As part of the Montréal En Lumière festival, the French duo AaRON played at Métropolis to present their latest album: We Cut the Night. Aaron is composed of Simon Buret and Olivier Coursier from France. They came into the eye of the public with their song U-Turn (Lili), which was the soundtrack of the film Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas by Philippe Lioret. The song became the premise for the release of AaRON’s debut album Artificial Animals Riding on Neverland. The album was acclaimed by the public. The duo’s career continues with the release of their second album Birds in the Storm, which also was a great success. For 2016, the duo is back with a third studio album entitled We Cut the Night with a new electronic shift that does not lose the essence of the duo, a dreamlike journey constructed on poetic text.
In fact, known for their romanticism and pieces that evoke pure emotion in listeners, the duo continues to reinvent itself, and wanted to explore a new direction with sounds that are more electropop. We Cut the Night is a consistent album that plunges us into a beautiful universe, a universe that is sometimes rhythmic and sometimes darker and heavier. While listening to songs like Maybe on the Moon, 2:22, Invisible Stains and Shades of Blue, we can sense a back-to-basics approach for the duo, by using their familiar folk-rock, a refined minimalism and more sentimental music, while Blouson Noir (the first single from the album), The Leftlovers and We Cut the Night are more rhythmic and catchy. The duo came to Montreal in support of the new album and we met for an interview before the concert.
Sarah Bemri (SB): Where does the name AaRON come from?
Simon Buret (SBA): Olivier and I met during an homage to the painter Jean Michel Basquiat, who in a way invented graffiti art. Basquiat used the street as a source of inspiration. We have the same approach when it comes to music. Our major influence is more visual than musical. We always used elements of our everyday life, or elements of nature or how nature resonates within the human. In the graffiti, a lot of artists use a crown over their names. It is a way to say ‘I make you king.’ And AaRON was a name that Basquiat used often in his work. So we wanted to make it our own crown and make an homage to the artist and his work.
SB: We Cut the Night will be released tomorrow in Canada (February 19th). How would you describe it in your musical journey?
SBA: We always want to explore new things and to go into unknown territories. So we used sounds from the other albums, also a mix between traditional music instruments and other more electronic. We would like to think that we make albums that are both for the head and feet, meaning more hypnotic and dreamy for the soul, but also catchy enough to make you want to dance. We consider our songs as Polaroids, as each of them represents a glimpse of a caught moment. We don’t want to dictate a specific emotion, but to create a different one depending on the listener. We want to trigger an emotion, dig what’s already inside a person.
SB: We often use the words ‘melancholy’ and ‘spleen’ to refer to the musical world of AaRON. How do you explain that?
SBA: I don’t believe in mushy melancholy. I think the more important thing in the art and in life, is not the facts but the memories that remain. So the important thing is what you make of it. And depending on the person they will think the song is either catchy or sad. I don’t think you can impose an emotion. And our responsibility as musicians is to create something that is embodied and close to the heart and to give the necessary space for the listener to interpret it as their experience.
SB: How does the creative process work? Do you have predefined roles?
Olivier Coursier (OC): No, certainly not. There is one predefined role: it is Simon who writes the lyrics. When it comes to music, it might be me who’ll find a verse, give the idea of a chorus to Simon and the song is built like that, or we try a new sound on a synthesizer and that will inspire us to make a song.
SBA: Actually we have a studio in Paris and so we have no time constraints. We always look for sounds. It is also necessary that we could sing the song in piano-voice or guitar-voice and once we establish the skeleton, we look for sound muscles. We always want the music and lyrics to be fusional and to inspire the same feeling.
After the interview, I went to the concert. The concert was a trip between the three albums of the duo. AaRON had opened the show with Magnetic Road, setting the tone for the evening: the night will be mesmerizing, aerial and placed under the sign of emotion. During the songs, while Olivier moved between guitar and keyboards, Simon showed an incredible dynamism. I had previously read an article about Simon’s stage presence. Let’s say it wasn’t given in glowing terms regarding his dancing skills. I must admit that at first I was bit amused by his gestures, but his authenticity, energy and transcendence by the music outweighed by far the weirdness. It certainly did not detract the attention from his vocal qualities.
The bond between Simon and Olivier was obvious throughout the concert. They looked at each other, exchanged smiles and their presence completed one another. We also felt their sense of aesthetic in their performance; their presence was very elegant and the lighting effects built a whole atmosphere around it. From the first notes of U-turn (Lili), the crowd screamed its happiness. I have to admit, I was touched to see my neighbor cry over the song while singing along with Simon. As for me, I hummed on Maybe on the Moon, my favorite from We Cut the Night. The eponymous single from We Cut the Night and Blouson Noir were next. With the help of Simon, even the most reluctant let themselves go in the rhythms.
Aaron is above all a mesmerizing and hypnotic world, a celebration of words, melodies, emotions with an irresistible tenderness and We Cut the Night is a perfect example.