How did you come up with Ebbène as a name?

Ebbène: At the beginning, I thought of using my real name, but I finally decided I’d stay anonymous, so people listen more to the music. I like it when things come from nowhere.

Gilles, the person making the backing vocals and some arrangements for the project, suggested the name Ebbène (ebony in French), I like the beautiful and dark side of that. Plus, it sounds a little like my real name.

What is your project at the moment in La Frette Studios ?

Ebbène: We started our project 1 year ago.

Nico : Ebbène sent me several guitar demos with songs in French. I loved them and Olivier did too, so we thought it would be nice to have a first 3 or 4-day recording session and see what comes out of it.

Ebbène : We knew we had the same influences. We like the same kind of music, very hip hop. We thought of taking little parts of classic folk songs, since it’s only guitar/voice, and try to mix with contemporary influences that we like.

We made 3 songs in 1 week of recording and were very happy of the result. So we continued.

Nico : Olivier loved it as well, so he let us use the studio. We then had a great tool to work with, loads of instruments which offered us lots of possibilities.

Ebbène, originally, are you more a singer or a musician?

Ebbène : Initially, I’m a guitarist. But I learnt to play the guitar because I wanted to sing. I was interested in writing texts and singing melodies, but since I didn’t have a piano, but only an old guitar, I started playing it when I was 16.

Today, I write and compose. I do all the melodic lines with 6 strings. Nico often changes the structure and squares the song.

Nico : At the beginning, we tried to square the songs, but finally realised that it took away all the charm, that it didn’t work, the sound was dull and boring to listen.

The chords always remain very simple, like in folk songs, and that’s what gives it charm, this unsteady side in the number of beats and where the voice is placed according to the music.

Ebbene la frette studios

What role do both of you have?

Nico: I take care of the arrangement and electronic part of the project.

Ebbène : This represents 80% of the song. Most of the time, we keep a guitar and a voice, we start recording a rough guitar track, and then we add the scratch voice on top and in the end, the played instruments (often acoustic guitars, piano and vibraphone).

Nico: We try to find different acoustic guitar sounds for each song, but it’s important to start from a real played instrument. It’s the common thread of our productions.

We use electronic sounds in the rhythmic. We like playing with different drum machines and old samplers. It distorts the sounds and gives unexpected things.

Ebbène: We discover while doing. We test plenty of things and it gives great sounds. There’s a kind of creative chaos during the whole recording part.

Nico: We have the same taste. In general, we both like or dislike.

Ebbène: But Nico can regularly go back to a finalised song to rework the mix, although it was already very good.

Where do you stand now with your album?

Nico: For the moment, we have 16 songs, 7 are already finalised and that we have been happy about for a while. We will then have to sort them out to have a maximum of songs that create uniformity in the album.

Since we always record in La Frette, we work with the same instruments, the same piano, the same gear, the same microphones, so all songs contain the same sounds, our common thread.

Since the beginning, we use the same drum machine. We then change the way we use them, according to the mood of the song.

Ebbène: Our goal is to release a first song with a video clip in September, then a second one 2 months later, then announce an EP, so 4 tracks.

Nico: The difficulty with an EP, it’s that the people focus on one song only, and don’t listen to the other 3. So why not release a 45 rpm vinyl disc, so it could be a nice limited edition to give during concerts.

Ebbène : Today, people consume music so fast and individually, one song at a time, that it’s not worth releasing an EP after the other.

What about your video clip? Do you know what you want to do?

Ebbène: Each time I have an idea, I think to myself “that’s impossible to do, too complicated, too expensive…”

What are your next events? Concerts?

Ebbène: We have a residency in Paris in September. I used to play with Gilles for lives, but he’s also in another band, which just released an album and soon another one, so he doesn’t have much time at the moment.

So I’m going to play with another friend, Jérôme, with samples, loops, guitars, bass, keyboard.  I will play acoustic guitar and sing. He will be the one-man band just next to me!

Ebbene la frette studios

Ebbène, do you prefer being alone or in a band ?

Ebbène : When I was in a band, I always had the role of the songwriter and composer, without being able to do exactly what I wanted. Alone, I am free.

With Ebbène, I’m musically fulfilled without being alone, since I have Nico. We have the same vision of what we want and I completely trust him when he works on my songs.

Do you work better during the night or during the day?

Ebbène : We work really well from late afternoon until late at night.

Nico : In the morning, I like to concentrate on the structure of the song, but it’s not the time I’m particularly creative. It’s a bit more squared in the morning, so it’s the moment I try to find a shape to the song and find new directions.

The lyrics are very important. We start from the text to imagine a universe to each song.


Where do you find your inspiration from?

Ebbène: It’s difficult to write in French. You can write 4 beautiful sentences, but if one word is ugly, the whole song becomes ugly, so I try to work around a word to build a sentence.

In English, the sound of a word is more important than its meaning. For the people who don’t speak English, they often find a song beautiful, but when they translate it, they realise that it doesn’t mean anything.

I don’t especially try to pass on a message, I play with the beauty of a word.

Nico : What I liked when I heard the first demos, is that at each hearing, I heard the song differently. Even if the text is very simple, you can understand it differently every time.