Musician Eric John Kaiser Goes on Tour in Louisiana [fr]
French-American musician Eric John Kaiser speaks to us in an exclusive interview about his new album Idaho and his March tour in Louisiana.
Read our interview and visit his website, ericjohnkaiser.com for more information, to listen to his music, and search for dates to meet him in person.
Your name is Eric John Kaiser, that’s not very French, is it?
In fact my real name is “Jean-Pierre Baguette”, but it doesn’t sound as good as Eric John Kaiser… Plus seriously, I spent the majority of my life in Paris but my grandparents were Alsatians, which is where my family name “Kaiser”, with its German resonance, originates. On the other side of the family, my mother is American and “John” is my maternal grandfather’s name.
You live in Portland, do you find similarities between Louisiana and Oregon?
Not really. In terms of climate they already seem very different. Here it rains a lot and they’re not the same temperature.
Culturally, as well, I think there are a number of differences. Oregon is a fairly young state in the US. It’s a little like the last frontier of the west, a country of pioneers. Everything there is new. Louisiana, on the other hand, seems to have a prestigious past and a rich history with very diverse influences.
As opposed to Portland and Oregon, the musical heritage of Louisiana is also older and more striking. This is why it’s always a pleasure to come discover all of this richness.
What are your inspirations for writing and composing your songs?
Principally my travels and encounters. I hugely admire American singer-songwriters. This art of recounting a story, with a guitar in hand, and capturing people’s attention. Since 2006, I’ve been lucky enough to tour the West Coast, Idaho, Montana, Canada, and Louisiana. I am often inspired by these adventures and by the people I meet while on them. My inspirations are often anchored in reality, in the absurdity of life. I try, in my own way, to give a sense of those things.
At the same time, musically, I’ve always liked rhythm and blues. I try to add a dose of “groove” in the things that I do. I find that in American popular music, this mix of melodies, stories, and a certain groove is often very successful. This mixture is part of the culture here, of the folklore. A large part of this groove pulls from the roots of New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole, one of the cradles of blues music.
Aside from this, since living in the US, I’ve rediscovered, with pleasure, the great names of “la chanson française” such as Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, and Brassens. I admire their love of words. It’s also a part of me and my identity that I can never lose. Therefore I try to combine all of this. A melting pop!
The title of your new album is “Idaho”. American culture has an idea of what the state of Idaho represents. Being Franco-American, why name your CD after the state?
I went to isolate myself for some time in an old hotel (The Riverside Inn) in Lava Hot Springs right in the middle of Idaho. It’s a cowboy hotel situated around hot springs. Each morning I would write songs and each afternoon I’d gallivant around the magnificent spaces of the American West. I loved to lose myself in these grand expanses. It was truly different from Paris, the city where I was born. Logically, most of the songs were written there, so I named the album Idaho. A little like a travel notebook.
What are you expecting from your second visit to Louisiana?
This will be, actually, my third time in Louisiana. I was truly in a rush to return. I have the impression that each time I discover something new, whether musically, historically, or culinarily. This is truly a unique state in the US, a bottomless well.
There is also a French heritage that remains very strong. It’s a little like visiting French cousins in America! Musically, I also look forward to sharing the scene with local groups like the Lost Bayou Ramblers, La Recolte Band, Russell Welch Hot Quartet, and Mechiya Lake. There are so many talented performers and a sound unique to Louisiana, that you can only find here. This trip is a chance for me to return and immerse myself once again in your culture. I’m very grateful for it.
I hope that people appreciate my music and the songs in my new album, Idaho. One of my dreams as a musician is to one day record an album in New Orleans… so stay tuned. Thank you for everything and hope to see you again very soon.