As I mentioned a few months ago, when I had the chance to conduct a first interview with Marie-Claude LeBel, the one and only Montreal Minx, she was the first musician mentioned on Beijing Daze when it was all started… It seems so long ago but then again, things haven’t changed much: Marie Claude is still playing all over town and I’m still going out and enjoying her flavor of Gypsy Jazz. As she gets ready to release her debut CD Tuesday night at 2 Kolegas, I managed to catch up with Marie over a few Rums at Salud to see what she’s been up to:
1- What’s going on in your world? This is your chance to plug your stuff.
we are finally having this cd release party tomorrow at 2 kolegas! Then i’ll go home for a month, then Mexico for a month and a half, so its the last gig before march!
2- Congratulations on the Album. What took you so long and why do it now?
I’ve been playing with lots of musicians in Beijing since 2002 but I started to concentrate on that french chanson project a year and a half ago when i finally found the musicians I was looking for and the sound I was looking for. So i tough it was time to record it! First I wanted to produce it myself, but we got an offer from a record company, Tree music, so we deceided to do it with them. Its a way to get into more chinese music festivals and they can also help to promote the band.
3- Any reason why release it as “Mademoiselle et Son Orchestre” instead of the other 30 names you have used so far?
hahaha! Since we play together the six of us (2 guitars, 1 clarinette, one drum, a doubble bass and me, vocals and accordion, we really feel like an orchestra, especially when we rehearse in my tiny living room! We are a big gypsy familly and I really love those guys. We have so much fun playing together!
4- Any plans to take it on the road and do a China/World tour for the release?
I wanted to do that CD also because its a great “name card” for a band. With that recording, we would like to go on tour in China and play in Alliances Francaises (french schools all around China for chinese adults). Its a lot of organisation, but it would be so much fun…
5- With all the time you’ve spent here, you must have seen some bizarre things. What’s your top 3 strange stories about being a musician in Beijing/China?
You need to be patient to be a musician in China. Especially when you have to deal with sound ingeneers in events, hotels or bars sometimes… They are funny clowns, not sound engeneers. I remember once for the opening of a french restaurant, we played a first set, than took a break, then came back and when I started to sing, there was a huge echo, way to much reverb, it sounded worst than in a karaoke. I went to see the guy to ask him to stop the reverb explosion, I asked him: “why is there sooooo much reverb now”? and he looked at me very serious (he was not jocking unfortunatly), and he said” Its because you ate something during the pause, some bread may be, and it changed your voice”… then there is nothing you can say to that,… you just laugh. That is our favorite runing joke in the band…
I also often recive calls from booking agents (other funny clowns), asking” wich color is your accordion?”, “can you find 30 russian dancers to be on stage with you and sing in german?”, “can you please try to play violon for us tomorrow?”, “can you sing “jingle bells”? (in july),…etc…
lots of fun…
6- one of my favorite songs “Le Grand Mur” didn’t make it on the CD because the lyrics were too risque, is that right?
Yeah… Because it says “make love”, the copyright censurship bureau of China didn’t liked it and told us that it cant be on the cd, even if there is no chinese translation and french lyrics on the cd book… come on! It was nothing political! Just “make love”! Don’t they make love here in China? I was really disapointed… and I know you loved that song! But we made something special about that. You’ll see tomorrow!
7- You’ve worked with plenty of Beijing’s foreign musicians but you’ve also toured and played with Chinese musicians all over China. Are there any major differences in working with the two?
After a gig, chinese musicians eat, and foreingers drink! haha no,…I dont know…. There is all kinds of musicians, serious ones, crazy ones, chinese and foreingers… I like to work with both.
8- Looking at the lyrics, there’s a lot of fun in the songs but some of the lyrics can almost be sad, especially in the title track ” un cafe pour deux”. Is that based on your personal experience or just following a genre?
Yeah, I wrote that years ago when I was single.Then I was in a relationship for few years, and now that the CD is about to be released, I am single again, so it makes sence again! But actually the lyrics are not sad, I am saying that I shaved my legs, cleaned my room, bought sexy underwear, but nobody is there to take my clothes off… writing that song was just a way to make fun of a pathetic situation, and everybody have been there one day or an other…
9- What is the biggest misconception about Marie-Claude?
That i am French! I am not! I am from Quebec! Kui Bei Ke! hahahah!
10 – The CD release is Tuesday at 2 Kolegas. Are you planning anything special? is it a Mademoiselle only show or will there be other bands present?
We will have special guests! And knowing 2kolegas, that might end in a big jam!