Leveling up

So it’s been a while since my last blog.

That’s because I have been very busy. It is hard to explain how much has been going on since my last post. So instead, I will talk about where I am now heading to.

At the beginning of the year, I received a malediction. Since my 26th birthday, every time I take the plane, things go very wrong. On the 11th of February, I got stuck in a snowstorm and missed my flight return from Canada to France. I had to book another flight and stay an extra day in Montreal. So I called my old friend Maxime Philippe. He was very happy to have me over and we had a blast of a time. Maxime is a Montreal’s top audio engineer. He always has been a hero of mine and I was so happy to see his work from inside like this. So, on the next day, before leaving, we agreed to make an album together.

This might not sound like much to you. Not many musicians have their own album. And getting one done is hell. Maxime told me of a woman friend of his who works at a record company. And it is not rare that when woman talk about their first album they consider it harder than giving birth. The stress, the intensity, the horror of decomposing your work into fragments and inspect each one of them and make each note perfect, to then give it the right intention, intensity, feel. To put it back together and hear it. Realize how far you still are. Bring in other musicians. Fail hard and lose your money, your mind, your time, your energy while facing this cold and terrible mirror that projects back all your mistakes at you. It’s tough.

And today, the album is recorded. It’s not finished, it must still run through mixing and mastering. But that’s about 80 hours of work. Not a lot compared to the +500 hours of work we have behind. And I cannot believe how far we brought it.

The album is coming officially out on the 10th of October and the launch party will be at Porgy & Bess, the best renown Jazz Club in Vienna Austria. I made TShirts, posters, videos and there is more coming. I feel like this is the big step I have been working for many years now. And I wonder what will be next.

Maxime Philippe’s website : https://www.maximephilippe.com/

Road Never Stops Calling

It’s been a while since my last post. I have been into a magical tour lately and I find it almost strange to be back on my website to tell you guys a bit about it.

I have traveled so much, I feel bad about my carbon print. The world is such a magical place. This little planet is not that small and hell it rocks.

It has been 7 months since I left my van in Australia and the sweet weather of the south. Since I have been to France, Austria, England, Switzerland, Italy, Canada and I am going back to Canada next week.  My songs have been on the radio, I had my face on giant advertisements all around Austria, I haven’t had a house for over a year now and I don’t miss it.

I wish I could tell you about everything but neither do I have time to write it down nicely for you, neither do you have the time to read it.

I can only wish you a beautiful day, so here I do.

Have a beautiful day!

What you hate about the others is probably what’s special about you.

Let me get there, it takes two steps.

Step one

I somewhat have this conversation a lot with people as I am travelling. We talk about the beauties in the world and at a point they will ask me: What do you think about my home?

Of course, I love it! I actually love most places in the world. Now here is the funny part. Most people don’t like where they live and fantasize about somewhere else. Not that they don’t like it, they don’t like the people or the vibe or the feeling or… The people are too much like this or too little like that. They don’t have this they which more of this would happen.

We all live somewhere that could be better. Think of it, what do you hate about where you live and the people you share this place with? A lot might pop inside your head.

Step two

My girlfriend possesses an ability that I don’t. She is an incredibly good cleaner. I can clean for hours, she’ll get a better job done within a few minutes time. I approach the task very differently than she does. I put music on, I make myself some stuff to eat and drink because I know it is going to be very long. She does her magic.

If I highly appreciate her quality, my inability is quite annoying to her.

Processing

Have you ever thought that what is annoying you about the others is probably something you are more natural with? What is obvious to one might be oblivious to the other?

My first example would be in Sydney. I was on a train and a teenager was listening to his mp3 music way too loud. I came to him and told him he shouldn’t listen to his music that loud if he didn’t want to damage his ears for ever. The boy was looking at me like I showed him the moon. I ended up explaining to him how listening to his music so loud would make him death. We both gained from this experience I remember it fondly.

Second example would be in Vienna Austria. I had the conversation not long ago. The guy was asking me I don’t like it here people are so negative. I said: Yeah I like that! I am a positive person so usually I get to feel my positive energy as it reaches the others. I feel that my positivity has a great value here and it makes me feel good to be able to help by simply smiling.

Third example will be in Nouméa New Caledonia. I was walking no the beach and sotted a bottle of plastic. I changed my course and picked it up then threw it in the trash. Behind me, a woman did the same.

