Discussion With Hadrien Feraud
I can’t say enough about this young musician. I first heard him at my bass booth at Namm 3 years ago—I think he was 19 at the time. He was doing a duo with Yves Carbonne, and after just a few minutes of listening to him play, I knew this kid was going to be dangerous, and that he is.
He displays a harmonic maturity that defies his age, and couples that with technical abilities that are damn near second to none. Oh yea, did I mention he is an accomplished writer as well? (Does this remind you of a very famous bass player from the past that we all know and love?) All kidding aside, Hadrien is an excellent example of a new breed of younger artists that are extremely committed to their art, ready to break the rules, and in their own way are shaping where things might be going musically in the 21st century. That’s a rather bold statement, but my ears tell me after listening closely to Hadrien, as well as others I’ve run into or have heard on the net, that the level of musicianship these days seems to be on the rise, and once again, Hadrien is a splendid example of that.
His tenure with John McLaughlin, coupled with his very impressive solo debut CD (reviewed in the last issue), has brought him into the limelight, and we’ll obviously be hearing a great deal more from this inspired young man from France in the years to come.
Jake: I understand that listening to Jaco and Weather Report at an early age had a tremendous impact on you. This is not an uncommon story, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on that experience, especially since you’ve been referred to as the next Jaco, which I’m sure you consider to be quite an honor.
Hadrien: Yes, it is an honor to be compared with someone like Jaco… but I’d rather be looked at, and evaluated for my own individual achievements rather then simply being compared to someone, even if it is Jaco. For me, the genius of Jaco was about what he “created”, and that was his and his alone. He was the player of tomorrow, which is evident as his impact still resonates with us even today—that’s the amazing thing about him. Even in his composing, we can see that he was more or less in his own universe. I have to thank my father, as he was the one who opened me up to music such as this right from the start. Lots of young players are not so lucky, and are sometimes misdirected, or not directed at all. Starting off listening to not just Jaco, but the marriage of Jaco and Zawinuls atmospheric compositional approach opened up a whole new world of wonderful unknowns to me… I can’t say more than that.
Jake: I put this question to Dominique DiPiazza in our last issue, and I’d like to present this same question to you. What has it been like for you, and what have you learned playing and touring with a world-class musician such as John Mclaughlin?
Hadrien: It was a great experience for me to go on tour with John. It was my first tour, the USA with John Mclaughlin, what more could I have asked for. A first tour with a “living legend” is something I will never forget. Playing to a huge and very enthusiastic audience was quite an experience for me. The ambiance during some of the concerts was so dense, and both the American and Canadian audiences were very hot and very receptive. Again, what more could someone ask for on their first tour?
Jake: Speaking of Dominique, I know you’ve spent some time playing as well as studying with him. Dominique has a very unique approach to the instrument, as well as his music in general. I wondered if he has influenced your approach to playing, as well as your musical outlook.
Hadrien: For me, Dominique was also kind of a revolutionary player in the bass world, although less known as far as his approach is concerned. As far as a chordal approach to playing the bass is concerned, no one has done it as well. And beyond that, his unique way of phrasing, and using all the scales and modes (melodic and harmonic minor—etc.) like a horn player, or a piano player, or a guitar player, sets him apart and helps him create his unique “voice” on the instrument. Add to that the speed and precision that is at his command, and yes, he has been an influence. I found his whole approach to be natural, and quite beautiful at the same time. He’s also one of the best as far as executing a great walking bass line. Bassists should strive to have all the knowledge of other instrumentalists; both harmonically and technically as well… you just have to be very careful where to use it.
Jake: There are a lot of dynamics in becoming successful in this business, a subject I talk about quite frequently in my interviews. I’m sure a lot of players, especially younger players, would be interested to hear your thoughts on how you feel you attained the musical status you’ve achieved so quickly, beyond your natural abilities as a bassist.
Hadrien: Your right, becoming successful in this business is a challenge, especially trying to get people to see and hear you, and then being available for them as well. Another point to deal with that can be possibly comforting, but most of the time actually irritating, is when you know you didn’t cut the situation, or played like s–t in your own opinion, and people come up to you and tell you how great you did, and sound. And beyond that, there are those who will just not like you no matter what. These are things you have to keep in perspective, and make sure that they do not interrupt you staying on course with what you know you need to be doing.
Jake: Your ability to improvise has already reached a very impressive level. This is definitely a recurring question for me, that being, what have you focused on in your improvisational studies that has helped you to create your voice?
Hadrien: I guess I’ve done what most other players have done. I just listened to a lot of instrumentalists’ on many different instruments, and studied their chops as well as trying to understand their way of thinking… Brecker, Corea, Lagrene, Mclaughlin, Otmaro Ruiz, Jean Pierre Como, Dipiazza, Garrison, etc. As far as my own “voice” goes, even with all that information, I don’t think I’ve really found it yet. I feel it is coming, but it’s coming slowly.
Jake: You’ve displayed an equal talent in your writing as well as your playing. The compositional process is always unique from player to player. Could you talk about how you go about constructing a tune?
Hadrien: Thank you. I don’t really have a concept for constructing a tune. I just think of a song in terms of part 1, part 2, bridge, part 1, etc, and try to link those ideas together. I want it to be interesting, and hopefully not too complex with the harmony and chords involved. I want my songs to be easy to understand for everyone, yet sophisticated and maybe a bit illogical at the same time, with a melody that everyone could walk away singing—always a challenge.
Jake: Tell me who is involved with your band Rumerus, and what your plans are for that particular group.
Hadrien: There are 5 members involved in Rumeurs–Jim Grancamp on the guitar, Damien Schmitt on drums, Michael Lecoq on keys, DJ Nanga on turntables, and myself. We are presently trying to put a tour together… this type of music is difficult to promote in France. It’s very hard to be taken seriously and acknowledged by those who are in charge of the business. Promoters just seem not to be willing to take a chance and let us prove that “fusion” is a viable art form these days… no more comments. Beyond that, we’re working on our next CD.
Jake: You’ve already built some amazing credentials for yourself—John Mclaughlin, Chick Corea, and Brieli Lagrene to name just a few. What are your goals and your hopes musically for the next few years?
Hadrien: My goals are simply just to be able to continue everything I’ve been doing these past few years. I look forward to meeting and playing with new players as much as I can, and be involved in as many exciting situations and projects as I’m able to, as a sideman, or new projects of my own. I just simply want to continue having fun in this business, and maybe to find the “new” concept along the way (lol), just like everyone else I guess.
Visit online at www.hadrien-feraud.com
And at his label, www.dreyfusrecords.com, Hadrien Feraud, Hadrien’s debut album