Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part X

Yes, I’m not lying, I discovered these while still living in Paris, I’m just showing them a little late… (insert angel emoji)

Yseult: One comment on youtube says she is French Lizzo. I love them both and would gladly attribute such awesomeness to this French lady, but I must say I find her too different to actually say that myself, her voice, the way she sings, the open dark note to most of the songs… Anyway, decide for yourselves. I will always appreciate an urban take on la chanson française, to whichever side of the spectrum she takes it. I discovered her with the song below, right now though I’m all into Corps and 5H (hint to the song of the week widget on my blog).

la réalité me rattrape au réveil je suis dans tous mes états il n’y a pas de place pour les regrets

Hollydays: This one song was on repeat after I left Paris, actually, altough it is not new. It’s just so soothing. Like, you can dance, but you can also just lay down on the couch and do nothing but listen.

tu peux peux tu peux éteindre la lumière

Bagarre: These guys are something. I remember reading an article about them with all those superlatives on how different they are, in their sound, but also in their approach to pretty much everything, it almost made me not listen to them, because, you know, when reactions are exaggerated, they often lose me. I still did, I’ve come to trust the label they’re at for unique acts and their name means fight in French, so … ok  …  Anyway, they still intrigue me and they wrote a couple of songs I could sometimes (more often than I would admit) decorate with the #currentmood hashtag. I never saw them live, so here’s to one more reason to go back to Paris. For more, just listen. And, bye bye!

au revoir à toi la fin du monde au revoir à toi la fin du mois

I’ve just finished watching the French pop show on Netflix which I never should have watched…. bad idea, Ivona, bad idea. It’s happening in Paris of course and too many scenes take place near my old home. So, for reasons totally obscure I now love this song, joining the second one above for to dance or not to dance dilemma.

The title is lying now and don’t care. (insert devil emoji)

This isn’t goodbye.

So, it’s done. I left Paris. After four and a half years of hell and wonderfulness combined (hint to the postcard below) and two weeks of intense stress. A few days ago I moved back home, sort of, at least for this year. I say sort of because I still don’t feel that way in my own head, although everyone around me seem to be certain of it. And I moved for the funniest of reasons if you know me, me who never in her life made a decent career decision. For a job. (Yeah I know not funny, probably another purely internal thing.) Maybe, that is why it’s one of the hardest heartbreaks, too, the hardest decision I ever took because it’s the first with actual consequences I have to bear. Some sort of sacrifice I had to rationally convince myself into. It hurt so fucking much I really doubt I made the right choice and miss my old what-is-a-career-anyway me. I need to remind myself of why I took this job and why all the old ones were (partly) wrong, often transforming me into a brain-dead zombie. I don’t really care about all that now, though. I can only miss. Till now, I didn’t know grieving over a place is just as hard as over people. You’d say, like everyone around me, ”But Paris is still there, a two-hour flight away, you can go whenever you want!”. But I think that what I’m grieving is far more complex and not repairable with just a vacation. It’s the life I built, the relationship to a home I finally found and then tore myself from. I know it wasn’t perfect and that I’ve been preparing for this for a while, yet it still doesn’t make it easy. I’ll live, I’ll give this a try, because maybe I have to give myself a real try, and then maybe France will have me back soon. Now, just give me some time to digest everything.

Leaving Paris is never easy. Sadness shows you it meant something, that every bit of it was worth it.

An evening walk in Paris is always a good idea.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Snow.

”… and Paris is always right where you left it.” (E. Jong, Fear of Flying)

This is something I should remember, but keep forgetting. And when I do it, one late March late afternoon, motivating myself with a lack of English books on my shelf (I mean those I haven’t read yet), making a familiar circle around Saint Michel, Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts that never fails to take me back to home-like feelings I first experienced when this wasn’t even my home yet – gosh it seems weird it’s now been more than ten years ago – so, when I do it, I’m most gently reminded by these magnificent views in the most beautiful light (which is for my amateur phone camera very hard to translate into photos). And I honestly don’t care a single bit they are a Paris cliché and I end up looking like a tourist again, stopping and admiring them.

Thank you, Snow, for another challenge that allows me to share photos I would otherwise keep for myself … oh and my Instagram I guess 😀

 

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part IX

I need to share some music, before a whole year goes by without it on my blog! So, I’m taking advantage of the recent Victoires de la musique where a few of my favourite discoveries performed and – what would be the newest expression for it – smashed it.

Eddy de Pretto : Probably my last year’s favourite discovery of them all. His music and his lyrics and his videos and his personality and his style couldn’t get more direct and unapologetically him and “poetically violent” as one of the comments says. He has this weird way of making you identify with his lyrics even when your story has so little to do with his. Universality in particularity, isn’t that art?

P.S.: He’s the one writing the song for homophobes, and a song about (toxic) virility.

Angèle : The Belgian girl who wrote the perfect song about Murphy law, then about money and then jealousy and then — happiness, of course. I can’t be bothered by its too evident pop qualities, when at least there is some intelligence in it and the melodies that let you dance to the ironies, or whatever you call it, of life. And then, her brother brings in a new groove and I swing and try to forget – well – everything… except that for me, for now, spleen is still fashionable, damn it.

Camélia Jordana : I’ve known her for a long time, but never shared her music here. With this song, it seems perfect, a beautiful reminder that as much as we like to think of ourselves as enlightened, it’s all just a ridiculous puppet show if we don’t clean up our act and make no exception for our supposed values. There is honestly still a lot I don’t know about French history, or European or in general really, but the first thing we all have to do is educate ourselves. And what I love about music is this ability that shows in the performance below – to remind us just as harshly as any other form of criticism, yet addressing that human part of us we all share.

A Dreamy Road Ahead

Ilha Deserta, Faro.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Snow Melts Somewhere.

There are two kinds of dreamy in our lives, aren’t there? The one we can see in our everyday, simple, but meaningful scenes, like that pinkish sky sunset paints for us after a long day at work, almost making us feel grateful we had to stay there till so late, because otherwise we wouldn’t see this view. Beauty is always dreamy for me, even when it grounds me in the present.

And then, there is the other one, the one making us dream about the future, about the open road ahead we might walk someday, even if we already rambled on some of them, even if some of them are circles, bringing us back to where we started. There are still countless possibilities of what might happen in-between the taken steps.

And I need one just as much as the other.

 

 

Inspiration

Le Penseur, Musée Rodin, Paris.

For Friendly Friday Challenge. (First!)

The Snow Melts Somewhere evoked in her prompt post lack of inspiration bloggers experience and the least I can say is – I relate. I had been on a blogging hiatus for two months at the end of last year which was weird because I had loads to talk about. But when a general lack of inspiration about life strikes, well what is one to do then?

My best friend said to me once last month I was lucky to be able to read even when I felt as low as I did at that moment. I answered (out loud or not, I can’t remember) I didn’t really have a choice. It’s either that or I’m dead. No, not a suicidal thought. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve learned there is only one thing that can get me out of my numbness. Letting myself re-discover there are (it’s mostly were, but fine) truthful people out there who wrote down or sang what they felt constituted the essence of life, sincerely let out what they were feeling, so that today I can share a sense of humanity with them, drawing inspiration from them, and even a kind of subtle friendship, fellowship maybe. A possibility that I might have something to say to someone, too. Because believe it or not, through all my sentimentality, it’s this truthfulness I aim for.

