Yorikolab's special feature

Je Vous Présente Antoine (I introduce Antoine)! (revised 2010/9/29)

 Recently, I had a chance to know this gentleman Antoine, from Nancy in the Lorraine region of France. We had some good chats via email.
 I would like  to introduce him as a lover of ukulele, a lover of music, and to many fans of Yoriko Douguchi, as a fan of Paititi.

 Paititi is a ukulele band called Paititi, which features primarily Douguchi and Hidenori Ishida.  
 With several other musician friends, they play not only Hawaian music but also an amalgam of various kinds of music,
influenced by  Reinhardt's virtuoso performances, Beatles' melodies, Weather Report's funkiness, and more.
 Paititi's music should be called "crossover ukulele".
 They released their debut album "Paititi" in 2008.
 Tomoo Haraguchi, one of the best-known special make-up artist, whose name is familiar to Yoriko's fans as the director of Mikadoroid,
has been working with Paititi to make a film about this ukulele namd (In fact, he directed a clip for Paititi's 'Ukulele Rendezvous'→
 Paititi's fiirst motion picture is simply titled as "Ukulele" with a subtitle 'Paititi the Movie'.
 Antoine watched one of their videos by chance and was enchanted by its musical brightness and witiness. 
 As the webmaster of Yoriko Douguchi Fansite, Iit is always good to hear from and talk with her fans all over the world (see the interview with Mr. Jerry White, 2009).
 Moreover, it's my pleasure to know about her/his background and life. Even if it may be such a brief story that you wouldn't call it 'life',
I'm glad to meet Yoriko fans and glad to introduce them to the world.  
 I am thankful to Antoine for giving me a chance.
 Merci Beaucoup!

 Antoine Paititi's videos @ YouTube



click the camera to watch Paititi's videos @ YouTube.

Hello Antoine, first of all, could you tell me how you became a fan of Yoriko Douguchi and Paititi?

 It was really by chance... I was looking for videos featuring plastic ukuleles on YouTube, and I discovered the videoclip of "Picnic". 
 I was immediately astonished!  I know a bit the great Japanese culture, through books, movies and architecture. 
 I also know how amazing and talented modern Japanese people can be, but I literally discovered another world! 
 I immediately fell under the charm and the beauty of Miss Yoriko and her sweet voice!
 I watched this video in a loop, and then decided to check for other videos and info. I probably watched all what can be found on Internet.
 That's how I realized she is a famous actress... I have ordered some DVDs!

Wow! You watched all what can be found on Internet!  Could you tell me your favorite tunes, for example?

 I may probably have missed some clips! But I made a systematic search for video by or with Yoriko or Paititi...
 I also watched all the videos showing "part of life" of Miss Yoriko (in a musical instrument shop in London for instance), the making-of their videos, some TV shows...
 It's difficult to say which is my favorite tune, because what I love is the diversity of her/their production.
 Anyway, I love the first one I saw, Picnic. The music is delightful and funny and the images are surrealistic, full of sparkling colors like Alice in Wonderland.
 I also love Ice Cream Blues which has very beautiful ukulele parts. Deux Paris is also one of my favorites.
 All the songs in their CD are great, but I also loved live performance video, let's say "more punk or ska", like Pike(well, I told you I am a fan !).
 Watching those video clips, my first impression was a delicious mix. I was amused by the creativity of Paititi, and impressed by the musicians' talent.
 Miss Yoriko sings divinely and she and Mr. Ishida play the ukuleles in a great style... but over that, I was also amazed by the very large scope of styles of their music.
 So, my first impression was like a child in a toy shop whose eyes (and ears) are wide open with a great excitement !

By the way, what kind of musicians and movies from Japan do you like?

 I don't know much about Japanese music, beside the ancient one.
 I love traditional Japanese instruments, like the Koto and the Shamisen.
 I have some CD of Noh(theater) music that I love very much. I bought them after having read the Noh treatise by Zeami. I also know some music linked to Butoh (choreography).
 But about the contemporary Japanese music, I do not know much. That's a reason why my discover of Paititi and Yoriko Douguchi made a great effect on me.

 Speaking of Japanese movies, I love many many Japanese film makers.
 Among the classics directors, my favorite is Ozu.  I also love (Masaki) Kobayashi and many others like Teshigahara, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi.
 Moreover, I have a special taste for kitsch Japanese movies, like the Godzilla...
 Regarding the contemporary Japanese movies, I love Takeshi Kitano’s, for sure. I saw other movies by other makers, like Battle Royale, or Tetsuo, and so forth.
 I think I have never  been disappointed by the Japanese movies. I really like it, whether it is a classic or a new underground production.
 I also love Japanese literature, graphics arts, architecture (I am an architect), and Japanese food !

You play the ukulele, don't you?  How did you become attracted by ukulele?

