Pays Paix gründeten sich 2015. Laura Boullic (Texte, Vocals), Lucas Valero (Gitarre) und Pablo Valero (Drums) fanden sich in ihrer Heimatstadt Paris zusammen, um Texte und Musik auf ihre eigene Weise zu verbinden. Bald folgten erste Auftritte, seitdem ist die Band in ihrer Stadt und darüber hinaus live sehr aktiv. 2018 veröffentlichten sie einen selbstbetitelten Longplayer auf Soundcloud. Und noch dieses Jahr steht ein ganz neues Kapitel der Bandgeschichte an.
Ich begegne der Band erstmals in einem kleinen Club im 19. Arrondissement. In einem exzellenten, musikalisch einigermaßen disparaten Line-Up sind sie, soweit ich weiß, die (derzeit noch) Unbekanntesten und zugleich diejenigen, die heute Abend die „schwierigste“, jedenfalls die am schwersten zu beschreibende Musik spielen – mir zumindest fällt kein passendes Genre-Label ein für die organischen Songstrukturen, die unvorhersehbaren Rhythmuswechsel, die sich aus wenigen Elementen aufbauenden, zusammenbrechenden und wiedererstehenden Soundgebilde aus komplexen Drums, einer Gitarre, die zwischen gezupften Passagen und Sound- und Effektmauer mäandert, und eher gesprochenen als gesungenen Vocals. Die Band selber bezeichnet ihren Stil schlicht als „Rock“; alternative, experimental, auch goth wären ein paar passende Attribute zur Auswahl.
Und das Publikum? Ist sich einig: Möge der nächste Rhythmuswechsel kommen und uns kalt erwischen, es bleibt uns nur zu tanzen. Es ist die einzige vernünftige Option angesichts der Energie auf der Bühne, obwohl (oder gerade weil) sie sich dort weniger durch raumgreifendes Stage Acting als durch die schiere Intensität der Musik und der kompromisslosen Vocal Performance Luft verschafft. Die Musik ist zweifellos komplex, aber das ist es nicht, wie sie sich anfühlt – sie fühlt sich einfach nur richtig an. Ich kenne weder die Band noch die Songs, ich kenne noch nicht mal diese Stadt noch weiß ich, wo ich den Rest der Nacht verbringen werde, ich bin am exakt richtigen Ort. Ich verstehe kein Wort, und für diesen Moment glaube ich jedes einzelne davon.
Über diese Band wollte mehr in Erfahrung gebracht und erzählt werden. Ich bat Laura um ein E-Mail-interview.
How did Pays Paix come into being?
During summer 2015, I had to fight for my own survival, so I was looking to form a rock’n’roll band. But I didn’t know where to start, whom to talk to. One day I was listening to a very heavy song, with a dark and powerful bass, and drums equally powerful … and Lucas’ face came up! I knew he played bass and I thought, that’s it! I need a bass and a drum. I remembered his soft character and his sensitivity to poetry, and also the fact that we would often meet at noise or rock concerts, often with his brother, Pablo, who I knew plays the drums. So I asked Lucas if he/they would be interested in playing with me and they said yes. The only thing, Lucas said, was that he would play the guitar, not the bass.
How did your band name come about, and what does it mean to you?
When I thought about forming the band, it was a very difficult time for me in a lot of ways, notably I was getting quite conscious and becoming more radical politically. So I wanted to make a stand, which is, if you speak from where your heart belongs sincerely, then something happens, something works, inevitably. This is how I feel society should work, with trust. I disagree completely with the way school destroys, without knowing it, the particularity, the beautiful mistakes of the children who then become adults. I found Pays Paix because it means „country of peace“, but in French there’s a play with words because if you write P.I.P. or Pays P., you can hear out loud «pays paix»…
We would each offer our own deep desires during rehearsals and see if it would match. If it matches, if we each are able to assume who we are and create something accordingly, with the other, then we reach a country of peace.
