christophe petchanatz
klimperei & around / interviews
by Jeffrey Bützer, 2010      

1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Yes I could ! But I don’t know how begin… First : I apologize for my very bad English.
I’m a 51 years old man, living in France, in Lyon. I play music since I was 16. I have a girlfriend & a daughter, the wonderful Lola.

2. How many people are Klimperei?

Really, one (me). From 1985 to 2001 we were two, Françoise Lefebvre, my wife at this time; we separate in 2002.
From time to time we had some guests but very promptly (mostly Laurent Fauconnet). There was another experience called “Klimperei & ses amis”, for live performances only, and Klimparag with Sylvain Santelli playing.

3. We (I think) have a shared love of Erik Satie, you are a big fan, no?

Yes I love almost all the piano pieces of Erik Satie & I remember the first time I listened to the Gymnopédies & Gnossiennes (I was about 16 yo), I just thought something like “That’s right, exactly that”. Some musics are so closed to your own sensitivity (feeling?), as a kind of evidence. “Big fan”, not the words I could use, but Erik Satie, with J.S. Bach & Béla Bartók are some of my favorite composers.

4. Are you working on a new album?

Yes! All the time… Just right now I’m ending with IWM(5) (improvisation with myself) : Denis Tagu, of In-Poly-Sons, then offered me the opportunity to experiment without limits, without censorship, in the space of five albums ... here he is thanked for his confidence... and among the completed projects, to be published soon on Acidsoxx, USA)  Radiolaires, with the fabulous Dominique Grimaud, using only the electric guitar (with lots of effects, however).

5. What newer/younger bands do you like right now?
Is there anything that exites you in modern music right now?

Unfortunately, I’m not able to answer properly to this question as I’m not informed (& I make no effort to) about new things in music. Sometimes, by chance, I meet some musicians on the web (like you !).
I’m mostly careful to music close to my “klimperei’ sensibility”, & music of my friends (David Fenech, Dominique Grimaud, Sylvain Santelli, Palo Alto, Jef Benech, Mme Patate, Pascal Ayerbe, etc.).
I think the excitement has disappeared with age... This word reminds me of what I felt (and still feel) listening to Slade, T. Rex, “Instant Karma”, Chrome or Neu!. But these are not new bands…

6. How do you feel bout the current state of music ? It seems the internet has helped music, but also has nearly killed it as well.

What I regret is the death (even slow) of records, LP and even CD. I like to consider a record as a whole entity. Cover art, music, songs order.
If you transpose to a book, what happens now is : I read a book in the disorder, or I only read a few chapters...
Regarding the music : the Internet, but also all the modern technology, and whose prices have fallen (see the price of a synthesizer in the 70s!) allow the production and dissemination of all kinds of music that otherwise would not emerged. The recording industry is suffering, certainly, that I do not care, the copyright too, and I care. The relation of people with the music changes, it is irreversible. And we do not know where it's going. It has killed nothing I think but the old models are dying.
On the other hand, in my opinion, too much music everywhere, is a kind of mental pollution.

7. What do you do when you are not making music ?

I mind my daughter and my girlfriend, I work (caregiver at home), I do chores, I cook, I daydream, I read, write, eat and drink, I sleep. Sometimes I go on holiday but I do not care so much. I spend a lot of time online too.

8. there is no instrument list on the albums I have by you, and I've had trouble finding a photo of you online... is there a philosohy behind that?

Sometimes the list is indicated when, as Dominique Grimaud, it's a maniac that deals with the cover artwork & indications, but I confess that I do not find that very interesting. Ditto for the head of the musician (I do not like mine)...
No philosophy or strategy, especially as I am, finally, enough narcissistic (as any "artist" ?), But I believe that music should stand on its own. It was sent to the world, if you can, and it is doing its own way.  Sometimes it takes time.
Ditto for song titles, often artificial, and it induces a particular listening, “sense”... Ideally : no title, or just an opus number... But... contingencies…

9. I agree with you about an album being one entity. Your album art is very strange, do you make the art ? Or do you have one person you work with, what is your process of choosing images that represent the music ?

