Charles Louis-Aristide is a one-man music box from Paris who can be found at the centre of a burgeoning artistic movement in the city. Melody Syndrome is the name of his musical project, which can be anything from Charles recording at home in his bedroom to a full band playing ear-popping psych drones at Parisian art parties. We spoke to the prolific musician and artist about his work ethic, the music industry and his plans for a psychedelic rock opera inspired by Faust and Verdi.
Dazed Digital: What is the recording process like?
Charles Louis-Aristide: I never go to a studio to record. The only money that I earn is to buy food, drinks and instruments. I've got enough gear now to record everything at mine. The quality of my recordings are the quality I expect from a record. I'm not really into the over-production, clinical sound. I can usually stay for four days without leaving my flat. I just listen to music all day and all night; while I'm painting, walking, it gives me ideas. I transform those ideas into music with the instruments that I have or borrow. I discovered the Yoshida brothers, who create amazing classical Japanese music that I can totally incorporate into mine, or some Turkish beats like Mustafa Özkent.
DD: Tell us about the huge number of recordings you’ve made so far?
Charles Louis-Aristide: I don’t know the exact number, but I've got probably 200 songs on my computer, and around 30 songs on K7 tapes. I walk a lot in Paris, and I find so many things in the street. I found loads of K7 tapes that I reuse with the old tape trick, so I rerecord on top of someone else and paint the jacket.
DD: What are you working on at the moment?
Charles Louis-Aristide: I 'm writing a 45 minute opéra in three acts. I was listening a lot of Italian and French romantic operas recently. Opera is occidental music, and with my classical music education, my new knowledge of Indian and Vietnamese instruments and my love for modern psychedelic and shoegaze music, I want to give another dimension to it. It will be like Faust vs Ry Cooder, with some Spectrum and Giuseppe Verdi.
DD: What do you try to do with your live band, if you record mostly on your own?
Charles Louis-Aristide: I've been working on a video to project onto ourselves while we're playing. Videos of the brilliant Norman McLaren, Manray and other things like free climbing the highest broadcast tower , space views of earth... Those visuals, I believe, go well with the drone of the organ. I'm not trying to be a Compay Segundo of modern psych, but it just feels different to me when you have three guys in front of you instead of 10. I like to have a wall of sound made by seven instruments in front of me when I go to a gig.
DD: How do you feel about signing a record deal?
Charles Louis-Aristide: There is, as far as I'm concerned, no indie label in France for our type of music that can help us to play in other countries. We can't sign to a major label because it goes against our beliefs. Plus, they impose a quota that 60% of the lyrics must be in French. And English labels are too busy dealing with bands from their own country, so I'm going to keep on doing my job—writing and recording. I believe in an Internet culture.