christophe petchanatz
klimperei & around / interviews
Tinkle away, not to be very skilled
interview by sputnik (japan), at home, the 7th of july, 2000

the Sputnik team in Lyon...
Why did you come to Lyon ? You're from the north of France.
Christophe : "Petchanatz" is not a French name, it is a Yugolavian name with ancient basque origins. I have Basque and Yugoslavian origins. I was born in the north but my father lived in Lyon. It's a pure coincidence.
Françoise : I have a common name, Lefebvre, which is from north of France. But that's also a coincidence, in was born and raised here.
In 1985 your first tape came out; was that the year you got married?
Françoise : No, we've known each other since June 1980, we've been living together for 20 years. We didn't get married right away, we waited until January 11th, 1988.
Christophe : Good memory, madam! (Laughs)
How did you meet?
Christophe : By chance.
Through music?
Christophe : No, not at all.
Françoise : We immediately liked each other, didn't we? (Christophe nods and laughs) It was very quick. And now it's been 20 years since.
Christophe : I was making music before, and Françoise learned the piano when she was little, but we didn't make music together at first, I was playing... solo.
Françoise : Because I didn't like what he was playing.
You also play as Al+Del.
Christophe : That's different. At a certain time we separated music genres under different names: Deleted is kind of electric/ experimental music, while Al+Del lays pop songs.
Françoise : I play but I don't sing on Al+Del. Not much. But that's not the essential, Klimperei is the essential.
How do French critics review your music?
Christophe : They are used to say it's childish, naive, minimalist, acoustic, sometimes experimental, but not very often. Mainly they say it's "personal" music. The Japanese who I've been in contact with often referred to French music in a general way of speaking. They consider Klimperei rather typical French music, as Satie's or Debussy's, though different, are the same school. I mean short pieces, not too intellectualized music (I don't know!) but with sensibility.
Françoise : They also refer to Poulenc, Francis Poulenc. It's more or less the same school.
Is your music actually influenced by these composers?
Christophe : Yes, I think. What happened was that before I played music quite different from this, you could call it electro-pop, new wave, that kind of stuff. At that time we'd already gotten together, but she didn't like my music. So one day she told me, how she wanted us to make something else together, so we sold all our instruments to buy a piano. In the beginning of Klimperei we were rather poor (we didn't work); we only had a piano. And we applied ourselves to the work...
Françoise : And I who hadn't played piano for a long time turned back to it and we started recording.
Christophe : But there's a significant fact: we only had this piano, we started recording, but we wanted a few more instruments, and a friend lent us some small music instrument-toys.
Françoise : Xylophones, decoy-virds, plastic trumpe...
Christophe : So the first tracks we made had that sound, and that was the first tape Underground Productions produced. Then we found out we really had something very personal going on, and we followed that idea: short tracks, with melody, rather acoustic music with toy-made sounds.
"Klimperei" in German means to tinkle away, not to be very skilled.
Françoise : When we started we weren't very experienced, so we didn't want a pompous name, it that fit us well.
Christophe : We also wanted a European name, but not French or English.
Christophe : English-named bands are too common in France, and when we found that name we thought it had a nice sound, and sounded like our music's.
How did you find it ?
Christophe : We searched through dictionaries; it was a real work actually.
Françoise : We started music very slowly, beginning with solo piano tracks. He wrote and I would play. I really wanted us to focus on something, which's why we created Klimperei and kept our very personal style. Before I started playing with Christophe he really had no idea what he was doing. He had no style, every style at the same time, and I wanted to make something constructive that would last with time.
Do you perform live as Klimperei?
Christophe : No, for two reasons: we're just the two of us, working at home, recording through a multiplayer; and we enjoy making new tracks rather than replaying the same ones on stage. We could do it if we wanted to, find people, make a live band and have concerts, but in concerts, you have to play an old repertoire. When we finish a track, then it's done, gone, we don't think about it anymore and we start another one. I must add that Françoise is rather shy and would be I think very uncomfortable on stage.
