Two Wooden Stones. Shélhôm (world music, DE)
Autor: Richard Constantinidi
Etichete: A Genesis, Bretagne, Germany, Jeau-champ, Le Turk, Leipzig, Looking For The Light, Louna Sbou, Matteo Roggero, Radio Beirut, Shélhôm, Tiny Dawson, Tunesisters Entertainment, World Music
Motto: Play acoustic, stay authentic and be passionate!
In 2008 the singer-songwriter SHÉLHÔM put his suitcase and guitar down in Leipzig. Having arrived from Bretagne (FR), he met JEAU-CHAMP (drums) and Two Wooden Stones was born. A few jams were enough for them to realize that they had a good vibe and only a couple of months later, the two musicians played their first gig.
During the year 2009, they met MATTEO ROGGERO who intoduced the double-bass in the songs. The last member to join was studio producer TINY DAWSON (keyboard/organ/guitar), who was in charge of recording the first demo.
Influenced by artists such as Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper, 16 Horsepower, Bill Withers, Nick Drake and Eddie Vedder, TWO WOODEN STONES experiments and juggles with differents styles, from Folk, Rock, Blues and Jazz to World Music.
We discovered the band recently on the internet and consider this a fine act with great potential, so we did an email interview with Shélhôm to find out more about Leipzig-based TWO WOODEN STONES.
RiCo for CZB: Why the ancient Roman toga image concept?
Shélhôm (vocals/guitar, Two Wooden Stones): As for all good recipies, it started with an accident. I got to see my oldest friend Le Turk who gently offered to take pictures and do the layout for our next album. I've always been admirative of his work and we decided to give him carte blanche to whatever he would choose to do. He listened to our music and decided to take this visual direction. The funny thing is that he really sensed what we are trying to do with our music. What better way to show someone's presence than with minimum accessories? Le Turk usually works a lot with naked models and this is why we trusted him about that. Of course, many people criticized this choice, comparing it to their own cognitive references (Game of Thrones, Roman Empire...) but we are fine with that. Le Turk would say: "There is no democracy in Art. If you start listening to everyone, you end up taking a school picture in front of a white wall". For me, and as the next album is a concept album about finding the light, I relate to these non-costumes as an allusion to Nietzsche's image of a philosopher with a hammer, in his birthday suit (attached photo 3) and a rejection of pre-chewed concepts: branded clothes, jewels... We are who we are in all our strength and imperfections and that's it! It can be seen as a flashback reference (Roman or Greek) or as a distopic version of us in a near future. We leave the door open to your imagination. But all in all, I' m really amused to see that people hate it or love it and nothing in between. This is usually a good sign.
CZB: Why did you consider it important for you at this time to travel and play in the Middle East, to become the first European band to do this?
Shélhôm (vocals/guitar, Two Wooden Stones): Our music is highly influenced by traditional music (in the composition, story telling or instrumental and vocal techniques) and when our booking agent Louna Sbou (tunesisters Entertainment) approached us with the idea of touring there, it made complete sense to finally get to share our music with the audience of these countries and hear their feedback and to get loads of new input for later. I believe everything happens for a reason and as well as I can't explain why I play music, why I always felt very close to the Arabic language and to the music of Eastern cultures, I can't explain why we had the chance to experience this tour. It just felt right. It had to be.
CZB: What was a major culture shock you experienced going to the Middle East?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): The culture shock was an "anti-culture shock": the major challenge was to unlearn what we thought we knew. Before leaving, many of my friends told me "Stay safe", "We hope you come back", etc.... it sounds stupid but they were really anxious about it. I am really interested in geo-politics and I knew I would discover a very different reality there than what our Western media has been selling us these past 20 years about this region of the World. What "shocked" me the most is to meet so many young people, who could speak at least 4 languages (Literary Arabic, the Arabic dialect of their country, English, French, even Japanese...). Coming from a country recently torn by war, you have to open yourself to the world and its cultures and many of them could tell me about their experience in Europe. I mean, as a comparison, who in Europe could point at Lebanon on a map.....?
