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Bernard Fevre interview about ”Library music” and his project ‘Black Devil’

January 5, 2013

Bernard Fevre interview about ”Library music” and his project ‘Black Devil’

Like we promised, here is the first
composer in a series of interviews, that will follow with so called
“Library” music composers.
Bernard Fevre is a french composer and
musician who experimented with dimension of sounds. He released a couple of
really amazing “library” records back in the 70’s. Among them are “The
Strange World of Bernard Fevre” from 1975 and “Cosmos 2043”, which was released
two years later. In the late 70’s he changed his music style and started a
project called “Black Devil”, which was a very intelligent music way ahead of it’s
time. These days he is still very active with “Black Devil Disco Club”. We are
very happy, to host him on It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine. You can read our interview
with Bernard and found out many stories, he shared with us.
Interview:
Thanks for taking your time, Bernard.
Let’s start this interview with a question about your childhood and teen years.
Where did you grew up and what were some important events, that made you decide
for a music carrier?
I’ve always been interested in music as far
as I can remember. When I was 4 years old, I was crazy about the piano. When I
was seeing one I would sit and play, anywhere, in a shop, in a restaurant, at
peoples places… I’ve always played with both hands, I guess at the beginning
it wasn’t that good, but the idea, the spirit, the soul were here. A teacher
told my parents they should encourage me to take piano lessons, which they did,
but unfortunately they were a bit boring, too much conventional… so around 10
I quit and focused on my own at home, just for fun. I would play stuff from the
radio, mostly rock & roll (it was around 1957). At 15 I played “What’d
I Say” from Ray Charles in a club and a guy asked me to play with him in
his band. That’s how it started.
What can you tell us about your music
background. I mean what did you do before 1975, when you released your first
album?
After that first band I joined, which
sounded really rock & roll, a bit like Elvis and co, I started working in a
factory but luckily my boss introduced me to a jazz piano player. I started to
play in a soul band, and left the factory at 18 for a deal at the famous Casino
de Deauville run by Regine. Our shows gained bigger and bigger audience, and we
had stars and rich people dancing for us. But once again unfortunately I had to
quit, as I had to do my military service in Berlin, where I didn’t get a single German lesson in sixteen months, which would help me right now to answer interviews.
I was a bit mad at this music revolution
happening without me… I’m still a big fan of the Beatles. When I came back
from Germany I started to play with another french band I was in contact a bit
before, boys from different ages, with a lot of vocals, and the music was
pretty much traditional, it was a bit like french Music Hall. During my German stay they had improved a lot, and were performing in a lot of cabarets, and we
started touring in a car, all over France. It was a lot of fun. We had the
first french stereo live show, the sound was really amazing for the time. We
played about 10 years together, and even at the Olympia and Bobino which were
the two most famous venues at the time. Olympia is still open. But the money
wasn’t really here so it ended…
Being from Paris, the late 60’s and 70’s
must had been a very interesting decade and since from Paris also place and the
scene. How would you describe the scene there?
Paris was young, casual, easy, fun… Less
“hype” than now. The geography of the city was really different,
there was a real center and there was much more social classes mix. You would
meet people way more easily. Young were doing fights or riots, but it wasn’t
that serious actually. It wasn’t war.

‘Suspense’ is I believe your first
album. It was released on Musax Records. How did you get signed up on the label
and what is the concept behind the album?
For Suspense, I wanted to use synths and
create a music with a kind of strange, unreal tension. The idea was to not use traditional instruments in order to imagine sci-fi or contemporaries stories.
I met Eddie Warner through a cassette he had heard of me. At the time I would
give them to people. He was from this 40/50 generation of musicians who cared
for music novelty, research, experimentation…
The same year you released your probably
best known work ‘The Strange World of Bernard Fevre’. Amazing atmosphere, a lot
of experimentation, fresh sound and originality are some words, that come in
my mind while listening to it. What’s the story behind this LP?
For ‘The Strange World of Bernard Fevre’
basically I wanted to create a music which would make people think of
Salvadore Dali’s paintings, art, world… I can’t tell if I succeeded, but it was pretty much the idea.
The title seems to work as a concept…
I’m always for a good joke and I really
enjoy humor, but I don’t think I’m still the extra-terrestrial I was back then.
People keep on telling me I’m strange or at least different, but my
“strange world” is mostly about music, my real personality is there,
I don’t think I’m that strange if you meet me in the street. My music is the
freak I’m not.

