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FRÉDÉRIC L’ÉPÉE: SHYLOCK AND BEYOND

It has been my honour to conduct the first of a two-part interview with Frédéric L’épée, guitarist of SHYLOCK, PHILHARMONIE and YANG and solo artist, the full text of which will appear in the next issue of ACID DRAGON magazine (see Link in this website). Meanwhile, here is a synopsis of what we discussed.


Our discussion ranged from the compositional process, about SHYLOCK and why they used numbers as titles, the experimental side of his music as well as music as a form of meditation and specific albums such as “Vent Pluie et Sable” (1997) inspired by African and Turkish music using a fretless guitar, “Le Mont Analogie” (2000)  which was inspired by a novel, and some unusual live performances where he lives for friends and as recorded for his latest album “Observation Report (Stillness in Motion)”, with two long pieces selected from eight hours of improvisations using digital loopers and loudspeakers strategically placed around an art exhibition.


I asked Frédéric about how he translates his own reflections and impressions into music and whether this was more of spontaneous or crafted process in the classical tradition. I was thinking in particular of “The Empty Room” album which is reviewed on this website. Frédéric told me, “The first shot is spontaneous, coming during my daily practice, a travel, a movie (writing down ideas in a notebook). The composition process on these ideas involves assembling, developing, swapping parts, disassembling, slicing melodies, until the whole thing is finally balanced and expresses the very mood of the original idea, but expanded and made intelligible.”

 

While Frédéric’s music, especially in the early days with SHYLOCK and PHILHARMONIE, has been highly regarded in Progressive Rock circles, Frédéric explained he had studied composition in a musical conservatoire which made him “eager to experiment on new sonorities and uncharted territories and not composing music to specific kind of formation or genre.” He talked about YANG and how most of the pieces could be easily transcribed for a string quartet or brass orchestra, and revealed that we can expect a fifth album “Rejoice! ” on CUNEIFORM RECORDS in July, with a guest singer Carla Kihlstedt.


Shylock influences discussed included MAGMA, GENESIS, PFM, some classical, and for Frederic LED ZEPPELIN, KING CRIMSON, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, YES, HENRY COW and ART ZOYD, tracing his edging towards more experimental music.

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