I’ve been sitting in the company of this funny guy most of my breaks, and only recently learnt it is supposed to be Dante and was initially called The Poet. It’s not just a thinker, which most of my university colleagues would rename philosopher, but an artist! And that’s what I feel mostly, musing there with him, over my instant coffee, an apple and cereal biscuits (a girl’s gotta save money somewhere here!): words that aren’t only thoughts, but feelings, words impregnated with a sense of life and all those moments that make it up and make us up and sometimes make art.

How lucky so many people before me decided to try to express them somehow… Some even in a way that feels so close to mine.

Life is in the streets.

Bonifacio, Corsica.

What I love about summer and miss dearly in winter is the liveliness of the streets, how half of our lives seem to move outside with first warm sun rays. Even in the biggest cities we search for every possible opportunity to drink our coffees outdoors, spend our post-work hours in parks, maybe even walk a part of the way home (yes, our lazy asses sometimes actually think of that semi-replacement for fitness). But as my co-worker joyfully reminded me today, with the new year we can solace ourselves we might have only two harsh months of winter left to survive, if we’re lucky! Fingers crossed for nice early-springish weather in March. Till then, I’ll try to keep up with my autumn resolution of going off the metro two stations before my stop and walk the rest of the way – the lovely playful atmosphere at République, there thanks to the regular skaters and children’s corner or just someone always doing something, reminds me of those summery moments that always (can’t help it and won’t) take me back South somewhere. (I get so dreamy I become a serious threat to the taxi drivers’ nerves, like a child I’m re-learning to check twice before crossing the road.) So, I’m leaving you with two photos of one of my favourite places I discovered last year and let you dream with me a little.

Oh and happy new year – let’s make it a beautiful one! 😉

 

 

The most ravishing autumn moments

This October’s weather has been a bitter-sweet candy that I most gladly take advantage of. I know that these spring-like sunny days, with temperatures above 25°C during the day aren’t supposed to be here anymore, that they coincide too suspiciously with the report just published about our climate, that sometimes I feel even my body being a bit confused because of the still so strong sun that my skin burns under the jeans… But but but – I savour each one of them like it was the last one, hell it soon really will be.

I look forward to work just because I’ll get to sit in a most charming garden during my lunch break or go to the near-by park to have a mid-day picnic, consisting of a fresh baguette sandwich, eclair and an espresso from a neighbouring boulangerie. Yes, for those of you who are familiar with my rant posts: I have a new job whose surroundings are so much more alluring to all of my senses at least one of my anxieties will calm down for a month. For the second time, a job made me discover an area I hadn’t paid too much attention to before, always walked through a bit too hastily, posted a single adjective on it and moved on (here, it was posh), bored somehow. I might not agree with the prices and will insist in the future to bring my own snacks, yet the morning sun rays enveloping empty esplanade‘s trees get me every time (Invalides). I even fall for the cliché tower again, seeing it so rarely recently, so early in the day probably just once before, appreciating it better from a far in the foreground of green.

All of this almost takes me back to my favourite October ever, that autumn spent in the South of France. And that says a lot.

7th arrondissement.

The Wisdom of Montmartre

Always refreshing to find those witty or not little wisdoms while taking a walk through Parisian streets. It makes me wonder who and why decided to tag them along the walls. Determined to stop our steps for a moment and make us give it a few seconds attention, a few seconds reflection we would otherwise maybe give to those insta/pin-quotes. Stroll over scroll.

How I see myself after 3 years in Paris

Three years in the middle of your twenties mean a whole lot of growing up, in a bitter-sweet mix of disenchantment and empowerment. When you spend them away from home, the mixture gains new dimensions, wide and deep. There is no reality check that makes you face yourself in a more radical way, than that of cutting off the familiar. Feeling like those little birds you watched on animal shows, or young wild cats, deciding it’s time to leave the nest and take the maturity test, make your own initiation into whatever life you chose, hunt down the necessities with the four limbs and one head you were born with, making out little by little what your gut feeling is like. Perhaps, trading surviving and living more often than you expected, only now realizing how stubborn you are. Stubborn, stupid, who knows. Continue reading “How I see myself after 3 years in Paris”

Music for re-falling in love with Paris and France

… and French as a language that still feels like it makes the simplest thing sound enchanting, literally.

And this scene that is in a way even richer than I imagined. And culture that loves words, loves life, loves poetry, loves literature, loves music, loves art, loves culture, period. And the sadness and the joy that dance together here. If I could feel at home in a feeling, it could just as well be the one I sense while listening French music, even though I can’t really explain why. These songs are just a minor drop in a massive wave, of course.

(Hint: The favourite, the one the most inspiring the mentioned feeling, is the last one, which you could easily guess if you knew me – it’s not just pure, but actual poetry put into music.)

Grand Blanc – Belleville: Finally, my almost-home has a pop song with the bestest video for my teenage self.

Nevché – Decibel: To listen late at night, lights out, while thinking about moving to Marseille, his town. (And to not forget, and wonder about over and over, the obsession of French people with their dearest – sadly departed and much missed – Johnny … Hallyday, of course.)

Clara Luciani – Les fleurs: For the Parisian blues.

Babx – Gaston Miron: Just ❤

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part VIII

Once in a while, I can make an exception. Because none of these artists is really new to me. They are too big of a star not to know them once you are in France for a while, a part of the obliged cultural background you adopt willingly or not. Yet, what they all have in common is they have only recently grown on me… I guess I’m not that resistant to media after all.

Orelsan : This guy brings up memories of my second job in Paris, in one of those English food chains where my boss kept putting on his music during our early morning kitchen hours. I must have listened to some of his songs a thousand times in one week. Still, soon after I forgot the melodic refrain about why the Earth is round and round or whatever … Then, last year he released a new album and a new single called Basique with quite a bad-ass video, followed by another, Tout va bien (I guess I could be grateful for a minute that at least my friends and my – new – boss always keep the TV on, since I don’t have one, grateful even for that impossibly annoying music chain that makes you believe France and the World generally posses only 5-10 worthy artists). I was hooked. Why? Who can ignore the guy who openly says in his song: ”Ok, I’m putting out a new album, but first we need to go through the basics, I’m gonna make a simple video to say simple things because you’re too stupid…” And then, he does. Yet, doesn’t stop there. Every single new song I hear gets the whole of my attention, which, I’m sorry to admit, doesn’t happen often with rap, and makes me appreciate the fact I understand the lyrics, now. Below is his performance at Victoires de la Musique.

Je craquerai pas.

Julien Doré : I’m sure you all know the refrain baby I love you less and less because of what you’ve done to me, right? Well I had before dreaming of Paris became a reality, ignoring the name of the singer completely. Coming here his stardom surprised me a bit, so I half-intentionally committed to continue to ignore his music. But you know, that TV which is always on at work succeeded in making his voice an essential part of the background and one YouTube suggestion could then make me appreciate it further… Still, the verdict is staying in-between. I’m not succumbing quite yet. Except to his hair which remind me of an old friend. And this song. This song!