Which person, artist or incident inspired you when you first started making music?
Nina Simone is my all time favourite artist, because she has a precious force: She feels responsible of what she’s doing with her freedom (I like the kingdom in this word, freedom.)
If you had to put your music into a drawer and print a label on it, what would it say?
I’m not sure I’d do that, but we never know! It also depends on the day, it might say «pas mieux que pardonner» – «no better than to forgive».
Forget about genres for a second – Pays Paix’s music sounds like …?
Sounds like the right to express ourselves.
You have a minimalist set-up with drums, guitar, vocals. Do you ever think about bringing in other instruments?
During the three/four first rehearsals, we played with a saxophonist and a keyboarder/chorist but they quickly left as it was a bit ambitious … it sounded good to me though. I really enjoy improvising on the one hand and meeting people and sensitivities on the other, so when the time is right we’ll do as much featurings as we can, I think. For now, we are going to start playing with Foucauld, who is another guitar player. It could be very interesting, we’ll see!
Which instrument will surely NEVER be heard on a Pays-Paix-track?
Oh, all love welcome.
The lyrics obviously play a big role in your music. For those of us who don’t speak French: What do you mostly write about? Are there recurring themes?
I write a lot about politics, a bit about myself, a bit about love and a bit about Paris. Recurring theme is mostly Paris, I address myself to her as she speaks to me in my everyday life. Come to think of it, maybe the address would be the recurring theme, I tend to write to Paris, or to politicians, to myself, or a lover, to the police, to a stranger, there’s always an address. With bits of abstract poetry.
When you’re writing new songs, where do you start: the music or the lyrics? Can the music sometimes just be the vehicle for the poetry, or the words just matched to the music?
We always start with a jam. Most of the time, Lucas plays a riff, then Pablo and I enter. I come to rehearsal with a lot of poems, songs, notes, and I work around the melody, the choice of words, by listening to our impros afterwards (I record each and every rehearsal). Pablo and Lucas have been playing together since highschool, they’re also brothers, so they have a very fluid dialogue when it comes to the instrumental structure of the songs.
You have an amazing energy on stage. Is making music ultimately about playing live, or are other parts of the process equally important and enjoyable to you?
Playing live is fundamental to us, it’s kind of the ultimate gesture where you get to share your suspended moment with other people. But I really enjoy all of the other parts: rehearsal, because it’s where we get to evacuate something for the first time, so there’s a sort of mystery and an intensity I’m really attached to in this process. And after that, taking care of those little moments by giving them time and understanding. I can’t wait to work on recordings, to find details in this landscape we create with so little time.
You are members of the art collective Curry-Vavart. What is the collective about, what are its aims?
Curry-Vavart is an association uniting a hundred people who are making alternative art, to say it quickly. They are in convention with townhalls, usually, to occupy disused spaces where artists can enjoy working for a cheaper rent and get to be autonomous, meaning the spaces are mutual and self-directed. They have general assemblies every month, are politically engaged and promote a collective and convivial way of living.
The Fairy-Godmother pops up in front of you and grants you a wish. What do you wish for?
It’s a bit cheesy, I’ll wish for the people to only be able to be themselves, what they truly are inside. Then I imagine that we would judge a lot less, and so: fear a lot less. Fear is the same word as free almost. Here is another label for the drawer: «je me bats pour la paix, car comme toute âme j’y ai droit et me dois d’y prétendre». («I fight for peace, because like every soul I have a right to it, hence must claim it.»)
Any special plans for the nearer future? More concerts? Tour? Studio? Something completely different?
We’re gonna rehearse this summer, because we will record our first EP this autumn, in Brooklyn, New York!
Any chance we could hear you play live, anywhere a bit nearer from here than Paris?
Well, I hope it will come sooner than expected. It’s quite difficult to find time to organize something like that ourselves for now, because we all have other projects and jobs, but if we were invited, we would say yes in a heartbeat!