In the Summer of 2021, BIMM Berlin welcomed a selection of its students to the House of Music to record the ‘BIMM Berlin Album 20/21’. Eight projects, hand-picked by industry panels to showcase the best music emerging from the college, each recorded one song over the course of two weeks.
With the legendary Pete Smith (Stevie Wonder, Sting, Sheryl Crowe) on board as producer and giving extensive feedback and input, the students enjoyed access to a wealth of industry experience. With genres ranging from ‘jazz metal’ to electro-pop, the songs make an eclectic and awe-inspiring body of work.
We caught up with each of the eight acts featured on the record to find out more about the meaning behind their track. Here Etienne Pelosoff tells us about ‘Beneath My Soul’.
How would you describe your music?
I define my music as Black Metal Jazz, that is to say, a fusion of jazz improvisation with distortion heaviness. It all started with this crazy thought: “What if Miles Davis and Mayhem played together?” My music brings those two worlds together to create new textures and energies: the freedom of jazz melted with the darkness of black metal.
What made you want to become a musician?
I started music at six years old by studying cello and music theory at the regional conservatory in France. My first real revelation was when I was thirteen. My older sister came to my room to tell me: “Etienne, you gotta listen to this” She handed me a black & white CD called ‘Rage Against the Machine’. I had never heard anything like this: the funk groove, the dirty bass, the heavy beats, the screaming rap… I remember instantly thinking: “I want to do this.” A few years later, I had my own metal band called Radioactive Vodka. The second revelation was when I decided to not only play music but make a career out of it. As I was achieving my last year of a degree in economics at Bocconi University in Milan, my teacher was making a list of all the famous people who graduated in economics. In this list came up the name of Mick Jagger. I suddenly realised: “It’s time for me too. I finish this degree and then I’ll fly to London to make music and become an artist.” Thus, the whole BIMM adventure began!
Who or what inspires you as an artist?
This is such a big question I would be tempted to answer “everyone and everything”. Yet, to be more precise, I think it’s the link that obsesses me. The link, as in all the links that keep everyone and everything connected. The link between my sisters and me. The link between the sea and the beach. The link between a word and another. The link between the air and my lungs. The link between Black Metal and Jazz. The link between me writing this and you reading it. As an artist, I hope my music can show how the link can always be found, cultivated and grown, even between the most radically different people. If Black Metal and Jazz can live equally within one song, we can all live together in society.
What’s the meaning behind the song you recorded for the BIMM Berlin Album?
The Covid pandemic made 2020 and 2021 emotionally heavy for everybody and I wanted a song to catalyse all those frustrated and confused feelings. With so much to process, art must venture out beyond limits so we can overcome our struggle. To do so, we must cherish and cultivate the Link, and we might have to go searching further than ever, beyond the visible and far off the well known, hence the title ‘Beneath My Soul’. It’s an open question: what do you think lies beneath your soul? My own personal answer is the link. My soul only prospers as long as I’m connected to all the rest.
How did the song come about and how did you write/produce the song?
While the main riff is actually quite ancient, I completely restructured it into a new song only recently. This process is somehow metaphorical of those last two years because we all had to restructure our life and adapt to the covid environment. This pandemic is the very reason my musicians and I were all isolated from each other for the recording. I, therefore, wrote the lead sheet and scores for my drummer Amelie G., the two guitarists Romain Grudé and Dan Eagan and the opera singer Morgane Matteuzzi, all students or ex-students from BIMM. I also contacted my dear friend and famous sax player, Tim Sanders. He played for Nina Hagen, Jamiroquai and so many others… I feel so lucky to have his inimitable improvised soli featured in my music. Once I received everyone’s parts, I worked on the arrangement and the production. I’ve given meticulous attention to make every second of music unique. I listened closely and adjusted every detail to make sure this great chaos creates something beautiful. Again, this is about cherishing the Link between all of us musicians so that the artistic expression of each instrument nourishes the general emotion.
Can you describe your songwriting process?
The more I produce music, the more personal my lyrics become. Once I’ve received every musician’s part, the lines naturally came to me in French. This is the first song I ever released in my mother tongue. I think this is because I wanted to give more of myself and being closer to the audience. I wanted my followers even closer to my soul, to make the Link tighter and stronger.
What projects are you currently working on?
At the moment, I’m preparing a headline concert at the Nukstock festival in Germany. I’m absolutely thrilled to play my first big concert since the start of Covid. My line-up will count bass, guitar, sax, drums and even percussions! In addition to all the production work I do, I’m also preparing some exciting videos with my drummer Amelie G. One of them will be a live recording of the song ‘Trve Brutal Black Jazz’ and will be available both in stereo and 5.1. This second version is a surround mix that follows the cinema standard of five speakers. I have been working on this configuration to make the music even more immersive. It’s quite Avant-garde and full of new possibilities in terms of sensations!
What are your future plans as an artist?
A few exciting singles are in the progress. The next big step for me is to compose my second EP. I spend a lot of time experimenting and trying out ideas until I find the best ones, a bit like a scientist. I think people will be surprised by how much Black Metal Jazz can bring up new colours and raw emotions. This is unknown territory and I invite all the curious minds to explore this new planet with me.
Etienne Pelosoff and his track ‘Beneath My Soul’ is featured on the BIMM Album from Berlin. You can read more about the album and the other artists + tracks featured here.