Plus, the people we had the chance to meet on the way showed a big interest for politics and were aware of the machinery of their states. It is more than many of our fellows here who vote once every few years and never really get into the depth of it.
CZB: What was the best experience you had during the Middle East Tour?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): Drinking beer at 4 o'clock in the morning, in T-shirt, in the middle of the street, listening to exquisite Soul music, in front of the bar Radio Beirut. We literally fell in love with this city, its architecture, its food and the open mindedness of its youth.
CZB: Shélhôm, what meaning does your name have?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): Another accident... I had my first stage show in Glasgow in 2006 and you know the reputation about the Scottish accent....well, "Shélhôm" is just the mispronunciation of my real name. I just kept it, as well as the kilt I wear on stage, to remember where I musically come from.
CZB: Coming from Brittany (in France), why did you choose to study in Leipzig?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): I didn't study in Leipzig and neither did I choose...the heart did. Next question. ;)
CZB: Moving away from Bretagne, is there any local tradition that seems funny or outdated to you, now that you are not living there anymore?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): Never! I actually think we should rely more on our traditions and make the best of it. Europe has washed away many of them, saying that they are old-fashioned and retrograde. The Breton language and many other cultural aspects that used to make the richness of this region are slowly dying because of this argument. Evolution doesn't always mean Elevation. I'm okay with change but in which direction? Should we all speak a simplified Wall Street English (far away from the great Anglo-Saxon literary tradition), watch MTV and eat pre-digested food instead?
This is not Europe, as far as I recall.
Or I'd rather drink Ouzo and learn Greek.
It would historically make more sense.
This "coolness" just built a huge gap between the generations. And I strongly think that it is impossible to move on at peace if you don't know your roots or of you constantly feel displaced.
CZB: You raised funding for your debut album through VisionBakery, a German version of Kickstarter; where did you get the idea and how did you feel when you found out you could print vinyl copies of your debut album?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): Once again, we feel blessed by the encounters we made here in Leipzig and the guys from VisionBakery are friends of ours. We talked about it very naturally and it was a success. It is a very fine operation these guys are organizing. It has a lot of heart and they supported a lot of local projects which wouldn't have had enough exposure to succeed without this platform.
CZB: Has Looking for the Light been released and in what sense will it be more mature than A Gensis?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): A Genesis was a compilation of 7 years writing (I was very shy and slow in the process) and it took time for me to finally find the courage to record it. A kind of coming out..."I am a musician now". In that sense, it is a very introspective album. I tried to write differently for Looking for the Light. I've had these four words in mind for the past 3 years and already knew it would be the title of the next album. I've been questioning this concept under different perspectives: philosophy, spirituality, animism, politics, love....I try to share my contrasted reflexions about what "light", losing it, looking for it... means to me. Musically speaking, I left much more freedom to Jeau-Champ (drums), Tiny Dawson (keyboard) and Monsieur Simon (double-bass) in the creative part and we want to offer something different than what we do on stage. I personally don't like to hear a band doing exactly the same thing on stage as in the studio. That's why we decided to add many more instruments on the album this time. If everything goes well, the album should be released in February 2014.
CZB: What does Two Wooden Stones mean to you?
Shélhôm (Two Wooden Stones): It is much more than a band to me. It is a family project and I couldn't imagine playing with musicians who are not like brothers to me. We move in the same direction in order to bring joy or share impressions with our audience. We have sacrificed a lot to make it happen and none of us ever complained about it. As I have quite a spiritual approach to Music, I'd say that I didn't choose to meet these fantastic musicians and all the combinations of events that led us there.
It just happened and it feels brilliant.
Interview conceived by: RiCo
- SHÉLHÔM (vocals/guitar)
- TINY DAWSON (keyboard/organ/guitar)
- MONSIEUR SIMON (bass)
- JEAU-CHAMP (drums)
- A Genesis (2011)
- Looking for the Light (2014)
Cover Photo: A.Antozzi
Attached Photos: Liliane Rahal
Many thanks to Louna Sbou @ tunesisters Entertainment for the interview opportunity
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