French-Canadian renowned cellist Jorane knows and understands that music is an international language. She has blurred the lines and barriers of language with six successful albums recorded in French, English, and solely instrumental with vocal moans and murmurs, a language Jorane has made her own.
The musician’s alternative handling of an instrument as classical as the cello has earned her international acclaim and comparisons to Tori Amos and her grand piano. The artist’s use of tongues and songs as a means of communication has made her a goddess of language.
Jorane just celebrated her son’s first birthday and launched her sixth album Vers A Soi, a French follow up to her English album The You and the Now. The accomplished cellist talks about her pregnancy, her new album and music as an international language.
There are countless ways to express yourself. What impresses you the most about the way people communicate?
The technology. It has made this planet feel smaller and brings people closer. I like the fact that the internet can make things very accessible. It can get scary in a way, but it’s so overwhelming and impressive.
Have you always seen music as a means of communication?
Music is my strongest language to express myself even when it’s without words. But I needed help in finding a way to express myself with words. I didn’t have a technique and I needed writing tools. I studied music. I co-wrote a lot of the English songs with Simon Wilcox (Three Days Grace, Randy Bachman) and Shira Myrow (Seal, Michael Brook). I needed to write words and express all the emotions I feel or I will explode!
Can you tell us about your vocal improvisations and the sounds you use like a secret language that accompany your music?
It’s not a new language. It’s music and sounds. Just like an instrument makes sounds so do I. It’s like the cello, you can play it different ways and get different sounds.
A voice is just as much a real musical instrument as it is a way to communicate.
If you extract the lyrics of a song rendering it instrumental, would you then consider it to be the same song with the same message?
No it wouldn’t be the same. When I write a song with words, it needs those words.
I can’t play it instrumentally, it would be too different.
Does a complete song with lyrics have as much impact as an instrumental composition?
Oh yes! An instrumental song is as strong as a song filled with words. It’s all about emotions.
Emotions and communication are things that can easily be taken for granted. Can you imagine a world without these things?
If you don’t feel anything, that’s scary! If it was a world with no words we would use sounds. If there were no words, we could use our voices.
Your cello has become a partner to you in a way. If your cello had its own voice, what would he/she say right now?
It’s a he and he would say, “Oh she likes to experiment and have fun with other instruments, but I’m not jealous.” I have fun playing. The only battle I have on stage is with myself, never with my cello, vraiment pas.
Is body language and stage presence something that is on your mind while you perform?
It’s so important but it’s also natural. I don’t really think about it. But the best place to get to know me is on stage. Speaking of body language, I was in an interview, a news concept where I was interviewed through a monitor and speaking back to a monitor. I could only see her face, so I thought she could only see mine. So I was answering her questions and moving like this and that. My whole body answers the questions. So after I find out that I’m on TV moving around like a crazy person. (Laughs).
You’re very first album Vent Fou is named after a song that seems to be about insanity.
It’s a nightmare. The one where black dogs are chasing after you and you’re running and running. And there is a lunatic woman fighting against the fact that it’s so easy to slip and become crazy. In the end she lets go and finds that it’s a bonneheure to be crazy. It’s about the fine line between sanity and insanity. Sometimes we walk [down] that line.
Looking at your new release, why did you follow up your English album The You and The Now with an entirely French album?
I wanted to go back to my mother tongue with this one. There’s a link to my pregnancy. I was pregnant when I started to compose this album. While I was pregnant it was like I was absorbing every emotion and I felt more aware of everything happening around me. Even after my baby’s birth I still have that sensibility. It all just felt so natural and I naturally went back to my roots.
Can you translate and explain your album’s title?
Vers A Soi is like verse as in poems and soi is yourself. So it’s about defining yourself with words and letting words define you.
The art work for Vers A Soi has a voice of its own and speaks for itself. Still, can you tell us about the images?
It represents nature. Nature is about listening. We all should be more sensitive to what’s going on around us. The world might become a better place if we are better listeners.
Vers A Soi is in stores now. www.jorane.com