The first time I saw Florian Lunaire was in 2007 at a mutual favourite band’s gig (Hush the Many, Heed the Few, in case you were wondering). He wasn’t playing that night, but my novelist friend Yasmin Selena Butt pointed him out, remarking on his mysterious voice and his piano skills. Soon after, Florian Lunaire’s The Mondestrunken E.P found an affectionate home in my itunes playlist and has remained there, slowly adopting music from Florian’s more recent concoctions; evidence that the musician’s rapturous offerings are consistently conspicuous.
Recently, the artist decided to challenge himself to write a compilation of songs for each season for the rest of his life. In doing so, he would always do his writing justice in giving his lyrics a home and the ritual of recording an E.P seasonally would function as an exercise in always focusing on new ideas and inspirations and allowing himself to lay to rest past songs. His Spring and Summer E.P’s are available to buy.
Florian writes the lyrics to his song in narrative form, and together with his resonating experience and his husky voice, what transpires is a powerful musical tale.
The elusive and busy (Florian also plays with the band Disappearers) musician has agreed to an interview and I’m feeling a fusion of excitement and fear. This is my first time interviewing somebody face to face since my Demon FM days at De Montfort University and I am sure it’s going to go horribly wrong.
The September sky’s love affair with the sun has once again waned, and by 7 o’clock in the evening, the moon beams triumphantly over London. I’m easily disorientated in the dark and as I step off the crowded 243, I find myself hopelessly lost for a minute before finding my way to The Book Club.
I’m early and to my dismay, The Book Club is clearing up for some live music upstairs and with a film crew rolling in the basement, conducting an interview I realise, is going to be near impossible. I stand outside amongst the humdrum of two production teams going about their work and busy myself in replying to texts and emails on my phone in hope of appearing insouciant.
I look up to see Florian smiling in my direction. He greets me like a long lost friend and apologises for making me wait. He hasn’t; it’s dead on 8pm so I mumble something about being early and explain the situation at The Book Club. He seems unperturbed and suggests we find somewhere else to conduct the interview.
Our search for a low noise, indoor interview venue gives us a chance to get acquainted and I glean that this is Florian’s first face to face interview. No pressure then, I tell myself. A couple of potential spots later and we’re finally seated at a comparably serene bar, ready to begin.
Tell me a little about yourself and how you came to the decision that being a Musician was what you wanted to be?Well, I’ve always wanted to be a musician, I think – even before I knew how to make music, I knew I wanted to be a musician. I have this really strange memory; I’m five years old, sitting on the backseat of my mum’s car and I’m singing into a cup. That was the first song. I remember singing and making up my own lyrics and I realized I’d made up a song. I remember telling my mum “Mum, I’ve made up a song”, it was a pretty cool feeling. Later I went on to learn how to play the piano, though I think I played just the right amount, so that I loved playing and was also technically good at it. I think, had I played it too much, I would have hated playing it. And once I’d learned to play the piano, I realized I could write songs for it and I guess that’s how it all started.
Damn my curiosity, but I can’t place your accent. Do enlighten me.
I was born in France to a French/Tunisian mother and a Tibetan father and I moved to London when I was seventeen. And… well, that’s it.
Tell me, where do you derive inspiration and ideas for your music? What shapes your songs?
There are two processes, for the music and for the lyrics. Regarding the music, I try to play everyday – an hour each day, at least. Sometimes the song will come to me, sometimes it will take a little longer. Sometimes I find myself playing the same melody for about fourty-five minutes and I’ll wonder if there’s a song in it. With the lyrics – that’s the more difficult task for me, well, I spend a lot of time on the lyrics – I guess I’m quite precious about my writing. A lot of the time, the lyrics form around an idea and a combination of words that I like or find interesting. For example, you know I was in Stockholm recently to record my Autumn EP? Well, when I was over there, someone mentions; you know those cartons of wine that contain the cheapest, most foul, nastiest wine? It’s the stuff that students drink. Anyway, someone mentioned that they call it bag in a box and I really liked the sound of it – ‘a bag in a box’ and I thought to myself, ‘there’s a song in there somewhere’. And then it’s a matter of connecting the music and the lyrics and seeing how they fit.
In terms of inspiration, I think travelling has been a huge inspiration recently, being in a different mind-set and meeting different people. It sounds a little cliché, but it’s always fascinating meeting new people. You can discover so much about a person by simply having a five-minute conversation with them. I suppose for the more introspective stuff, dreams play a big part in shaping my songs. I keep a dream diary. It probably has five hundred or so dreams in it. Often strong images tend to find their way into songs. Many dreams have found their way into the song Persistence of Memory and there’s a particular dream, a recurring dream that features in a song on the Autumn EP. It’s a, erm… a kind of apocalyptic dream. I hate talking about it, because I’m sure it’s really boring for other people to listen to me discussing my dreams. I tend to see the end of the world quite a lot. I’m not sure exactly what that says about me.
Where have you most enjoyed recording your songs? I know you’ve recently recorded in L.A and Stockholm and you mentioned you’ve travelled quite a bit.
Stockholm was really nice; really easy. I was working with some friends I met a long time ago and it was the perfect opportunity to visit them and do some recording. It all happened really fast; they’re very talented – great musicians. I just came in with the songs and they were full of ideas and we tried different things and it all seemed to come together almost instantly. It was really refreshing. It was nice to not over study everything. I like the idea of letting go of things – not perfecting them too much. It’s easy to over analyse and become quite obsessive – I suppose it can lead to a kind of paralysis in creativity; suddenly there’s so much choice and you become unsure what works and whether you’ve lost something great in what has now become a very confused flood of ideas.
Would you say you’re songs form from the short stories you write?
No. Well, my ideas come from personal experience and I find myself writing a narrative around them. So as you mentioned before about having a narrative element in all your writing, similarly, I do the same with my songwriting. It’s not so much that the stories inspire the songs, but that the song becomes a story.
What are you working on now?
I’m well on my way to finishing the Winter E.P. I’m already thinking about the Spring E.P.
Where will you be recording the Winter E.P?
I don’t yet, but if I could choose anywhere, I would say Tibet; I think that would be pretty cool. There’s a chance I might be going to China, so maybe I’ll record it in Beijing. Paris though, would be cheaper and easier, so I may record it there.
What is your favourite season?
It’s always the next one. So I’m currently looking forward to winter. If each season was just a month long, that would be perfect.
What are your favourite bands or artists?
I don’t really have any favourites, probably because with new technology it’s so easy to add and delete music to your device and there’s always something new, something different. At the moment, the song I’ve had on repeat is one by an artist called ‘Gonzales’ called Piano Solo; it’s stunning piano music and I love the first track on the album – I can’t stop listening to it.
Where can we buy your music?
It’s available at Amazon and from my record label Records Records Records. You can subscribe so that you’re able to get each seasonal E.P as it’s released. I will be bringing out something a little bit special at the end of the year though; I’m going to be compiling the E.Ps and releasing a double vinyl, with a season on each side – it’ll make for a nice collector’s item I hope and of course the compilation will be on CD too.
What can we expect from Florian Lunaire next year?
Next year I’ll be doing it all over again, an E.P for each season. I’d like to continue with that formula for as long as I can, as long as I continue to have a constant stream of ideas and inspiration.
Find out more about Florian’s band Disappearers.