Track by Track – “Hotel Augusta” by James Eleganz – POPnews

James Elegans, better known as Yan Chihu, was the singer of a successful Britton (between Saint Malo, Denard and Wren) group, to whom we owe two albums, “Social Network Junkies” in 2012 and “Love and Hate” in 2015. who only had half of them live up to Its name level: if you play in front of thousands of people in Asia (India, China…), you’ll never be able to get a real audience in France despite its electro-rock, charismatic conductor and resolute sense of humor. After their last concert on March 16, 2017, in Rennes, Success pulled out and James Elegans left to fly alone.

It was the first single from his previous group, “Girl from New Orleans,” really heralding American Tropical in his solo career. The album “The Only One” was released in 2019 in the Joshua Tree Desert. Berlin’s new “Hotel Augusta” has been designed but still plays on the legends of the road and wide open spaces (watch the “The CC Motel Heights” clip, where Eleganz walks like lone cowboy, guitar case in hand, in the lunar landscape of Lanzarote; We’re thinking a little bit about Johnny’s movie “Something from Tennessee,” stuffed with American clichés but filmed in the Paris area).
Already on the previous album, Larry Mullins aka Toby Damet (old partner of Iggy Pop, one of the great Yann/James references, now part of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds), is in art direction and on drums. He brought with him his friend Bertrand Borgalat – who needs no introduction – on guitars, while Jeffrey Burton (who also accompanied Iggy Pop, as well as Arnaud and Bashong) was on guitars. This group of big names, unrelated to the studio’s vulgar sharks, perfectly showcases Yann Chehu’s velvety voice and powerful, classic musical writing without overkill.
The author below details the ten songs from the album that he will soon sing on stage, particularly on November 7 at Supersonic, in Paris.


kindness in me

“Coming back from recording ‘The Only One’, my first solo album, I got an Italian electric orange from the ’70s (Elka Capri 101, for purists). Often, in these instances, I started playing with it a lot. We have to take action.” We play” in its childish sense. I found the chorus melody and built the song around it.
The script theme is close to the titles of “The Lonely One,” Sad Love. Furthermore, I very quickly incorporated “Kindness in Me” into the concert’s playlist. The tone in the studio changed and the mood dimmed. I think she’s out of her shackles Nick Caven. For me, she is the bridge between my two albums. »


The door is always open

“While filming clips for the California trilogy in August 2018, I remember a car trip. We were going to the set in Bombay Beach with Kathryn Seggins (actress) and Larry Mullins (Also known as Toby lasted). Larry is the producer and drummer for two albums. He put on a CD Waylon Jennings had just bought in Palm Springs. I didn’t know this song or Waylon Jennings. I took a slap. Born in Tennessee, Larry was tired of country music. Thanks to him, I discovered an unexplored musical continent for me.
I totally wanted to make a country music cover on this disc, but in my own way. The lyrics are not very high quality, I wanted to take it to the next level. I started from the samba rhythm and built the arrangement around it.
I also asked Jeffrey Burton, the guitarist on “Hotel Augusta,” to play a slightly silly part. He looked at me puzzled and said, “It’s the first time an artist has asked me that.” »


precious love

“This is my first positive love song. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone. In this title you find what I call the hyper-chorus that can be sung at will: “I’m ready for your love, your precious love”. If it were up to me, the song would continue on the vinyl side entirely.
I evoke the character of Erzulie, the voodoo god of femininity, love and desire. Originally, I wanted to record the album in New Orleans. »


paper doll

“Catchy” is exactly the adjective I was thinking of when I wrote “Paper Doll” in Hamburg. I wanted the spirit of the garage with a screaming member, drooling guitar, and unstoppable chorus. Write a typical rock song.
Textually, it is an allegory of the relationship between the inspirer and the creator. Who is the other game? The answer is not very clear. »


stay behind me

“The idea for the guitar opening this song is about fifteen years old. Success, the group that I’ve been singing to for ten years, never really liked it. Probably because of the nursery rhyme aspect, which hasn’t been able to find its place in the electric rock repertoire of the quartet. But it is. I stayed in the corner of my head.
I’m so grateful to Larry Mullins for sticking to the beat. I started with a funky groove. The piece is transcendent and Jeffrey Burton’s frenetic guitars highlight the violence of switching between the depression phase and the manic phase, and the song’s theme is bipolarity. »


I love you by mistake

The second track I wrote in Hamburg (a productive week) Loving You By Mistake is a toxic ecstasy close to Exotica style.
And under the atmosphere of a love song, it is a reflection of disappointment. The error in judgment is only an excuse to signify the loss. The text is geofixed in Los Angeles. This city fascinates me despite all its flaws. It’s much more than just a mega-city in California, it’s a pop icon. »


The CC Motel Heights

“Musically speaking, I clearly wrote a country song. I dream that one day it will be captured by a Nashville star.
Scripturally, I entered the register of magical realism. In it, I push American myth into biblical absurdity. Leading the character A Modified Car I’m looking for a virtual hotel. While sipping bourbon, he bumped into a pig. A 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle ends up at the bottom of a cliff and gets caught by a whale. Then the listener knows that his name is Jonas. »


wrath of demons

“I remember an ocher sky during a surf session in Saint Lunier [à l’ouest de Dinard, dont il est originaire, NDLR]. Forest fires in Portugal have blown dust into the stratosphere and driven south winds as far as Brittany. A sense of the end of the world inspired me with an apocalypse song like Cormac McCarthy.
Mike Watt should have played on the album if we had recorded it in the States, but the Covid-19 crisis forced him to, it was impossible. I totally wanted him to be involved in it one way or another. So he embodies Satan, “He always wins”. Mike Watt is a great musician and an exceptional man. I won’t say that enough. »


Holy Grail (Prayer)

It was also written with the Capri 101 organ and in the same manner as ‘Kindness In Me’. First the melody, then the harmonic construction. Its peculiarity, instrumental chorus.
My will was to write a prayer. I’m not a believer but religious art fascinates me (music, paintings, icons, etc.) and that’s whatever the religion is. Sincerity, perhaps aspiration to immortality. This search for the cup is a source of frustration, sadness and bitterness. Confidence is my favorite song on Augusta Hotel. »


I don’t want to ask you

“Nothing is more complicated than writing a simple song. I tried it.”
The last song on the album, which is also the last recorded song. Larry Mullins warned me the day before that he wanted to score He lives Only two of them. I’ve never recorded a guitar part and even less guitar sound. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I thought it would take days and days to get there. The second shot was good. Larry later recorded the vibraphone and we kept the sounds of the mole chair I was sitting on. »


About disc visuals:

All photos illustrating the album as well as press photos are silver. I was very attached to him. One problem with the numeric is the astronomical number of shots to look at before choosing. Oftentimes, the treatment is applied to Photoshop to give a silver bead. So you might keep it simple and use film.
have found Laetitia Weigel, a French woman living in Berlin, accidentally posted on Instagram (because it’s useful once). I totally flashed in one or two shots. I knew how to capture the atmosphere of the disc without listening to it. The photos were taken in the evening leaving the studio in October 2020, the month of recording.
As for the cover design, I wanted to work with him Pascal Blue. I love his work, which I would describe as elegant. Collaboration was actually a no-brainer. Listen to the album, like it, and paraphrase: “No good cover without good music.” »





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