15 April 2002

The insubmersible dandy comments on his new album.
By Gilles Renault

" I feel " self-sufficing ", free to act when and as good seems to me. With the opposite of the road roller of the Seventies and beginning of the Eighties. "

It is disconcerting to note at which point Bryan Ferry appears in conformity with the image that one is done some. Balanced, cultivated, courteous, proud, available, with all the trade which confer to him more than thirty years of career ­ to include/understand: a small word on Barbara or Sparrow for the French press, as it is imagined mentioning Amalia Rodriguez in Portugal or Caruso in Italy. Wire of minor having grown in Newcastle, this Billy Elliot pop acquired with the passing of years and of the albums a statute of universal crooner, whom it cultivates with the liking of seldom foireuses appearances.

In team, it is of course the saga Roxy Music, group which it forms in London in 1971, with coming out of a school of art, with in particular Brian Eno. Albums of reference, memorable small pockets (pine-ups with gogo), studied vestimentary style, top-of-the-range concerts, Roxy Music become the model deposited of the glam rock'n'roll , this ignition consubstantiellement English (Gary Glitter, Bowie, T Rex, Elton John) which knows regular hoquets since. Separated with the ridge from its popularity, the group in particular reformed last year, for an American round which gained, antienne nostalgic obliges, discounted success.

In parallel, Bryan Ferry spared a career perso, walking his beautiful body on quantity of albums solo often made up of recoveries, of These Foolish Things (1973) in As Time Goes by, which, at the end of 1999, saw it breaking several years of silence with an anthology of standards of the Thirties signed Cole Porter, Jerome Kern or Kurt Weill. Obviously requinqué by the greeting reserved for this exhumation, the quinqua, since, put the double mouthfuls, since, except above-mentioned the Roxy parade, here already a new album. Better, hypoallergenic Frantic is based on an equitable proportioning between recoveries (Bob Dylan, Don Nix...) and, for the first time since 1994, new songs signed Ferry itself, plus the occasional support of Dave Stewart (four passages) and of Brian Eno (a title, I Thought, not terrible).

Without never moving away too much from this home port which constitutes the glossed bluette ­ cf. these girl traps customized that are Nobody Loves Me, A Fool for Love or stratospheric Hiroshima ­, Ferry also repairs with the harmonica an old man Dylan ( It' S All over... ), as it curves with ease between upholstered blues ( Goin' Down ) and flanery cajun ( Goodnight Irene ). Meeting in the felted luxury of a Parisian hotel, perpendicular to the hourvari of the Fields-Elysées.

Your house of discs presents to you like a " legend ".

Let us consider that I already made not badly of things. As for determining if they confer such a statute to me, it is more with you than with me to answer it. A certainty however: I am proud of my work, errors included/understood, as I could check it last year, when Roxy Music was reformed for a round. Replonger in all this inheritance was the source of an extreme pleasure, perhaps because I had retained the best titles (to smile). At the end of fifty concerts, very had been held so well that logic would have liked that one turns over together in studio, except that one never did nothing of logic in this group, like separating after Avalon, which was our larger sale. One day perhaps...

The more the years pass, the more you appear timeless.

And I am delighted. It is a luxury synonymous with freedom. I became of it aware two years ago, after the output of the album Have Time Goes by: for the first time for a long time, the scene got an intense pleasure to me, without feeling of pressure. I do not believe to live crossed of anything, but, in parallel, I feel " self-sufficing ", free to act when and as good seems to me. With the opposite of the road roller of the Seventies and beginning of the Eighties.

Why this passeism?

I think that all my career had a foot in the past and, I hope for it, one in the future. But it is true that my influences are remote: I undoubtedly never recovered to have heard Leadbelly at 10 years with the radio; then the jazz, the rhythm' blues, the soul, the blues, its Motown left in me other indelible traces. And the American music was a spark. Chopin, Beethoven and a whole heap of European type-setters arrived later. Just as Burbot Lenya (the woman of Kurt Weill, note), Charlie Parker, the sax tenor Coleman Hawkins... I adore the melody freedom of the jazz, his capacity to be involved in an abstract world... My career was perhaps summarized to transpose all these old elements in a new context, a contemporary groundwork.

What makes the difference between good and a bad love song?

If I knew... Undoubtedly needs one passion, authenticity, an intense emotion and to find a new angle.

A gageure!

At least to test. In my case, I privilege the intimate format, the frontal relation, as on the song Fool for Love. A kind of moral tale which returns explicitly at the time medieval, the idea appeared interesting to me from a stylistic point of view, to make precede this poem by XIIe century as old French, Ja Nun Hons Pris, allotted to Richard Lion Heart, and which is sung on my disc by Mary Nelson, a soprano whom I discovered in a ballet with Covent Garden. I like the picturesque things (with the English direction of the term: coloured, detailed, note), universe of the Queen Margot de Chéreau or Ridiculous of Patrice Leconte, all these wigs, these costumes, Prince at his great time.

Don't you have more and more evil to find the inspiration?

Indeed, even if it is probably less true today that a few years ago. But I must admit that the writing remains a difficult exercise, without me making an obsession of it. If that comes, it is well, if not I will not bang my head against the walls.

Blow, don't you consider the recoveries like a " insurance life "?

I would have liked to be a songwriter always as prolific as in the Seventies, but that is not the case. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby, the three greater voices of 20th century, were only interpreters. And then I have all the same 60 or 70 compositions with my credit, that is not so badly.

Are there songs to which you will never attack yourself?

Of course, Dock of the Bay from Otis Redding, To River Deep Mountain High by Phil Spector... and not badly of others. When the original reaches such a degree of perfection, I do not see what I could bring moreover. But the concept even of recovery is very different in the jazz, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker made tons of them, able to transform a banal air into something of formidable. In my case, I launch out when I think of being able to bring a new glance. I thus seized Don't Think Twice by Bob Dylan in all simplicity: I play off the harmonica, and the difference comes from the piano replacing the guitar, which creates an environment bluesy, as in a New Orleans bar

Does working with close relations, like Brian Eno, Paul Thompson, Chris Spedding, make you feel safe?

Undoubtedly. Best is to find balance between new musicians, who bring new colours, and others more marked. In the case of Eno, it is more particular: our relation goes up with very far; with only two years of joint work, the source was not dried up.

Some artistic references?

The traditional ballets, Pina Bausch, the dance in general, which I perceive like the total shape of spectacle. My favorite author remains TS Elliot or John Donne, metaphysical poet. Side cinema, I think of Visconti, Billy Wilder, Orson Welles. In music, Mary J Blige, lately.

A definition of the word " glamour "?

SAINT LAURENT, Dali, Fred Astaire... To manage to make the things simple, beautiful and fluid without apparent effort, even and especially if they required a keen work.

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