Get To Know: Clémentine March
Get the deets on Londoner Clémentine March who most recently released a new EP, Les Etoiles à Ma Porte, and shared a video for “Quiet Bee” in the recent weeks of the summer. With plans to share a full-length work in the future, she shared details on what it was like being musically trained in Brazil, growing up in France, and living across language and genre borders. Water Babies was the name of her previous band, but her latest work has a whole new vibe which draws from many influences such as Pavement, the Raincoats, and the Beatles’ White Album. Les Etoiles à Ma Porte was released on June 2, produced by Syd Kemp and offers a fun taste into March’s musical style. Enjoy.
T&D: You recently released your debut EP, Les Etoiles à Ma Porte. In a few words, how would you describe the work?
CM: Les Etoiles à ma porte was written in a troubled moment for me, just before and after the attacks in Paris, in November 2015. I was pretty close. So I tried to incorporate my grieving feelings to a more positive approach: let’s scratch everything and restart a new future. It also coincided with my move to London. I asked my old bandmates from Water Babies, Pierre Caron (bass) and Guillaume Magne (drums), to go with me at Syd Kemp’s studio in Primrose Hill (a young and gifted rock producer, who records bands like Vanishing Twin or collaborates with Thurston Moore on tour), where I had previously worked with Julien Gasc, a French composer. My EP is made of 4 songs, 4 languages and 4 musical genres, to showcase my influences, the countries where I lived (France, UK, Argentina, Brazil), and 4 reconstruction narratives.
T&D: Prior to your solo release, you were focused on your band, Water Babies. Howwould you say your your style has evolved since then?
CM: I composed all the musical material for Water Babies, so what has changed since that experience is my appropriation of my own repertoire, but overall I see a continuation, as the band remained the same, minus Amélie, who sang in the band. She went to live in L.A., so I had to sing and write new songs, thus this solo career I’m leading now. We have a intuitive way of working together as a trio, without having to talk or explain much.
T&D: The title of the new EP has a neat translation. Can you speak to your French background, time in Brazil, and how you have enjoyed working in the London music scene?
CM: I was born in Paris, and I always have had mixed feelings with its narrowness and oppressing beautifulness. I spent my twenties in Brazil, where I fell in love with sambas, songwriting, and Portuguese language. It combined perfectly my melodic sensibility (inherited from the Beatles and classical music) to a very different approach to rhythm. When I came back to France, I decided my path would be musical, and I started to play the bass in a few Parisian bands. I think bass playing is the best place to get into a band dynamic, you’re the foundation, the earth, so when you have to learn it quick, it becomes the best music school. Eventually I felt claustrophobic in Paris’ walls, and London came to me as a surprise in 2013, when I took a train to visit some old friends here: I realised it could be a perfect place for my daily life and musical ambitions. I moved in December 2015, and I started to work punctually or regularly with many bands and collaborators: Pollyanna Valentine, Snapped Ankles, This Is the Kit, Man From Uranus, Blue House, Du Blonde and others. I enjoy it so much!
T&D: You also just shared a video for the EP’s single, “Quiet Bee” which I loved. Care to share a bit on the new visuals?
CM: Thank you for liking Quiet Bee’s video! This collage was made of very different footages, mixing some snaps from my tour with Snapped Ankles last spring all over the UK, with an old footage from 1994 with my family when I was a child, and my Peckham/Nunhead neighbourhood, in South London. I asked some of my musician friends to sing the song as it was theirs. And it’s a loose mediation on what changes and what is kept in our memories. As a trained film editor, I like to make my own videos.
T&D: Growing up, who were some of your creative influences?
CM: I was deeply influenced by Prince, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and Pavement when I was 10 to 15 years old. Then my tastes shifted to a more jazz and soul approach, and discovering the Brazilian colossal repertoire brought me sparkles and I wanted to play and write songs.
T&D: When you have a free day in London, where are your favorite places to hang with friends? Work? See art? Hear music?
CM: I love to hang out with friends not to far from where I live, Brockwell Park. I love London parks. I’m playing a lot in London venues, especially in the Dalston area, I’d like to mention Total Refreshment Centre (Stoke Newington), a harbour for great music, sadly they are going to close the warehouse in November, so I ‘d like to pay my tributes to that great place and amazing people. I work at home, or sometimes in Warren Street, which I find rather welcoming for Central London. One of my favourites art galleries is Dulwich Picture Gallery, a blend of classicism, with some more contemporary exhibitions. The building and surrounding parks are so pittoresque! One of my favourite venues to play/see concerts is Servant Jazz Quarters (Dalston Kingsland), the sound is amazing, and the team there is so nice!
T&D: Are you planning to release a full album sometime soon?
CM: I’ve got a scoop for you :): I’m recording my first album on the second week of August, here in London. I finished the songwriting yesterday actually! I’m really excited. Hope to get it released in the first months of 2018.
T&D: What else is on the horizon?
CM: I’ve got a nice London show on the horizon: I’m supporting (full band) the pop act Robert Sotelo at New River Studios (Manor House) on the 08/09. A tour should be announced soon.