All the track on the LP are very short
and I think, this adds additional charm to it…What about the process of
recording this album. What gear did you use and what are perhaps some of your
favourite memories from recording it?
The recorders only had 2 or 4 tracks, so it
was pretty complicated and there was no loops at the time. So you had to be
short and good, rather than long and ugly. I used synths, the same, and I
borrowed a friends’ Moog, and a polyphonic keyboard I believe. But for the 1978
BDDC album, I recorded in a studio, with a 8 or 16 tracks Studer console, with
an amazing talented producer and a great drummer.
‘L’Illustration Musicale’ released this
LP. Was this a big label? How many copies were pressed?
L’Illustration Musicale
“released” that record only for professional at the time, so you
couldn’t buy it. Hence the idea to do “The Strange New World of Bernard
Fèvre” in 2009 which is now available for music fans.
The term “Library Music” has always been
for me a bit confusing. How would you define it?
Yes, “Library Music” has always been a bit confusing. I would say
that at the time it was a laboratory for crazy scientists like me to create
something else than what the majors and media were promoting. The idea for most
of us was to create new sounds. It was really much an experience rather than a
career.

‘Cosmos 2043’ was your “last” library
release. Then you started a brand new project called Black Devil. Tell us how
this project was born?
‘Cosmos 2043’ is my last
“library” record, contemplative music with that sci-fi, unreal,
fantasia touch, which I kept for BDDC, a more dance floor orientated project.
It’s just how I did music, there was no plan, really.

1978 your release was out and now I
would like to stop here and ask you where did you record it and who signed you
a deal for it and how did the distribution looked like?
1978 was kinda released by RCA, which did
nothing to promote it. It was a loser album. Something bad, uncommercial… so
I doubt people heard it at the time. 28 years later I really had forgotten it, thanks to Aphex Twin who re-issued it in 2004. I had to dug in my past, to be
sure it was my album.
How does Black Devil differ from your
previous “library” releases?
Bernard Fevre and Black Devil are the same
people actually, a bit like Dr Jekkyl / Mr Hyde but Black Devil is the one
people prefer, so it took over Bernard Fevre. He’s more glitters. Bernard Fevre
is more underground. So the conclusion is that it’s cooler to hang out with the
devil than with a strange french guy.

What was Jacky Giordano role on the LP?
Only financial support, or?
Jacky Giordano wrote the lyrics from BDDC
78, I wanted to sing in english, something easy, and he was pretty good at it.
I believe he also payed the recordings, which I’m not totally sure but I can
tell he was a great musician, in another style than mine.
These days we have plenty of artists
trying to imitate what you were doing long time ago, but I’m most positive,
that they lack of originality and also creativity. What’s your opinion about
that?
I don’t think music was better in the past.
There’s modern, futuristic music nowadays which isn’t promoted, a bit like what
happened to me in 1978. You just need to look for it, it’s not on TV or radio
or in the magazines. Technology is just not really evolving in a good way these
days… I can’t say mp3 is sounding good, though it’s easier to share of
course.
In the 1970s people were already saying
than it was better in the past. I guess it’s been this for ages. People always
regret their youth, when they were free, in love, excited by new ideas, could
jump over obstacles without paying attention… when they were young.
What were you doing during the 80’s and
90’s?
During the 80’s and 90’s I work as a music
producer for a living. I had to pay the rent, buy food, stay in the society…I
did commercials, jingles for TV, radios… Like most of people I didn’t really
enjoy my daily job, but I’m happy to have had the chance to make music for a
living even if it wasn’t as an artist. It’s still better than to work at the
factory where I started.
You are again very active with project
you call Black Devil Disco Club and you released a couple of albums. Would you
like to tell a bit more about this project that is going on?

In the 2000s I brought to Black Devil Disco
Club a new exposure as dance music was becoming a real phenomenon in the world.
It was the occasion to travel and to escape a bit from France. Also I prefer
the audience to dance with a smile rather than sitting and hanging their head
with their hands saying “what a genius”. Black Devil is still a kid.
I love to play with people, that’s why my live shows have breaks, talking 
it’s not a DJ set or a one-hour performance where people don’t know what I ‘m
doing. I sing, I play the keyboard, I make fun, sometimes mistakes, I dance…
It’s more rock’n’roll than Dj-ing.  

You have a brand new album out called
Magnetic Circus. Would you like to present your new piece to our readers?

I really want to work for other artists, as
a producer, recorder, mixer, arranger… I do think I can help younger artists
to another level in terms of production. I’m also releasing a new BDDC album in
2013. I Want this record to help me to reach a new audience, to tour worldwide,
and to show people that BDDC’s spirit is still alive but evolving, still
staring at the future. It’s not a vintage thing. My inspiration comes from the
ugly and the wonderful, from life on this planet. I’m not living in the past,
I’m living with my time and looking fwd to exploring the future. Maybe I’ll do
another Bernard Fevre record as well if I have time. I only have one message:
stay insane, stay cool, everything’s gonna be alright. Thank you.


Special thanks to Olivier Rigout for translation.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
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http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013

One Comment
  1. Blogger

    Never heard of Bernard F. until recently when someone on a Beatles Fan page posted his picture. Mainstream promoting certainly did not put him in the spotlight, but it's just like Bernard F. said in an interview that basically there's a lot out there, you just have to look for it.

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