Conclusion:

Being able to recognize what you don’t like around you is normal and even healthy. It helps define who you are. But now, instead of being submissive to what you dislike/disapprove of. Stay focus on being different and on impersonating the change you’d wish to see.

As you see what you dislike, oppose yourself to it. Trashes around? Pick it up. People are negative? Be positive. People are doing it wrong? Explain them calmly without patronizing. You will discover who you are and show to other people a different example. You have no idea how those little actions are what make the daily life.

The Picaro Anecdotes Part 2

The Picaro Anecdotes Part 2

The Children Hospital Encounter:

I have been playing quite a few times near the Children Hospital. I felt like I was helping there by bringing a smile on the nurse’s face between shifts. Giving them hope in life would probably help them saving it.

One day, a woman passed by. She stopped, walked away slowly, then she turned around and went back to where she came from. This is not uncommon attitude, and I wouldn’t have noticed her if it wasn’t  for the emotional intensity that was going through her eyes and posture. She first passed with a heavy burden in her chest, seemed like she dropped it behind me, turned around a went back driven by an idea.

A few minutes later, she came back pushing a young girl in a wheelchair. The girls must have been around 12. She had a tub coming out of her nose, she seemed blind with almost no hair left. I believe she was going through chemo. The mother brought her close to me so she could ear the music best and started to describe her what I was doing and how.

I felt such a big range of emotion. The bound between this mother and her child was affecting me in a deep way. I had trouble playing my songs. I played them songs from the Jungle Book and Could You Be Love from Bob Marley. After what I gave the girl a CD for listening so well and asked her some questions about her life at the hospital. We talked like that for a bit. But the girl started to feel sick so the mother brought her back.

Two months later, I met the girl again. I was busking in pacific square. She was out with her entire family and she was walking. She seemed to have regained her sight and she had colours on her face. She still had the tube coming out of her nose but she seemed to be doing a hell lot better. I found out she had two siblings and got to meet the dad. She told me she loved my CD but I couldn’t care less. I was already so happy to see her walk.

So I played the family something upbeat and they danced all together. In the middle of the street. I felt so unreal for joy was overwhelming.

I wonder if I’ll ever meet them again.

The Belgrade Bus Concert

Do I love Serbia! At a wedding there, I got strapped to a pole inside a bus with my amp pushed to the maximum. I was to play for the guests from Belgrade’s city centre to the church. We got drunk and sung while slaloming through streets and traffic. It somehow felt completely natural but when I look back at it. What a crazy show that was.

The Thai Mountain Hidden Party

In the North of Thailand, where mountains are covered with rainforest. My dad and I stopped for a couple night in a small village. I cannot remember its name. I do remember the beautiful central place surrounding the most lovely pound. However, we decided to go for a full immersion in the Thai culture. At the entrance of the village was a coffee shop where we’d stop earlier that day. Inside was working a charming lady who was the only local we met who could speak English. So we asked her where to go out.

She said: -The American, very good restaurant for tourists.

She obviously didn’t understand that we did not want to go to a touristic venue. And it took a while for her to understand that we wanted to go to a bar for locals. Long like 20minutes of explaining. She could not understand that we European wanted to go where the Thai would go. Why would we want to know about them? They have some concepts that I do not fully grasp.

An hour later, we found the bar. And it was really cool. Everyone inside was just very curious to know what we could be doing here. And so we ended up drinking with everyone at the bar. Everyone wanted to know about us and they also wanted to tell us about themselves. We drunk with a police officer, two programmers, a teacher, a soon-to-be monk enjoying one of her last night out and many more. There was a musician entertaining us. At a point my dad gave him some signs that I also was playing guitar. The musician gave me the stage right away and accompanied me on the cajon.

Thai really know how to pull up a party for everybody in the bar was drinking with everyone and singing and laughing. I think it was really something. Like one of my best night out ever.

The Montreal Gospel Evangel

As I was working for the red cross in Montreal. I got to meet with three young christian from an Evangelic Church. They invited to come over. We exchanged number, next Sunday morning, I was on the subway heading to Villa-Maria station where my new met friends picked me up.

I rarely felt so white in my life for I was the only white person. The church was packed with about 400 people from all over the globe. My new met friends introduced me to everyone. I had to shake and try to remember names by dozen. I felt like way out of place. I wasn’t even baptized and yet I was in this church full of hard believers. I thought: I should go away. But my new-met-friends were confident that I was here welcome. So I sat down and listened.

