A sound that gets into people’s soul« For me, as a saxophonist, musician and composer, the sound is one of the most important things, with groove and imagination. Sound is the first thing an audience will hear, and that's what we're going to use to talk to them. That's what we're going to communicate emotions with, and that's the most important thing to work with as a musician.
I spent hours working on harmonics with the saxophone, making one note for a long time and trying to imagine that my sound would go in the front but also in the back, on the sides, invade the walls of the room, go in every nook and cranny. Trying to have a sound that penetrates the walls and then gets into people's souls. So, by doing that, the sound gets bigger and fuller and richer, and with this much richer sound, ideas come and imagination develops.»
Deep inside ourselves
« Without this pleasure of bathing in a sound that pleases us and that speaks to us, ideas don't come in the same way. It's very important for a musician to have a sound that really belongs to him. We're all unique as human beings, we all have different fingerprints, so we go deep inside ourselves, and that's what every musician has to look for, it's his deep personality. And it's all done through sound.
I've been working with my sax since I was a kid. I've always played a Selmer sax and it's still a reliable instrument that allows me to develop all that.»
A scream that fills the room
« In my approach as a musician, what I've always wanted to do is to shock, surprise and catch people with original ideas and things.
At the time when I played "acoustic", because afterwards I electrified my instrument, I always tried to start a solo in a weird way or to get inspiration from other instruments. And through that, to surprise the musicians I played with, to stimulate them. And the audience too.
For example, when you start a solo by making a scream that will fill the room, you fill the space, you get your bearings, and then you start and you are listened to and respected. That's kind of my principle.»
The widest possible range« After that, I went a bit further : I started to stop listening to saxophonists for inspiration. Instead, I started listening to Indian flautists, electric guitars, drums and West African rhythms... I listened to a lot of singers from a lot of different countries, a lot of different cultures, and I was trying to imitate those sounds, to imitate ways of playing. When you try to imitate a sound, you're going to look for ways to modify your instrument. And, acoustically, a saxophone allows a lot of possibilities. It's super rich, so I tried to get as wide a range as possible with it.
And then, after that, I started to put some special microphones, electrify my instrument, work with guitar pedals, to go further in it. But that's another debate… »