"A year ago, I had no plans whatsoever to ever make another record again – and now I have one that should be out in March..."
Thomas Meluch's music has always been rooted in uncertainty. As Benoît Pioulard, his three albums to date have been vague, ephemeral affairs – sprawling washes of processed electronics and ambience, only punctuated by the occasional drowned-out lyric or song structure. Still, when he announced earlier this year that he may not have another Pioulard record in him, many were surprised.
Meluch had fallen in love. Not figuratively, either. On a tour, he had been introduced to the love of his life and, after a whirlwind courtship of barely a handful of weeks, the two had wed. Previously driven by neuroses, depression and loneliness, Meluch initially found it difficult to deliver the same melancholic music in wedded bliss. Fortunately, he seems to have found a way around that obstacle.
“Well, if I recall that interview correctly, it was more about writing sad songs than necessarily writing Pioulard records,” the singer-songwriter clarifies. “I got married like two-and-a-half years ago and that was around about when my last record [2010's Lasted] came out. Up until that point, my songs were typically inspired by heartbreak and those sort of things. Once I was married, I began to question my ability to write those songs.
“Luckily, I found other inspirations for that,” he laughs. “I just finished another record. It's different thematically. I was in the UK for nearly a year last year and being inspired by a different country, different lifestyle. It was a good year – very productive. I got a lot of work done and I got to spend a lot of time with my wife because she was over there studying. She just got back to the States today, actually.”
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Of course, much has still changed in Meluch's world. His new album will not be a revision of his past work. With only limited equipment available to him while in the UK, Meluch was forced to opt for different approaches for the record. After a career of vague, textural walls of noise and ideas, Benoît Pioulard may finally be stripping back and exploring more song-driven material.
“When I went over to the UK, I was only really able to take the absolute bare bones – soundcard, mixer, guitar – and while I was over there I managed to find a really cheap, middle-of-the-road acoustic to play around with,” he explains. “The recording process had to be simple by necessity. It all came together in a way that I didn't really anticipate. It doesn't go off on any real crazy tangents, though.”
Indeed, speaking with Meluch, it's his clarity that impresses the most. For an artist whose work has been so defined (and, by his own admission, informed) by uncertainty, Meluch speaks with admirable precision and perspective about his work. By way of example, he expresses no distress when discussing the brief period wherein he had no real musical future. He views his almost certainly uncertain future as a musician with equanimity.
“A year ago, I had no plans whatsoever to ever make another record again – and now I have one that should be out in March,” the singer-songwriter explains. “There are times when I just don't feel like playing a single note on anything. They tend to be balanced out by really intense periods of creativity. Whenever I do get writers block or whatever, I generally try not to force it. It all balances out eventually.”
Benoît Pioulard will be playing the following shows:
Saturday 6 October - The Gasometre, Collingwood VIC