Saturday, 1 August 2015

Interview: Daven Keller

I've featured Daven Keller a couple of times on this blog before, and I was absolutely delighted when he agreed to answer a few questions by email - in English - for us.

His Reaction C album was released this spring, and has been met with an extremely positive critical reception.

He said: "First of all I’m happy that the album is out, that it has finally slipped from my hands to live its own life.

"I’m also happy about the great feedback from people who didn’t know my work till now. I like very much being intimate with my own music when I write and compose an album – and this intimacy is necessary to me - but I am delighted that it can generate enthusiasm among the people then."

It is a very different collection from 2012's Reaction B album

He commented: "Indeed, Reaction C is totally different from Reaction B which is an instrumental album based on string quartet.

"The idea behind my « Reaction(s) » is to catch the opportunity of each new album to explore a new musical field, in form as well as in substance, a bit like in the classical music where composers switch from one format to another, from chamber music to symphonic music for example."

The Reaction C  album first came to my  attention thanks to the track Slogan, with its striking video which he directed and edited the video himself.

Explaining how it came about, he said it was "A kind of fate/chance – as I couldn’t find anyone to shoot the video, I started to shoot it myself and I found out I enjoyed a lot directing as much as editing.

"Music and filming both shared a lot in common so I got into this new form of art with lots of interest and happened to make eight videos out of the album in the end to accompany its release. So I still have quite a few left to reveal in the next months!"

He's previously worked in a more classical music contest and with film soundtracks, so how does working with this kind of music compare to pop?

He explained: "The big difference is that for film soundtrack, the « star » is actually the film in itself. Music must be related to it, go along with it the best it can, and it should also – I think - stay, in the service of the movie.

"When it’s an album, music is independent and exits on its own by definition. "

So is the world of film soundtracks something he hopes to continue working in alongside his  more rock-orientated work?

He commented: "I have no soundtrack planned for now however I’d be very happy that the music in my albums happen to be in a movie some day, more specifically the instrumental works I’ve done.

"I prefer to compose instrumental music for my albums that could then find their place in a film instead of waiting for the opportunity of a soundtrack to compose instrumental music."

The music on the new album has a very modern indie pop/rock flavour, what particular artists influence him?

"As many musicians, I’m influenced by a lot of different composers and these influences get mixed with my music desires to lean to something – hopefully - original.

"I listen to classical music as much as jazz or pop and so what I listen to goes from Bach to Frank Ocean."

To these ears Reaction C  feels like it has been influenced by 60s pop, 90s indie rock as well as more recent electronic music. Would he agree?

"Yes it is – Reaction C is in that music « zone » like for example, the 60s-like sound of the bass I play in it. I love the pop music from the 60s, with all these great bands and this brilliant creativity.

"Sometimes I think that today’s pop is still based on the 60s influence except for rap which has been the only new music form since then and which happens to be fascinating because of it. "

I've always found that French musicians tend to be less bound by the idea of musical 'genre' than artists from the UK. Is that something he agreed with?

"Indeed, in my case at least, I think it’s very interesting to go from one musical genre to the other as the classic composers did, i.e. they would compose an opera then a piece for a string without asking themselves any question.

"Music has such a broad spectrum, it’s very exciting to venture to compose new pieces depending on the mood and the inspiration."

He currently works as an independent artist, with his own record label. How much of a challenge is this, and what are the benefits of this situation?

"To me, freedom is the main advantage as an independent artist. I can compose the music I precisely want to listen to and so be totally true with my aspirations and myself.

"That being said, it’s not easy to bring a project to fruition on its own, on the artistic level as well as on the financial level but maybe this is the price to pay for freedom."

Finally, would he ever see himself signed to a major label?

"I did take some steps for signing to a label on Reaction C as I felt this album could find its place on an indie or major label. As I didn’t get any feedback, I quickly understood it was better to release the album myself without waiting for a record company to get interested in it."

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