FOUGÈRE is the modern compositional project of Jamie Norton, an artist who’s quietly gone about helping fashion some of the biggest songs of modern times as a musician and arranger; he’s worked with The Brand New Heavies, Brett Anderson and Take That.
But as Fougère his work sits in the bright melodic shimmer of artists such as Nils Frahm and Max Richter; mellow, erudite, intelligent. And Jamie is announcing this alias’s debut album with a single drop which you can bathe in below, “Leap Of Faith”.
Based in London, Jamie hopes the track brings inspiration; as for its own genesis, it came from the epiphany of exercise, running in particular, a passion he shares with writers such as Haruki Murakami.
Jamie says: “I run everyday. I found this love for running after my mum died suddenly a few years ago. Someone once told me that the body has to take a leap of faith when running; as opposed to walking, running begins when there is some point of no ground contact, when both feet are off the ground.
“This idea is so closely tied to how I feel about being creative; that at some point we need to let go, perhaps when we have the most to lose, when both feet are off the ground; take a leap of faith.”
The piece has a beauty that draws on the simplicity of Satie and the lineage that flows forth from him; he seems to capture morning sunlight in those tones and arpeggios.
The following album, Still Life, is a work of ten pieces for solo piano. There’s a whole other bevy of concepts underlying a work of extreme prettiness – let’s begin with that name.
‘Fougère’ is the term for one of the main fragrance families: the one that has sweet lavender top notes with woodier, undertones. Jamie wanted his music to give a sense of calmness in the same way that such fragrances do. “That’s why I sit at the piano. It’s meditative for me,” he says.
There’s also a motif of architecture twined into the album’s aesthetic; Jamie loves the open, minimalist designs of Belgian architect Vincent van Duysen – minimalist, but never cold. What music would be playing in that space? Jamie wondered. He decided to think like an architect: “Why do we create these environments that we come home to? What is the need that we’re looking to fill when we’re doing that? I wanted to write music in the same way that an architect would make that space.”
He also draws on Erik Satie’s concept of ‘furniture music’. “It sounds like quite a negative thing, but it’s music that should occupy a space, like furniture does, rather than demanding to be front and centre. I really like that phrase.”
Alhough he composed the LP when the world was in a different place, there’s a sense that the record can offer a much-needed calmness to cut through the noise and angst of the now. He says: “I hope people get out of it what I get from sitting at a piano.”
Fougère’s Still Life will be released digitally by Studio Fougére on May 7th and is available for pre-order now at the label’s Bandcamp page.