Pubblicato il Giugno 20th, 2018 | by DDG


Bess of Bedlam: the Praise of (Folk) Folly

Fanny L’Héritier is the lead singer of the French experimental pop band Odessey & Oracle (O&O): a few months after the beautiful SPECULATIO (2017), she’s publishing her first solo record, FOLLY TALES, under the alias of Bess of Bedlam (BoB): a little darker and softer than O&O, with the influences of the English ‘70s folk prevailing over the ‘900 classical music echoes…
I don’t like very much to categorize music, and it’s always difficult to do it on your own music, but for me the differences are quite simple to explain: O&O is more “pop” and sunny music than BoB, which is a bit darker and folk, more inspired by English folk music from the 70’s. Nevertheless, also BoB becomes pop music in some compositions (e.g. The Painter). I’d say that BoB is closer to singer-songerwritters such as Vashti Bunyan, Linda Perhacs, Joni Mitchell, Shirley Collins and all these female singer-songwritters from the 70’s, with this “simple” thing of folk music – guitar-voice or piano-voice. My main source of inspiration is traditional English folk music and also English baroque music (Henry Purcell for example): but as I studied classical piano and baroque cello, I may be influenced in some way by classical music too!

And you also like to change the rhytm signature during the same song – let’s say that sometimes you sound quite prog, for being a folk singer.
I am the same person in O&O and BoB, so I can’t escape from that willing of researching for surprising harmonies, melodies and changes in structures…

Singing in English also makes a difference with respect to SPECULATIO.
Yes, writing in English is part of the music I want to develop in BoB because of my musical influences: it’s more natural to use English words, the way to sing and articulate English phonetic. For example, From silent shades is actually a anonymous poem from the 17th century that has been made in music for the first time by Purcell in a collection of songs, the “mad songs”, and this is old English, but although I can’t pretend, as a French native speaker, to write this way, I love it.

What about the lyrics? SPECULATIO was a concept album about modern economy, you told me – whilst FOLLY TALES sounds different, there are some very “strong” sentences, for instance in The Poet
The Poet 
is the story of a poet strongly believing in art, who bumped into a bitch, corrupted witch. This witch put a spell on him and he becomes a scientist, a very bad one, attracted by glitter, plastic glory. the kind of cynical crazy scientist that tipically will fail all of his experiments, since he’s blinded by the pursuit of glory.

This war is not over and may never end, but I am with you.
(The Painter)

I see the point – keeping in choosing the art is quite difficult – the modern society try to push you to more “productive” activities…
It’s exactly that! I wrote this song a long time ago when I was finishing my neurosciences studies… For the other lyrics in FOLLY TALES, a theme has been revealed to me afterwards, at the end of the process: I have been thinking a lot about insanity, what is the limit of being sane and being insane, in which context can we determine who is crazy and who is not, and why are we so afraid of crazy people, freaks, weirdos, and why society needs to canalize these people by locking them in different structures (prison, hospital…). FOLLY TALES questions the concept of “normality” – what is the arbitror which determine the limits, and the frame. For me, it’s society – and structures of a certain kind of society (capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism…) that tends to homogenize, standardize people to be all the same, to be little soldiers in some way (soldiers at work, soldiers for consumming…)

I am a dead leaf, I didn’t fall from the highest branch: but a howling wind tore me away from the tree I used to dance on with others, sometimes.
(Dead Leaf)

Probably, choosing to devote to music may also be regarded at as “madness”, today.
Yes! The desire for making music and only music in this modern society is not really madness, but may be considered as madness, because it’s marginal. But you know, I stopped neurosciences to make full time music… and we also did something more – we co-producted this record! We worked with Another Record, a French independant label based in the city of Tours – they also published the records of a very good French band from Paris, Selen Peacock, , that I love! Another Record produced the CD version of FOLLY TALES, whilst Guillaume Médioni (also from O&O) and I published the vinyl version (that may be ordered from the BoB BandCamp page) through La Société Secrète, a label that we set up for this record, that may be useful for future projects.

Starting a new label with a record about madness sounds someway methaphoric! Are you already working on more projects?
For the moment, nothing else than composing and writing as soon as possible new songs for BoB and O&O, and it’s already a big project! I am not ready to shut my mouth about revolting human behaviors, dominations, complex relationships and contradictions! Well, that’s an ambitious project said like that, haha – but it’s simply what moves me toward imagining a better, smoother world to live in, and to hope changes. And yes, I WOULD LOVE to go and play in Italy!

(Interview released on June 3rd, 2018)

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