It was all right. The reverent was a clever man. He used biblical stories as metaphors and was making some very interesting points. I liked him. And then we started to sing. A full band was playing and the priors where projected over the hotel in a karaoke way. And boy did we sing. For two hours singing about Jesus in a gospel way that gave me a constant shiver.

I kept coming back to the church until I moved to Australia. Many stories happened there. I am still not a believer but I do believe in spirituality. I think that we are more than just molecules and shit. I believe we need spirituality to achieve greater version of ourselves. Life is not just about money, power and science It’s about something greater that we can never fully grasp. And in this church, I got served with as much spirituality as I could ask for and even more.

I miss my friends from the church. I know I’ll go back as soon as I go back to Montreal.

First I Tried To Market Myself On The Internet, I Quickly Changed My Mind.

Stay off the Internet

At the beginning of my career, I’d give way to much importance to marketing myself on Internet. Trying to make myself look better than I actually was through over-thought posts and pictures and whatever might attract the clicker. To be honest, after a year, I only barely had 300 likes on my page and thought it was a big loss of time. So instead of spending time on my “marketing” I decided to do more of what I wanted to market. You want to be known as a photographer? Photograph more! You want to be a dancer? Dance more! Stop to try to tell everybody what you do and do more of it instead. People will notice you while you are doing it. You’ll know you are doing good when THEY start to make posts about you.

After a while you’ll have met people in real life who have real interest in what you are doing and who will be much keener to help you progress than any of the hundreds or thousands of people who gave you their like. On top of that, you’ll be actually better at what you are doing. And after some while, people will be making posts about you which is free and way more efficient than anything you could accomplish by yourself. They will share it with their friends and so on. You’ll reach people without ever trying. And one day, people will recognize you. Now they won’t think: “Ha that’s him!” but because they will have seen you somewhere they will be more likely to trust you and your abilities. When I come back to a busking spot I haven’t busked in a while. People don’t recognize me as: Ho you were here before! But they are still a lot less defiant and usually come to talk because they get this familiar feeling. Of course I am familiar, I was here!

This is not marketing. This is doing your job. And this actually feels much better than any like.

Article 3 – Picaro anecdotes

Some Picaro Stories 1

Being a musician, some things kinda happen to you. I am really bad at keeping track of those events for most of them feel surreal. Also, most of them do not feel so weird for much weirder happens all the time. It’s hard to pick and chose. Here comes my first go:

Pee like nobody’s watching:

During Summer 2015 in Vienna, I was busking in the middle of the day on the Mariahilferstraße near Zieglergasse. At a point, I spot a man in the middle of the road. I thought of him as: Han?

It took me a few seconds to realize that in the middle of thousands of pedestrians this man was urinating. Not in a corner but in the middle of the place. The guy was peeing in the middle of the street and nobody but the busker seemed to even notice for the scene was surreal.

The Lesbian Punch Party:

It was during my very first weeks of busking in Sydney. I was invited to a bunch of girls apartment in Kingsfort. I’d never met them before but I accepted for they would pay. They were really lovely. We drank together as I was playing songs after songs. And at a point, for no reason I could figure, four of them started to fight. Throwing punches at each others, crawling on the flour, hitting each others quite hard. I didn’t know if I was supposed to stop playing music or go to some rock music while pouring on the mess. The two girls who were not fighting were just like: Yeah! They do that.

The Homesick Birthday Man:

In Vienna, in front of the Karlskirche, I encountered a Romanian man. He stopped by the music, listened and then asked me for a birthday song. I never learned happy birthday and at this point I am too lazy to bother. However, I talked him into Don’t Worry, Be Happy. He was delighted. We kept talking. He told me he was 50 years old and had to be alone in Vienna while his family was in Romania. He missed them so much. I offered him a beer at the bar next door.

The Police Toulouse Love Affaire:

Policemen in Europe are just the worst for buskers. They chase us down like beggars. Toulouse is the same in that sense. I was playing in one of the touristic streets in Toulouse. After a bit quite a few people would have gathered. The shops seemed really happy. Things were really going smooth. It was a nice busking session. Suddenly, four police officers showed up. They started with usual questioning.

French people still have this amazing solidarity against institution. I never even got to give my name that people were gathering around me and yelling at the police. Telling them words and to go bother someone else. The people from the shops were telling them to go away.

