An Interview with Joon Moon

Joon Moon by E. Nocher
(c) E. Nocher

Joon Moon, the Paris-based trio consisting of Julien Decoret (piano, producer), Raphael Chassin (drums, co-producer) and Krystle Warren (vocals), will be performing at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles tomorrow evening, Oct. 6, 2017.

Julien Decoret met Raphael Chassin, longtime drummer for Vanessa Paradis and Rufus Wainwright, back in 2005. Both toured with Nouvelle Vague, a Bossa Nova new wave cover ensemble. Decoret grew up with a flamenco-playing father, a love for classical music and collecting new and strange instruments. Chassin came with a strong love for jazz and Motown. In 2015, they started combining their talents to create their debut album, Moonshine Corner (out now on Le Plan Recordings).

Famous for using vintage and rare instruments on their recordings, Joon Moon has managed to create a uniquely pure sound that lends their music a sense of timelessness. But it’s perhaps their vocalist, Krystle Warren, whose androgynous, smoky voice and soulful songwriting skills lend the trio their angelic je-ne-sais-quoi. Warren, who made a name for herself singing for Hercules & Love Affair and with Erykah Badu and Martha Wainwright, has a certain way to get past your ears and straight to your soul.

In preparation of Joon Moon’s highly anticipated performance tomorrow evening, Blank got to interview Julien Decoret:

BLANK: From what I understand, you had your first U.S. appearances this year. Has it been difficult to break into the U.S. market?
JD: No, not really – we had the chance to play at SXSW and we were supported by KCRW. So it gave us the chance to be introduced into the U.S. market in a quite good way – because there are people who already trust them. So we were given that chance in the beginning. We didn’t expect it. We were really happy to be here and it’s such a big market and it’s hard to be known. KCRW working with us helped us. That was really good for us.

BLANK: How is your tour going so far?
JD: We came a year and 2 months ago, to play at SXSW and then also played in Los Angeles at School Night! parties. That was really nice, because we didn’t have to bring people. There were lots of people already there. This time, this tour, it’s different because we have to find the people. The venues aren’t fully packed but it’s okay. We’ve got a good crowd. We love touring in the U.S. – and it’s a dream for us as well. Rafael and I have been listening to American music since we were young boys.

BLANK: How are U.S. shows and U.S. fans different from shows in France?
JD: People are taking our music in a really good way. They always come at the end and are really touched by the things we’re trying to compose. So that’s something really good for us. And the U.S. is a place where the people are really loving the performance of musicians and are accustomed to a different way of hearing the music. It’s not just about hearing the song. It’s also about how you’re playing the song. This is very different compared to France. There, people aren’t introduced to the ways of production or the kinds of instruments you use. Most of them just hear a song and they like it or don’t like it. Here, we see that it’s different. Even in the interviews: all the questions are about the music, the album, what we made and why we made it that way.

BLANK: How do you write and produce your songs? What is your process?
JD: I compose the song on piano first – without the lyrics. Then Rafael and I produce it. Then Krystle comes in and writes a lot of lyrics to it. Rafael and I, we’re not lyrics dudes. I can write a few words, but we’re more about the music. And then we’ve got a small studio in Paris, called Studio 237, where we do all of our productions.

It’s a process…it’s a factory…we are our own factory.

BLANK: Do you still collect new & strange instruments?
JD: Yes. I’ve been very interested in collecting strange instruments for many years. About 15 years ago, I was a teacher for children in a music school. I used to teach them about all the different instruments in the world, and all the different music. So, from a young age on, I traveled a lot to buy different instruments. I have lots of different synthesizers, lots of different acoustic instruments – some of them are really rare.

BLANK: Thinking of rare instruments, what has been your most exciting purchase lately?
JD: It’s called a Cristal Baschet. It has Cristal in the name, but it is not made of crystals. It is a Cristal organ. You know when you put water on your finger and then run it around a glass of water, it makes a sound. It’s the same concept, but like if you have a piano made out of it. There are different sticks of glass and you just put water on your hand and you can play it like that. It’s a unique instrument and there are only 50 of them in the world.

I discovered it because I’m a fan of Cliff Martinez, a famous movie composer in Los Angeles. He collects lots of instruments and in his music, I could hear some sound that didn’t sound like it came from a synthesizer. So, I did some research and found out that he came to buy this really rare instrument. The people who made this instrument were the Baschet Brothers. They worked for about 20 years on it. They wanted to make a fully acoustic instrument as an answer to the synthesizer, which was being used a lot in music. So, it’s completely natural, but makes sounds like it comes from the most incredible synthesizer. So, this is probably one of the most exciting instruments we’ve got and we use it on some of our songs, like “Get Down,” and “Silverado.” It just sounds really pure.

BLANK: What can we look forward to in your live performance tomorrow?
JD: We try to give something very sincere. We’re the most pure we can be. The set is really minimal: there’s just a piano, a drum, a bass and a great voice. Our concept is to give the best we can. This is a good music moment for us, so I think that people can feel that. And I think people who love this music will enjoy it.

For a taste of what you can expect tomorrow evening, check out the video below, recorded at Cabaret Frappé in Grenoble, France.

About The Author

As a contributing editor for Blank Newspaper, Michaela shares Blank's love for all genres of music. After ten years on the Nashville music scene, you can now find her hopping around LA's various music venues and bars in search for the next big story. Michaela has been with Blank Newspaper since 2013 and she currently covers shows in Los Angeles as well as several annual music festivals around the country.

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