In Japan people figure you are working in a child's room, but what we see today is totally different.
Christophe : Maybe not that different, after all we are making "indoor" music.
How can you keep a child's sensibility? It's not easy.
Françoise : I didn't grow up (Laughs).
Christophe : I like to play, I mean I stay alone and make fun out of anything for hours, even very small and insignificant things.
Françoise : I stayed childish. People like it, but it wasn't on purpose! (Laughs)
Christophe : Well, it's not always appreciated; it depends on the situation. (Laughs)
Françoise : Show them the photo album, that would be fun.
Christophe : Ok. We've been taking pictures of ourselves for years, we go to an automatic photo booth each month and make an photo album. We don't get particularly dressed, we just go as we are. (Big laughs) We started in 1985 and we go each month ever since. And that will make you laugh. Just wait until I show you my hippie pictures.
Françoise : We can see ourselves aging, getting old, it's nice. Three pages make a year. 15 years don't take much room.
Who draws your CD covers?
Christophe : People we know, acquaintances we made through Underground art reviews. I also write and publish in reviews, in which illustrators also publish. As time passes we get to appreciate some of them, and when we make a record we're usually free to choose the cover, so we ask those people.
When did you begin writing?
Christophe : Really, around the time I met Françoise. In fact I discovered literature thanks to her.
Françoise : Before I met him all he read was science fiction. I recommended him writers, he got to like it, and he enlarged his field of interests.
Will you go on with the same pure, "indoor" music?
Françoise : We don't know yet how it will evolve. We have no strategy. We play, make tunes, that might evolve, I don't know.
Christophe : For example our Deleted side, which we were talking about earlier will probably disappear, I think, because it will eventually merge with Klimperei, and may become a little more complex. Managing to integrate at the same time what Françoise wants to make and my own choices: simple, melodic music, sometimes a little experimental.
Christophe : We have a record project with Harpy, a Japanese band, which should be released on a French label at the end of the year. They came to see us at the time of their Lyon concert at Pezner. The idea of this record is to divide it in four parts: first we reprise HARPY tracks, then switch, then reprise our tunes, then we start the tracks and they finish it, and finally they start the tracks, we finish. We send each other's DAT tapes by mail. We've already started.
What's the title for this record?
Christophe : "Domo"(Laughs). And we'll both write a song called "Domo". When HARPY came to see us, they didn't speak French, there was only one of them who could hardly speak English, so we had trouble communicating, and we always said "Domo!" to everything. They made us laugh so we kept it. I felt like you could use "Domo" in both positive and negative sense. It's nice to have a word you can use anytime.
Françoise : We have a record coming out next September
What's the future of Klimperei? What are you going to do and how?
Christophe : Lots of things. We have at least three precise projects by the end of next year. There's the record we're doing with HARPY, "Domo", on Prikosnovenie, a French label. Another one on this label for September, a Klimperei record, made only of sad tunes. Also in September is 'Alice in Wonderland' with a cover by Robert Wyatt's wife. Then we have a project of music for live theater; and Denis Tagu from In Poly Sons, asked Klimperei to reprise old tunes by Los Paranos, the band I had when I was 20. At this time I recorded a lot of tracks, and among the number there are a few not-so-bad ones that Tagu wanted us to play with Klimperei's sound and Françoise voice. We also have a project we don't know yet if it'll be released for sure, an album with about thirty acoustic pop songs in English sung by Françoise. That's a lot until next year. That was for the "what" part of your question. As for the "How", well, as usual (laughs), that means the two of us, except on the HARPY record, where we'd like to have guest musicians: Jacques Greco, who plays the accordion, and Francesco Di Tullo playing the guitar, we'll be working and playing together.
I'm very impressed finding out the secret of your music is the harmony between you.
Christophe : There are some differences, but more affinities. There are times when we don't agree, but we always end up somewhere.
Anyway we're doing music right now. It's something we share and we like to do it together.