A Chat with Clément Belio by Rizzo

“There are no truly original ideas ever, only original combinations of preceding concepts… “

SL: Hi there Clément and welcome to our blog TSL, please introduce your solo project to our readers.
How did you get to your latest, eclectic release “Contrast”?

CB: Hi Andrea.
Well, as you may know, technologies today being more and more accessible to everybody, there are a lot of new solo projects starting around the world.
I’m nothing more than that. Recording ideas with my cheap gear and instruments in my bedroom and trying to be as honest and original as possible.
My solo project started a few years ago, by simply sharing a few tracks and ideas, mix tests, or complete songs on Soundcloud .
Since that time, my tastes has evolved a lot obviously, and so my music!
What I can say is that I now have a few 50 tracks shared on Soundcloud, a lot more in my external hard drives, 2 officials EPs and my first album “Contrast” , released last September on my Bandcamp page.
Let’s quickly talk about that last one.
“Contrast” is, as the tittle say, very contrasted, eclectic, and at least, representative of my current tastes.
I literally tried to put everything I love in it.
That’s why it begins with a symphonic/orchestral intro, then it goes on to a Devin-Townsend-like track, then progressive metal, contemporary jazz, jazz fusion, math rock, ambient, djent… etc.
This is not about “being eclectic for the sake of being eclectic” no, but really to be as honest and representative of my tastes. A kind of “best-of compilation” if you want.
The hard thing was to stay as coherent as possible, make the whole thing flow well together.
So as a result, you have more than 80min of music, all the instruments played and recorded by me, except guests, hopefully each tracks tied together…

SL: Your effort of putting every kind of soundscape you like in your music and arrangements is really admirable to say the least!
How about your “eclecticism”, has such a broad expression of your musical self always been your goal since the beginnings, or was that a vision you developed in the course of your music studies?
And about you, shall we consider you an actual multi-instrumentalist? We can see you play drums, guitar, bass, and even sing and scream in your video clips…which instrument would you define as your main one, or at least the one you feel most connected with? In addition, did you have lessons or are you self-taught?
After the release of Contrast, what are your plans for the future? Do you have something new in the works already?

CB: Well, I find “eclecticism” very important for any musician. But it’s first because I love those different genres that I want to have them in my music, not just because I find it important. So, it’s not really a “goal” since the beginning, and not even something I learned in my music studies.
I would say that’s because I discovered great artists with my father, mainly in the jazz world, that don’t really bother with genre limits.
They just use whatever they find useful for their music at that moment, wherever it comes from.
That is a spirit I love, I’m able now to just go and take what I want from any style or artist I like, which is the main reason why my music is original at the end of the process.
We always write music in according of what we listen and according of the instrument we play, that is a basic rule.
Like a recipe. You’re much more able to make an original dish if you have 50 ingredients rather than if you have 3 🙂

About the instruments, I would say that I’m definitely more a drummer using various tools rather than a real multi-instrumentalist.
I started drums when I was like 6 or 7 years old, took lesson for a few years, than discovered guitar and bass when I was a teenager (15 or 16).
A few years later again I started to play, or more precisely use, the piano, and after that saxophone, various percussion and pretty much everything I could have in the hands.
My father is a guitarist and my mother a saxophonist so I already had good instruments and advice to start playing by myself, which was a great help obviously.
Now even if I’m more comfortable with drums, my real goal with playing all those instruments was to be able to make complete tracks all by myself, and not just “playing a lot of instruments”.
And “recording” was my BEST way of learning those instruments, and that way I could improve my production skills too, “two birds with one stone” 😛

Now Contrast is released I’d like to make another, more personal EP stepping back from all my influences (which is extremely challenging for everyone).
Unfortunately I will not have the time to do so in 2015 and in 2016 because of studies.
Right now I’m studying at the MAI in France (Music Academy International, French partner of Berklee), in the Film Scoring program.
Next year I would to go in Berklee, Jazz Composition program (wish me luck, my audition is on February the 6th).
In the mean time I’ll still share a few tracks, 1 or 2 each months on my Soundcloud page, downloadable for free, and now I’m working on a very ambitious video that will really kick ass when it’s out in a few weeks haha. Surprise…

SL: I absolutely share your point of view, a musician should never self-impose any genre limit! That’s the condition for true creativity to break free, in my opinion.
And you’ve been lucky to have musician parents haha! Great thing, I’m sure they can keep you inspired.
Experimenting with several instruments always fascinated me too, as I believe being able to think as a player of a different instrument from your (primary) one is a great source of inspiration and can give an edge on one’s arrangement abilities indeed.
We’ll be waiting for your video and your future EP then!
And I’m definitely wishing you luck for your Berklee studies, it’s always a joy to see a music lover pursuing his dreams.

