Meet: French Poetic Rock Band Fine Lame

Emilie Cosmi

French quintet Fine Lame combine literary-oriented French rock with Anglo-Saxon-rooted performance poetry. Their debut EP ‘Nous tournons en rond dans la nuit et nous sommes d​é​vor​é​s par le feu’ (We go around in circles in the night and are devoured by fire) is due the 29th November via Microcultures. Singer Raphaël Sarlin-Joly and keyboard/piano player Mathias Bourre, answered our questions about the past, present and future.

Give us a potted history of the band

Raphaël: We are Fine Lame, a French band consisting of four musicians – Mathias Bourre (keyboards/ piano), Frank Quintard (drums and percussions), Thomas Gendronneau (guitar, bass guitar and backing vocals) and myself, Raphaël Sarlin-Joly (texts and lead vocals).

The first seed for the band was planted when we worked around a show called Canto Transsibérien, somewhere in between poetry (of my own writing), music, and theatre (I originally have a strong theatre background). Poetry as well, which I have been writing for literary reviews and in books for a while now. And thus, the logical path to follow in order to give it a voice and stage, was theatre. Canto Transsibérien was one of these attempts, both a journey (somewhat of a roadtrip), picking up on the trail of Swiss poet Blaise Cendrars but also twisting it in my own way and with my own visions: and the form was a concert.

Four musicians (including Mathias, and the original drummer for Fine Lame, Léo), and one poet, myself, reciting. But it was still theatre at its core, the reason for that being that you don’t offer independent tracks but a consistent story that the audience has to follow along (there is a progression and a narrative in a music concert, I am not oblivious to that, but still). And from this narrative concert form, we just thought it would be a good idea to push things further and form a band; because my poetry and their musical propositions really clicked well together.

The first act for the band was a residence at La Factorie / Maison de Poésie de Normandie (which we very much thank for that, because we really had the opportunity to work consistently and play around and experiment and write tracks; because we were living there and immersed in the work and dedicated to it and really focusing on that new adventure), where we wrote something like ten tracks in two weeks. We then had somewhat of a fallout with our drummer, that spot changed for Frank, who has since been
a key and very happy addition to the band, and because of the pandemic – obviously the dynamics of the pandemic pushed us back and prevented us from concerts and from releasing our debut EP. But we had a lot of time to work on the compositions and the arrangements and to write more material.

So, it is very paradoxical because we are “only” now at the point of launching things – including our debut EP coming out this November the 29th! –at the very beginning, but at the same time we have been active artistically and perfecting our craft and specific take for quite a while now. But I think that it has been really profitable to what we do as a band, it does give us a sense of maturity and general impulse at the horizon we are reaching for.

Who inspired you to start making music

Raphaël: It is obviously a blend of everything. In terms who inspired me to write in general, you’d find on top Swiss poet Blaise Cendrars, and his detachment from reality and desire to live in a world of visions (amongst of course a ton of other poets, including contemporary ones). Bands that have taken spoken word poetry further. On that note, when I mention spoken word, I mean original, actual spoken word: because the term now kind of designates any kind of spoken text versus sung lyrics – and it’s not at all what it is about, is it? There is a huge difference in the approach between poetry writing and songwriting. And it’s not about opposing the poets and the songwriters: Leonard Cohen is a fabulous songwriter and he obviously came from a decisive poetry background. But what I am aiming at here is that there must be a remnant of the poetic form, in the music itself. I am specifically referring to two works, one by Noir Désir called Nous n’avons fait que fuir and the other by French musician Rodolphe Burger based on a poem by Mahmoud Darwich, S’envolent les colombes. And in that extended poem (similar) form, you find a form of density almost unknown to song as a genre. And it took me a while to realise that the kind of poems that I write – long, epic, Odyssey-inspired – can be intertwined and merged in a musical format. Including songs in the “canon” form, but that profit from that origin.

