Journal

The Radiohead complex


RadioheadYou probably know that I am writing a lot these days. The cool thing with long writings is that you have to tidy up your thoughts and make them (at least look) coherent. It involves digging into my past and understanding whatever positions I could have taken in the last 15 years to properly connect the dots between my ideas. And this is the point where I am supposed to give you the lecture about me changing over the years and being a better person and artist. Guess what? I’m not going to give you this lecture at all.

Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve always loved Radiohead. I discovered them just before they recorded OK Computer. I was a teenager, Oasis’ Wonderwall had just been released and was on played on a loop on the radio. As a perfect weirdo, I couldn’t stand the song my schoolmates were worshiping without understanding a word of it (at this point imagine a whole bunch of French teenagers trying to guess what Liam Gallagher is saying, and shamelessly phonetically singing non-senses from the top of their lungs!).

Yes, I like Radiohead, and it is the only band whose career I’ve been following with such an interest. At first, you could say it is the result of a certain nostalgia of my high school and college years, but believe me, it’s not the case: I wouldn’t like to be brought back to these odd times again. The why of my love for Radiohead lies deeper.

After thinking about it, I finally got what this was about: evolution, challenge, engagement and forward thinking. Unlike many other bands, Radiohead’s style and sound evolves with time. Just compare OK Computer and their following album Kid A, you’ll hear the difference instantly (and the use of Ondes Martenot in Kid A!). They experiment and are innovative. They are not afraid of saying what they think and do the things how they want to do them. They don’t submit. They think. It’s clever. And if, of course, they have to make money at some point, this is clearly not their priority.

For sure, during all these years Radiohead has been a reminder of who I truly am and what type of musician I really am. They speak to me and inspire me. So why do I do exactly the opposite of that in my music life? For most of my twenties, I’ve been following the advice of people “more experienced” in this classical music business putting me back into the “right path” when I had ideas, “for my own good”. In fact, I slowly became as passionate and committed as a sock.

For years I’ve been doing things I didn’t want to do in ways I didn’t agree with because some people put in my head that what I was thinking was stupid and wrong. And I wrote pretty conservative shit I’m not proud of. This is all documented in this blog, if you want to make fun of me, just use the search box. I didn’t delete these posts because it reminds me every day not to fall in the trap again.

How did I let that happen? I define myself as a politically and socially committed artist and I have always had very strong beliefs about what is the role of an artist in the society. And my views are not obsolete, dusty nor conservative. How come that this is not obvious in my work? How come that I myself participated in making classical music boring and obsolete? Fortunately enough, I found enough support over the few last years to turn the tables on that and begin to slowly recover from what I called my Radiohead complex.

The Radiohead complex? You never heard of it because I made it up: it is the complex of secretly being a progressist and thinking forward while not assuming a word of it and doing exactly the opposite because of you’re scared and not self-confident enough.

These last years have been a blessing for me: I finally had time to think. I had the rare chance to redefine myself, understand what my values are and what I want to achieve. I had time to take a step back and look at things from a distance. To do so, I had to create the suitable environment and that wasn’t easy: lots of pressure from all quarters. It was no bed of roses and that’s maybe why not so many people rush in that direction. But it was the only way I could analyze things in depth and understand the bigger picture. It gave me enough energy to write my ideas down in a book and fight ideas and people making classical music obsolete or boring.

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