RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW LA ARTIST JACQUES BAILHÉ
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
It began when I was a child—an irresistible compulsion. I sang, played a child’s accordion my aunt gave me, and at around five years old, proudly composed a piano piece that for some reason, I called my Mexican Sonata on piano. I think is was about 90 seconds long.
Introduce us to your musical history.
A relative gave me a snare drum when I was about seven. I bashed away playing to records. Took trumpet and piano lessons. In my early teens, got a full drum after my family moved from Connecticut to Bangkok, Thailand where I joined my first band, playing parties and the like. Played a drum solo behind a fire-breathing stripper in a roller rink. Took up acoustic guitar, bass guitar, then came sitar lessons in India and Nepal. Back in the U.S, I joined what a critic later called a Folk-Baroque-Rock band, Big Lost, made an album Big Lost Rainbow, two national tours. I left to get a BFA in Film Production and spent many years producing music for 100’s of TV and radio commercials and short films, sometimes composing including with Dolly Parton for her theme park, Dollywood. I’d say I’m self-taughtexcept I learned so much from some of LA’s best studio players and engineers. Began composing just for myself. Besides occasional work for friends who are players, now that’s all I do. Name me your 3 favorite Albums.
Beatles’ White Album, Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, Miles Davis’ Miles Ahead.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Don’t remember the song, but it was a 1960’s Louis Armstrong album. Jammed with it when I was trying to learn Trumpet.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in. How do you feel you are doing?
For me, joy comes from composing. That and hearing from people around the world who send fan mail.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Maybe teach adolescent boys that a woman can do so much more for a man than sex?
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
There are lots of promo opportunities. Find ones that match your style.
Tell us two truths and a lie about you?
I find that in music “There are no rules, but you break them at your peril.” (Jean Luc Godard)
I try to learn everything I can about music, and everything else in this life, by reading, listening, and above all, doing.
The lie is that I’m always confident.
What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
Spotify is a leader, but not sure it’s a monopoly. There are hundreds of great streaming sites around the world.
What was your worst experience on stage?
It was actually before I went on stage for a show in a huge college hall. Just before show time, I stepped outside the green room for a smoke, then found the door was locked.
Tell us something about you that you think would surprise people.
At seventeen, I was ordained as a Buddhist priest by His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, and had one of the great conversations of my life with him one evening. It sounds peculiar, but it’s customary in Thailand for young men to spend a few months in the priesthood. I was on summer vacation from school.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I freely mix genres with reckless abandon.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it?
I usually work on two or three pieces at a time. The next single will probably be an EDM styled piece called Molly’s Wave that I’m mixing now.
Talk me through the thought process of your music.
As with all my music, it’s too crazy sounding to describe. I work from improvisation and so much of that goes on in my subconscious. I’m really led by only one thing, not rational thinking, but emotion.
What is the recording process like for you?
It’s always fun, except when my fingers fail me.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Creating a piano interpretation of Bach’s hugely famous Chaconne from Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin was both euphoric and scary for me. Inspired by Itzhak Perelman’s earth-shaking recording, I worked from Bach’s autograph score, taking great liberties adding and deleting from what is, of course, a legendary piece of music.
I just felt existing piano versions didn’t capture the passion and fury of the music—or Bach, the man. Just a few years earlier, he had been jailed by an employer for insolence, nearly got in a sword fight with bassoonist he criticized harshly, ate and drank heartily, and fathered seven children with his first wife, Maria Barbara Bach. They loved to dance their feet off in the local Biergarten during their thirteen years together. She died in 1720, the same year he wrote this Chaconne. Based on historical accounts, he returned home from a business trip to find her buried in an unmarked grave.
Whether he wrote it to commemorate her death is debatable, but I couldn’t help imagining the range of emotions he must have felt standing at her grave, remembering their passionate life together, worrying about their children, and ultimately, saying farewell to her. And she to him.