French songstress Maud Nadal (Halo Maud) has been writing music for years but it wasn’t until recently that she felt comfortable to put her own material out. After touring with friends like Moodoid and Melody’s Echo Chamber, Nadal gained the confidence to finalize her debut LP Je Suis Une Ile. We caught up with Nadal in the midst of her European tour to discuss her road to going solo, why she prefers singing in English and how her dream-like music comes to life.
Northern Transmissions: How did you want to reflect on time and memories on your song “Wherever”?
Maud Nadal: The song is really about the effect of time on memories, and how time transforms them into physical sensations at times. It’s also about the balance in the moments where you want to remember versus letting time do its work erasing these traces.
NT: How did you get involved with Dee Zoo It for the song’s video and what made their vision fit your song?
MN: The first idea was that I wanted to run because that’s something I sing about in the song, and I was influenced by a track from this ballet of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. During this ballet one of the dancers was running on a treadmill you can’t see and I loved the effect because you’re running in vain. With Dee Zoo It we also wondered how the men I was running after should appear, so it became clear they had to be projected to appear unreal like we wanted.
NT: Coming off your previous EP how did you want to evolve your sound to make your debut LP fully represent where you are now?
MN: The EP and the album were really part of the same cycle of songs, and some of the songs on the album are even older than the EP. There wasn’t really an evolution between them but I’ll usually write with some obsession and focus on my guitar sounds until things come. I think the most important thing for me is to believe in my intuition. Now I know when I’m heading in the right direction and I can figure out when a song is finished.
NT: What did Robin Leduc bring to your new album as a producer and how did you start working with them?
MN: I met him after a show and I think he’d heard I wanted to record an album. He was happy to work with me, but I didn’t know what to expect from a producer because I had never done a whole album before. Things happened pretty naturally because he trusted me so I could trust him as well. He recorded the whole thing and ended up playing on a bunch of song (bass, drums etc), mostly he helped me make choices. I’m also very grateful he was open to taking chances, which I really needed, especially to make some mistakes.
NT: I thought it was interesting as someone from France that you insist it’s harder to make songs work in French, so how do you decide which language to sing in and what about French is harder musically?
MN: In French the phonetics are harder to work with because it sounds more harsh. Also I listen to much more music in English, so in French I don’t have a reference for singing the way I want to sing. Even the French artists I like are more into chansons than pop music, except maybe Serge Gainsbourg songs with female artists. I had to just find my way in French whereas in English I have so many reference points.
NT: Where did the idea to sample “Du Pouvoir” on “Je Suis Une Ile” come from, and what made it fit for you thematically on the song?
MN: I always try to put things in reverse, but this time I really loved what happened. So when I heard this song, I heard a new voice melody and a strange language in the reversed words. I even heard French words for rocks in there, and it brought forth the sentence I’d been thinking about “Je Suis Une Ile.” Both songs come from the same idea but “Je Suis Une Ile” is more desperate while “Du Pouvoir” is about going ahead and doing things.
NT: Considering your background with Melody’s Echo Chamber and Moodoid, what led you to focus in on your own music?
NM: I started to write songs long before playing with other artists. Before this album I recorded a lot of stuff that you will never hear. (laughs) I needed time to get confident and happy with what I was creating. So I wasn’t waiting for anything to happen, I toured with these bands for years. It was also a lot of friendship with these people too, while I was also becoming a better musician as well.
NT: Considering how many of your songs mix traditional instrumentation with abstractly edited samples, where does the song writing process generally start for you?
NM: It always starts with the music, and maybe two or three chords I play on guitar/keyboard. I draw the beginning of a melody, and then I just start singing randomly because the voice will decide where it wants to go. Once I think I have this structure, I’ll start writing lyrics, which comes pretty late in the process. I’ll often become inspired thematically by a feeling I get from the music and the process behind it.
Words By Owen Maxwell
31.05: Paris, La Gaîté Lyrique, FR (supporting Phoenix)
07.06: SWTC festival, Anvers, BE
20.07: Midi festival, Hyères, FR
22.07: Larmer Tree festival, UK
27.07: Port Eliot festival, Cornwall, UK
28.07: Lunar festival, Birmingham, UK
31.08: Electric Fields festival, Dumfries, UK
07.09: Coconut music festival, Saintes, FR
14.09: Good life experience festival, Chester, UK
05.10: Bordeaux, Iboat, FR
20.11: Paris, La Maroquinerie, FR