You will love this musical tale written by Timothée de Fombelle, set to music by the group Contraste and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. The story ? That of a sad little Georgia, her dreams nestled deep inside her that only ask to blossom. That dream ? Sing. How is she going to do it? To find out, turn up the volume of this touching and formidably catchy story.
On the program: a meeting with Timothée de Fombelle, the making of the record and the song All my dreams are singing interpreted by Ben Mazué!
Are passions born of loneliness and helplessness? Perhaps. Willingness and encounters too, it is the whole story of the beginnings of singer Georgia (in tribute to the great Ray Charles) which tells us how the little seed of a singer grew in her.
A little Georgia who, one day, ends up with her aunt. Sad, immensely sad, she had to leave her home and was separated from her sister. Fortunately in her skinny suitcase, she took with her all her dreams, her only friends. And they are hairy these dreams (nicely drawn by Benjamin Chaud), noisy, happy little characters, a bit crazy and preventing them from going around in circles. Her dreams lead her to music, push her to sing. Until the day when the ritornello of a melancholy violin rises behind the radiator of his room. A little voice whispers … Is there someone back there? Hush… a flesh-and-blood boy would live there behind the wall. A boy who lives a hundred years earlier and who will lead Georgia to fully realize her dream.
It is a vocation-launching tale that Timothée de Fombelle has concocted for his favorite audience. Calling on the imagination, pushing us to get out of the real to make our dreams come true, that’s all him, that! A tale beautifully interpreted by the best of French song and which will become a musical in 2017: with Pauline Croze, Emily Loizeau, Albin de la Simone, Marie Oppert, Alain Chamfort, Ben Mazué and many others. Turn up the volume, sing and dance!
The song, All my dreams are singing, by Ben Mazué
Meeting with a warm and enthusiastic Timothée de Fombelle over a Viennese coffee.
How did this project get started ?
It’s a great adventure! Arnaud Thorette, the artistic director of Contraste and the people from this production house came to get me. They had never worked for youth but they had this dream of producing a musical as it used to be. Emilie Jolie. It was also a hell of a risk, because legendary records such asEmilie Jolie, there is one every thirty years (laughs)!
Contraste straddles jazz, pop, classical and they do a great job of transmitting classical culture to underprivileged populations. They also wanted to do something for young audiences because they work with SOS Children’s Villages, an association which undertakes not to separate siblings when a tragedy happens to parents. Anny Duperey who plays “Georgia’s great dream” on the record is godmother of this association because she herself was separated from her sister, very young, as she tells in her magnificent book The Black Veil.
Writing songs, did that correspond to a real desire for you?
I had already written a few songs for the theater, but not much. There was agreement between their fantasies ofEmilie Jolie, my passion for sound, and for French song in general, and for the appeal of novelty. On the other hand, I knew absolutely neither The Pink Soldier, ni Emilie Jolie and I took advantage of my ignorance to write without these filters. I had carte blanche and I had a blast! I also designed the songs so that we can listen to them on our own, so that they exist as such.
How did you do it?
A request can only work if it meets a desire already present in itself. So I had to have a story that counts. But it’s true that I always have stories waiting (laughs). It took a child of course, that the music is not a pretext, that it is at the center of the story. I wanted to show that music opens up horizons, frees up perspectives. I know a lot of people who have been saved by music, and therefore I wanted her as a character in the story. Let her be a “trigger”.
How was the character of Sam born?
There is always an obsession that occupies me. At that time, I was impressed by the building located at 14 rue de la Corderie, which is opposite my studio, and which is the place where the very beginnings of the Paris Commune were fomented. I am very curious about this winter when the siege of the Commune took place. I don’t say it explicitly in the story, but for me Georgia is in 1970, and the one she will meet, Sam, lives in 1870. The hundred years between them that’s it, an incredible winter and spring . With a closed Paris, from which it is impossible to get out. We send messages by carrier pigeons, the capital is besieged by the Prussians and barricaded like never before. It is as romantic as you want, but the goal was not to display my science, simply to keep the romantic, to remove history and to put poetry in its place. I wanted this friendship to be impossible because the wall that separates them is a hundred years old.
The dialogue with Sam, this boy who plays the violin behind the wall, and whom she does not see, is it a metaphor with virtual friendships, “friends” behind the screens?
Georgia might befriend a schoolmate, but no, she chooses what’s behind the wall. She chooses what is inaccessible. I did not think of screens… but it is something that questions me indeed.
Little Georgia lives with her aunt, surrounded by quite funny characters. Who are they ?
