Our Interview With Nicolas Quirin
Metz, France is a town bordered by three countries. It is that which gives the town such a rich variety of art, culture and talent. Since moving to Metz, I have met some very interesting characters. Musicians, sculptors, painters … Just artists really!
I would like to introduce you to an artist who is a Metz local, a man who tours to all corners and is known for his very ‘sincere’ music style. I give you, the very talented Nico.
Why do you do what you do?
Good question! I don’t know to be honest… I have always had creative hobbies ever since I was a child. I want to be a comic book artist originally. Music arrived a bit later for me. I had a four-track recorder, a guitar, a bass and a drum machine. I start composing before I had learnt to play five chords I believe … I wanted to be in a rock band. I was a band man for years but we never toured, we only played in the local area and I wanted to do way more than that.
One day, my friend Ben (Silver/Tardis) pushed me in to playing solo. I tried it and to my surprise, I really did enjoy it. Within the two weeks of creating my solo project I had played in the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium. It was so surreal… I loved that time, the road. Arriving into a town where you didn’t know anybody, to play, to make friends, allow them to show you around the place by night. When I arrived home, I quit all of my bands and I decided to focus all of my efforts entirely on my solo project and to make sure I toured as much as possible.
How do you set about your work? How do you compose?
In fact, as I am doing when I answer you, I let all the ideas out entirely ‘in bulk’. I write pages and pages all the time. Then I sort it. I try to revive one particular instance. One precise memory from one precise moment. The is always a trigger, a particular event, something which will touch me that could be insignificant to other people.
In general, I find the tile first (Most of the time, it’s not even in the lyrics but it works as a vehicle to show emotions which I want to portray). I’m at my place with my guitar were I generally write a whole song of strumming with on average 3-5 riffs and I will record it.
Let’s talk a bit about your album. What is this Ghost Story?
That is a huge question. Around five years ago, I became ill. I had recurring epileptic fits. There was an intense and heavy treatment, which absolutely exhausted me, and I almost never left my house. It was during this time that I wrote this album. My ‘Ghost’, is the personification of many things but one of those is fear and the impression that everything was coming to the end; Thankfully, I am in perfect health now and doing very well. It is also the people who are no longer here and those who age around me. It is my instincts, my imagination, insomnia, and the envy that we feel from time to time, among many other things. Finally it is the inability to truly be here and now without our minds wondering.
Obviously, I cannot to about this album without giving my immense thanks to my friend Guy Tournay (Animal Youth) who recorded it ‘in different rooms creating different states and feelings’. Without him I would never have succeeded to finalize this record.
Who is Laura?
I have never spoken about her in an interview or I have always stayed very vague on the subject. Laura is a person who is no longer here with us. She was my girlfriend when I was twenty years old. She is also my ghost. I always stay as evasive as I possibly can on the subject. My album is dedicated to her even if I speak a lot more about myself. Her memory takes me back to a time in my life when I was really carefree; I had dreadlocks, I went out a lot and I didn’t care about anything. I get very nostalgic about that. To have nothing so to care about nothing.
I love the song “Rooftops And Bottle Bottoms”; do you really drink on the roof? You know it’s illegal right?
(Laughs) Yes, it has happened. In my apartment I put in a little ladder so that I could get to the roofs by the by the ‘Velux’. I regularly drink coffee and wine up there. There is a view from the roof with the whole town off to the left and the cathedral up in front.
I am happy to hear that you like the song! I composed it when I was between two homes and I had no place to really call my own. So I thought back to one evening when I squatted for the night on my friend Nancy’s roof. Nancy went inside before me. I had to stay another half an hour alone to look at the town and imagine what could happen to me that could be more enjoyable than that very night.
I know that you are a funny person but your songs can be very melancholic. So, is your goal to show your deeper emotions or is your aim to make money out of making people cry?
Certainly! It is for the masses. As you know, people spend a fortune to see me sad and give me hugs so to console me when I finish singing. Then they get home and think to themselves that their lives aren’t as utterly terrible as they thought. It’s a great concept! So yeah, I get rich as well! Besides, I did it and now if you want to do the same thing then you have to pay me (laughs). Like wise with ‘shhhhhhing’ a crowd between songs… That’s all me!
But in seriousness, I allow lots of bad thoughts and upsetting emotions to crawl into my writing. It is probably that which allows me to be so light-hearted outside of my music. I think I am a bit of an all or nothing person in general. I monopolize on words or I don’t talk at all. Five minutes is the difference between very serious and laughing from the belly with my friends.
You tour a lot. Sometime you play entirely solo with just your guitar. Why? Do people run away when you ask if they want to play with you?
(Laughs) First and foremost it’s a choice. To be able to do what I want when I want to do it. Being able to tour for long periods of time and create as much music as I like. Also, starting a project such as an album, deciding that it won’t do and restarting everything without conflicting opinion.
With time, regrettably I finished up thinking that in this day and age things are no longer done to become stronger. Bands, relationships, objects. By making myself the center of the project I guarantee that, at least, I will never stop. Also I can make up my own mind.
There is equally an very practical aspect. When touring, I travel by train or bus. I have a backpack and my guitar. I play in a different town every night. The logistics are non-existent and I have no need to drive. You see these things differently when you are playing solo. You arrive at the station and you must find your way to the concert. Naturally, being alone, you will speak to far more people than you would if you were in a band. You learn a lot about yourself and after a while the fatigue sets in, you start to reflect less and you become more sociable, more relaxed and you play your best concerts.
And your full-band?
The full band is a recent thing. The first show was at Trinitaires for the album “Lullabies For My Ghost” about a year ago. My singing tutor, Rebecca Noël became my keyboard player and backing singer.
Then I decided to create an expanded set-up for this particular concert. We did a Pop-Rock version of the album where we picked up Julien Chaix (our current guitarist). He worked hard and revamped the guitar parts.
Quickly, Boris Meichelbeck arrived on the drums. That was musically and personally very touching. I have a lot of sentiment for the co-lab that took place.
In other news, we are bringing out another EP in June that we recorded live and sounds a lot like the album in that you can see the concert when we play as a foursome.
We have lots of dates coming up in September especially. We are play at “Chien à Plumes” at the Felstival and we are playing at the first part of “Ala-Ni” in Verdun. We are also beginning work on the second album.
What will you do next? Visit your parents? Go and eat?
I am going to see my grandma in her retirement home this afternoon. I bought her a Nintendo DS with “Bomberman 2” so that she wont get bored.
Afterwards, I will work on the guitar of a new song and get back on booking the up coming tour this summer. I will continue harassing my manager in order to keep up with the EP release. Last but not least, I will sign up to Bbop!
Thank you very much Nico!
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