This might sound like a heartwarming vision of solidarity, a good thing for me but it is not. When police shows up, low profile and quick exit are best. Now the police was getting nervous and if they had to throw someone at the back of their truck with a heavy fine, it would be me. As the crowd grew bigger, the police started to freak out. They told me to stop the mess or I would get trouble for organizing a riot against them. I was already packing but the crowd pushed me not to. I was in a bad position.

But the chef officer was still cool. He did not panic. On the contrary, he was calmly arguing with a woman. She was calling him a monster for attacking a young kid like me. He said:

– It your point of view, I have mine.

– Well I’d like to hear what kind of stupid point of view you have! she said

At this point, the crowd stopped to listen to the police officer’s answer

– Sure, but not in uniform. I finish at 7 would that suits you?

The situation flipped completely. From my arrest to a random flirt. Everybody seemed happy with this ending. The police officer and the lady exchanged numbers in front of everyone. Everybody went their own way.

I was shocked. Love really is stronger than one’d simply imagine.

Here you go! They will be more coming.

Picking Up The Guitar

I never really imagined being good at guitar or at anything. I was always dreamy, full of idea but when it came to natural skills, I was like everybody. I want to remember myself as a bit better but I was not. I was low average. I could still make fun of the fat kid but not too loud for I was next.

I was always afraid of really putting myself into something for I was scared of sucking at it again. I wanted girls to notice me. I was making jokes and tried to look tough. Failure was not an option. I was sure the easy success would show up. I would one day wake up as spiderman, receive a letter from Hogwarts, face such a danger my bravery would instantaneously turn me into whatever iconic figure I was looking up to at the time. Truth is, I was a fat kid with braces and broken glasses. I looked younger but yet taller than my age. A giant baby.

Living at my dad’s helped for I lost my fat very quickly. I went from the round boy to the long asparagus teenage look in no time. I gained self-confidence for I became part of a big group of friends. We would usually all hang out at my place after class. I would have lived a bit further from the school I wouldn’t have had so many friends. But what would I care? Even the cute girls sometimes came to hang out on my couch.

It was one of these afternoon. I was chilling with my best friend Gleb, eating my dad’s biscuits by boxes, when he showed me the only song he knew: Seven Nation Army. He put my dad’s old guitar on his lap and started to strum on the string while singing: five, eight, five, three, one, zero. Making the zero sound as rock as a prepubertal voice can rock. He looked so cool. Not only could Gleb speak four languages, he could rock. And he just rocked in front of me. If he could do it, I could do it too. He showed me how, I learned.

From that moment, the guitar was no more a magical tool only the best could do. I could do it too. The spell was broken. I was thirteen and would become good at this no matter what.

My First Picaro

Picaro(s)

I remember the day I first heard the word “picaro”. I was sitting on the forth raw, second column to the right during French class at Lyçée Français de Vienne, in Vienna Austria. Our teacher, Monsieur Fleuriot, was slowly walking through the class talking with great devotion holding a book in one hand and shaking the universe with the other. The day was bright. The sun through the windows would warm us all so that everything seemed more comfortable. And there he said it: Picaro.

I was fourteen at the time and full with ideals and unfulfilled ambitions. If I wasn’t poor, I clearly was one the poorest of my friends. Between the ambassador’s daughters and the sons of whatever fortune, I wasn’t a heavy weight. We once made fun of myslef for my entire outfit shoes included was cheaper than one’s underwear.

Yet, if money rules the world, it’s doesn’t rule the playground.

I wasn’t smart. At least not there. The smart ones here could speak four languages or more. I wasn’t pretty either. But I had a vision. I wanted something from life. I had this will. I didn’t pay much attention to it back then, but now that I look back at it, I see it.

“Le picaro est le premier anti-hero de la littérature”, said monsieur Fleuriot. “The Picaro is ready to use whatever ways to accomplish his goals. He charms women, steals, invent artifices, creates an entire mess in order to make his way through society. The Picaro is condemned to fail. Once he failed, he has to change city. Once in the other city, he tries again.” I couldn’t pay much interest to the rest of the lesson for I was subjugated by this idea.

The Picaro became my absolute super hero. I was a rebel, I hated order and institution as it was. My parents brought me enough of anti America and anti capitalism. I thought of society as a rotten thing and found the Picaro so brave and so bold to actually not care and persevere. I saw him as an optimist. I knew I would become a Picaro.