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France's Jay Alansky on Madness, Energy & Hating America

Author: Jonty Adderley
Monday, April 14, 2003
In France, everybody is very anti-American, we hate America, though I don't. It's not fair because American culture is very interesting and fascinating to me. But people are very blinded by all this hatred, so it's very difficult for them to have a proper view. People talk too much about things they don't know about."

Just as he finds himself going against the flow politically, France's Jay Alansky is a man who pursues his own musical vision without compromise and it's a stance that has taken him close if nor over the edge, on occasion. His brand new (and excellent) album Les Yeux Creve is just the latest chapter of his singular vision, representing the blindness he sees in people's perceptions.

"Les Yeux Creve means you have a knife in your eyes, so you're completely blind, it's a very violent image," he told Skrufff's Jonty Adderley.

"I was obsessed with spontaneity on this album and I started with the title, and at that moment in my life I was going through a very difficult situation, I was almost blinded, I didn't see the reality around me properly. That's why the album could be considered a little bit dark."

While the album is indeed impressively sombre, it's equally accomplished and enjoyable, mixing and matching downtempo, Balearic style moods with Leonard Cohen type lyrics and distinctive, proper songs. Alansky, in fact, has a rich heritage of albums and projects behind him including his housier album A Reminiscent Drive and Ambrosia, both created without samples and without computers. For Les Yeux Creve, though, he returned to his machines.

"I wanted to be able to record a track in two or three hours. I listened to a lot of the ideas I already had in my computer and began to edit them, to try and build tracks on small details."

Skrufff (Jonty Adderley): Where do you believe your musical creativity comes from-

Jay Alansky: "It's always the same, like a magic process, the music comes through me as if it's from another world. It's always a very mystical, spiritual process. On previous projects, I had to stop the process because the machines I was using were too complicated so this time I didn't want anything to stop me in that way. I wanted to be completely connected to my feelings and my brain, and my emotional side."

Skrufff: Are you visualising certain audiences when you're creating music-

Jay Alansky: "I don't think about that anymore, not at all, I don't care. In France lots of people used to be in the underground until five or six years ago and now they're in the mainstream and it seems that their only purpose is to get on the radio or on MTV. For me, it's not about those things, if they happen, great, but it's not my aim. For me art and music is about a self-discovery process, it's like a mirror. And sometimes looking in a mirror is hard, you can be very aware of the state you're in. The point is not about making money or having a commercial hit."

Skrufff: I understand one of your great influences is Phil Spector, what do you make of his arrest for murder-

Jay Alansky: "I don't know the story, I'm a big fan of him, yes. He's a crazy guy. I'm also a big fan of Leonard Cohen and I remember reading an interview with Leonard in which he said he'd been threatened with a gun, but he's a genius; a crazy genius."

Skrufff: Do you believe in a link between creativity and madness-

Jay Alansky: "Yeah, definitely. It's happened sometimes that I've become very crazy trying to express something deep inside of me. Madness is an energy as is creation and sometimes there is a very thin line between being wise and mad. It's an obsession for me, to be honest, for example, to be humble and honest is vital, to stick to the reality of myself is the only way to free myself from all my demons. Phil Spector is a guy like that and he's so obsessed with sound and perfection and his place in the world, so I can certainly imagine he became completely mad."

Skrufff: Wher