(Make Me a) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 43: Olivier Rocabois

Olivier Rocabois (credit: Alain Bibal)

Self-taught Breton singer-songwriter Olivier Rocabois was born in 1974. Quite soon he abandoned his studies in law and history to devote himself to his passion: Anglo-Saxon pop, The Beatles and their descendants. He, then, founded a myriad of groups in Rennes and then in Paris. ALL IF group was created in 2008 with Antoine Pinchot and Valentin Dutrey. A hundred concerts and a couple of self-produced records later, the album Absolute Poetry was released in the summer of 2017 (Pschent Music / Alter K). He also created a cover duet with German musician Jan Stümke: Puppets Of Digression. In addition, Olivier gladly lends his pen and/or his voice to more electronic obedience projects: Slove, Plaisir de France, Fedou, Kool Bandits, Now. Married, father of two boys, he lives as a recluse in his cottage in Yvelines. Raised on cult albums (Ram by McCartney, Giant Steps by the Boo Radleys), Rocabois developed an eclectic taste for the refined and the organic. His first solo record, the magnificent Olivier Rocabois Goes Too Far, was released on April 2, 2021 for the Acoustic Kitty label.

What Olivier Says: “This is the closing track on the album “Olivier Rocabois Goes Too Far” and probably my favourite song. Or “songs” should I say: 7 minutes and as many songs rolled into one!

About the album: “An assured and rich selection of texture and tonal majesty Olivier Rocabois Goes Too Far is that rare slice of authenticity in an increasingly synthetic world.  Quietly elegant, it skims and slides with effortless aplomb to herald a man at the height of his abilities. Never showy for the sake of being so, it unfolds like an opening bloom which will improve the mood and caresses the senses of the listener with repeated plays. A series of deft touches brings each song to the level of some soulfully baroque street-side opera.”
(Robert Cochrane – Culture Catch
)

His Mixtape:

Harry Nilsson – I Said Goodbye To Me

I’ve always loved Harry, since Day 1. I saw him as my imaginary elder brother, we
would be drinking and singing our hearts out. The bittersweetness of his music is the
key. In the beginning I was trying to convey these opposite feelings through my
songs: trying to figure out how to take my own life while singing a pure and beautiful
melody: that was my goal during my late teenage years. It set the tone for the
future tricks and traps of songwriting as far as I was concerned. This alternate
version has an air of eeriness with the cello and flutes that shows how good Harry
could be.

TIM BERNARDES – As Histórias Do Cinema

Another young talented man from Brazil. I can listen to his album for days on end.
The last 60 seconds are a gift from outta space. Brazilian music is like my secret
garden, I often play Jobim songs at the piano as a warm-up. The roots and seeds
planted by the MPB are still growing, their offspring are countless (check Irmão
Victor from Pop Supérette, a great French label). Bernardes recently covered “Baby”
with the legendary Gal Costa herself.

Benny Andersson (ABBA) – Thank You For The Music

How can you not love ABBA? This song displays once again Benny and Björn’s
savoir-faire. They were able to build pop cathedrals. Frida and Agnetha’s voices
were the perfect match. When I was 7, I discovered their music with “The Visitors”,
their last studio album (before the unexpected comeback of 2021). My parents were
breaking up at the time so their tunes are always related to traumatic events. I never
listen to ABBA while I’m doing the dishes. They have to be ritualised, deep listening
sessions! Headphones de rigueur! Benny plays a beautiful piano version here. Most
tellingly, I borrowed the “Thank You For The Music” title to express all my
thankfulness to my friends and relatives on my latest album’s credits.

Andrea Laszlo De Simone – Dal Giorno In Cui Sei Nato Tu

A great Italian songwriter, this Laszlo de Simone. I love his big ‘stache too! Some of
his tunes remind me of Lucio Battisti, my all-time Italian hero. I really enjoy
the lamento quality of these melodies. I was reborn twice in Italy: once when my wife
and I got married in Garda (Veneto), then a second time a few years later when I quit
drinking and smoking (all at once!) after serious health issues. I love this country, my
gratitude and my debt towards my in-laws are immense. The whole album is great
but being a father of two, if I had to pick one, this number should be fitting!

Billy Nicholls – Would You Believe?

I want it to be played at my funeral! This song epitomizes all that I like about the mid to-
late 60s London pop excellence: youth (Billy Nicholls was only 18 when it was
recorded), the Small Faces are the backing band (Steve Marriott is in great shape
here!), drug references, childlike backing vocals, heavenly strings and brass.. I feel
like strolling around Hampstead Heath on a hot summer’s day before going to see
The Flaming Lips at Ally Pally (It did happen actually a few years ago and that was
probably my happiest day on the British soil).

Field Music – When You Last Heard From Linda

My favourite band of the 21st century. I admire the Brewis Brothers. They’re so
creative and prolific: almost keeping up with the incredible (by today’s standards)
pace of one (good) album a year. They create their own universe by blending so
many different influences (Kate Bush, David Byrne, Beatles 66, Left Banke, XTC,
Prince, Prefab…the possibilities are endless). Love the strings too, could have been
Jean-Claude Vannier or Dead Can Dance.

Curtis Mayfield – The Makings Of You

This one should be played when you enter the Gates of Paradise, if such things exist
outside Florence! Once again, the arrangements are so smart and beautiful. Curtis
was so important in the history of black music in the US. The quiet pulse of the song
flows so naturally and gracefully. It feels like a kiss on the forehead or a big hug.
Mayfield’s music helps you believe that “this life is the best we’ve ever had” to quote
Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy.

George Harrison – Isn’t It A Pity?

Having been a Beatlemaniac since the age of 16, I’ve been thinking about George
and his bandmates on a daily basis ever since. Everything’s been said and written
about the Greatest Worldwide Joy of the 20th century. This masterpiece from All
Things Must Pass always makes me cry. Nina Simone’s version is unbeatable
(Giorgio himself was impressed), Elliott Smith sang it too, Galaxie 500 also gave it a
try. But I had to choose the over-the-top-fully-Spectorized original version for our
mixtape, dear Francesco.

Hidden track:
Money Mark – Hand In Your Head

The soundtrack of/to many neverending parties. We used to give it a thousand spins,
the structure/melody/hooks are so cleverly crafted. Even the coda. Crazy infectious.
Everything is in its place. I can’t help dancing like some sort of bear tamer, I feel as if
in a trance.

Olivier Rocabois Goes Too Far is out now on Acoustic Kitty. Look HERE for more information on Olivier Rocabois.

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