On one hand, there are these carefully, well-thought out tracks that have been written with an almost scientific approach. On the other hand, however, there is a form of instinctive, raw music that is the result of experimentation made in the laboratory that is a recording studio. Among the latter category, there is a French trio whose music blends many aesthetics together, a trio called Temps Calme. This band which bears a mysterious but meaningful name – that stands for “quiet time” in French – takes inspiration in spontaneous guitar and keyboard sounds. These sound experiences recently led them to cover the theme of the end credits of Knight Rider, a cover which extends what they had started on an album released last year, called “Circuits”. In order to better understand the artistic approach of the group and to talk about their recent release, we’ve asked them a few questions when we’ve met them between two concerts at the Crossroads Festival !

1. Hello Temps Calme ! Thank you for accepting to answer our questions today ! Can you briefly introduce yourself to those who do not know you yet ?

Olivier : So, we are a trio which is defined as a psyche pop trio. We don’t really know how to define ourselves in terms of music genre so we borrow from what other people say about us (laughs). So we are a trio of three musicians… and we like to make jokes apparently ! We are from the North of France, and we released an EP in 2019, then an album in 2020 a few months ago, almost a year ago actually. My name is Olivier, I play the guitar and I sing.

Samuel: I’m Samuel, I play the keyboard and I sing too !

Nicolas: And I am Nicolas, a drummer and back singer.

2. So, I wanted to go back on the fact that you mentioned that you do not really know where you stand, musically speaking. I would say that your music is a great mix of various music aesthetics, but I also see that the world of the 80s is a recurring theme in both your music and your visuals. Can you tell us more about what inspires you on a daily basis when you write your songs ?

Olivier : So, what inspires us… it’s a question I have a hard time answering, but the “dream pop” side of music, I think it’s a bit in our personalities, and it is to be found in our music as well. In terms of inspiration… we write the music before we write the lyrics, so it’s never the lyrics that inspire the song, but rather the opposite. The melody will inspire a text.

3. And will specific movies, or what you hear on a daily basis, or conversations that you may have with other people inspire you in any kind of way, or is your writing process actually pretty spontaneous ?

Samuel : It’s spontaneous, and basically very “musical”, it can start with a series of chords, or just a specific sound ! It’s a very down to earth process.

Nicolas: I want to add that we can indeed be inspired by movies, and sometimes just an image can trigger the inspiration. Sometimes I discover a photographer and I fall in love with their job, it’s always ethereal things that inspire us. And sometimes when I’m listening to a song, there might just be a bass sound, or a few keyboard notes, and I’m like “ah, there’s something cool in there”.

Samuel: It’s true, while listening to other songs, you say to yourself “ah I like that little thing” !

Olivier: But there is not one particular source of inspiration.

4. And I see that you’ve recently released a track which happens to be a cover of K2000. So the ambiance is pretty cinematic, pretty atmospheric even, with a bit of electronic elements to it : what is it that made you want to make your own rendition of this music theme ?

Olivier : Well, here comes our sense of humor once again (laughs) ! We actually voted, it was democratic ! We voted, we each gave the name of the songs that we would like to cover, and the choice was obvious when K2000 was up to be voted for. We said to ourselves “yes, of course that’s what we want to do”. It was Sam, I believe, who thought of it.

Samuel : Yes, it was a bit of a joke at first, I thought of it during the Covid curfew I think. We were wondering what to do in order to release a new track, and we said to ourselves to do a cover, with a music, and that will “keep us busy” in a way.

Nicolas: And it got a lot more serious than we thought it was going to get !

Samuel: Yeah, we were told “wait, you will release this later”, so it was to be released at first in January, February… we did not think the release date through to be honest.

Nicolas: We wanted to release it on our Instagram and our Facebook, but our publisher and manager told us “no don’t do that, wait for the right moment, we will take a PR agent to promote the release”, and that was smart ! (laughs)

5. So this cover comes with a music video that has a vintage aesthetic, very reminiscent of productions that were filmed with a Super 8 camera. Did these vintage images come to your mind while you were composing for the cover or did the creative idea come later ?

Olivier: In fact, the cover was recorded when we were having an artistic residence at the Grand Mix (a concert hall in the city of Tourcoing, North of France, editor’s note), and then we said to ourselves that we had to record a music video for it. We wanted it to be funny since we were going through a really not funny period, and we have a friend who has a Super 5, which we ended up borrowing from Seb – so thank you Seb (laughs) – and to push the idea even further, we wanted to shoot it on a cassette recorder so we borrowed one too !

Nicolas: We wanted it to to look “DIY” actually.

