söndag, maj 30, 2004


"Everyone alive wants answers" (leaf), the debut album of Colleen (Cecile Schott), was one of the very best albums of 2003. Colleen is also one of the headliners at Festival Rydal, which takes place somewhere in the west of Sweden this summer. So, yeah, the music is amazing. I wanted answers.

What are you working on right now?
I’m in an intensive phase of learning the cello by myself with a method for children, i bought a cello last year and started using it for my live shows very quickly, without even being able to play it properly, but i’m getting more and more addicted to this instrument’s possibilities so at the moment i’m doing all i can to improve my playing.
i’m constantly working on my live shows and my second album, as i’m now sure that the second album won’t feature any samples coming from pre-existing material, so in a way when i find something new on my instruments to play for the live show it’s also a way of working on the second album, since the best live tracks will somehow end up on the second album, but in « reworked » versions (most of them will be more complex than when i play them live).

You have a brilliant section on your website called "Colleen's Playground" where you list your favorite music, websites and books. The music section is divided into three sub sections; non western music, pre 20th century western music and 20th century pop music. It is very inspiring.
I recognise some stuff from my own collection (mainly from the "pop music section" though, i must admit) and these selections make me want to discover your other favourites. I listened to "Eight Steps to Perfection" (Company Flow) just the other day. It still sounds so fresh. What is your relation to hip hop music? As your music is completly based on samples (right?), do you consider yourself a hip hop artist?

I started listening to hip hop at around the same time that i started listening to electronic music, and originally i was fascinated with both since i couldn’t do either of them ( i tend to be fascinated by things which i know i couldn’t replicate).
As time went by and i started making music with samples, and also as i was shown various bits of software which could be used to make electronic music, i suppose i got less interested in electronic music because it became more « transparent », whereas with hip hop it still holds its mystery, because
a) i’m shit at making rhythms and rhythm is so important in hip hop
b) i could never be a rapper
so i retain more of an affection for hip hop than for current « electronic music ». for instance i think that an album like « liquid swords » by genius/gza is still totally incredible in every way.
I don’t consider myself a hip hop artist (that would be a good joke, calling myself a hip hop artist !) as my music tends to be very quiet, without beats and without words, although a couple of people have told me that they think some of my music would make a great basis for a hip hop track.

Yes, I know what you mean, the reason why I am asking you if you consider yourself a hip hop artist is that my definition of hip hop is “music that is based on using music from phonograph records” (of course there is a lot of music that is made this way that is not hip hop, and a lot of hip hop that is not sample based). But to me, this is the core of hip hop. Also, it is a way of provoking the general assumption about what hip hop is and what it can be.

How does the process of sampling look in the world of Colleen? Do you have any specific rules when it comes to selecting sample sources?

Well it’s strange for me to be answering this question at this point of my « evolution » as a musician because right now i’m not using samples anymore.
The reason for this is fairly simple : at the time i was making music for what later became my first album, for some reason i chanced upon a lot of records which contained great sampling material ; i borrowed lots of stuff from cd libraries in paris, and it just seemed to be waiting to be sampled, so that’s what i did. In the end i retained only acoustic samples, as i realised these were my favourite sounds.
But i suppose you can also make so many tracks with a sample of this or that instrument ; as a rule i don’t like repeating myself, and although i’ve tried sampling other stuff since the first album i can very well see that it’ll just be more of the same, only not as good.
The other reason for not using samples anymore is that at the time most of the tracks for the first album were finished, i had to do my first live show, and it was out of the question for me to go on stage with a laptop, especially as the samples for my music can’t be moved around in any way, they’re where they are in the track for a specific reason, so i couldn’t have improvised anything, and i’m not into playback.
Also i could remember being on stage playing the guitar from when i was in a noisy pop band (when i was about 18) and i remembered loving the feeling of being on stage, so i thought i had to use instruments.
This first show was more than a year and a half ago and since then instruments have taken an enormous importance in my life, and i’ve now reached the stage where i have more than an hour’s worth of live tracks purely made with live instruments, and so when i started having difficulties with samples i thought i might as well use all this music that i was using for my live shows instead of desperately trying to find good sampling material.

Have you always been making music centered around sampling?
I played the guitar for years and years and was really in love with the instrument, and then i experimented with a four-track recorder, still using the guitar as my main source since i didn’t have anything else anyway, pitching and reversing stuff... then i got really frustrated and actually stopped doing anything « serious » musicwise, until four years ago when a friend gave me a cdr with music software and i first tried sampling things.

You are coming to Sweden to play this summer. What can we expect?
Don’t expect the album, that’s for sure, because i play nothing from the album. Instead you’ll hear me alone on stage playing various instruments, mostly a cello, a classical guitar, a zither (if i’m brave or crazy enough to take it with me), a melodica, music boxes, wind chimes… on some of the tracks i sample myself live, on others i don’t.

Finally, would you say that there is something uniquely "french" about your music?
No i wouldn’t, i don’t like to think of myself as « french », even though i am ; where you’re born is just a matter of coincidence, and i’d like to think that nationality doesn’t have that much importance.