‘free, groove, radical’ | Interview with Emile Londonien

Skylight by Strasbourg based Emile Londonien is for those who flirt with broken beats, funky bass lines and skillful improvisations but also enjoy themselves into the electronic territory. Read our discussion below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

In three words : free, groove, radical
In a few words : Emile Londonien represents this contemporary jazz sometimes called « post-jazz » that stands as a crossroads place. It is a mix that pays hommage to a variety of cultures : broken beat, house, club, hip hop, jazz… while expressing a radical musical standpoint at all times, through groove and improvisation.

Tell us a few things about your new song Skylight and your creative process in general.

Skylight is a cross-checked hommage to our love of groove, of interplay, and of the jazz trio setup. The creative process of Skylight reflects our way of playing music because this track is a pure product of collective improvisation.
We often like to just press « record » while we seek these magical moments that improvisation and jazz allow us to reach.
Then when these moments appear and are spontaneously recorded, comes the production process and it is a part of the work that we cherish dearly, for it is at this step of the creation that the composition reveals its full potential through sound design, arrangement, mix… This method allows us to retain the freshness and sense of freedom of a track’s birth, its most original take, while using the production tools at our disposal to refine this raw material and give it all the features and richness we dream of.

You focus on instrumental music. Was it an artistic decision to not include vocals, or it just happened?

Emile Londonien is a jazz trio, and we love this setup because it allows us to reach immense freedom.
It is a structure that lets enough uncharted space to let loose our ideas during improvisations, while allowing us to stay tight and together, to hear everything we need to hear at all times without an earpiece. We cannot be overwhelmed by the sound of the band and that makes us feel confident and free (but not necessarily comfortable, and that is a good thing!). Moreover, the trio is great for featurings as it embodies only the base rythmic section. We work regularly with wind instrument players, percussionists, singers… The exploration potential seems infinite, and that is indeed what we are looking for in our work.
Actually we can tell you that we will soon release collaborations with vocal artists.

The groove in Skylight is superb. Which is the biggest drop/broken beat you wish you have composed yourselves?

There are a lot evidently ! And it is always hard to make a choice but we’d say the remix of « brukstep » from Mark de Clive-Lowe by ATJAZZ.
It is a jewel of groove, composition, production… And Atjazz and MdCL together… What can we say ?

Artists and people that have influenced you?

Of course our main influences are easy to guess from the name of our band. Our love of the UK Jazz scene laid the foundation of the music that we play. Yussef Kamaal, Tom Misch, Alfa Mist, Sivey, Ezra Collective etc… But there are also other artists like RH Factor, BBNG, Kendrick Lamar, Alpha Wann…

What do you enjoy most? Writing music or performing your music live? And what would be your dream performance venue?

It is really tricky to answer this question… I’d say what we love above all is playing together, the three humans we are. What we get from studio and stage are two slightly different approachs and we like both of them for different reasons. We are production lovers and our recording methods, that way of producing from raw improvisations, the research work, the creation process to the most minute details gives us a unique space to explore and experiment.
But the three of us also come from live performances, and the closeness with the audience, the energy which exists only on stage in crowded venues, the emotion flows that improvisation allows, these things are as a whole, a playing ground that gives a rooted sense to our music.
Also we like the idea that live and studio are only two sides of the same coin.

As for an ideal venue, we don’t really know. We love all venues where everyone could feel at ease, secure and confident regardless of any of their identity features. Any place that is truly safe and free where the only thing that matters is the artistic experience.

If Skylight was a film, which film would that be?

Skylight is dedicated to our city, Strasbourg, to the Strasbourg soccer club and a moment of its popular history.
It is a direct reference to Dimitri Lienard and his legendary free kick which saved the club at the very last minute from being downgraded, in a really memorable match. That match was a film in itself, there was dramatic tension, lots of twists and surprises, a hero, and at the end, like in most Hollywood movies, the lesser, good folx win.
It’s not a movie really but it is as good as.

What advice would you give to your younger self ?

This project, Emile Londonien, was born in our Strasbourgian collective OMEZIS, a group of artists who love to explore, to try and take risks and discover new things, to dig… Our artistic mindset comes directly from there. We enjoy the unpredictable, even if and when it can create situations that are tricky to navigate through.

Each generation finds or/and builds its own tools and its own paths, but community always seems essential as life as an artist can get really lonely and overwhelmingly intense. Relationships are key in this line of work and they need a lot of attention and care. There isn’t « the art, the work » and « the friends » separately. It’s a package, it’s entertwined. The experience we build is determined by those relationships and collective energies are incredibly powerful, even more so when they stay on for long. They are what brung us here, and what allows us to continue to move and evolve.

So had we the ability to meet our younger selves, we would tell them the same thing we say often between us : trust that you will find out how to build those spaces, groups, relationships that are essential to progress, and continue to try and care for them even in the more trying times. They will bring you strengh and eventually, opportunities.

Thank you!

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