Olivier: Yeah, we shot the music video ourselves, which means we ended up shooting us putting foam on the front of the car, strapping the cassette recorder to the car to the drive at full speed !

Nicolas: Wait Fred doesn’t know that !

Olivier: No he doesn’t, but we gave it back to him in great condition ! (laughs) I don’t remember how much time we spent shooting, but we spent a few days with the Super 5 that is for sure.

Samuel: I think the recording took two days.

Olivier: Yes exactly ! And then Nicolas wanted to make ​​face masks, so we made them… we were hopping from one idea to the other basically.

Nicolas: It was improvised but still somewhat organized.

6. Indeed I think the video is very aesthetic ! And I was wondering if the idea of a vintage video is an idea you had before and that you decided to put now into action, or not at all ?

Olivier : Well now we’re wondering if we shouldn’t keep going in this direction because the first music video we released – it was for “Aquafalling” – was a montage of lots of videos of people diving in water, because it made sense. We used free videos that we found here and there, but we told ourselves that it’s very complicated to do this kind of editing because it’s hard to find the images you actually want to use. And for this latest music video, we didn’t want to spend too much, we wanted to do everything by ourselves, so we said to each other “what do we need?” and the answer was a camera, some time ahead of us… and good weather would have been great because it was super cold, we shot it in February in the town of Bondues, on the aerodrome, and part of it in the countryside of Vincennes.

Nicolas : And we even had to have filming authorizations issued to get out of the 10-kilometer Covid restriction because we did that during the second lockdown, so we had actual, official filming authorizations ! Anyway, we thought we’d do it the old fashioned way with an old tape camera – well it’s digital tape but it gave the result we wanted.

Olivier : After we filmed, Nicolas did the editing. Only the color correction was done by a friend, he added a layer of ruggedness on what we gave him, as if it wasn’t rough enough already (laughs).

Nicolas : We didn’t want to have a super HD result, we wanted a Michel Gondry-style zoom… these are things that speak to us.

Samuel : But it’s true that it was very spontaneous and we didn’t think it through that much ! We were always saying to ourselves while filming : “what if we do this ? or that ?”

Olivier : And for the bike scene, I had just left my daughter’s bike in the back of the car, and suddenly Samuel decided to ride it (laughs)

Samuel : Yes, but once it is all put together it works well !

Nicolas : When we had all the image rushes, that’s when we said to ourselves : we have to find the right way to add rhythm to them. We had a lot of images, and our music is not techno music, it’s not fast-pasted, it’s atmospheric so we had to find the right rhythm and it had to work with all the inlays we made – and for the special effects, I’m not gonna disclose how I did them because it’s a secret (laughs). We had a great time !

7. And just before this release, you’ve released an album last year in a very art rock vibe with psychedelic accents, but what surprised me most was its cinematic aspect : is the film music is something that inspired you in any type of way ?

Olivier : So Samuel and I make music for live performances and we score movies, so I think that’s where you got that from, we are used to having a form of narration in our music.

Samuel : Yeah, our songs are not made in the “verse / chorus / verse / chorus” structure, we start from one place and then go to another.

Olivier : Yes we are quite “free” when we write out tracks, so yes OSTs inspires us because we make some.

Nicolas: I don’t know if you’ve seen the video for our track “Emie” ? It’s a music that takes place in space, and when we wanted to make a clip for this song, we worked with a friend who does video editing and who is a fan of movies in general, and I had just seen “2001: Space Odyssey”…. So obviously we’re not Kubrick, but it did inspire us. When I told him that I would like us to do something space-related, he sent us a first artistic proposal and I thought it was great because it made me think of this whole space aspect, of the universe around us, and it worked well. So there is definitely something with movies that inspire us, it is very present in our music.

8. And you talk about ​​narration, about storylines : what was the story you wanted to tell when composing this first album ? Did you have an idea in mind before composing or did it come up during the making of the album ?

Nicolas : There is no real story.

Olivier: After all, the album is called “Circuit”, so this particular name has a meaning, but it mainly speaks of the things that we did not get to experience.

Nicolas : Yeah, but each song tells a story of its own, and the idea that we have of a song is that everyone give it their own meaning. And this even applies to our stage name, Temps Calme. There are people who think it has to do with the nap that children take in kindergarten during the day, others will think that it is is related to the calm after the storm, or before the storm, even… We write psychedelic tracks, in our texts we never say that “it’s this” or “that”, we tell a lot of things, it tells a story, and then everyone gives them the meaning they want to give them.

Olivier : Yes, there wasn’t a specific theme that is to be found throughout the whole album, but when we put the tracklist together, we tried to connect the songs to each other, but we could have placed them differently. And that might have actually told a different story !