Benjamin Biolay : Then, there is this man, a singing actor or acting singer. Ever since I first heard of him, he had that allure of an important figure of the scene, infinitely loved by some, yet thoroughly misunderstood, or rather just not understood at all, by others. I’m still not sure I really get him. His esthetic seems personal, mostly laid-back and somehow slightly non-conformist without being too pretentious, or maybe just a bit. As much as his name is all over the media place, his songs aren’t, so much so, in contrast to the two above, I had to decide on my own to go listen to his music and see what it is about. One song quickly found her place in the jungle-like atmosphere of the moment in my life, gently affirming ”so, yeah, I’m taking my time, all the time, super-relaxed” as if to say so what, I’m cool… in various layers of it. Now, I’m cool with him.

Till next time, where I’m back again with some actual new names.

More of this please

Abbey Bookshop, librairie canadienne.

This week, I was a lucky girl. All of those woulda, coulda, shoulda wishes I usually have, bustling through the work week, became a part of its reality.

(That first photo was actually taken by my mom during their last visit, but I think she won’t blame me. At least, it represents I’d rather be spending time with my family part, too.)

I’d rather be exploring some bookstore’s shelves… Well, on Tuesday, after my best friend had already given up on me for the day, having taken care of the second coffee, even stronger than the first, yet still seeing my eyes numbly looking around, we crossed a bookstore. Somehow, my tired eyes saw a book title, stopped my legs and directed my body towards the pile of 2€ offers. I ended up buying four of them, those badass French classics I now am able to read in their own language (hopefully haha), and soon I was hopping like a happy bunny on some weird psychedelic drugs. She just laughed ”Guees you didn’t need coffee, but books. Should have known!”

I’d rather be roaming the streets of Paris… Every time I get too caught up with the everyday life, I tend to forget they are right there for me. It always makes me be grateful for visitors, they remind us to re-explore what we are already supposed to know. Like the Latin Quarter. I mean you could used to be sure to find me there at any given day, now it seems it’s been months… Oh well I guess my own neighbourhood ain’t that bad neither.

I’d rather be taking a train to the South… Winter made me say that a lot. On Monday, I actually did. And the weather goddesses were with me this time! More on it later. Still, don’t you just love the Montpellier’s train station!

For WPC: I’d rather be…

In and out, close and far

Paris Plage.

Maybe, what I miss most about summer is not just street walks whose existence is barely touched in the cold, but sitting down on a bench or a sidewalk and observe or read, for as long as you like, warm air embracing you and sun rays caressing you through the branches. Melting into your own world in the middle of the city’s sea of people. Reading outside is somehow not the same as in that enclosing space of your own room, although I’m not sure why I prefer parks to my sofa. Maybe, appreciating the inner and the outer world is inter-connected.

No matter the season though, I realized I have a growing affinity for anonymous city readers, which are nowadays mostly my fellow metro passengers. That summer day, it was this girl meters away from me, but somehow close in her attentive leaning posture. I was wondering what she was reading, while I was sadly finishing Anaïs Nin’s early diary… Oh that fever of living.

For WPC: A Face in the Crowd.

The other charms

It’s probably quite an easy job to be a tour guide in my town, even if you get lost, your followers won’t notice, still admiring the Parisian streets, thinking that’s what you were supposed to show them anyway … Yet, the trick is to expand beyond the monuments, grand, time-consuming and in the end not so living, to show the little jewels that make the Parisian charm.

I won’t go far, just a street away from my home in the 11th arrondissement, where I’m used to avoiding children who are running, catching one another, playing football on a quiet road or screaming in the tiny park, greeting a dog or two with a smile, gladly listening to birds singing in all the seasons. And admiring these trees’ silhouettes sometimes in sunshine, mostly against the greyness of the sky, sometimes in the glowing lights. The ordinary beauty on my usual route I can be grateful for a second or two, before hopping into the metro and race towards work. This week’s unexpected weather (even if it was forecasted, I didn’t believe it – ”it’ll be just a few snowflakes, as usual, and it never lasts anyway…” – ha.) added a few charming tones to it. A couple of embarrassing falls, too, to be completely honest.

And below is a small park, Square Louis XVI to be precise, down Boulevard Hausmann, a street away from where I work and spend many breaks during the more warm months, catch some rays, drink a smoothie and read a few pages (yes, it’s on my best reading spots in Paris list). Now, it’s just pretty to observe from the other side of the fences.

For WPC.

How I see Paris after 3 years

When three years pass in the same place, same room, with harshly the same people, we can easily imagine things stay the same, that nothing has essentially changed. Yet, when I was sitting across a girl on the train heading to the center from the airport, with a huge suitcase, a filled backpack, a beret, and a book about the dream city in her hands, while I was returning from celebrating Christmas with my family back to my new home for the third time, I could see that something has indeed changed, slowly maybe, imperceptibly, yet persistently.

There is a certain profundity that links you to the city, while dreams are transforming into a reality, while you’re less and less a stranger and a visitor, a simple spectator, and more and more connected into this web of its core lives. Continue reading “How I see Paris after 3 years”

They call it Spring.

At the top of Printemps, Boulevard Haussmann.

I’m usually not the one encouraging people to go to department stores and big shopping malls. Not just because I prefer little local boutiques, (yes yes I’m the hipster kind girl), but simply because I’d prefer to avoid consumption and greed and all completely… Yet, Paris always ends up being some kind of exception.

I can laugh at the Chinese coming to Lafayette with actual suitcases, I mean talking about getting your whole wardrobe in Paris… and I can never afford to actually stand in line at Chanel… Still, I recommend a walk through the galeries.

Don’t just look at all those bags and watches and perfumes and dresses, look up from the very first floor. (P.S.: And go out on the last one for the view of Opéra.) Or go to the top in Printemps to see the church-like ceiling…

Building itself and its interiors as much on display as all the products it offers.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part VII

Maybe, I should entitle it ”music discovered in France”, since they are not all from the capital, but hey Paris sounds better 🙂

Gaël Faye : I immediately fell in love. First of all, with his lyrics, then with the interpretation and the accompanying music (credits to the composer Guillaume Poncelet as well). He just has it, no need to say more. I wasn’t sure if he was a singer or a poet, but soon realized I heard his name for the first time as an acknowledged author (of Petit pays, also a title of one of his songs about Burundi), although novel-writing in his life chronologically came second. Still, it sort of explains the power and the place of words in his music and the skill and the flow. Coincidences happened and I forgot and rediscovered him as a musician. Yet, they are not separated, just as he says about being metis – he is not 50/50, half of something and half of the other. He just is, who he is, wholly. A beautiful human being with a story and a voice, that is for sure. His portrait of Paris (not the one you imagine) is … I’d say magical, but really it is just so sincere.

