By Lacanian homophony, there is the mother, the philosopher and psychoanalyst Anne Dufourmantelle, who died in 2017, at the age of 53, on a beach in Ramatuelle (Var), after having rescued two children who were in danger of drowning. And there is the sea, towards which the first album of the singer and novelist Clara Ysé turns. From its beautiful title, Oceano Noxborrowed from Virgil’sAeneid : “And ruit oceano nox” (“and the night rushes from the ocean”).
It is tempting, and misleading, to interpret this record as a therapeutic exercise, the continuation of a work of mourning that the future author of Firing (Grasset, 2021) had made public through a letter to his loved one published in the columns of Release under the title “You taught me to say yes, to immerse my head in the invisible, to celebrate life”. ” Alone Letter to M talks about her and the relationship to lack, corrects Clara Ysé. Magician evokes my first love, a girl with whom I was very much in love for three years, and some managed to find my mother there… People like drama. But the subject of the album is desire, and how to reintegrate it into your life. »
What this 31-year-old Parisian is working on on stage at the Café de la danse, near the Bastille, Tuesday December 5. Its ascending rating is already destined to increase the gauge for La Cigale (March 26, 2024, complete) before the consecration of the Olympia (November 15, 2024). In a black flamencoist top and skirts, she multiplies the roles, in turn a music-hall tragic (“It’s true, I only know how to sing about shipwrecks”, she breathes into Magician) and queen with the gestures of an oriental dancer. Surrounded by an impeccable quartet which required rearranging its songs around the rumbles of a baritone saxophone.
Her group leaves her for a one-on-one with the audience. Here she grabs a Spanish guitar and sings La Lloronathis “white lady we see before we die”, sung by Chavela Vargas. Clara Ysé also borrowed shawls from the heroine of the Mexican ranchera song. Like the one she wears, in front of a white horse, on the cover of her album. This Hispanicness also links her to a “Spanish-hearted grandmother”, present in the room, and to a new Colombian woman. As it nourishes his tropism for the magical realism of Latin American literature.
After the revelations of L (Raphaële Lannadère), then of Zaho de Sagazan, Oceano Nox confirms the singularity and strength of new female voices whose intimate expression comes from the same descendants, that of Barbara, theatricality included. “I listened to her a lot, with Léo Ferré, suitable for Clara Ysé. I have always been moved by the voices that overflow, these particular and ageless timbres which make someone’s soul heard, of which we do not know, at the beginning, whether we like them or not. Whether it’s those of Maria Callas, Janis Joplin, Björk or Rosalia, I like voices full of contradictory things. Chavela can be hoarse as well as crystalline, you can hear both the little girl and the old lady. »
Ysé is his middle name, which was given to him in homage to the character of Midday sharing, the only woman in Paul Claudel’s drama. This choice indicates the cultural background from which the daughter of the painter Bruno Dufourmantelle comes, whom she says she observed a lot at work: “He always starts from dark shapes to bring in light, it’s something that I find in what I do. » Singing from the age of 8, master of philosophy, then the Conservatoire with regional influence in Paris.
“I conceived the technique as a succession of rules to control one’s body and which can distance us from animality, whereas it is quite the opposite., she notices. It is there to remove veils, those which obstruct the passage between your heart and the person who listens, which we hear well in flamenco or Arabic music. Giving up a lyrical career for composition and writing saved my life, but I was left with a nostalgia for this intensity which passed through my body in the highs and lows, the harmonic progressions. »
The world has split, a self-produced and promising mini-album of six tracks, appeared in 2018. She then wrote in three languages (French, Spanish and English) and has not yet met, decisively, the musician and producer Sage (aka Ambroise Willaume, former member of the group Revolver). ” Pour Oceano Nox, I needed a backbone: I therefore chose to express myself exclusively in French, and all the songs talk about love, even if it’s very simple. Love despite everything, because we don’t live in this world without being crossed by anger and violence. »
The result tends towards a blockbuster combining “the ancient, with strings, choirs or duduk, the oboe of traditional Armenian music, and the contemporary, with synths, electronic rhythms, tinkering with the voices”. But also towards the purity of the piano-voice pour Gentle (“If you knew the female dog I’m hiding inside”, she dares) and The House.
At the Café de la danse, she invites her group of friends for polyphony, the same ones as when she was 18: “We continue to organize musical evenings once a month with people from classical music, jazz, Greek music, pop, electro… We play until 6 a.m. It gave me lots of ideas for the album. » Then the beef gives way to the elegy for Letter to M, transformed into a duet with the cello of Jérémie Arcache (also ex-Revolver).
“It is not because we speak from ourselves that we speak of ourselves”, observes Clara Ysé, convinced that “music is bigger than us”. Oceano Nox is therefore not self-centered, which leaves room for a generational address (Pyromaniacs) to embrace life or Sovereigns, a more conventional feminist tribute. Between “water and fire”the verb carefully avoid proper nouns and abandoned name, but don’t refuse a few rare words in the song. So “delight”, used twice: “If the sea delights you/You will reign under the crystal waters” (The star), Then “It seems that love has stolen us” (Sun at midnight). A double meaning, “remove” or “enchant”, which suits the musician to perfection.
Oceano Nox, Sooner or later. Resumption of the tour from January 26, 2024.