Strange? You think so…? Stranger than the music?
I never made a cover art for my CDs (I did it for cassettes), even if I I drew a lot and painted once. Today I am just scribbles ... I unsuccessfully tried to paint (oil) for ten years ... Nothing good ...
I work with different persons, graphic designer / photographer ... as meetings, and the tone of the project...
Talking about that I realized that the last albums where mostly black & white (and grey)… The photographs for IWM are by Florence Chapuis, the cover art of Quai des hannetons is by my daughter Lola, the Octogonale is by Dominique Grimaud… But I must mention I often worked with Sébastien Morlighem, a fine artist.
I do not choose images first. I ask an artist to work on the project, sometimes I give some directions, not always. He/she works & offers different projects. I choose, it is refined, and it's good...
With Florence, as I’m the model, we work together…

10. You seem to like working with short pieces, as do I. When you write do you set out to work in miniatures ?

There are several reasons why I prefer short pieces. First, by taste. For example, I love Jeremy Bender, a song by ELP (progressive rock), The Sad Skinhead by Faust or The Commerical Album by The Residents. Erik Satie also of course, but also the Children's Corner by Debussy.
Then this is my way to work : I like that it goes quickly. And, at last, my memory is very bad and I'm not comfortable with long and complex parts.
Regarding writing, yes, also. Most of my books (small books often) consist of short texts, kind of images, stories airtight. Among the most recent, a good example is Les Alfreds.

11. How did you start using toy instruments? Was it gradual?

When I met Françoise Lefebvre, she played the piano (classical pieces), I played in Los Paranos, a kind of electro-pop — often funny. I had the feeling of repeating myself with Los Paranos, and we wanted to do something new together. I sold all the musical equipment and LPs, and we bought a piano. I started composing short pieces that played Francoise.
Then, a friend, neighbor, and musician (Laurent Fauconnet) lent us musical toys & we began to record some tracks. Éric Chabert, label Underground Productions heard this, and intends to publish the first tape, When memories began to fade…

Fairly quickly, we felt that something was stabilizing. Klimperei.

12. I know what you mean about the exitment of music going away with age, I feel bad about it, but I have a hard time getting too worked up about new music, especially rock music...
discovering something old is another story, I learned of this obscure singer Wilma Goich a few years ago, and I feel like my life is changed...

One day, a disk upset me. Deeply. The Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt.

13. Do you think the interview is complete?

No, of course, it could take hours, pages...

14. Do you like Pascal Comelade or Yann Tiersen's music?
When I toured in Hong Kong, you, I and those guys got lumped in together.

Yes rather, of course. But I don’t like all they do…
On the other hand, it is also a kind of ease, intellectually lazy to put musicians in the same box. Let’s say : this simplifies things.

15. You mentioned The Residents. I can hear a little of their influence in some of your work, have you ever seen them live? I've seen them twice. Once good, once... not so good.

Unfortunately, I have never seen them in concert (I go out little, though). I remained mostly fixed on the early albums, to the album Intermissions. After I like less. Also mention the excellent Renaldo & the Loaf... & Snakefinger…

16. You would get along with my bass player, he talks about the Loaf, Snakefinger and The Residents a lot, I just gave him a Cd of yours. What music do you listen to that would surprise your listeners ? Any guilty pleasures ?

For sure. First : some hard or glitter rock, as Motorhead, Deep Purple, Roxy Music, T. Rex & Slade… All poor 70’s synthy music (kind of bad sci-fi movie soundtrack)… Tomita, Mike Batt, all (almost) 70’s prog music (Gong, Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP…). But I mainly listent to what we call “ethnic music” (but I hate “world music”), especially from Africa. & classical : Bach, Bartok, Chopin (almost all piano & string quartets music)… + some industrial (TG, Vivenza…) + “krautrock” of course.

17. Do you like to play concerts ? Do you play in france much ?

No. & no.
I am developing : the concerts are for me a considerable expenditure of energy in terms of results that often disappoint me... organize, plan, I'm not good at it, besides that I'm unable to replay a song in public... and I like so much time spent in the studio, composing, recording ... I feel more craftsman than showman ...

18. Do you keep up with film ? Are you a fan of the cinema ? I try to, but like music less and less intrest me these days. I do however think there are some great filmmakers working now, Michel Gondry and Guy Maddin know what they're doing.

I do much the same response for music, film and literature: I'm at a time when I read, watch old movies again ... I have no desire or energy to keep me and follow all the news, especially since I spend a lot of time to the music ... and the rest to the family ... I let the chance encounters, a friend lent me a book, a film returns to the TV ... yet well enough for me ...
Some authors : Fellini, W. Herzog, Charles Laughton, Tod Browning, Philippe Grandrieux, Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch…

19. Is there any french directors I should keep my eye on?

My lean culture does not allow me to respond. I regret ...

