We speak with the multi-talented musician JB Dunckel after his incredible live performance at the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at County Durham’s Bowes Museum. 

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French duo Air became a firm favourite of just about everyone after they soundtracked the melancholically beautiful teen film, The Virgin Suicides. Adoration levels for one half of the pair, JB Dunckel have now been bumped up, after his appearance at Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal. Named after YSL’s own quote, “fashion fades, style is eternal”, the first retrospective of the French designer’s work and exhibition about his life showcases the moments that came to define the brand and its long lasting influence.

The exhibition at County Durham’s Bowes Museum is open through extension until Sunday (run there, now!) and is a collection of 50 pieces including garments from the Russian Collection, Mondrian dresses and the iconic Tuxedo. Possibly the most perfect setting, the French inspired castle has played host to recent Vivienne Westwood and Tim Walker shows.

If you missed the opening, catch up on the grandeur with our interview with JB Dunckel where we talk fashion and music’s ongoing relationship, Yves Saint Laurent’s endless influence and get seduced by his romantic views on creativity. And if that’s not enough, watch James Sharp‘s film of the performance below.

How was performing at the Yves Saint Laurent event? How did the inspiring setting fuse with your ambient music?

I liked it a lot. The audience was made up of not only physical beings, there were also the characters in the paintings listening to the music… A few ghosts maybe, hidden behind the curtains were paying attention to the electronic MS 20 sounds. Why should music only be listened to by humans? The energy was a little bit anachronic.

Where did you draw your inspiration from for the music you played at the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition?

The kind of show I’m developing now is a hybrid performance in between improvisation and composition. I replay instrumentals that I previously recorded. Sometimes it’s a case of total freedom and I let the machines go; I’m a pilot. The soul of my keyboards decide where they want to travel and it’s a conversation between me and them.

What did you love most about the exhibition?

I liked the way we could enter into the Yves Saint Laurent intimacy. I figured more about where the ideas were coming from. And also i understood that the initials drawings of what would become a dress, are so good and completely inspiring. It’s a lesson about creation and I can apply that to music too. I loved the Bowes museum a lot. The show taking place there made me discover a new face of England.

How do you feel fashion and music relate?

They talk to each other. It’s a constant research for new tendencies, new styles  by trying to search in history of art, comtemporay art. It’s a constant case of trying to fuse old art and new, fresh ideas. Fashion is influenced by music and music by fashion. They have both the perpective to dress women – one with clothes the other by motivating air vibration. It’s all about seduction.

What’s your personal relationship with fashion like?

I like to go to fashion shows to listen to the music in there and to feel what people like to trip on.

You’ve worked extensively with music and film – how do the two work together?

Music increase the cinematic emotion. It gives credibility to the pictures. It’s an emotional catalyst, but it’s hard for me to find the right music for a score. I’m not into underscore… I like the music to be heavy on the pictures.

Is it important to collaborate creatively to stay inspired?

Yes! Creation comes from a muscle. Somewhere in our brain. You have to train that muscle frequently. Creation is an effort, a slavery to your own inspiration mystery. Inspiration comes and goes, but what is released has to be the best of me. I find that collaboration helps to unbalance my comfort and make me discover surprising things.

What other projects have you been involved with lately?

I’ve been involved in a lot of films. I did the music for a  Lithuanian movie called “Summer” and I’ve done an EP under my name Darkel. I’m also releasing an album with Bardi Johannsson under the name of Starwalker.

What is exciting you most in the music industry right now?

Modernity… The possibility to create a hit at home and putting it on internet and it becoming a success. That is amazing.

What projects do you have on the horizon?

The Darkel album. I’m recording songs. And doing videos and photos. It’s all really exiting!

JB Dunckel at the Bowes Museum (c) Jason Hynes 2

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Install shot of Yves Saint Laurent Style is Eternal at the Bowes Museum (c) Andy Barnham (4)

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