Lady Sir : Sometimes, two in one feels good and makes wonders. Woman and man, two voices, two languages, two sides, two stories. They got me with this duality which forms a magical unity, a simple music carrying a subtle theatrical dimension, the one escaping monologues and hence, monotony. Stories, stories, always stories, I’m obsessed and possessed by those…

Buridane : I’m one of those people for whom saying we’re angry or resentful doesn’t come easy, so maybe hearing her saying so lightly ”je t’en veux, je t’en veux” felt kind of liberating. So, I kept on clicking on… And — I know, I repeat myself — again the stories she tells got me, the characters painted with her words, the situations we know in life and love for which it feels good to share them in sounds, for a few minutes lift the burden of heavy sentiments and just sing with it. Anyways, she has a lovely voice and a nice spoken-word touch, plus the melodies which make you swing. So, go treat yourself.

 

Canal Saint Martin.

The place I should be obsessed about, even if only for two cute movies and those iconic scenes capturing the Paris vibes, yet I don’t count it among my absolute favourites. The place where you should go for a walk on sunny winter days or hang out with friends on warm summer nights, yet I always end up there on grey windy mornings. The place right around the corner from me, yet I need visitors to get there and show them/me around. Still, it’s here I admire the coloured shopping windows, brighting up the grim streets. Still, it’s here I had the best brunch with live piano music in the background, watching people whooshing by on their bicycles. Still, it’s not far from here I bought the best goat cheese with a baguette and a bottle of wine for late afternoon lunch.

Maybe, it’s because I feel closer to its continuation. Because it’s up at Jaurès, my familiar cinema spot with the usual late Italian dinner afterwards, and a bit further, my dose of all those memories of the first autumn days (and the first flirts) in the capital…

And yes, I’ll always say yes to a good old walk from Ourcq to République, no matter how long it seems.

Don’t pass them by.

One of the secrets to exploring Paris is to not only take the streets, but to also dive into its passages. In the first and the second arrondissement, at the Grands Boulevards or in the Latin Quarter, I can bet you’ll find them and their boutiques, cafés, bistros, antique shops, bookshops and more or less narrow and crowded corridors in that special dimmed light.

It seems like a trip down memory lane every time.

 

#hopefullyhealingrant

I should be having the time of my life, right, living the dream ever since I moved to my favourite city. Why am I feeling a growing anguish, an actual anxiety for the past three, and especially last two years? How to say you’re unhappy when you have accomplished what you wished for?

The truth is, I feel trapped. Trapped in this place, trapped in my work, trapped in a certain relationship. I often cry out of loneliness or confusion about life. I feel stranded between two countries, a part of my heart left behind with all the people I love, the other here in the city which I chose as my true home. Continue reading “#hopefullyhealingrant”

Those peaked days

A part of my summer wanderings in Paris, pretending to be a tourist when I stopped being one 3 years ago (if one ever does, as every ex-pat here doubts…), was this lovely Montmartre museum. More than with the exhibition itself, although I very much enjoyed it, it got me with its little garden, little in the French sense, too – that word they so often add to express loveliness and affection. All one needs: the flowery greenness and bend trees, a cute café, and then a surprising, but not really, sneaky peek of the Montmartre cliché.

The day peaked somewhat numerously with one wonder after another that day…

For WPC.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part VI

I can’t believe this is already the sixth part! 🙂

So, my summer ended with the weekend at Rock en Seine (I might be a bit late writing about it, but the hectic autumn started too soon…), or almost. It became a tradition to make the painful transition out of the vacation into real life with new music discoveries and seeing some of my favorite bands live. Could be worse. The XX, HER and Mac DeMarco, a big heart out to you. But below are the ones I didn’t really know before hearing them live at St Cloud.

Rendez-vous : The absolute favourite Sunday festival discovery, my first concert of the day, arriving after the show had already started and falling in immediately. Raw is how I’d call it, the essence of what I love about rock music, with that modern electronic twist. The energy of these Parisians kept making waves through the crowd, breaking the circle of loyal fans and making new ones. Me included. Put your dancing shoes on and put your hands up like you don’t care. Oh gotta love the youth.

Le Villejuif Underground : First of all, I really like their name, wearing their origins proudly, though to me they sound so New York I’m not surprised they are not all French and there’s an Australian in there among those ”disturbed” fellows. Gotta adore his voice. And this sound! The Velvet Underground? The Strokes? The beats? Yes, I hear the beats in there… Smooth and groovy. I repeat: gotta love the youth.

Barbagallo : There is something about this guy. First hearing (about) him, I only saw that calm of his which can’t be all quiet inside, and you know it. Something so old-school and even eccentric in such a non-abusive way I even hear Tame Impala in the 70s in there somewhere. Music that can always suit well in the background, still to really appreciate it you have to be in the right mood … I think. Or maybe, it hits you when you least expect it, after sneaking, sinking in slowly.

Inuït : I wasn’t quite sure about this band, hearing a song on a playlist before the show. I thought it was just one more modern pop song, trying to be different. Yet, the concert half-intrigued me into giving them a chance. The feeling was right, their performance convincing and there is something quite theirs in music they create together. Maybe, the synergy works its magic live. Anyway, now I’m singing along with these non-Parisians once in a while when the pop needs occur and especially dig the OHs and AHs and EHs when they burst out.

 

The (un)usual weekend

Don’t get me wrong. Concerts and festivals are like breathing, or like a drug to me – if I don’t get a regular fix, I might as well be dead. Still, I almost never take photos, I’ve never really understood why. Being too crazily excited in the moment and safely guarding it later in my mind was the usual way. This weekend was different, though. Maybe I needed it too much: that proof I still have so much life in me, so much to live still, independently of anyone. Maybe it was all the hits I heard live. Wasting My Young Years, The Seed, Another Love, Summertime Sadness, Papillon, Wonderwall, Where Is My Mind, Californication … Overdose in the best sense. Their quality might be below average, but for me the sentimental value counts more than that 😉 Anyway, here it is to the first best weekend of the year (the season is just getting started).

Lollapalooza Paris. 22.-23.7.

For WPC.

The less known stars of French chanson

At least internationally, of course. Maybe I’m just talking from Slovenian youth’s perspective where francofolie is still a thing only within a limited crowd. Yet, I feel there are famous singers that are very much present in the French cultural spirit and had a huge influence in the music’s evolution, but are very less talked about outside of the francophone world. I started exploring it sort of retrospectively, obsessively clicking on YouTube search buttons while listening to interviews with new bright hopes of the Parisian and outer capital scene, talking about their inspirations. Something so self-evident to a French saying little or actually being completely unknown to me. Then, the ball continued to roll. Some of their songs really grew on me, so I decided to share them. Music has that eternal appeal, no matter the period it’s made in, right?

Alain Bashung : It was Fishbach cover of the song below on Monte le son (the thing to follow for live interpretations of current artists) that introduced me to him. And I admit the original touched me more. Something so pure about it. I soon realized his other (older) songs are much different, more demanding and surprisingly maybe even more modern in sound.

