Thomas Roussel

If you had to talk about yourself in a few words, what would you say?

I think the first word that would come to mind is to say I am a composer. so sometimes I have to specify music composer to people I meet because they think I'm a floral composer… I also often add that I write for orchestras, and that I make electronic music.

and a few words about your journey? has music always been obvious to you?

I have always made music since I was 3 years old. my parents have always been very supportive. they were also musicians. my father played the oboe, and my mother was a music lover. They pushed me quite a bit and as I also asked a lot, it was the right match!
I started composing around 14-15 years old, and I never stopped. I played the piano and the violin but it was mainly on the piano that I composed. with this instrument you can play almost the entire orchestra; from double basses to piccolo. and then quite quickly, around 16, electronic music entered my life. it was in 1994-1995. techno was arriving. in Dijon we were lucky to have a very good club where Laurent Garnier was a resident and Jeff Mills played there regularly. I was a bit like the annoying little guy with glasses who gave his demos on tape to the club director...
one evening Daft Punk came to play before the release of their first album. I was in my final year at that time and I must have missed the philosophy class the next day… I had been invited at the end of the evening to be present during their interview with a journalist. it was just the four of us. it was really lunar, why was I there? a few meters away, there was the manager of Daft Punk, who was Pedro Winter, and who today is my label manager with whom I released my last EP!

How did this adventure with Ed Banger (Pedro Winter) start?

it’s an adventure that really began in 2018. Pedro contacted me following some parade music for Pigalle that I had composed. he really liked the slightly different approach that I had proposed with only metal instruments. he came to see me to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his music label ed banger with a symphony orchestra. It's something that I had already done with Jeff Mills in 2005 and it had a bit of an impact on techno, I think. so for this anniversary in 2018 we did a live at the grand rex. it was quite festive and grandiose. we had an incredible evening.
after that, with pedro, we released the album from this concert. as always he made a magnificent object. this lovely project really bonded us. we became friends. and then there was covid and we lived 50m from each other. we spent a lot of time together. he followed my demos that I was composing during this period. and without ever hoping to one day release a record myself with ed banger as a composer, I made him listen to everything until he told me that he would really like to release them. I was extremely happy!
“It's been a few years since I understood that everything in my creative process was just about emotions. »
what are your sources of inspiration? how would you describe your creative process? especially for your latest EP.

This is a question that is never easy for an artist. It's been a few years since I understood that it's all about emotions. emotions that I will feel during a meeting or an exchange, during an exhibition visit, during a film or even during a ballet. few things can move me more than a very beautiful ballet. this emotion felt, it will obviously mark me, touch me and it will emerge in my own language which is music.

for my latest ep “late metal”, which has just been released by ed banger, I think that the anxiety caused by covid generated a very particular emotion. Normally I'm not someone who is anxious, but this was a really very special time when the whole world stopped. working became impossible, it no longer depended on me. especially in our sector. it was the first time I was in a situation of total helplessness. the songs on this ep were really born during that period.

and it's funny, because without it being intentional, there is a link between this ep and le gramme. I took a lot of inspiration from metallic materials, especially liquid metal. a kind of mercury like that that ignores gravity. I am passionate about science, quantum physics and everything related to space in general. I read a lot about this during confinement. the name of the album “late metal” is a palindrome. here too we have fun with space and time. with the synth I really tried to create the sound of liquid metal. throughout the ep you have this particular sound in the background.

Who are the people who constitute references for you in your profession or in life?

we mentioned it earlier, there was this somewhat electro and techno scene in Dijon which really had an impact on me. these meetings with Laurent Garnier, Daft Punk or Jeff Mills too of course. between the ages of 16 and 20, I had the chance to do masterclasses and play for composers like Maurice Jarre or Lalo Schifrin who, among other things, composed Mission Impossible... it's quite significant for me. this deeply printed my circuit, my motherboard. these people, these incredible talents, I wanted to be like them artistically but also humanly.

then there are people I haven't met but who really left an impression on me. The name of the composer John Williams immediately comes to mind. We all grew up with Spielberg films. for my last ep when i record with the london symphony orchestra, it's the williams orchestra! the one who made star wars, harry potter or jurassic park. These are the same musicians that I recognized when I watched the DVD bonuses when I was 20. it was a dream to lead them. it’s something very inspiring, very motivating. you want to compose to play with them again.

Aside from composing, is conducting an orchestra something you enjoy doing?

conducting an orchestra is something that is always super moving. it's a bit of a reward after writing scores for months on your own. It’s quite lonely work. I don't really like being alone, but when I make music time flies so it's cool. but once I get in front of an orchestra and I'm conducting it, that's really the reward.

what compliment would you like to hear or hear again in your profession?

it's emotion. generally, when someone comes to me to create music, for an event, a fashion show, an opening, people hope that I will be able to create emotion. as I said, emotion is what nourishes me at the start. so my challenge in composing is to manage to create this, this feeling, from the first listen.
“it’s funny, because without it being intentional, there is a link between this ep and le gramme. I took a lot of inspiration from metallic materials, especially liquid metal. »
How do you prepare for your concerts or events?

