QuinzeQuinze: “Our music is hybrid”

Ennio, Julia, Marvin, Robin and Tsi Min lost track of time. The five young artists who make up the QuinzeQuinze collective ended up last year on the biggest stage

Trans Musical de Rennes before reuniting this month for a concert at the Stadsschouwburg in Groningen, the city theater in this small town in the north of the Netherlands. Among a handful of French groups invited this year to the city of Batavia through the festival

EurosonicQuinzeQuinze still demonstrates his surrealist approach and the Polynesian mysteries that emerged from his experimental creations.

QuinzeQuinze is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year but has grown a lot before becoming a group in its own right. How is music at the heart of your artistic projects?

It doesn’t feel like ten years have passed at all. We will definitely try to honor this anniversary by releasing a small compilation or cassette. Those ten years is when we started making music for most of us, so we really grew up together during that time. The music medium is a lot of fun, more than creating interactive installations like we did before. The context also plays a lot, we can approach very different social categories with music, which is not necessarily the case with digital art where we only meet certain types of people. Music is an environment where you can meet lots of people, and that is very important to us.

You’ve theorized about the concept of “climate music,” how has this idea evolved in your compositions over time?

Our main idea is that the climate changes with our mood, so our songs can take different directions depending on the mood of the people who compose them. We’re still five composers, producers and singers at the same time, so the writing is really collective and everyone can contribute to the development. The theme and subject chosen will determine the musical style of each work. Switching is done by title NevaNeva, which was kind of our “zero” EP, the origin of the moment when we really wanted to tell a story that made sense in relation to one another. Today we are trying to make a discography that makes sense, to create reminders, echoes and spin-offs of our first compositions.

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One of the unifying elements of the group is also the fact of storytelling. We find ourselves quite a lot, especially singers, at the fact of compiling tables, creating a kind of tree structure that we have built empirically. We are telling something that is still in the process of being defined.

Beyond the musical aspect, it is even more so where your Tahitian influence seems to manifest most…

Yes, because Polynesian culture is full of orality, legend, and myth. The way we interpret the song is very colorful. The ancient Polynesians referred a lot to nature, to what surrounded them. There are interpretations of stars, meteors, clouds or rainbows. Because of that we also use it a lot in lexical but also in our music to try to interpret these types of events. Varuathe title of our second EP means “spirit” but also refers to a meteor which the ancients thought so.

Tsi Min: Of the five members of the Quinzequinze, only two are Polynesians. But others will also take advantage of this culture which has something interesting in that it allows us to look back in time. For us, going home is also created by distance because the farther from home, the more we think of home. For example, we have an instrument on stage called the to’ere (NdA: a kind of perforated rod-shaped drum). At first, I really wanted to play it vertically because that’s the tradition. But by placing it horizontally, which makes it easier to play, it also applies to me as a form of crossover and openness to everyone. We don’t stick to traditions, we invent and combine everything.

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You also sometimes present a different side of Polynesian décor, away from the postcard. One of your clips shows the consequences of radioactive testing in this area…

Idea in clip The young is to present the origins of the Polynesian group by playing with the codes and accepting the region’s ideas as contrasts. We like to play on the dichotomy of things, realistic themes that suddenly border on the supernatural, for example. We don’t intend to make a political clip out of it, but rather to show things as they were before reclaiming them, to draw something extraordinary from this disastrous theme. It was something we wanted to do, an incredible nightmare where extremes meet. We are preparing a lot in this spirit in the next production.

Your last title Reuts is the club more instrumental than the previous one, what is the story of this piece?

It’s a somewhat schizophrenic title, with a club side at the start before getting more intimate in the second half. Presented by showing that words disguise thoughts, as it is sometimes tricky with words to translate emotions. So we try to use music to express it, the fact that sometimes we have to dress up to be ourselves. Making music means letting yourself not think in words. Reuts is an abbreviation of the word Rae Rae which refers to transgender in Polynesia. This piece is also a nod to the category of people in Tahiti who I really care about, and who also have a hard time asserting themselves in our society today. But in traditional Polynesian culture, Rae Rae is much more integrated.

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You played on the biggest stage of Trans Musicales last month, what memories do you have of this live experience?

We’re so young in scenes like this and it’s a good way to realize what it gives. For the future, it makes us very curious because there are other possibilities that open up in this context. It was the first time, for example, that we were able to work so much with light, and it was almost like bringing new characters to life. New tools, new instruments to expand and strengthen our intention on an energy. Our music is hybrid, evolving and having its own dynamics, ranging from the very complete to the sometimes very subtle. But it’s important that at some point, we can focus on something. Thanks to the light on the stage, we can isolate an element or decide that the intention is just the opposite to create group cohesion and show the whole. We can create attentional imbalances, on stage, as we already do with our music.

FIP Special

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