When the telephone rang, I was surprised to hear my friend and colleague Raphael Jonin, the well known mastering engineer and distinguish member of the AoS team, talking to me with such an intense emotion.
“- Hey Philippe, I’m working with an incredible guitar player, his name is Teta, he’s from Madagascar (a fantastic country for music). He’s so talented! I’m trying to save his mixes but I feel strongly that the quality of is not good enough. This is so frustrating! Maybe we should organise a listening session at your place with the producer and see what happens…”
For sure he really triggered my curiosity !
François Turlan, Teta’s producer, is a very nice and smart man, a school teacher who lives in Toliara (Tuléar), south west of Madagascar. He is really passionate about music and music recording.
The following day, he came to my place and we started to listen to the tapes…
I was immediately impressed with the quality of Teta’s music and his unique guitar playing style. Teta has a great voice and he is a very good composer too.
I felt that the quality of the recordings didn’t do him justice, but what could I say ? I didn’t know anything about the recording conditions, I just knew that François did his best. He is not a professional recording engineer but he’s got a great feeling with Teta and they like each other a lot. I didn’t want to send bad vibrations… And the music was there !
François asked me : “- what can you do for us ?”
I said: “- Listen, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do a much better mix, but let’s try ! Send me two or three songs with the multitrack sessions and i will try to do something.
Two days later François, back in Toliara, calls me.
“- Philippe, I think that it’s probably better to remix all the songs. Are you OK for the job and what is your price ?”
For me, it was out of the question to have a classic business relationship with François in Madagascar, one of the poorest country of the planet. No way !
The chalenge was to find the good idea…
“- François, I will remix all the tracks, but I don’t want your money. Can you try to organise a three weeks trip for us in Madagascar, not too far from the sea. I want to organise new recording sessions with Teta in real live condition in an exceptional environment”
So he did…This trip was a great human and musical experience. We drove for one and a half day from Antananarivo to Toliara in a van loaded with video and audio recording equipment. After three days at François’s place in Toliara, we traveled to Antsepoka, a totally isolated place with a splendid lagoon. Our recording “studio”, a small wooden hut, was right on the beach. That’s the reason why you can hear the waves on all the songs. I recorded a track just sitting on the beach with Teta, we filmed it too, and you can hear the sound of the Super 8 film camera mixed with the music. I like this kind of document, true documentary style.
In Madagascar we used two Nagra VI digital recorders and mostly Schoeps microphones. Everybody was playing together, siting in a tight circle. Vocals and instruments were recorded live and we did our best to finally capture the GOOD TAKE for each song… The same way legendary recordings from the fifties were recorded! That was a great time for concentration, patience and motivation.
Back to Paris I mixed the tracks in the studio, always trying to present as honestly as possible the so poetic world of Mister Teta.
To have a real feeling of this musical adventure, take a look at the slideshow I did with beautiful black and white pictures and some Super 8 pure analog footage…