Daniel Balavoine : I think it was Fishbach’s fault as well. This guy… is touching beyond most of the others I know. He spilt his guts out on pretty much every song. And I find his voice is special, too. It seems like a strong spirit and a broken soul that was nonetheless meant to tell his story and shine through its own darkness. Yeah, you’re getting some poetical inclinations listening to his confessions. He’s the one cutting Mitterand’s monologue right in the middle of a debate with his own (angry) insights, still so meaningful today.

Jacques Dutronc : And then, this guy is all in for the happy songs. Or not really. As feel-good as they sound, they often have something critical, even cynical to say, still today. He knew how to get his message across for sure. I needed a hundred indications for his existence, from a humoristic TV show (Fais pas ci fais pas ça) to TLSP cover of Les Cactus, but I finally got it and now I’m loving it.

Francis Cabrel : Looking for the love songs, you eventually (or probably quite soon) definitely stumble upon quite a few of his songs. I admit, even I succumbed to the desire of someone singing those lyrics to me, so beautifully they express emotions through melodies. They’re a classic, so you might find them on singing competition’s TV stages (like The Voice, of course) once in a while. You know, the ultimate test for musicians that defined the aspiring singers, searching for songs where they can successfully show their voice’s sincerity… and all that.

Music I discovered in Paris, part V

Her ; Juliette Armanet ; Melanie Pain

Her : As internationally as they look, sound and actually are, these guys’ collaboration comes from France (not Paris though). I’ve always appreciated (electro-pop) artists giving a bit of soul into their music when it’s so easy not to do it and still produce a hit. Well, they understood my inclination and are already booming all over the world. No need for the five minutes, one of their songs is talking about, to convince and seduce you to swing along.

Juliette Armanet : So often, it’s all about how the voice and the articulation of such a beautiful language are gaining a reign all over a song. At least, that’s what she makes me wonder about. Maybe, it’s with a bit of melancholy and nostalgia, with that inspiration that must come straight out of the best of not only French ballads of the past century. Most certainly, it’s with impeccability.
+ Check out her French version of I feel it coming (The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk), it’s absolutely beautiful.

Melanie Pain : I’m sure you all know her voice, but maybe you are like me in ignoring her as a solo songwriter. Correct that mistake. After loving every single curve of her melodic interpretations as a part of Nouvelle Vague (Master and Servant and God Save The Queen!), I almost by accident discovered the song below a couple of days ago. A familiar name told me to give it a try. Oh the good random procrastination choices.

Pleased

Give me a Sunday walk by the lively river, a bus drive* through two of my favourite Parisian quarters, a trip to the lovely bookshop, a reading spot on the sun, a book in my lap that opens up my chest, a feeling of renewing surprise by the ordinary view.

And I’ll be pleased.

*Line 96: Porte de Lilas – Gare Montparnasse

Music I discovered in Paris, part IV

No need for introductions anymore.
Fishbach ; Cyril Mokaiesh ; Faire…

No need for introductions anymore.

Fishbach : First, I thought her songs are alright. But on the second listen already, I became addicted. I’ve always had a thing for a sombre kind of pop music, you know, the kind when you feel the darkness looming in the background and awakening in your soul, together with that irresistible urge to move and shake and, well dance, and tell the whole world to go … there. There’s something in her sound and lyrics that corresponds to my mood – and even nature I’d say – immensely, so profoundly I think the last I felt it must have been with the White Lies, after Joy Division or The Cure or much of the blues music. Because essentially, there’s more to it than sadness, sadness isn’t even what we’re aiming for here. That’s why when it comes to her, the fact that she makes me think of Barbara and Eurythmics at the same time is quite appreciated. Tell me your life and at the same time make me dance on the 80’s beats.

Je veux du noir et je veux de l’espoir.

Cyril Mokaiesh : Just look at this video and try to understand a bit of the lyrics. The confession mood got me, after the guy already got my attention with songs actually entitled Communiste and La loi du marché. His music is demanding in a different manner than the above, yet you have to admit it has balls. What I appreciate is that his voice occasionally escapes the expectations and takes its own curvy path.

Faire & salut c’est cool & Casse Gueule : For those who like La Femme and Grand Blanc and the like of la nouvelle scène française, but think they didn’t go far enough. These do, oh yes, they do. For all the hipsters that got excluded from the crowds. Who knows, it might be your comeback, this punky electro eclectic style and sound, winning without trying to.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Living in Paris always leaves one with the impression this glorious city is all or at least the best the region has to offer. It might not be entirely wrong, yet sometimes the one-day trips that don’t include a two-hour train ride (and are free as part of the Navigo zone) are well worth it. It was still a winter, but luckily sunny day after a week of heavy rain and strong wind when my best friend and I decided to trade Normandy for a long morning. The possibilities of RER A still granted us with a lovely day, walking in a weirdly calm town center which didn’t even seem like one, the real freshly made waffles with dark chocolate dressing and strawberry ice-cream which mixed with coffee made a perfect setting for a good old chat. Then the view of La Defense and the top of the far-away Eiffel tower somewhere way down the valley. A castle and more than everything an enormous park, that actually looked like a forest for a while. I forgot how nice it feels to just take a walk amidst the green, free of asphalt and hard stone. How unbelievable long stretched branches of bare trees are with their veins-like beauty, emptied of the unnecessary glitter.

Now I know where I’ll take my picnics and daily reading trips in summer.

stgermenlaye

Saint-Germain-en-Laye

 

It’s been 2 years, Paris. I’m still here.

I actually forgot the exact date of my official move to Paris (yeah I know, how utterly unacceptable and disappointing for such an important event of my life), but I do know it was in late October, sometime after the 20th and a bit before my birthday. So, that means I’ll be celebrating two years of my life in Paris any day now. What a story to tell. To mix things up a bit, I decided to join the challenge and tell it almost wordlessly… And for the actual word-ful story, I’ll have to write a book someday.

From a tourist to a full-time Parisian? Peut-être. Never lost the wonder, though. Continue reading “It’s been 2 years, Paris. I’m still here.”

The locals’ joie de vivre is at the riverside

I don’t know if it was because I had already considered the riverside as the loveliest place in my hometown that I fell so much in love with it in Paris. Or was it the contrary, did I first discover the city’s charm here and then opened my eyes for the one in Ljubljana? Either way, both are among my favourite places on Earth. It is here I always feel most at home, exactly where I’m supposed to be.

And what I admire is how the touristy and the local intermingle on the banks. Overflown with foreign visitors, but still just as much appreciated by the Parisians themselves in the moments of their joie de vivre of bistros’ lunches, drinks at the cafés, regular stops at the  bookshops or the bouquinistes, enjoying bottles of wine on the benches, listening to guitar players in the distance. Of course, you can find the scene and the feeling in other quarters, too, yet nothing can compare to les quais de la Seine.

locseine

For WPC.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part III

It’s time again to share a bit of Parisian melodies. My favourite time.

Grand Blanc : I just spent my weekend at Rock en Seine festival*, being in the presence of many legendary acts, but what counts just as much to me is the discovery of the new ones. Algerians Imarhan mesmerized the whole place with their sound on Sunday. The day before, though, it was a truly local band that captured the attention and got our dancing shoes running and heads waving right until they passed the torch to their counterparts La Femme. I expected a good show and was still presently surprised. They are good. They have the necessary energy and a little something that despite all similarities to some bands keeps their own thing going.

