap which has a good finish.

– I like the Electronic Music very much because we have made it? It is the last piece we have made. We made it? It is a fresh piece.

Le Peuple de L’Herbe appeared in 1997. Its reputation was established during live concerts. A mix of electric music, hip hop, reggae, funk, drum and bass has livened evening and (set the adrenaline flowing) which has created ardent fans. They have gained in sophistication over the years without losing the dynamic which made them successful. Psychostick is the percussionist in the band:

– Yes, you need energy, you must also listen to others, he mustn’t listen to himself. Next, I think it’s him? it is on the job that you learn. It is by doing it well, by making mistakes. It is by making mistakes that we learn.

– We get our inspiration from the DJ sets which improve, which have a progression and then we attack the sets with strength; we have to keep going down and up. We try to reflect on our pieces, as if in a DJ set, where we want to go. We are not content to play the pieces one after the other. We try for? We play a lot of different musical styles and, sometimes, if we simply throw them out haphazardly, it wouldn’t be coherent. Even the pieces, sometimes, by putting them in the right order, we make progress and captivate the attention of the public.

Can you discern a specifically French style? No-one is better placed to say than the rapper JC, who sings with “Le Peuple de L’Herbe” on his last disc.

– Not a style as such but the way you look at music, for instance “the melange” that they use, the diversity, is French. Not the individual parts, you hear the same music as we do in the UK, or in America, but perhaps you perceive it in a different way. It’s a different way of using it.

– Yes, the mixture, the mixture I think that’s it really? We are like the moped riders, we work by combining.

– As JC said, in Great Britain, very often, there is a style and each artist tries to create a new style or, in a style, to be the most performed or the best and, we, from not seeking to have a precise style as N’Zeng said, I mean simply to make what we like, the mixture, perhaps that is going to become a style but it wasn’t expected at the outset.

After seven months spent in a studio, “Le Peuple de L’Herbe” is now preparing a European tour. The trumpeter, N’Zeng is happy to finally leave the recording studios:

– We have to come out of the cave a bit because there, well, we have not see the day (light). Besides, we must see our own faces a bit. No, but it’s true that we, the live (show) is of great importance. It’s a bit (like) a second life for the pieces that we make in the studio, especially as there, on this album, we have really? We started from nothing? You see, it’s not a regurgitation of pieces we have made live, you see. It’s true, we started at zero. We made a studio album and now we perform it again live so it’s for that (reason) we are in the new auditorium in Bourgoin to work on the sound, to work on loads of things.

– Ah well, it’s a pleasure. I don’t know. It’s pure pleasure. It’s the energy! It’s?

– There is a kind… a moment, a kind of, in inverted commas, trance which makes you do something you would never have foreseen. We had some concerts which received a few mentions, you see that… we remember those a bit, you know, we? That makes you laugh? The very idea of thinking of them again! There were some places, notably in Bretagne, where there were some reactions. The people are? for example, in Bretagne, the public have followed us for a long time. We have played with the “Trans Musicales” the first time in the “In” because we had done it in the “Of” the year before and there was a kind of discovery, you see, with the public. It’s true that there are some things which have made us stand out. Lately, of the “Eurockeennes?” There were lots of things like that. But it’s true that when we find cohesion between us live, we finish with a smile at the end of the concert. It’s true? it’s satisfying. So that when we are not very pleased with ourselves even if the public was with us, we have a bit? You see, it’s… well, we want to do better the next day.

The “live” concerts of electronic music are not strictly “live”: many elements of the programme are on the computer. Nevertheless there is still plenty of room for manoeuvre, as N’Zeng explains to us:

– In fact, the hard core of our pieces is made on the machine and it stays very much as part of the live performance, which sends the voices live. There is a part for improvisation, or for arranging live. It’s Psychostick. He has the percussion parts which he is going to fix during the organised rehearsals, but he is going to want to make small changes, following each evening, because similarly with the trumpet, you can? There are some things, there are some variations. If you want, we are mid-way between the completely live electronic (show) and the live (show) with rock and roll, I would say, or a live classical group functioning on? on the hoof. Finally, it’s all live. We are a bit between the two so we have the bad side of machines, which makes it a bit fixed. But you can deliver the flexibility live also. So it’s the balance that we must manage to find each time we start to work on a new live (concert), it’s? But even so there are still some things. There is a general structure of each piece which is already fixed in advance and it’s at the inside of each item, you see, each item that we can, well, evolve, in fact change.

– At first each one did his own thing in his own corner. And then, in fact, the fact of recording… all the concerts we record, we listen to them again. The fact of the recordings, is a question time every evening or the next day, you see, we listen to them again the next day and we sort out the bad ideas and the good ideas and, for, I would say, for practically three years we have found a balance between us. We listen to ourselves much more than at the beginning. Right at the beginning, it was almost? It was almost a cliché of electronic music. That’s to say each one did his own little thing in a corner or? It’s for that we had a tendency to say, even since the last album, it is more mature? It is more a group working; in fact, it’s really a group working (together). It is no more four distinct people; it is one group of people. At last, a thing closely knit.

– Now, we are a bit stretched because we are preparing ourselves, we are doing rehearsals, for we must be ready, we must reach a level of quality which satisfies us because we are very, very demanding. We are all music fanatics. We buy lots of disc but we also watch a lot of concerts and we always go to see them because it is very important for us to see what others are doing, how they achieve expression and, us, we have always detested the laptop syndrome. We , our recommendations, it’s from groups… him, he has played with Georges Clinton, he is part of , the “Bad Brains”, the “Fish bones”, the groups who are waaa, “Straight in your face”. And with all due modesty, we are not on the same level but it is what we want when we are on stage, we want to give the best we have and yes, it must remain a pleasure.

A European tour should help to share the pleasure with everyone.

– Ah well, we are going to fifteen shows in France and after, we are going to do… we are going to embark on a tour, a mini European tour in fact. Well, that is going to be all the Benelux (countries) Belgium: French-speaking Belgium, Flemish, we are going to Holland, we are going to do it about September, and eight shows in Holland. Germany for us is rather new. There, we are going to do fifteen shows. Then there is Spain. We have five shows in Spain and, then, there are good things we are preparing perhaps for the Nordic countries, all of which is rather Scandinavian.

$Id: 2005_01_cul.htm 35 2021-02-12 12:17:35Z alistair $

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