Samuel: The album was not originally thought of as a whole, anyway.

Nicolas: Then when we realized we didn’t have enough tracks for the second album yet, it was thinking about making a kind of concept album. We ended up making more songs, we gave them names…

Olivier: For now it’s very animal-themed, colorful animals !

Nicolas: But I’m not sure it necessarily inspire the songwriting.

Olivier : I think we would have done something else if we hadn’t named them that way, at least in the lyrics ! You also have to know that the first album’s tracklist is partly composed of songs that were on the first EP, so these are songs that were written with one specific theme in mind. There are only three songs of the first EP, out of ten in the album, it’s not a lot but they were already there.

9. And when it comes to live music, we’re meeting here thanks to your performance tonight at the Crossroads Festival. How did you end up in this festival’s line-up ?

Olivier: Well, we submitted an application with the help of Le Grand Mix, a venue that helps us a lot in our artistic process, and we were quite simply picked by the organizing team. We asked to play for the festival and they said “yes” !

Samuel: Sometimes life is that easy (laughs)

hauméa : And are you supported by Le Grand Mix in the development of your music career ?

Nicolas: So no not really, but they support us, they supported us a lot and we hope to continue working with them afterwards. But we are the ones who applied, with their support as well.

About the Crossroads Festival : We attended the European event that is the Crossroads Festival from the 7th to the 10th of September : here’s our festival report !

10. And I’m obviously asking the question because I haven’t seen you play live yet, but how do you perform your tracks live ? Have you had the opportunity to perform in the past ? If so, has the way you perform changed over time ?

Nicolas : So, we are all aligned on stage, with the drums on the side. In fact Samuel and I look at each other.

Olivier : And I am facing the audience, it’s a very close to a jazz formation.

Nicolas : The idea was to be able to see each other, and not to have the drummer behind who can’t really see anyone.

Samuel : I mean, we can do that because our music is not the type of music that’ll make you want to shout “are you ready ?” at the crowd. So there is something very “intimate” about our live band. I personally like to see that, when I go to concerts, I like to see how the band members share the stage and interact with each other. I’m not necessarily a fan of the “singer in the front” type of band. But it depends on the type of music. Given what we do, I find it interesting to have our live band set up as a kind of laboratory !

Nicolas : And then it’s a live set up that allows us to be much more comfortable, we don’t have to put the sound of one or the other very loud…

Samuel: Two of us are sitting down while playing !

Nicolas : We can hear each other’s instrument very well, and I believe that we installed our live set like that for the second live performance that we gave and we haven’t changed it since. It was obvious !

Samuel : And then, having already played in other bands, more specifically in a trio where the drums are behind, I was playing the bass in that band, you feel disconnected, unless you turn around you don’t see every band member, and when you singing at the same time it’s complicated to do so. It’s frustrating when you’re on stage not to feel like you’re with everyone. You know you have someone behind your back but hey…

Olivier : However, if there are six of you on stage, at some point you have no choice but putting someone in the back of the scene, here we are only three so we are lucky to be able to perform like that.

11. And in terms of live performance, do you have some sort of video projection that plays while you perform you or is it just you and your instruments ?

Olivier: Just us and our instruments, well for now at least. Because we are working on the second album, we are also planning to host a residency to prepare the live of this second album, and we were thinking of a scenography, and having video projections would be really nice.

Samuel: Yes, to have something to look at while we play, since we don’t jump everywhere… (laughs)

Olivier: Yes, but not necessarily something that tells a story.

Samuel: More of a physical installation, or something that you can look at.

12. Finally, here’s a question I like to ask at the end of an interview : is there an artist that you are keeping an eye on at the moment ?

Olivier: So for me there are several ! I’m pretty much following Anne Paceo’s every move, because she’s a girl who plays drums, which is quite rare. She plays really well, she does jazz music, which is part of my culture, and I find it nice because she plays in a lot of music bands and she always has a smile on her face when she plays and I find that super pleasant. She’s is a simple person and she’s very cool.

Samuel: On my side I follow November Ultra ! She’s a friend so obviously it helps, and everything that is happening to her is pretty crazy, so it’s so cool to watch her grow !

Temps Calme is to be found on all streaming platforms. You can also follow them on Instagram !

About the Author: Cloé Gruhier

As a music web writer for several years, I have developed a particularly devoted passion for electronic and alternative musics. From the ethereal melodies of Max Cooper to the introspective music and lyrics of Banks, my radar has me listening to the wide French and international independent music scene... all of this between communication plans for independent labels and artists !