The Balkan swing

The Balkan swing

Fun-filled tunes

The Balkan swing

They had known each for several years before they decided to form ‘La Fanfare Couche-Tard’, a Balkan swing and brass band.

In 2009, Robin Veyssière, Grégory Blaud, Nathanael Bianconi, Florian Valloo and Patrice Komlanz got together for a holiday; they hit the streets of South France, playing fun and melodic tunes. When they returned home, they realised that it was just a beginning for them. With vocals and instruments like the clarinet, accordion, tuba, synths, saxophone, doudouk and percussions, they began touring the world. In a chat with Ananya Revanna, they talk about Balkan music and more.

What is Balkan music like?
Nathanael: It is festive music, and is happy and sad at the same time. Your eyes will water while your mouth laughs. It is music of the world, rooted in tradition but open to modernisation. A first time listener can expect a lot of emotions and frenetic dancing.

Patrice: It’s crazy happiness and deep sadness mixed together to paint a drawing full of life. Listeners can expect to feel crazy and have fun until the end of the night!

What was your first thought when you heard the sound you produced together as a band?

Florian: ‘Oh my god, we have a lot of work to do.’
Grégory: ‘Franchement... bien!’ (Frankly... Good!)
Nathanael: ‘What a brassy sound!’
Robin: ‘This is what I want to do. But we really have to improve.’
Patrice: ‘Can’t wait to get it live on stage.’

What kind of music did you start with?

Florian: I studied at a conservatory from a very young age so the first style I started with was Classical music. However, the first band I joined played funk jazz.

Grégory: My start was similar as well, but the first band I was in played pop folk rock.
Nathanael: I have learnt Classical music as well. My first band was a big Latin jazz band.
Robin: When I was 5, I began to learn the electronic organ so I played simple 80’s electronic music. Then, I created my first band with my brother at the age of 10 and we played experimental music.
Patrice: Classical music, as a French horn player. Then in a brass band, playing rock and Balkan music.

Biggest goof up you’ve made while playing a gig and how you got past it.

Florian: I do not make mistakes. I make up for everyone else!
Grégory: I had to leave the stage to go to the toilet due to a heavy meal that afternoon. We were in Annecy for a concert and the organisers thought they were pampering us by offering us traditional dishes such as the ‘Raclette’ and a Fondu. But they had forgotten that we were to get on stage 15 minutes after the meal. That was a death sentence for me!

Patrice: I got drunk before a show.

If you could go back in time, what music timeline would you choose to live in?

      Florian: I don’t really know. Maybe 20 years back, but with experiences of today. Or maybe the Renaissance period; the harmonies sound bizarrely very contemporary.
Nathanael: I’d love to
discover and play folkloric music in an ancient period.
Grégory: The 70’s.
Robin: The 80’s.
Patrice: The golden age of New Orleans, to play with Louis Armstrong.

(‘La Fanfare Couche-Tard’ will play on April 30 at The Humming Tree.)

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