20. (Do you have any Qs for me?, I think I'm running out of stuff haha)

For sure. Can we talk about you ?

21. And yeah we can talk bout me too if you like.

Well at first, I’m used to google, to see biography/discography… for you I found this interesting page ( ).
First I must tell that “pine” means “cock”, “boner” in French. This precision is not very politically correct but I think that linguistic accuracy is not useless.
“Four instruments / a song” is a quite interesting constraint. Do you love that? Need that? Did you use other constraint? What?

I do not feel like I need limitations, but sometimes it's nice to have a goal with rules, I'm a very organized person, so to say "Let's make a record with 1 drum track and 3 guitar tracks (which I did with guitarist Claire Lodge"
is sometimes more fun (to me) than saying "Let's screw around and see what works"
I feel like you can still experiment with limitations
with my first record, all I had was a four track, and I wasn't getting good results "bouncing tracks" so I said, forget it, I will only use four tracks per song

You mention Tom Waits, John Zorn & Harry Partch, composers that I love too. Experimental by not too much cerebral? How do you find the balance between emotion and conceptualization?

I don't feel like I am ever very conceptual, I almost always work emotionally, or mechanically (as in sitting at the piano until something sounds like a song)
which I don't think is what a lot of people want to hear, but it is true.
I'm really drawn to artist such as David Lynch, who seem to shoot from the hip and work from their instincts. to me this is a very honest way of working
what about you?

For my part, I think (it's a confession, a scoop of no interest for that matter) be a false conceptual. The concepts (call it like that) for me are a kind of trigger, but the lack of discipline prevents me (protects me) to lose myself in too cold regions... The constraints are fertile but I do not do much. Not completely anyway.

You played in Hong-Kong, do you know The Pancakes ?

Yes ! Pancakes played a show with us our first night in Hong Kong, I assumed the show sold out because of her, but our other shows sold out also ! so I was very happy, I really like her music, Hong Kong has such a cool scene, there is so much good music going on there, and America seems to have no idea!, it is crazy

I love this comment « Jeffrey tells bad jokes and performs in flip-flops. He's cool by me. ». Any comment ?

Well, I normally dress nice for shows, but festivals in summer, I go shoe-less or I wear flip flops, and yes, I have become somewhat "known" for telling very bad jokes, not bad as in gross, bad as in the crowd groans before laughing ... do you know any good jokes?

Yes I do. But most of them are based on puns, which translation almost impossible ...

I add a few questions, in bulk.

What is your feeling towards death or, more precisely, is making music a way of projecting parts of the self into the future?

I'm not sure about how I feel about death in relation to my work ?
one time a friend said he hoped to have a big body of work, so he would feel as if he had a legacy through music.
I had never really thought about it... but now that you mention it, I will start working on an "unreleased box set" so my family can exploit me when I am gone !

Five records to take on a desert island?

I would just bring a book on tape of "how to get off of an island"
but seriously...
I'm thinking literally of being on an island with 5 cds and a cd player
that is hard, I would want music I am not likely to get sick of.
1. PIANO WORKS: Erik Satie
2. THE VOGUE YEARS: Francoise Hardy
3. NO MORE SHALL WE PART: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
4. Songs of: Leonard Cohen (this record is short, so maybe a "best of")
5. FOREVER BLUE: Chris Isaak (I know it sounds weird choice)
and since I will be home sick I would sneak
Baby, a Little Rain Must Fall: the Rock*a*Teens

+ here is a top 100 I did one time... (I put in red those important to me (Klimperei), plus some perfectly useless comments ...)

Best concert you seen?

that is easy... well, it is a tie.
Nick Cave 2002 ; he is the most amazing performer alive hands down !
I met him after the show and I said "that was great, you know... my first real concert was to see you in 1994" and he said "oh yeah?, sorry about that"
and then there is Leonard Cohen ; not to be too dramatic but it was like a religious experience seeing him in person, I came away a changed man.
it is not like I have one foot in the grave, but inevitably the older you get, and the more shows you see the less you are impressed
so to see one of my heroes play for three hours (most likely the only time I will get the chance) was (to put it lightly) a big deal!

It's almost over... last (?) point : some things annoy me immensely. Hangers for example. And you?

Just to end, I have to say that our interview gave me the idea, the path to the next project “pièces délicates”, a kind of neo-classical collection… For the moment just an idea. If I get my goal, and stick to it... hey well this is partly thanks to this interview... !