Thursday evening, Julien Clerc will be in concert in Pamiers, as part of the municipality’s cultural program. A date that was sold out in just a few hours after it was announced in our columns. Interview with an artist who likes to renew himself and who is delighted at the idea of performing in an intimate room.
That morning, he had just dropped off his youngest for the start of the school year. After fifty years of career, Julien Clerc is still an “Earthman” like the others. Thursday, he will be in concert in Pamiers where he had already appeared more than forty years ago, at a time when “Let’s the sunshine” was packing the hippie movement and much more. In 2021, the singer-songwriter who is launching his tour from Ariège is already happy to play in an “intimate” room. Hoping to “feel people very closely”.
“Terran”, your new album was essentially developed during the first confinement. Was it for you a Sunday every day, as you sing it in “My Refuge”, or on the contrary a period conducive to creation?
[Rires] In fact, the album was written before, during and after the first lockdown. And to tell the truth, it didn’t change much for me insofar as when the rest of us are in times of creation, it’s a bit of a bubble. Except that this time, when I left it, it was much more scary… Usually, I spend hours at the piano and then I go for a walk. There, it was not the case because I was like everyone else: locked up. But we can not say that it was Sunday in view of the appalling news that was broadcast. But again, music saved my life! It allowed me to extract myself from the real world.
So how did you go about surrounding yourself with renowned collaborators like Clara Luciani, Bernard Lavilliers or Marc Balavoine?
We did it remotely. It is true that now we can write without meeting! So generally, I am sent a text that I set to music.
This must change you from the days when studio presence was essential …
Yes, but when I started, Étienne Roda-Gil, David McNeil or Le Forestier participated in a lot of songs on a single album. It was sometimes in the order of eight out of twelve titles. But today, fewer authors live exclusively on their pen, it is harder. So I call on authors who are also composers.
Entitling your new album “Terrien”, is it a way of going back to basics, of remembering the simplicity of the human condition in these troubled times?
Yes ! But this song, I owe it to Bruno Guglielmi to whom I set foot in the stirrup and who now works with Calogéro, in particular. He sent me this text which I find magnificent. It is an inventory of the inhabitants of the Earth and I found that it was a beautiful title to give to the album. But there are also Barbelivien or Clara Luciani, younger, who offered me, without giving themselves the word, more societal texts. And it was blessed bread! Because this album is different.
In what ?
Usually, I tried to match a piece I had composed with the texts that were sent to me. There, I did the opposite and the style of writing influenced my music. Among composers, moreover, not many of us operate in this way. But it allowed me to renew myself. Anything new that can be found that changes your habits helps you reinvent yourself. It’s been fifty years since I invented melodies!
You are going to start your tour in Pamiers, in a room with 300 seats. After having skimmed the zeniths of France and Navarre, the pleasure is still there?
But I love to play in small venues! You know, my job is a way, a reason for living. So whether it’s 300, 3,000 or 30,000 seats, as long as I can sing, have an exchange, share an emotion … Three hundred, I think we can feel the people very closely and that must make for great evenings! For me, that doesn’t change much: I always give the best of myself. I try to touch the invisible thread that exists between the artist and the audience. Intimism precisely provokes different emotions.
And what are you going to sing? Mainly songs from your new album or rather the hits that marked your career?
Especially the tubes. One day someone told me Looks like you’re a jukebox[rires]! But I know for a fact that when you go to the concert of an artist like me, it is the meeting of his own life. We like to find the things we know. However, new songs give more pleasure to the artist than to the public. There will still be five tracks from the new album.
This interview was hardly postponed due to your son’s comeback. Is it also to be an earthling like the others and do you hold on to it?
Yes a lot ! This job is so addicting that you cannot do it all your life without keeping a powerful contact with real life. Otherwise, we become a dry fruit! I don’t have two caps, one normal and one for the artist. Watching all of my children grow up has always been very important to me. But maybe because he’s the youngest, I watch him more carefully [rires].
When Julien Clerc made his debut at the Pamiers festivals …
While the star of French song will be in concert this Thursday at Jeu-du-Mail, a loyal reader has searched his archives to find a snapshot taken about fifty years ago. “Let’s the sunshine” was a hit in this post-sixty-eight period and the big names like Fugain, Dutronc or Cabrel, among hundreds of others, paraded on the stages of the festivals of Pamiers. In this film photo, we also see Julien Clerc and his long hair in the middle of a signing session with a young man pointing the tip of his nose. This is the owner of the photo, Ariégeois Patrick Arseguel, an unconditional fan who had the chance to snatch his seats for Thursday’s concert.