 Yes, I play the ukulele. 
 In fact, I began to learn (by myself) strings instruments ... 34 years ago, when I was 12.
 The folk guitar at first, then slide and electric guitar, then Greek and oriental instruments  (Bouzouki and Oud), and finally the ukulele.
 I play a very small Greek instrument called baglamas (wikipedia), and I wanted to get such a small instrument adapted to western music.
 So I tried the ukulele, and fell immediately in love with it. It is such a funny instrument!
 Then I became interested in plastic ukuleles, began to collect them and start a website (http://www.chordmaster.org) dedicated to them .
 That's how my way crossed Miss Yoriko's world, apparently full of blue and green Maccafferi's Islanders ukes!

(click the image to enlarge)

How much popular is ukulele in France now?

 Ukulele is not traditional in France, for sure.
 But for several years, it has hugely grown in popularity. This is certainly with the same "ukulele third wave" that occurs all around the world,
 but it has gained popularity thanks to young singers on TV, and by the regular work done for years by a group of dynamic ukulele lovers,
 notably Cyril Lefebvre, author of famous ukulele methods, musician, historian, and co-founder of a very crowdy ukulele French forum( http://www.ukulele.fr/dc/ ).

Paititi’s music is not only Hawaiian music but blends many kinds together. What do you think about it?

 I think it is wonderful! Certainly the ukulele is attached to Hawaiian music, but it has shown that its potentialities and capacities are international.
The soul of the ukulele is much   much bigger than its size!
"Paititi", as far as I know, is not a Hawaiian nor Japanese word, and refers to an ancient and legendary Inca city.
 I think it has really been well chosen ― beside the beauty of the name ― because it shows all the diversity of the treasures that has to be found in Paititi-band's world.
 When you watch their videos or listen to their music, you realize that the band is full of richness and promises.
 Why trying to enclose them in only one music style, like in a suffocating small box ? No, they must blast in colorful fireworks!

May I ask you about the area you live in?

 Nancy (wikipedia) in the Lorraine region (East of France).
 Nancy is a small city (100 000 inhabitants), famous a beautiful piazza (the "place Stanislas") built by the Polish king Stanislas,
 who was the father-in-law of Louis the XV, king of France.
 Nancy is also famous for the Art Nouveau (the French Art Nouveau "Ecole de Nancy" was born here).
 Apart of that, Nancy is quite a calm place with not much movement...
  I lived just above Nancy, near the countryside, in a small house with my cat Patafix!  I once lived in Paris for 15 years.

How did your life in Paris influence on you?

 During those 15 years in Paris, I was mostly involved in the Greek music named Rebetiko.
 So, not being Greek myself, Paris had an influence in the fact that it was easy for me to meet Greek people and musicians there.
 But I also made many many trips to Greece and  met lots of musicians there. Once I stayed 6 months travelling in Greece, alone with my Ud.

Could you tell me what caused you to move to another kind of music from your first step? I guess there was the blues music in your early phase?

 Well, I loved the blues, that was a fact, but I was also attracted by oriental scales and other harmonies than what is called the "well tempered" one which was codified by J.S. Bach.  
 My father was a great listener to Baroque music, and during all my childhood, I heard the harpsichord music my father was listening to.
 And the Baroque harpsichord is not tuned like a piano. I am quite sure this is the origin of my attraction to other musical scales and modes.
 So, when I began to learn the guitar, mostly trying to play folk and blues music, I felt a lack of other tuning, and was attracted by oriental music.
 So, to answer more shortly to your question: It is the appeal of oriental modes applied to blues that made me "switch" to other instruments.

hat's very interesting.  It reminds me a lot of the story of the late great Lowell George, (you probably knows) slide guitarist, ex-Little Feat.
Before he started to learn the guitar, He learned to play the sitar and the shakuhachi before his career as guitarist, and found himself attracted by oriental scales.

 Yes I know Lowell George!
 That is true that slide guitar has something to do with oriental scales, since it allows to drag the right note to one very near, not "false", but just colored with a hint of something, which may add some specific feeling.
 I think the usage of a bottleneck has been for me a kind of bridge to oriental music.

Who (what musicians) have you respected in your music life, ultimately? 

 I "respect" technicians, but I "love" deep-heart musicians.
 Neil Young was the first I listened to when I began the guitar. I still love this man.
 Hendrix, for sure... David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, but also Rodolphe Burger (who is a great great sensible guitarist)
 Then the old bluesmen ... also contemporary musicians, Einstuerzende Neubauten for instance.
 With the Rebetiko music, I was really captured by Markos Vamvakaris, Anestis Delias, Yovan Tsaous, Giorgos Batis ...
 I learned a lot of my ukulele strumming with George Formby who was a very great-heart musician.
 This question is too difficult for me. I could write pages on that.

