Ultimate Globe Trotter has had the privilege to include some tremendous music from around the world in our episodes. One such artist is Anoraak out of Nantes, France. Anoraak boasts an emotional and poignant electropop sound and was included in the highly regarded album Valerie and Friends. I was pleased to be able to chat with Anoraak’s Frédéric Rivière about his music.
I first saw Anoraak’s Frédéric Rivière at a solo show in the Seattle’s Rendevous. Frédéric had just flown in from Paris and was kicking off his North America tour. Though visibly jet-lagged, it was clear that Frédéric was excited to be there and share his music with a small crowd of passionate Anoraak fans. I spent the October evening dancing and shouting lyrics with a handful of peers who, although I said nothing to, became friends through our mutual appreciation of something intimate and rare.
After the show, I introduced myself as the “ultimate frisbee” guy, and Frédéric surprised me by remembering who I was from a few emails asking to use his music in my series. Even before I had launched the show, Frédéric was generous enough to be a part of it.
Thanks for your time, Frederic. I hope the rest of your US tour went well. Please introduce yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? How did you start doing music?
Anoraak: My name is Frédéric, I’m a musician and producer from France, currently living in Paris. I started music pretty young, in the indie-alternative rock scene at first, and later got involved in the electronic scene with my solo project Anoraak, and started to make a living out of it.
How did Anoraak get started? How would you define the kind of music you make? Why do you prefer to write your lyrics in English as opposed to French?
Anoraak: It first started from a frustration. At the time I was drummer in a rock band, and I missed composing melodies. It was a real bedroom project in the beginning. I was doing this for my own pleasure, and one day I put a track up on myspace, that changed everything. I think what I do is pure electropop music, call it 80’s / synthpop / outrun or whatever other fancy name. In the end it’s electropop, but this is my opinion. And that French/English thing, it’s only because my musical culture is 99% American or British. I never ever asked myself the question, I just always wrote in English ;).
Your most recent album, Chronotropic (2013), is fantastic. I wasn’t sure how you were going find a unique sound after Whenever the Sun Sets (2009) but it really blew me away. Both albums seem to occupy this reflective headspace, but Chronotropic offers a sometimes darker intensity, contrasting a floatier, more gentle touch in Whenever the Sun Sets. What’s your sound creation process like? What do you try to communicate with your work from album to album and how has your approach changed?
Anoraak: It’s pretty hard to say, but I think at the time of WTTS, I wanted something very much pop and, like you said, floaty. Also more instrumental, real drums, lots of guitars, I wanted to mark a clear evolution from Nightdrive With You. For Chronotropic, I wanted to link back with a side of Anoraak I had totally avoided, this little darker feel. In the end what I tried to communicate is sincerity, and it goes with how you feel at the instant you’re composing, so it’s obviously changing from one record to another.
Who are some of your influences?
Anoraak: Skyy, Toto, Pantera :)
How do you feel about being included in Ultimate Globe Trotter? Did you know much about the sport of ultimate before the series?
Anoraak: I love it! I had really little knowledge of that sport before, I definitely got more into it. That’s awesome.
Featured Songs: (Here’s where we talk about music used in GT Episodes)
Song title: Above Your Head
Used in: Episode One intro
Though this song seems to be about love, I heavily associate this song with travel. I first really listened to it in 2012 traveling in Japan for to film the World Ultimate Championships, so it has this very visceral sense of being on a train from Osaka to Kyoto and watching out the windows. Perhaps it just happened to be my listening setting, but your work in general seems to bring a touch of Eastern notes and applies itself well to a sense of place; specifically an almost reflective discovery and wonder.
True to my personal associations, I used this song when showcasing Boracay for the first time in Episode 1. Do you try to imbue any of those sorts of states discussed above in your work? What went into writing Above Your Head?
Anoraak: I never go too far analyzing my own work, but I’m glad it can represent so many things to listeners :). Above Your Head was composed in a plane back from a gig outside France after a argument with my girl. It was a way to say: we can fight sometimes and I can be far, but you’re always here with me and our love is stronger than distance.
Song title: Here You Go
Used in: Episode Three reflection
Here You Go is used in an emotionally trying section of the Episode 3 story. Melbourne’s Heads of State are faced with losing the championship they had been seeking all season. Your song provides a pensive cushion for a challenging match to rest on as “Give yourself a chance/ to forget…” echoes in the background. For me it was the perfect tone for Melbourne’s somber moment. Is this a somber song to you? Is it a love song or just a personal reflection? What is the singer trying to forget in this piece?
Anoraak: Here You Go is a special song, a little different to me from my usual work. It’s definitely not somber, just a little nostalgic, sounds to me like a mental escape, something like ‘close your eyes and imagine yourself on a smooth trip’, some kind of comfort spot.
When I think about my favorite Anoraak songs, Morning Light is at the top of the list. There’s so much going on in this song, and in a way, it stands out from some of your other pieces, that seem a bit more focused. This one has a restlessness to it, which the lyrics seem to convey. “My scenery heart is yearning,” repeats the chorus. This energy complimented what I hoped to convey with the trailer, my first interaction with the public about my project. I hoped to show them that there was something out there to be a part of. Can you describe the “yearning” within this melody?
Anoraak: To understand that ‘yearning’, you need to understand the way I make music and who I am. One of the most important things in my life is to feel the movement, being on the road, in trains or planes, that’s where I feel good. But when you’re in the composition process, you’re between four walls for quite some time, feeling like a lion in cage :). That’s why I’m often writing about that desire of movement, and Morning Light is definitely about that, sun is rising, now let’s move, to some place the sun shines.
What’s next for Anoraak? How can people get a hold of your music and find out more?
Anoraak: Next will come a new EP, in a couple of weeks/months, you can keep informed via Facebook or Instagram:
Thanks so much to Anoraak and Olivier Linglet of Grand Blanc for being so generous in supporting Ultimate GT.