These are Georgia’s dreams. Dreams that sing. I’m incredibly lucky that Benjamin Chaud illustrates all these little characters who are all at the same time funny, happy, complaining and a bit of a pain in the ass too (laughs). Dreams bind us to reality, otherwise we remain in sensations. They will throw an arrow far in front of this sadness that the little girl feels temporarily because she is separated from her family.
The songs tell the story, sung by Georgia’s dreams, that’s why the subtitle is “All my dreams are singing”. I think we all carry these kinds of dreams within ourselves and we need a trigger. A long time ago, I passed a man in the street, he looked at me strangely. He stopped in front of me and stared at me. Then he pointed two fingers at my face, telling me to my face “Eyes?” Poet! Poet. It shook me, but it was probably looking for something that was there.
So is it the story of a vocation?
Yes, it is the story of our dreams that take power over our life. But at some point, you have to know how to dismiss them. Because you have to work, you have to expose yourself. It’s a fairly classic initiatory journey, I often choose this moment of childhood and adolescence when these revolutions take place in a gathered time – which is ideal when you’re a novelist. Besides, if I wrote for adults, I would also write about this age. I am often asked during meetings, why I choose these two themes: adolescence and war. And I answer: “But it’s the same thing! (Laughs) Even if it’s a bit of a stretch, of course, adolescence is rebellion, so it’s war.
Like your character Sam, you are a smuggler …
When I meet people in class, I often start like this: “I suspect that among you, some write” and, there, I see two astonished glances which widen, I continue “some draw …”, and there some heads are raised, “and others sing”, there often they are more numerous and they assume more (laughs)! I love to observe these forests of talent. Suddenly I tell them, not about my job, but what they’re doing, I’m kind of the Sam of the next century.
We find one of your favorite themes, present in almost all your books: Vango, The Pearl Book, Passing by Victoria dreams : that of escape.
Yes, captivity allows you to dream differently. And this boy, locked up with his violin in a house from another century, is also something that unleashes the imagination. Sam is the one who encourages, who allows Georgia to make her dream come true. It was important to me that the trigger was no longer a dream but a real being, a much more embodied energy. This is why the character of Sam has become central and the big question that remains unanswered is: did he not finally escape through the world of Georgia?
All these dreams will call for others …
Dreams grow in the limelight, they push us to action, to say what we have to say, they also propel us into the next dream, it’s true. When I stop, it flutters around me: I always dream that my best project will be the following one.
Why did you choose several different singers?
It took very different voices to embody all those dreams that I had no idea what they could look like physically, but I had the voice. So the multitude of voices allowed to illustrate this kaleidoscope which tells the palette of sensations that there is inside Georgia. It’s a very emotional selection of artists like Magali Léger who is a lyrical singer, or like Alain Chamfort who opens the album with the song on the theme of secrets.
Who are the singers that inspire you?
I like lyrics songs. I grew up with references that were not very revolutionary: there is Brel, Brassens, Edith Piaf or Léo Ferré. And then there is Renaud. It is a lyricist who marked my writing as a novelist, I am very touched by his texts (mainly from 1976 to 1988). I followed his albums as they came out. And I was lucky enough to attend one of Barbara’s last concerts. They are artists who touch me enormously because they tell stories. Moreover, today we are dying of singers who only know how to sing… Gainsbourg, Bashung, do they sing? No, they tell. I also had some great song shocks like The letter by Renan Luce and a singer marked me a lot in the 90s, it was Mano Solo, Cabu’s son.
What do you remember from this adventure?
Being able to admire the people with whom we are building a common project! I find it extraordinary that everyone has the feeling that they will be unable to do what their neighbor does in the same project. That is to say, we say to a singer: “do ½ tone higher” and she does it right away, and I if I am told to change the color of a text, I can do it. Even though I have the impression that what I’m doing is less precise than a pianist. In this project, what makes me happy is that I was able to put my foot down while being entirely at the service of others. It is above all a great collective adventure!
The making of the disc
Georgia – All my dreams are singing
Timothée de Fombelle, read by Cécile de France, with the participation of Anny Duperey, ill. Benjamin Chaud.
Production of the Contraste ensemble directed by Arnaud Thorette and Johan Farjot. With Alain Chamfort, Babx, Amandine Bourgeois, Raphaële Lannadère, Karine Deshayes and Magali Léger, Emily Loizeau, Pauline Croze, Albin de la Simone and Marie Oppert, Ariane Moffatt, Rosemary Standley, Florian Laconi, Ben Mazué and the master of Paris.
Gallimard jeunesse, Book-CD with 68 minutes of listening.
For all ages !
Copyright photo Timothée de Fombelle: CHelie, Gallimard