Les Marinellis : This is a band whose concert at Point Ephemere I just missed… Unfortunately, life has its plans. However, I believe they could very well be worth it. The kind of music that makes me feel the je m’en foutisme in all its fun and gain. Life can be messed up and stupid and questionable, but let’s move our feet and raise our hands to the beat. Got to get to know them better!

Clara Luciani : Someone I am about to hear live. So different from the above. Clear and subtle voice with only a one instrument accompaniment and all the inescapable emotional charge. Even through a recording or a video the presence is remarkably apparent and strong, yet tender-heartedly so.


Why don’t I just stop writing these posts and link you (again) to the weekly?! I realized they are forming my taste when it comes to French music. I unquestionably trust them somehow.

*If you’re really interested in the music of the wide-Paris region, check out the acts under the line-up of the Ile de France stage.*

Fierce

you’ve just had your heart broken in Paris.

it’s a pretty nice place to have your heart broken in, don’t you think?

you think about your strolls in those cute districts

when he still held your hand in his

gently caressing it

after a movie and a dinner telling you to take him home

because it’s cold and he could use some tea

a tea became your warm torso wrapped around his

his hand on you and soon he was in you

he fullfilled your body, right? he made you feel wanted

when he grabbed you in the dark and kissed you like he’d been missing you his entire life

your stomach ached at the sound of his voice and knees shivered in his hug

his presence overpowered the rest

but let me ask you

did your soul sing because of who he was?

was your heart on fire because of his?

didn’t it bore you sometimes how he numbed your mind so often?

remember those walls you had built?!

there are still there standing strong around your heart and your mind and the very core of your soul

the only ones that fell are those in the middle of your body

good. now you know what profound pleasure is.

but seek empathy that can transcend it into more

bring you where you’ve always wanted to be

burning running dancing wildly adventuring and shouting

because you are not an angel a decoration or a puppet

you are a mighty presence you are a person beyond anyone’s desires and expectations

loved for who you are first

and if changes come they are secondary

first are the presents of these moments when life is lived and not waited for

those moments of companionship that doesn’t fail because of a few traits

you’ve just had your heart broken? did you?

a scar isn’t a massacre

it might heal or it might not

and if you bleed slowly you will not die

and if you bleed intensely you will transform with the cycle of your body

be careful though when going sad to a supermarket

pasta and alcohol and cookies and ice-cream …

rather have a solo slow dance later or evoke the rocky

no — the punky yearnings of your fierce steps and rising hands

you are allowed to be yourself

eternally

Yes, I’m afraid, yet grateful.

I’m afraid of the world I live in. The wars, coups and attacks, the people’s comments and political agendas, the omnipresent power of money and greed. Sometimes, when I stop for a second and actually read the news I’m reading I become the child at 8 who only wondered and could never understand. No, I still don’t. I get anxious and terrified, I could cry, and do when I let myself, about all the complications we put ourselves through when life can be so simple… I learned, like everybody, to live with it, to be grateful that for now I’m here, in a so far still privileged country.

Nevertheless, the knot created in the night of the finishing hours the 13th of November last year, didn’t disappear, but is only growing with every new brutal headline I come across. I’m stupefied by the fact that some people have to live with these kind of threats daily and still manage to survive, have the will to survive. I sometimes just want to escape to a cabin in the far-away woods where the atomic bomb will at least catch me unexpectedly, in the midst of my solitary ordinary joys.

I’m afraid of the threat just as much as I am of our response to it. Continue reading “Yes, I’m afraid, yet grateful.”

Belleville.

The forgotten quarter of French capital? By tourists, maybe. By locals, no.

The forgotten quarter of French capital? By tourists, maybe. By locals, no. At least if you’re not one of those living in the South of Paris and being scared of the North (yes, I’ve met those). This is not my first post about the 20th arrondissement (check out Rue Dénoyez and some street art: one, the other) and will probably not be the last, if only I can make myself take photographs of my everyday environment.

The thing is … I now live right next to it, more precisely right below Menilmontant. Consequently, the park I go to when completely without energy, not particularly sinisterly humoured and so not deciding for Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, but in a desperate need of air is the one of the climbing steps of Parc de Belleville. Where the shadows don’t spare their gentleness and where flies attack you in between the bushes. Small, not the most beautiful one in Paris, but sort of pretty and filled with families on sunny days. The one where street art blossoms and which tourists hardly find. If you do, climbing to the very top is obligatory or at least highly recommended. Or do take the street art tour that initially opened my eyes when I was still just another visitor to the city.

And then … there is that energy and a different smell to the air I sometimes inexplicably feel, although it is not really a particular smell. Is it just the pollution? It’s so different to the neighbouring 11th arrondissement which is officially my home that you can’t even compare their biggest avenues. Can it really be only the prevailing immigrants or better their descendants? The typical French cafés, but a bunch of shops that seem to belong somewhere else, the South or the East… But no, there are right where they are meant to be. (My sister recently asked me if I intend to cruise around them a bit anytime soon, since she cannot come this year and really wants another pair of that comfy Chinese pants, and to my (mis)fortune tight budget isn’t a solid excuse there…)

Just don’t expect something when you go here, especially not Paris from the pictures. This is not the fancy river bank and it is not the artsy Montmartre neither. Let’s only hope the process of gentrification is never completed here.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part II

I said the list would grow, right? Well, here’s the second part of my eternal quest.

I said the list would grow, right? Well, here’s the second part of my eternal quest.

La Femme : There was a summer (or maybe it wasn’t actually summer) a few years ago when I was obsessed with one of their dancing tunes and then I never followed what they did next. Until a few weeks ago, when I rediscovered this band with unbelievable energy and not a bad collection of good songs, not really understanding why I had ignored their existence for so long. It was the video below that did it, so Parisian I had to like it, and a song, a bit out of their usual style, that sort of captured the mood of disenchantment with the world of … love, of course. Now, I can’t wait to see them live on one of the festivals.

Feu Chatterton : This is the tradition of French chanson modernized in its finest. I mean, I’m no expert, so not the one to judge here, maybe, but for me the singer, his voice and interpretation, alone is enough of an explanation why. Not underestimating the music, though! Even though I did like them right away, I had to listen to a few songs before really falling into their sound. Now, I’m totally digging it.

Midnight Special Records : When you don’t know what to listen to, because you got tired of everything on your usual list, or you just want something not too demanding in concentration, it’s perhaps time to check out what these guys are getting out on the scene. Theirs are Clea Vincent, Laure Briard and Michelle Blades, for example (everything is available to listen or purchase on their bandcamp account). So much pop, it can’t get much more popper, but at the same time it’s a different kind of pop that usually hits the charts. Dancy, melancholic and even slightly nuts in intervals, it’s most of the time something else than the usual packages. The reason you might actually like it, or quite possibly the opposite as well.