I remember there are some songs with vocals too on the album. On those ones, are you the writer of the lyrics? If that’s the case, which are their main themes?

Back to yourself for a moment: which artists would you define as your main influences?
And that’s a sort of complementary question, as you said you tried to put all the music you love in the album: what are your favourite artists, basing on your personal listening? Both “ever” and “at the moment”, if you wish. Any particular albums to recommend to our readers?

CB: Thanks a lot man!
Yeah contrast is mostly instrumental, there are vocals on the 2nd and last tracks, written by me. But I don’t really pay much attention to the lyrics, I prefer being focused on the musical aspect of voices like melodies and choirs rather than the lyrics and the “message”.
However I took the time to write something which wasn’t a complete nonchalant nonsense for those two tracks.
The 2nd, Imitation, is about…well…Imitation as a way of creation haha.
The last one would be the “story” of a god surpassed by the human ability to “create” by themselves, or surpassed by their power of imagination, to be quick.
All the lyrics are uploaded on Bandcamp though.

Well, that question is always hard to answer haha, there are so many.
However, on the credits of the digipack and on Bandcamp, I quoted every single artist that inspired me in any way while making that particular album, and there is a list of 30-40 bands and artists I guess haha.
What I can tell here, to summarize the whole thing, rather than quoting the usual djent/prog bands like Animals as Leaders, Meshuggah, TesseracT, Devin Townsend, Vildhjarta, which are all obvious influences, is qcb2uoting my favorites jazz artists and bands.
In my “all-time favorites” list, there should be E.S.T. (Esbjörn Svensson Trio), 10 amazing albums approximatively in which “Viaticum” (the “coldest” one) and “Seven Days of Falling” (the “hottest” and happiest) are probably two of my favorites albums from this swedish band.
Daniel Mille, a french accordionist (can’t be “Frencher”…) with his album “Entre Chien et Loups” should appear too, he influences me a lot when it comes to the most beautiful harmonic progressions in that kind of smooth jazz.
And finally, in my all-time favorites list AND “at the moment” list too, there is Tigran Hamasyan, an Armenian pianist known for his eclecticism, going from metal to jazz on piano.
Pretty much ALL of his releases since Red Hail (2009) to the one that will be released next February the 3rd “Mockroot” are in the list.
I can’t tell how much I love this guy and how much his music influences me, but it’s everyday more and more, which can be dangerous at some point hahaha!

I can make a special mention to an American metal band, not as known as the previously quoted (but I wish them the same), “A Sense of Gravity”.
Their debut album “Travail” is definitely great but I think I like even more the fact that some of the tracks were primarily made for a jazz big band by Brendon Williams, one of the guitarist (who is also an amazing orchestral composer).
That is the kind of proof of eclecticism I love the most in bands, and both the jazz and metal versions are just amazing!

SL: Oh well, we’ll read the credits then haha!
And thanks for the additional mentions.
Back to you as a person: do you have any other hobbies except for music?

And now a question about “our times”: what do you think of this new, mostly internet-based emergent music scene?
It’s obvious that the music industry is changing.
And well, we probably would never have been here talking to each other without the existence of Bandcamp, at least in my opinion…

CB: A few years ago I’d probably have said “yes, I have other hobbies than music” but hehe, now I spend quasi all my free time (and not free time) making music and music related stuff.
This said, I like (good) movies and shows, mostly independent ones those days (my favorite at the moment is probably Hannibal, the show with Mads Mikkelsen, I’m dying right now waiting for the 3rd season.)
I like, just like everybody, going out with friends, get a couple of beers, playing pool or videogames, telling dark jokes, sliding on my belly when it rains, but yeah, most of the time I’m in front of my computer listening or making music like a pimpled nerd.

