To me it seems that there is a whole French speaking hardrock/rock scene in Canada that we on the outside never get to hear of. Why do the French speaking part of Canada seem so reclusive and non-inclusive?
-We are only 8 millions in the big province of Quebec. We have a rock scene market here in Quebec, but the problem is; it’s a limited market, because of the French dialect that we speak here. If you don’t sing international French, it’s tough to expand your market to the other French countries around the world. You don’t see a lot of progressive French rock band in Canada. Many people think that French speaking or other languages except English restricts you in this music market. It’s probably true but none impossible. Many Jelly Fiche fans around the world don’t understand our French lyrics but feel the emotions of the songs. That is the most important! We are proud of our language and the French poetry fits very well on Jelly Fiche’s songs. In fact, that’s making our originality. We are different of other bands. If the French bands are less unknown in Germany or Europe, maybe it’s because the prog fans are not interested by them or it misses some promotion action there. Who knows… It’s not easy for a band to be known around the world at all. It’s a lot of work and our popularity grows slowly and surely. Internet helps a bit…
When I first saw you band name I came to think of a band named Jellyfish. Thankfully you were nowhere near them musically. Where do you draw inspiration from?
-The band name was found one year before we’ve known of them. It’s a real coincidence when we’ve discovered the existence of this band. Our name written like this «Jelly Fiche» means: «Jelly» for vintage sound and «fiche» for technologic aspect. Now, let me tell you about us… Once upon a time some friends had fun in the eastern coast of United States… These friends had a musical contract in Atlantic City in 2005 with other cover bands. Éric Plante (ex-member), J-F (guitar player) and I wanted to build our original band. In a day off, drinking at the beach, we have met some dead jelly fish near the ocean. It was a great afternoon partying with them… At a certain moment, I took a break and nearly watched these things who strangely looked like vintage oil light technology used in psychedelic ages. That inspired us the name.
What is it with French that makes everything spoken/sung seem so romantic? Or is that something we non-French speaking just been fed through music and literature?
-Thanks: that’s why we like to sing in our native language. It is exotic, romantic and original for prog music. In French language you have so much words to describe different images giving good precision to what we want to say. It’s true that English words songs sounds better, but I think we do not bad in French too!
When you compose do you have to be in a certain mindset for it to work? How does inspiration come to you?
-Usually we begin to work on an album with a new artistic concept. We are free to write music in the concept what we chose to write. For the lyrics, I like to represent the inside combat of a men using different stories or fantasies. I like to talk about nature, love, inner evils, hope, dreams; these are all subjects that I like to write. Finally, what I live inside during my inspiration period influences the songs I write. Music comes with the inspiration of the moment. On the first album we knew that we wanted a 70’s sound and now for the new one, we wanted it modern, more rock, more live. We’ll see later what we will do for the next one. When we write songs, first of all, we work on guitar riffs or songs individually. Next we get together to fix everything and we put some arrangements, solos or add other instruments. There’s no magic formula… The lyrics can inspire me melodies or the music can help me with the lyrics. When I work J-F’s songs, I always write lyrics after music, for example « Au NOM d’Apo Calypso » and « Le marchand d’hommes » ; or the opposite, Guy Marchamps’s poem (Quebec’s writer)« Les amants de Sarajevo » inspired me the music and became « Les amants et la guerre ».
Would you say that you sit equally comfortably in the hardrock scene as in the progressive rock scene? Where do you see yourself fit in?
-We are really just in between hard rock and progressive rock like Pink Floyd. Too pop to be prog and too prog to be pop… I like to say that we do «art rock»! Our second album is more hard then the first one but we can be soft as we can rock too, so we do our stuff and let the people choose what kind of music we do, but most of them say that we are prog French rock… The most important thing for us is that we touch the people’s hearts with our music!
How important is it to avoid compartmentalization to you as a band? Is that the death knell if you were to be put into a category?
-I understand that the people need some references to be safe. We like to hear that we are original with our songs and we like to be compared to Pink Floyd because it’s a great and famous band. For me the most important is to give our message at large and earn a living from our art !
When you sing in French does that make it harder to tour the rest of Canada? Isn’t it strange to live in a French speaking in an otherwise English speaking country?
-It’s natural as always to live in harmony with Canadian English people. At first it was not easy and much blood was shed in our history for freedom. Quebec is divided into French and English people. One half of the French people wants independence and all others want to stay in the Canadian country. It’s the paradoxical history of Quebec. We are proud to be who we are, French-speaking Quebecers artists and it is an honor to sing in the beautiful language of Molière. It is obvious that it is not easy to play in other english-speaking provinces. The francophone are still present in various festivals in Canada. In general, prog fans are more open minded than pop fans regarding languages. To me, a good song is a good song in any language! I like Sigur Ros, they are famous worldwide and sings in Icelandic, their mother language. Anyway the music unifies people, that’s the beauty of art !
Does this also make it harder to promote the band outside of Canada? Is there a greater tolerance for non-English sung music world-wide?
-Probably, we are penalized singing only in French in the rest of Canada, United States, England and other countries. It’s more difficult to book the band in English countries not open minded. It’s easier to promote a French group making progressive rock worldwide than a French pop group. The reception of our work is well received by prog fans and we gain popularity year after year… Outside of Quebec, Jelly Fiche made its last tour in 2011 in France which was a success. It’s true that it was a francophone country. It remains to be seen if we could deeply penetrate the English market over time. The conquest of any English market is not easy but possible!
What kind of live scene is Jelly Fiche part of?
-Jelly Fiche band leave no one indifferent. You like or you don’t like it, simply! Many fans told us that we distinguish ourselves from other groups in our show, by our lyrics, by our music, including our theatrical acting. The acting of the band on stage helps to understand the symbolism of our lyrics. We bring the listener into our surreal world; people must have an open mind and have to abandon themselves to board our universe. The musicians on stage are raging and they give a good rock show! For those who are attracted by the acting, they find their account and for those who want to hear good rock music, they are well served.
What does the womb of 2012 hold for Jelly Fiche?
-Up to now, we are invited to perform on stage at the Festival Prog’sud in Marseille (France) May 18 and at a the theater Muzikomania in Marseille with Elora’s prog band May 12. There are other performances dates scheduled for France in negotiation. In Quebec, we have upcoming shows this spring and summer. We are now looking for promoters that could help us to get more booking. We are also putting good effort to promote the new album in every part of the world!
Thank you Anders! I hope we’ll meet on an upcoming show one day in Germany!