And always…

Babx : Because he’s doing everything I would be doing if I knew how to sing and play the piano. I rediscovered him with last year’s album of literary excerpts made into songs Cristal Automatique which is magnificent, all the more so because I heard it in its entirety live, his presence booming from the stage a few metres away. Not because he’s a showman, but because he’s so strong in what he does. Just as much also as a songwriter.

The best reading spots in Paris

There is one eternal criteria that a city has to fulfill for me to really love it. I have to find nice little spots to read, not necessarily in calm, but certainly in ease. Paris nails it. Here, I never had a problem. Of course, there are cafés, but since I’m always on a tight budget, saving money for the next trip or concert, I rather enjoy the free priceless corners. These are probably not just the best reading, but also meditation and observation spots. For me, it comes down to the same thing in the end.

River banks : Absolute favourite. The banks, below the busy streets of St Michel, between Pont Neuf and Notre Dame. In the sun or in a shade, never alone, but somehow peaceful. Or a little further, the banks of Ile St Louis, where people drink their bottle of wine and where you can almost always hear a distant music. I always seem to gain back a certain piece of my mind and soul here.

Parks :  The more or the less touristy ones. Once, I was in love with Jardin de Luxembourg and Tuileries when the season was less crowded. The green metal chairs, overlooking the fountain, children playing, birds hunting for crumbs, people on their lunch breaks, students with their books and debates, selfies and real photo shoots. A whole little world in there. Then I discovered Jardin des Plantes with its botanical diversity and a certain kind of cold laid-back-ness. And later, I stopped being a tourist and devoted myself to the green voluptuousness and real-life feel of Buttes Chaumont and to the small square, down Boulevard Hausmann, a street away from my work where I spent many breaks during spring and summer. Now, I sometimes escape to Parc Monceau, just to change the scene.

Random benches : Sometimes, it’s a bench outside of a museum or even on a bridge (some spectacular views there), a staircase leading to Pantheon or the many ones on the way to Sacre Coeur. Or a bench on the very end of the St Louis Island which used to be my favourite. It depends on a moment, on the mood, on your current itinerary. But when you really need it, you’ll probably find it and then you’ll just sit down and everything will rest and tranquillize itself for a minute, before you rush on again.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris

Here’s to the melodies that made and still are making my stay here bearable in its many anxieties and phenomenal in its just as many joys.

After publishing the post about my Chilean music discovery, I’ve been thinking I could easily share all of those just as awesome musicians I found right here, in my new hometown. There are many, but in the same time there are only a few that really had a moment of captivating me. The list will grow, I’m sure, because local music is one of the things you slowly adapt to and eventually adopt when you move to a new country. Of course, I’m talking about the contemporary scene and not the beloved pillars of la chanson française, not matter how I fell in love with them in high school (thank you, my dear professor for all the lessons in the company of Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Juliette Greco, Barbara, Gilbert Becaud…).

Visiting the city’s many festivals, stepping into a hall at the right moment, walking past a free concert or just reading the cool weekly magazine (you all know I’m talking about Les Inrocks), either way it’s usually pure luck to find them and only an open ear can be a certain kind of guarantee you might. Here’s to the melodies that made and still are making my stay here bearable in its many anxieties and phenomenal in its just as many joys.

Fauve : This band, oh this band. It saves lives. When I first listened to their songs, it felt like they captured the dark side of this city’s essence. Dark sounds weird, but I say dark because they talk about the anxieties and loneliness we all encounter in this metro-necro-pole or chouette ville as they call it in Sainte Anne. You can accuse them of a certain new young ”bourgeois” attitude, maybe, like everyone really, however, I appreciate them for building a community around their music and message, for erasing or better softening the urges that so often occur, of battles inside us. I absolutely love their dance rhythms, the sound, the interpretation that in one precise moment made me fall in love with the French language all over again. (You forget how beautiful it is when you’re using it every day, constantly struggling through the little mistakes.) There can hardly be anything more healing and uplifting than raising your hand high to the song below, middle finger pointing to the sky, together with a crazy crowd after an already amazing day at Rock en Seine, shouting ”You know what, the blizzard in my head, c’est fini, tout ça c’est fini…” and well a few other less nice words…

Jeanne Added : I actually discovered her on the last year’s day of the music which is a fact I absolutely love. I remember stepping into the Place de la République from Rue du Faubourg du Temple and instantly asking myself ”What is this sound?!”. I never heard about her before, but at that moment I was navigating through a mass of people, insisting to get closer to the energy that was radiating from her voice and the whole band, commanding the stage. I hadn’t intend to stay at the venue, because I prefer smaller improvisational gigs, happening on street corners, but I remained in the crowd through the whole of her act. I couldn’t help it, since she was just getting better for my ears with each song. I still very much appreciate her sound.

Lucas Gabriel : Sometimes, I’m not the smartest cookie in the room, but my luck still saves me. Thinking out of tiredness against my own principle to hear out every introducing act of the concerts I attend, I was running late for the Benjamin Clementine one. Thank the goddess, I made it for the last couple of breaths of this guy’s magnificent voice. His music touches my heart and soothes my soul and hopefully I can finally get to see him solo some day soon. It’s not like we don’t live in the same city, right?

And I’m exercising my free will in adding another.

F. Nevchehirlian : This man can do no wrong for me. I admit I discovered him back home, in the middle of the tiniest capital, Ljubljana, but does it matter? He embraces everything I love about the tradition of the modern French chanson and is, besides that, also an intelligent and opinionated musician. Music is on point, his interpretations of lyrics even more, and the attitude he incorporates in his persona very much valued as well. I chose an old one, from the album inspired by Prévert‘s writings, because we should definitely listen to what it has to say more often.

Joie de vivre

I’ll never forget that weird Saturday afternoon 8 years ago when I arrived to Paris, alone for the first time, driving with a stone in my guts to the 19th arrondissement where I was staying, but not sure how to feel really, me – a petite and timid teenage girl.

I just stood in the middle of the room that was meant to be my home for the next couple of weeks, looking at my own hands, not sure what to do next, somewhat nervous, yes, but mostly just confused. Should I unpack or go out, eat something or find the nearest metro station? After some time had passed without any kind of specific action from my side, I heard the old lady’s voice, shouting my name with her harsh tone and strong French accent, saying she was about to go to the market. ‘’Would you like to join me?’’ Continue reading “Joie de vivre”

In the spirit of sharing good music

Today is my favourite day of the whole year, especially because I get to experience it in Paris for the second time in a row. The day of the music.

Today is my favourite day of the whole year, especially because I get to experience it in Paris for the second time in a row. In the city (occasionally) buzzing crazy with creativity and joyfulness, even after one of its hardest years in the past decade and also during the people’s current awakening.

The day of the music.

So, I decided to share a little melodies and rhythms that I could guess you don’t already know. Before of course, I hit the streets in the search of the next obsession in the form of a street band or a momentary improvisation just around the corner, or a passing dance maybe, walking with my hips waving and shaking, following the drums heard from somewhere below… Yes, music will be everywhere today, so we can make sure that if ”the day the music died” comes in its literal meaning, it will be reborn again, on this date and in this city. Or whatever. Let’s just hum, sign, clap and groove for now.

