Lucie Antunes – New album ‘Carnaval’ out now!
For Carnaval, everything is pared down to the rawest elements, which came from necessity, when the composer escaped Paris for a house overlooking the sea in La Rochelle. As restrictions were eased following the first lockdown of 2020, Lucie became determined to break the isolation and silence of the moment with unbridled rhythm. That desire infuses an album that is largely DIY in nature, embroidered with pieces using her voice, her virtuoso percussion, loops of vocal snippets found on Google, and electro sounds that vibrate under the skin.
Inspired in part by legendary American composer Meredith Monk’s 1987 album Do You Be – and specifically ‘The Games: Panda Chant I’, which builds a wall of voices devoid of lyrical semiotics – Antunes sought to convey meaning with vowel sounds and phonemes. Many of the songs are dominated by their titular phrases, repeated over and over like electronic mantras: the coquettish ‘ Vous êtes parfait.e.s’ (you’re perfect), the choral ‘Faites-vous des bisous’ (give me kisses), the polyrhythmic, asymmetric ‘Vivant.e.s part. I’ (living), which all declare, in some way, a desire for life.
“I made ‘Faites vous des bisous’ because I was in a very low mood,” she says. “It’s a song for my baby son. And after the shit year we went through, I also needed to have a song like ‘Vous êtes parfait.e.s’ and ‘It’s Amazing’. I needed love. I need to be in a very good mood.”
The opening track, ‘It’s Amazing’, more than fulfils its titular promise with the peel of bells and the mischief of an artist like Laurie Anderson. “It’s a Google Voice,” says Lucie. “I tried a lot of translation hubs, because you have Lexilogos, you have Reverso… I tried all the different voices. As for the bells,
again, it was just really spontaneous. I wanted to ring a bell, so I just recorded: ‘I want to ring the bell.’”
In the process of making the record, she’d overdo it, purge the results again, sing out loud, underwater, chanting new repetitive prophecies, conveying meaning with nonverbal phrases and phonemes, hammering on her drum machine and forging a carnivalesque altar out of raw material. A ritual was born, a real survival kit for the party.
This latest release sees her label sister Léonie Pernet come on board as producer, bringing frisson to the exuberant eleven tracks whilst helping to augment the French-electro house grooves on songs like ‘Carnaval’. It’s a simpler record, but that’s not to limit its ambitions. “For me, it was difficult to do something easy, because I love complexity,” says Antunes, who studied drums and percussion in Marseilles, Lyon and Paris. “But also, I think a good song doesn’t need complexity.”
Lucie Antunes grew up in Perpignan in the South West of France, where she discovered her love for percussive instruments as a teenager. “Playing the drums was like a coup de foudre!” she enthuses, slipping into French and using the language’s more poetic term for a thunderbolt. She would pursue
learning the drums and percussion at the conservatoire, little knowing that these are different disciplines. Her career, which started out with her playing alongside artists like Moodoïd, Aquaserge and Susheela Raman, has been multidisciplinary ever since.
As well as instruments from the percussion group, Antunes played vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, the Ondes Martenot and the Mellotron on her sonorous debut Sergei, with a cast of musicians and choralists and guests including psych pop singer Halo Maud and lauded French-Martinican composer Christophe Chassol. For Carnaval, it’s just her, a laptop, voices, percussion and a little help from her friend, Léonie Pernet.
The raison d’etre of Carnaval is to lift spirits, a small beacon shining defiantly during times of trouble. A carnival of light, if you like. “I feel like everyone is taking themselves too seriously at the moment,” says Lucie. “I’m from the conservatoire, and at the conservatoire it’s all very serious.” Worry not, for the only serious thing about Carnaval is that it is seriously good.
13.04.23 – Paris – Centquatre-Paris (Carnaval Release Party)
19.04.23 – Bourges – Printemps de Bourges
26.05.23 – St Laurent de Cuves – Festival Papillon de nuit
11.06.23 – Amiens – Minuit avant la nuit
11.08.23 – Budapest – Sziget Festival
23.08.23 – Paris – Rock en Seine