The first step before each concert or event is inevitably writing the score. when I travel, I hire musicians on site rather than traveling with 60 people… so the score is really the simplest, the universal language. for the concert at the Forbidden City in China, we arrived shortly before, I put down the score, we played and it worked.

writing the score beforehand is a rather solitary ritual, long but pleasant. it's a bit like if you carefully removed all the little shells of sunflower seeds to eat them all at once, shelled. it's long, tedious, but at the end there is a real reward in hearing the orchestra play my music. it's the same idea. on the other hand, I can feel nervous when writing a score. you have no room for error with writing. you have to think about all the details, all the indications.

what is the craziest thing(s) you have done?

it's hard to choose but I have to say that my top 3 would be the concert at the Forbidden City, the concert on the Seine for the 2024 Olympic Games. and without doubt a huge live performance in Macau with Pedro Winter and Bureau Betak.

for the event at the Forbidden City, I rarely had so much difficulty concentrating on stage because the setting was so extraordinary. it was for the opening of a jewelry exhibition and it was visually and emotionally crazy. there were around sixty musicians, dancers… it was really cool.
the concert on the Seine for the announcement of the 2024 Olympics in Paris it was crazy to be able to have 80 musicians play on the water in a straight line. Besides, we are discussing for 2024, to do the sequel… we will see.

for the live performance in Macau, we had musicians in 8 elevator towers in an incredible lobby. the effect was crazy. they were like little figurines in hanging dollhouses and we were doing a dj/conductor battle with pedro winter.
It’s also impossible not to include in this top 3 and a half the concert that I did with lyrical joy for my album “prequell”. it was a real concert as such where I played my songs.

Do you want to tell us about the music you compose and the musicians you conduct for fashion shows?

Fashion shows for me are really something super exciting. a few years ago when Karl Lagerfelf told me that I had to compose and conduct 100 musicians at the Grand Palais in two weeks... I was 28 years old and apart from directing small orchestras in the studio, I had never done that . but there it was without a net. I didn't have a headset to keep everything in sync. I had to start the music at the perfect timing so that 17 minutes later, when Ines de la Fressange arrived in her wedding dress, I would be at the final notes, perfectly timed.
I love this kind of challenge. the orchestra in a straight line for dior homme in 2015 with Villa Eugénie, it was a world premiere. it had never been done. the technical constraint was important: having them play without looking, neither conductor nor other musician, because they only see the backs.
“the concert on the Seine for the announcement of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris was crazy to be able to have 80 musicians play on the water in a straight line. »
do you have a favorite object? do you know its weight?

I would say that my favorite object is really this plaster sculpture by Daniel Arsham of a synthesizer. it must weigh between 20 and 25kg, it is very dense.
his art really inspired me a lot. we were talking earlier about emotions and I have never found myself as much, I think, in a contemporary artist as in Daniel Arsham. At the very beginning it was he who contacted me on Instagram after the straight line orchestra that I had done for Dior Homme. he found it very moving. I found it crazy that he contacted me at the very moment when I was composing the “prequell” album inspired by works of his printed in my studio around this archaeological universe of the future. he invited me to his studio in new york. we went there with Ivan, my manager, and he showed us around his entire workshop and gave me this synthesizer.

I really built the artistic direction of my studio in Paris around this object and Daniel's work.

what is important in your life?

The first thing that comes to mind is obviously my 4 children. it has weight in my life because of course it is a daily organization around them. every morning, the day begins by taking care of them. there are 4 children to prepare for school or daycare. from 6:45 a.m. to 8 a.m. it’s energetic!
as a father, I can sometimes be a little strict about timing, while the rest of the time I'm pretty cool.

your jewelry on le gramme, what are they? how do you wear them?

It was Camille, my partner, who first introduced me to le gramme. she gave me two bracelets from the brand that I never take off. a ribbon 7g and a polished beads 11g. they remind me of valentines, christmas, birthdays, things with her, romantic moments.
I would really like to complete my accumulation with a double turn cable or a larger ribbon.
le gram creations speak to me, especially at the moment with this inspiration for the metal and silver side, which really inspires me. It all makes sense to me, it's pretty aligned.

and if you had to compose music on le gramme, in which direction would you go?

clearly for le gramme I would take the same direction as that taken for the “late metal” ep. I would exploit this idea of ​​metallic sounds. for the ep I used a lot of metal bars struck or rubbed together. even violin bows that rub against metal sheets. in the song “deified”, a palindrome again, there are 20 seconds which are only made with metal bars. very gram!
“If I had to compose music on le gramme, I would take the same direction as that taken for the “late metal” ep. I would exploit this idea of ​​metallic sounds. »



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