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Interview: Stephane Wrembel

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Interview: Stephane Wrembel

This image shows a structural light test of a Bob Holo Hotclub model. Notice the smaller braces used to help support the bridge. Photo courtesy of Bob Holo

What is it about those scores that draws you in?
I can’t tell you. I have no idea. There is just something about it. You know, there is just so much you can’t explain about music. I don’t go too far as to say I like a certain kind of harmony because it’s beyond that. When you listen to music, either something touches you or it doesn’t. It’s not because of the notes, the notes are the same. It’s just something else.

Do you have aspirations to do more movie and soundtrack work?
As of now, people know me and have asked me to score their film. I don’t really have much of a clue as to how it comes about. There are agents that do some of that stuff, but I don’t really have an agent right now. It’s a tough book to open. Usually, when [directors] have a movie, they want to work with someone they already know who will do a certain kind of score. They fall into this security. That’s the reason why the whole film scoring industry is held by like, I don’t know, 20 composers. There are not many composers who have access to bigger movies.

On “Voyager” you pay tribute to what could be considered an unlikely influence: astronomer and author, Carl Sagan.
He translates to us the wonders of the universe. In his books and everything, I just think he has a way of saying things that are so brilliant at explaining how the universe works. Thinking about Voyager 1, that’s his mind. That thing is traveling through space right now. It’s like a mind warp. If it hadn’t been for him, we wouldn’t have pictures of Saturn and Uranus. We wouldn’t have pictures of any of the moons. Nowadays, humanity is more concerned about economies for themselves, like just making money and cheap labor instead of looking to the stars. It just makes me dream to think about the stars.

Was the album recorded live in the studio?
We recorded live in the same room without headphones. Just live. Like really live.

How did you mic up the guitar?
I have no clue. That’s a question for my producer. I have a few things in my home studio, so I know how to record my guitar and stuff. I think he had two or three mics.

Tell me about the guitar you used on this album.
I used a Bob Holo Nouveau model with a cedar top. [For more information on Wrembel’s guitar, read “Bob Holo on Stephane Wrembel’s Nouveau Guitar” on pg. 134]

What type of strings and picks do you use?
I use D’Addario strings and a Wegen pick.

Do you use the really thick ones?
It’s a little bit thick but not like those huge things.

Like a 2 mm?
Yeah, I don’t even really know the size. I recognize them online, click on the photo, and then buy them.

Even though your music has its roots in Django’s music, you are pushing beyond playing jazz standards. Do you feel connected to Django’s legacy or is he just one of your influences?
The Django community, whatever that is, is a big competition. It’s like, “Can I play the new lead faster than you?” I have no clue what is going on with all these guys—I just like to play my music and compose. You can hear the influence of Django and I love to play the acoustic guitar. I found a good sound with that by mixing it up with the drums, but I don’t try to play like Django. I am more influenced by Pink Floyd than anything else. My music doesn’t really belong to any genre.

Stephane Wrembel's Gear

Guitars:
Bob Holo “Nouveau” model with a 50-year-old Western red cedar top and Honduran rosewood/ walnut/mahogany back and sides, Gitane DG-340 Stephane Wrembel signature model (“I brought mine in to be refretted, and I decided to leave it fretless! So I can play it like an oud. I usually don’t play it live—more in the studio.”)

Amps:
AER Compact 60

Strings:
D’Addario .010s with the top string changed to an .011.

You take a pretty DIY approach to your career. What do you have in mind for the next album?
I am completely independent, I don’t have a label or anything, so I do everything myself. I put one foot in front of the other. Right now I am taking care of touring behind this album, so I would say for the rest of the year I will tour and then I will think about composing more. I have a few ideas right now that I am putting in the can, more movie-like stuff.

Will it be in the same vein of Origins?
I don’t know. Right now, while I try to perform this album, I can’t think of the next one yet. I started to put bits of things together, but I don’t have a definite color yet.

gSpeaking of Pink Floyd, have you had a chance to see Roger Waters’ The Wall tour?
I’ve seen it 12 times—eight in Europe and four in the States— and I have a cool photo of him and I because he came to see me play last year. After that we went out for dinner, it was really fun and such a great experience.

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