Wonderland learns a little more about the Frenchman behind one-man music-machine Broken Back.
You may have heard of Broken Back already, and not from a panicked trip to A&E.
The Frenchman recently released debut EP ‘Dear Misfortune, Mother of Joy’ independently, with tracks shooting to number 1 on Hype Machine twice, consequently snapping up the attention of labels the world-over. Having now returned with a world-wide record deal under his belt, Broken Back has released the visual for ‘Happiest Man On Earth’, taken from the upcoming EP of the same name. The track pretty much does what it says on the tin, with Broken Back perfectly encapsulating the feeling of free, unadulterated joy as he passes the world’s stresses and messes by without a single care. It’s a theme that runs throughout Broken Back’s sound; it’s been a while since an artist has been able to so consistently turn freedom and joy into a solid 3 minute audio escape.
With an album due early next year, Wonderland catch up with the Frenchman to discuss his creative process, the lure of PEZ candy and what’s next for Broken Back.
What makes you the happiest man on earth?
Eating Nutella pancakes while making music in my home-studio of Saint-Malo. I think the pursuit of happiness stops right there.
You’ve been described as a mix of a French George Ezra with Vance Joy; how would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
It’s a mix between Folk and Electro marked by paradoxes. Sometimes the lyrics can be melancholic with a happy melody, or a dreaming chorus that contrasts with powerful drums. That’s what I’ve been trying to show with the artwork of the EP, a mix between sharp and round shapes, or the hot and cold colors.
What made you want to start making music?
Two years ago I was ending a business school, going from internship, funding two start-ups and working a thesis. Then I really “broke my back” and had to recover for months. Music helped me to go through this hard time. Back then I just grabbed my guitar and started to write the first songs of the EP ‘Dear Misfortune Mother Of Joy’. And as you can guess, I see now this past “misfortune” as one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had.
The excellently jubilant video for ‘Happiest Man On Earth’ captures the freedom and joy of childhood quite brilliantly. What do you miss the most about childhood?
PEZ Candy. I mean, that was something.
The video also features a wonderful looking tricycle. If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Buena Vista Social Club’s ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, Supertramp’s ‘Breakfast in America’ and ‘The Very Best of Cat Stevens’ by Cat Stevens.
Can you tell us about the process you go through when you’re making music? Do you have to be in a particular mind-set or a particular place?
Well there is only one rule. And this rule is that there is no process at all! Every song has experienced a different process so far. The similarities are that I produce the tracks using all the instruments by myself like guitars, singing, bass, drums, percussions, synths… and I produce everything in my home studio in Saint Malo – which is a coastal city in west of France. This allows me to take some breaks between two studios sessions as the beach is only 1 min away from the studio. So I guess it gives the music some kind of iodinated aspect!
Do you think France has contributed anything to your sound that no other country could? How do you think it has influenced you?
I sure was influenced by the place where I grew up and where I produce my songs. But the Broken Back project is meant to be without borders as I sing in English. My aim is to tell stories and share them with all the people that are recognizing themselves in those stories.
You’ve come from releasing your debut EP independently to now having a worldwide record deal and millions of views on YouTube. What are the main differences between releasing yourself and with a major deal?
Well from the production side, nothing as I produce my songs in the same indie way I was, in my home studio in Saint-Malo. The most interesting part is on the visual aspect of the Broken Back project, as I was able to say “Hey let’s put a young adult on a custom Tricycle with a pilot suit” and people replied “Sure, let’s do this!” and that is really amazing.
Are there any specific goals you dream of achieving with your music?
As I cured myself with music, I’d love that my music could help any other people to enlighten their daily life while going through a bad time.
What’s next for Broken Back?
I am just finishing my first album that will be released next year. So new songs, new videos and new tour around the world with my crazy drummer Sam! Stay tuned!
Words: Milly Stockton