Now, about new internet bands, I think it’s great, and bad (wow, much answer, very clarity).
Without internet, as you said, you would probably have never discovered my music, or David Maxim Micic’s, Periphery’s, or Plini’s, who has also inspired a lot of other musicians (like me) who are also inspiring other people as well.
The first thing I said in this interview was that technologies today are more and more accessible to everyone. This gives access to musicians like the ones quoted above to record their music and share it to the world. But this also give access to a lot of shitty bands with standardized tastes, who “act” like the big bands just because they’re fan.
Most of those news bands are cookie-cutter groups that make music for the intent of mass consumption and never focus on the root of their music.
Democratization of that access is a nice word and a nice wish, but that really means giving access to a big bunch of people that have nothing more to say than what has already been said.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that those news bands shouldn’t have access to those technologies or should stop making music, no, on the contrary, they just should change their goals.
Trying to be yourself before being big, make the music you want first and not the music you think people wants first. Be as honest with yourself and others, humble and passionate as possible. Then, and only then you can pretend making “your” music.
So, yeah, it’s a pretty elitist opinion, I might even appear arrogant, but I am very happy that there are a few people in the world making that new “internet based music scene” definitely worthy, whatever the genre.

SL: Spending your free time AND “working” time doing what you love is certainly a success in life!

Well yes I entirely agree with your opinion, that’s pretty much my way of thinking too. You mentioned great artists as well, and yeah they’re absolutely coming from the web.
The internet opened to wide competition, hence finding QUALITY music is a bit harder behind all the mediocre stuff released online just the same way, but it’s at the same time easier for it to show up (thanks to the internet itself, indeed) and be discovered by a music lover that is willing to dig deep enough in his music researches.
I also believe that our generation is really “fed up” with music (in a positive way), meaning that we’re literally overwhelmed by music and it is accessible any time we want, in any format. So, in my opinion, modern day musicians and passionate listeners have developed an ear that’s “easier to get bored” by mediocre, standardized and “heard-already” music. This really pushes for more originality both in demand and offering, according to me. This reason, coupled with what you said already, explains why we can find lots and lots of copycat bands no one will ever care about.
So -again in my vision- the average listener should have at least a bit of “musical consciousness” (as I like to name that feeling) in promoting and supporting who really is worthy and not everybody (just because they’re friends, maybe). The competition needs some righteous “screening”, that’s what I’m trying to say. At least more than in the past decades.
I can surely say I’m on your side on the matter.

So, Clément, we’re done with the interview. Thank your very much for your helpfulness, it’s been a great chat! We’ll be waiting for your upcoming works.
If you have anything to say to our readers to close up, this is your moment!
Bye from TSL, and good luck for your projects. We hope to be hosting you again!

CB: Well thanks a lot Andrea, it’s been a great pleasure to chat with you, especially since we’re pretty much on the same page on a lot of points (especially on what you said about the music industry haha).cb3
Hope TSL is going to get bigger, because the dedication you showed in this interview is very promising for a music blog and some positive spotlight attention would be entirely deserved 🙂

Last unrelated stuff, some very close friends are in a band called Itzamna.
I produced them last summer and ended up recording a few instruments in addition to the actual line up, which is drums, guitar, bass and piano.
It’s a refreshing jazz/math-rock band, in the same vein as my music and it’s just awesome, I love it.
I will play some shows with them this year, because I love what they’re doing, and I love them (simply). Here’s a link of the official playthrough I shot at my place a few months ago.

My links:
Soundcloud (a big bunch of free tracks here)
Facebook page

Clément Belio 🙂

SL: Thanks again for your time and support!
We try to put our best in this little blog, and we hope to be useful to artists indeed, in our own small way at least.
My curiosity (and, well, the fact I’m following you haha) led me to discover Itzamna already, and I can assure our readers that Clément is mentioning yet again another worthy act! Check them out.

Thanks again Clément, hope we’ll be talking to each other again in future times.
Au revoir from TSL!

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