Fireside Chat


60 minsFirst aired 26 Jul 2016Next Fireside Chat Tomorrow at 11:00am EST
Photo by Estudio Primo

The French composer and multi-instrumentalist examines the organic elements at the core of her music’s loopy ambience.

Cécile Schott started the Colleen project in 2001, spurned on by some music production software that a friend had given her. As such, much of the French artist’s early output was sample based—much of her first album, 2003’s Everyone Alive Wants Answers, consisted of sounds lifted from Schott’s record collection and the Paris Mediatheque. The LP proved to be a hit, but once the time came to tour, Schott quickly realized that she wanted a more live experience, and replicated sounds from the album using acoustic instruments played through loop pedals. This approach has shaped much of her subsequent work, even as she’s experimented with unusual instrumentation, tackled conceptual projects, dabbled with dub and reggae sounds, added her own vocals to the mix and relocated from Paris to San Sebastian. In 2015, Schott linked up with the storied Thrill Jockey label for her Captain of None album, and although her music is still often tagged as ambient, it’s also rather organic, which perhaps explains its unwavering appeal.


Colleen is not the only composer to incorporate the sounds of music boxes into her music – Aphex Twin’s “Nannou” and much of Björk’s Vespertine heavily feature samples of the novelty instrument.


The glass harmonica Colleen mentions here, invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761, is meant to emulate the sound of rubbing glass or crystal.


Alain Corneau’s All The Matins Of The World inspired Colleen to pick up the cello. Watch the film in full here.


Take a peek inside Colleen’s San Sebastián studio, straight from the source!


This FACT mix features the dub and reggae songs that influenced Colleen’s 2015 album Master of None.


Interview by Hanna Bächer
Written and produced by Tobias Jansen

More Fireside Chat Tune In Now