Mr. Ishida used to be a British hard/ progressive  rock fan.  We say "guitar kid" to describe a young boy who's absorbed in playing the guitar.  He was a guitar kid. 
Do you feel a kindred spirit with him, when you watch him playing ukulele?

 Oh yes! I think that what we learned with rock'n'roll is never lost, and when we play other instruments, the rock spirit is still here.
 I remember playing some very old Greek song on a bouzouki and my Greek friends told me "hey Antoine! You are playing it like you were playing rock'n'roll!"
 When Mr. Ishida plays his ukulele, he certainly sometimes place some rhythm effects or "gimmicks" that come directly from his rock'n'roll knowledge and experience.

Mr.Ishida used  to be a guitar kid and Yoriko Douguchi started her music-loving life with the Beatles. Isn't it wonderful that they are now playing music with ukulele, in their own way?

 Yes it is great! It is the proof they have acquired their own musical maturity.  Good musical references (the Beatles are, for sure!) well digested, plus your own personal soul and  modernity can only produce good new music...
 Regarding ukulele, I really think this is not a small instrument. It now lives its "third wave" of prosperity, and I think this it is the moment where people begin to understand it is not a toy.

Yoriko Douguchi and Mr. Ishida are both heavily influenced by European culture; music, movies and arts.
Yoriko often writes that she admired Anna Karina when she was 17.  Mr. Ishida studied fine arts in Italy when he was young, and his nickname is still GAHAKU (painting maetsro) . 
Do you perceive their admiration for European things in Paititi's music?

 Surely I feel western references in the Paititi's music. But how could I say it is more European than American ? I think it is in the lightness.
 American culture is serious. I believe than European one is lighter, in the meaning that we are not afraid to play with it, to joke with it, to input some "second degree".
 In France, we sometimes say "I do what I do seriously, but I do not consider myself with seriousness".
 I recognize this "gentle amusement", this lightness, in the Paititi's music. They do what they do seriously, with professionalism, with heart, with skill, but they still keep a real pleasure and fun. (not to mention the European references in the titles of their songs)

What do you think of Paititi's sense of humor?  Like you compare their "Picnic" clip to Alice in Wonderland, do you find a remarkable sense of humor in their music and atmosphere ?

 Definitely! That is almost what I tried to say in my answer to the previous question.
 Besides the images of the video clips, which are full of obvious humor, in the music too, we can hear that humor.
 It is distilled in light melodies, some arrangements, all of that, I repeat, made with a great professionalism.
 This is probably this hiatus between musical skill, talent, knowledge and the lightness of melodies, the surrealistic situations,  which creates this humor.

(A little later...Antoine-san watched a DVD of UKULELE, PAITITI THE MOVIE, and wrote this fond message to me.)

I really enjoyed UKULELE, PAITITI THE MOVIE! Bravo! it's a great success!
Mister Tomoo Harraguchi did an excellent job, mixing history, clips, interviews, concert shots, animations, parts of life ...
It's been a great moment I had watching at it.
I do not understand the Japanese language (a friend of mine will translate for me), but I caught the word "ukurere" at any times :)
I had already seen some scene on YouTube, but here, it was with a high quality of sound and image, it was like new for me.
Beautiful images (the scene with the Martin uke and the camera moving around Miss Yoriko for instance) mixed with very funny ones, like all the part is dedicated to "Paititi airlines".
It was also a pleasure to see all the Paititi members full of joy and life, it seems that they are very cool people.
Once again, I found the whole very well equilibrated but full of fun, with lots of info (certainly much more for Japanese speaking persons, haha!:),
For me, it is like the reconstitution of a jigsaw puzzle, showing the whole image of Paititi, which is complex and fragmentary, like a mosaic.
The movie clearly helps to understand the Paititi's coherence beyond all the different ways they explore, all the different personalities, etc.
This cohesion built with sparse fragments is post-modern and in rupture with the "pure abstraction" tradition in Japanese culture.
We love life, we love fun, we love music, we love beauty, Domo arigato!

PS : My cat Patafix loves the cheesy Paititi-'ukurere' and dreams of eating one :)

Thank you, Antoine! Patafix may be able to create daydreaming sounds with his whisker-strings. What a cool cat!   

UKULELE, Paititi the Movie
(trailer) (website)
Documentary film directed by Tomo-o Haraguchi,
featuring exclusive interviews of Kiyoshi Kurosawa (talking about Yoriko Douguchi),
Kazuyuki Sekiguchi (very famous musician, and as humbly as he describes himself, "a ukulele lover"),
Kouichi Makigami (the lead singer of Hikashu)

Sep29-Oct1 @Uplink X, Shibuya, Tokyo
Oct2-8 @ Sakurazaka Gekijo theater, Naha, Okinawa  

DVD sale on Sep30


(The Japanese version is here)