Mathias: I remember the piano at my mother’s house, as a child. I was fascinated by the instrument. Music is the pulse, the colours that explode in your brain, the heartbeats. The piano is the ultimate tool – an orchestra at your fingertips. Later on, I became interested in synthesizers and jazz music. The improvisation that jazz offers (a term that doesn’t mean much anymore since this music grew from anything) approaches the concept of ‘performance’. The improviser is a tightrope walker without a net, nothing is written down (or very little), he negotiates with the moment and draws unique colours from it, and these colours only exist in that particular space: that of taking risks. This is where the performance takes root, in the danger of the unknown, the rediscovery of the present, the emotional surprise.
Choosing jazz means putting death on the stage. Sound synthesis allows the creation of sounds that were previously non-existent. The machine pre-records, superimposes, cuts the sound texture like a goldsmith, opens up the field of possibilities, allows for strange textures, bites in the unconscious. It may sound silly, but I’ve always thought of making music as an obvious necessity. My brother, who is also a musician, is (and has always been) a great source of inspiration
for me. It’s partly thanks to him.

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

Raphaël: I guess that I just gave away those two in my previous answer!

Mathias: There are obviously a lot. Regarding that specific EP, I would say Lights by Archive and Avishai Cohen’s Gently disturbed.

If you’re trying to explain whom you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say

Raphaël: Too sui generis to really quote references straight away. That we are trying to mix up incantatory poetry, declamatory poetry – and rock’n’roll (with jazz influences). And, oh well, just listen to the bloody thing. If we really have to refer to whom: Léo Ferré meets Nine Inch Nails.

Mathias: Not easy. A mix of rock, jazz, noise and spoken word. There is, in Fine Lame, something deeply connected to the notion trance, something feverish, something incantatory. The best would be to give it a listen.

Tell us about your debut EP

Raphaël: Our first EP comes out on a label called Microcultures. We recorded it in a great studio called OneTwoPassIt very close to our homes in Montreuil, France. The recording engineer that was with us (Lucas Ramos) has been really instrumental in trying to convey (sonically) the ideas that we had and to make a coherent record, sound-wise. We’d also like to tip our hats to the mixing engineer, Thomas Lascoux, who has been really careful about both proposing initiatives and ideas of his own, yet respecting the global tonality and direction that we wanted for that EP; and he has done a fantastic job. Especially because we recorded it live the studio, which gives an element of truth, of fidelity to what
we play and what we do. This EP is about putting out our specific take on organically intertwining music without concessions and poetry without concessions.

Where can we get hold of it

On our Bandcamp! You can order the CD, the digital album, etc. On most streaming platforms as well.

Also, Microcultures are putting out boxsets for the Christmas period, and our album is coming out in one of these, in a 3 CD-set alongside artists Reuben’s Daughters (UK) and Hospital Ships (US). Via their Bandcamp.

Tell us how you write

Raphaël: Words first, definitely text first. The text gives out a global atmosphere, a seed for the song to come, a baseline, an original stand, and we elaborate from that. I will just try to read it out, find a flow, maybe find melodies, an oral approach, and we’d then try to build around that, to jam around that. So, a lot of jamming and improvisation. Thus it’s a bit of everything together, some riffs come down from the guitar, some from the piano, whatever – but the main idea is that we build around a texture first given out from the words. But, saying it so gives out the impression that we are somehow “putting poems into music”: and that is definitely not the case, our process is much more organic and intertwined than that. In the sense that, yes, that is the beginning, but there is after that a huge rework on the text and the lyrics afterwards, in which I cut, I move things, I approach them differently, they are coherently implemented into the track-in-progress.

Mathias: In most cases, we start from the text. Then a musician finds a riff and we build
around that, or we totally improvise and keep what we like. It’s mostly visions fueling the

Tell us about your live show What would be your dream gig

Raphaël: Our live shows are a shamanic ceremony, with a strong emphasis on fever and trance that we are trying to build. Very intense stuff.
Dream venue: l’Élysée-Montmartre. Dream line-up: with Noir Désir and Nick Cave at l’Élysée-Montmartre.

What can we expect from you in the near future

Raphaël: Concerts, obviously. Following up on that debut EP with another one, that shall be released somewhere around next year, you should stay tuned about this.

Tell us your favourite records that’s rocking your headphones/tour bus/stereo

Mathias: Once more, there are many! But these days, Liquid by Recoil and How to Destroy Angels (the 2010 self-titled EP).

Raphaël: Right now, Sackclothes n’ Ashes, by 16 horsepower, and État d’urgence by Bernard Lavilliers.

Find out more via the bands Facebook

Pre-order the EP here

Check out the track, ‘Nous tournons en rond dans la nuit et nous sommes dévorés par le feu’, below:

Previous Premiere: Fine Lame - Follow Me
Next News: Duran Duran announce second London O2 date as part of Future Past tour 2023

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.