You could probably guess that my favourite moments are those when I make my greatest musical discoveries. I had one of those beauties late one evening in January, lying on my hostel bed in Santiago with my headphones on, after a Tour for Tips (I sincerely recommend them) around the city’s flavoursome Patronato markets where the guide had been telling me about the Chilean music scene and his own band, called Captain Frisco.

I decided to give them a listen, just because he seemed like a cool guy and the band name was even cooler, and honestly : it was a really really good choice. The chill mood and the psychedelic sound, that’s all I need! I listened to their EP a couple of times after I came back from Chile, but then I totally forgot about them. I probably jumped to the next new shiny candy…It seems appropriate to recall them today.

In the spirit of remembering all the other sounds I came back with from South America and the ancient advice to always keep my ears open when I travel … or explore the everyday streets for that matter.

I realized why I like Paris better than London.

It’s far more honest – it doesn’t hide its ugly truth from you by a series of misleading disguises. Here, you see the dirty side of the city every day on your way to work, home, party… you walk past it and can never avoid it, no matter how fancy the quartier is supposed to be. You can smell it on the public transport and on the streets, it hits you right in the face when you least expect it to, you hear it blazing through your headphones, ever more loudly, getting harder and harder to ignore. No one really tries to erase or cover it. They can only try to push it aside, but it always stays in sight. It might be hard to bear this two-faced metropole, but at least there is no pretending, no artificial curtains to make you believe, to let you live in an illusion that the brilliant show is all there is.

So, yes, I choose this brutal reality in all its duality over ”one-sided” hypocrisy anytime.

Pushing through the blizzard

A post written on a frenzic day (so excuse the errors) in May that sort of got lost…

A personal reminder, in a way.

Maybe it’s usual and something everyone goes through to have a personal crisis about 6 months after you leave home and start a life someplace new. The initial enthusiasm wears out a bit of course and then you feel that even though the many basic things are already figured out, too much – everything is still missing. Where’s life, you know? Someone I met here defined that as ”lack of structure” of any kind, because everything you have and do seems to have a temporary or insecure nature. I’m not sure what brought it up for me, since I’ve already had so many crisis in my life and with all their differences they are all in some point or another just a repetition of an ancient story. As always it burst out at the least appropriate moment and as always it hangs around much longer than you think it would, long after you think ”you’re good now”. Even the lessons stay the same, but still you feel the urge to shout them out loud. So, I will.

I’ve been living my dream for half a year already and a part of me still feels like I’m stuck at the same place I was last year. When I’m lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the newly discovered favourite French band and thinking about the past day, there is always this strange surreal feeling about something being somehow off. Is it true? For real? Isn’t that just a bit too much? Would you believe it if somebody told you? …

Because that part truly is still stuck in the past. And I need to say to it every day: ”No, you’re here with me, in Paris, in your own room, with a job that actually pays the rent and all the other costs, you walk the Grands Boulevards every day to work, you go for a walk on an easy Sunday afternoon by the Seine and buy your books at Shakespeare&co … you, you, you. Right f*** now!” Continue reading “Pushing through the blizzard”

Dreams

My favourite mini part of a big, dreamy and absolutely stunning mural made by various artists.

My favourite mini part of a big, dreamy and absolutely stunning mural made by various artists – definitely worth seeing (and quite impossible to photograph) as a whole.

Just another one of the hidden (or not so much) jewels of Paris 20eme – quarter that is really growing on me.

Why Paris?

At the first glance, one of the easiest questions one can ask me is: ”Why Paris?” It seems so obvious and intuitively self-evident, that I can’t help but hear a rhetoric tone in it. It’s when I try to answer it that I find myself in trouble. I start uttering nonsense after nonsense, feeling pretty naive, thinking I must have fallen for a tourist attraction or some cliché or the artistic history… But after a minute or two, I realize the question gets the answer it deserves and satisfy myself with a stereotypical rebellion: ”Because it’s simply stunningly beautiful and I feel good here!” However, isn’t there more, much more? To be perfectly honest, isn’t there everything here?

I so often find myself walking through some random streets I usually don’t know the names of and couldn’t specifically point to on a map, mutely saying with a sigh or almost singing: ”This is why I love Paris.” Of course knowing quite well what I mean by it, but would find myself in the same muttering predicament if someone approached at that precise moment and suspiciously demanded: ”What is this this you’re talking about?” I would probably feel the same old sentiment that words don’t quite do it justice and just pathetically point to everything that would pass us by, to the buildings and the cars, to the people and the birds, the clouds above and asphalt ground below us, even to the dirty air surrounding us. And that is all I could really do. Continue reading “Why Paris?”

But — why?!

What does traveling or moving to a foreign city/country change? Can it change anything, really? Isn’t it just an escape, a temporary illusion that your problems might resolve themselves there, that you might get to be a better and saner person in another place?

A lot of people were asking me these questions when I started talking about moving to France, just because I feel better here. ”Why do you? I mean – it’s just a change of scenery, how can that change you? You are still the same unstable emotional wreck…” But — wait, no: I’m not. Well, I am in a way, because it’s never possible to truly escape oneself. I still have my downs as well as my ups, I still feel melancholy as f*** most of the time, I still have to fight with my passive aggressiveness, I still feel stupid and silly and weird and well not normal and mostly just out-of-place… But I change. Something in the deep shadowy place at the bottom of my personality shifts. Something hidden before lifts up towards the surface and takes its place under the sun. Continue reading “But — why?!”

Take music to the streets!

I have to ask: Do you imagine London markets without music? Port Vell in Barcelona? Lisbon or Paris metro? Jardin de Luxembourg? Sacré-Cœur? Prešeren square, Tromostovje, Čevljarski most in Ljubljana?

I know you can, but I don’t want to. After seeing and experiencing them with awesome melodies and rhythms, that is how I always remember and hear them.

Folk on Brick Lane, salsa and reggae at Barcelona docks, a girl with an acoustic guitar at Terreiro do Paço station, l’accordéon in a metro train, classical piano in one of the pavilions, a high-powered Italian guy on the stairs that lead to the basilique and countless acts at my best known places in Slovenia: from gypsy to country, from African drums to jazz saxophone, from people who have it – that special something, the energy – to the ones that… well not so much.

I have to admit: I’m not a huge fan of Barcelona. It’s a lovely city with fantastic energy, but I prefer Paris or London. But it’s the best city as far as street musicians are concerned. The best, really! All the tourists in Park Güell drove me crazy, but the fact that there was an interesting or excellent musician/band on every single corner captivated me. And I still remember every single one of them: the fado band, the bossa nova guitarist, the blues singer, the crazy hippy electric-guitarist, the trio with the most passionate and charismatic female voice I heard in a while.

Music is what defines the city’s atmosphere for me and leaves the long-lasting impression on my personal vision of the place I’m in (hometown included). And after all the lessons in walking through various, mostly European cities, a fascination with street musicians and their quality has only grown bigger and higher in my soul. I might be biased because of the adorable acoustics of charming streets, but aren’t artists in truth the ones who make them so delightful?