FANTAZIO
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FANTAZIO

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Fantazio didn't wait for the awakening of the media to federate these little gregarious crowds (...) Highly appreciated subversiveness flows into our doped imagination. - Liberation


“I’ll comply to your customs, if you accept my volume”. (Dick Annegarn, “Be´be´ E´le´phant”).
Fantazio emerged to Musicdom some day in 1985 or ‘86 – he can’t really remember – near the “Porte Dore´e” in Paris (middle-class east end), that’s when he decided that Fabrice (his real name) clashed a bit with his vision of things, and his punk mates... Since then, he has skimmed every Parisian bistrot elsewhere & beyond, and has scrambled throughout Europe with his double bass, always on the move. Today a little wiser, with 2 records under his belt, he tells us of the asperities of his delightful universe.
Fantazio : “What really interests me, are bastard forms”
Fantazio is an odd fellow. Fascinating. A tad schizophrenic as well. Seeing him in concert, surrounded by his Gang of musicians, is to enter a delightful and joyful universe, to be tossed around between a million influences, conducive to collective communion. “Fantazio fabricates friends”, as writes Thierry Pelletier (Psychobillly French author and musician).
To meet him - on the contrary, is to sound an unsuspected rift, an impromptu existential twinge, skin sensitive. In concert, the named “bashed fingered man” (by violating his cords) howls, growls, roars and simpers. Meeting him for a chat in a Chinese restaurant where red wine is over-flowing, he speaks calmly, with a soft and reflective voice, lingering on his dark side. Two opposites, linked in a wing-it way. A nice puzzle...
For those who haven’t yet crossed his path, Fantazio is a rather slight and threadlike bloke, who has wandered for a long time around Paris and Berlin, from squat to squat, pub to pub, street to street, equipped with a mishandled double bass and a wild capacity for imagination. A natural born “Saltimbanque”/ showman who has endlessly searched, questioned and tortured himself, before giving free rein to what he finally has in him, a musical patchwork oscillating between scruffy punk, simpered rap, improvised poetry, whispered Chinese gobbledygook, and explosive “musette” (popular French music played mostly live in the 30’s). An Elvis kind, with an experimental double bass side to him, living his quest for the Grail, his “popular music”, and whose words aren’t strong enough to vilipend those trying to bury it. In his second album, the well named “5 000 years of raw wild dance and large sashay steps” (La Triperie, 2009), he sings as if he were twisting a knife in the wound : “ Popular music, mother of
the streets, finds herself forced into a straightjacket, marked and signed, pierced; all her sold children don’t dance anymore, don’t sing; she’s not reacting anymore; the few kisses of life I tempted on her with polluted air just left her dead and naked”.
Autopsy of a nomad pachyderm
A figure appears frequently in Fantazio’s universe, like a messed-up mantra, embedded in his creations, that of an elephant. Elefantazio as he often explains half jokingly, half serious. No question of Babar or Corne´lius (characters in French children’s books). Here, the elephantesque side is dark, resembling the one in Dick Annegarn’s song : “Be´be´ E´le´phant”. It mainly comes from David Lynch, who in Elephant man, reveals the pachydermic becoming of mankind (or the contrary, who knows). Deformed, depressive, drifted. A vampire like image, sticking to him, he explains :
“Elefantazio comes from Elephant man. The poster of the film traumatized me when I was a kid, at a time when I loved elephants. I imagined myself as a super hero, disguised in an elephant suit, and when I understood that the film was about a deformed man hiding under a sheet, it drove me half mad : I had fits, and didn’t want to leave my house. The symbol affected me because it was linked to deformity, to the fact of being shown and seen as a freak. It’s also linked to a time when my mother was very ill – she died of cancer when I was ten. It was like a mental mix mash, something I was obsessed with. Popay, a graffiti artist, and a good friend helped me to deliver/reveal this pachydermic figure he would represent by graffitis of an elephant eating me up, imprisoning me. That’s how the elephant came to squat my universe.”
Pachydermic traumatism or not, Fantazio is first & foremost a mental universe, a reacting madness, spitting out a massive warrior cry to the world, as coarse as sandpaper.
Once upon a time this madness was withdrawn, or egotistical because it was shy. To understand the delightful “becoming” of who he is today, his actual incarnation, it would be impossible to neglect the first mishaps, the ill, but determined development, from 1989 when Fantazio started to roam equipped with his instrument : “I was incapable to play with other people, to adapt. So what I did was just to turn up anywhere, I was obsessed with the idea of unsuspected concerts, and improvisation. It took off in Berlin because people let me play everywhere. I wasn’t making songs, it was more like making rhythms with a little technical twitch, and screams on top.
I finally learned other forms from people like Denis Charolles (La Cie Musiques a` Oui¨r) – he’s someone who really impresses me, he plays everywhere with loads of people, and is physically engaged in everything he does – who put trust in me and encouraged me to open doors. Little by little I re-directed my musical approach by giving up what encumbered me. It’s a very occidental approach to believe that to learn something you have to add up what you know; to think that to become better you have to pile up knowledge. For me on the contrary, to progress is to remove all personal blockages and auto-censorship, to get lighter. Personally, I take this very physically. I move on by getting rid of the superfluous”.
Just listening to his two records, you can understand that “bastardness” is his golden rule. It’s quite impossible to make a list of all the different musical styles he tackles, with swords drawn. In concert, he has the same approach, metamorphosis is a drug for him whilst multiplying impromptu collaborations with other musicians.
A punk “musette” zouk prince, a devilish unifying factor. No wonder then that Fantazio took so long to make his first record, fearing that this would condemn his music which is free by definition, to captivity.
For Fantazio, music is something mobile and sacred, seductive and fleeing. You have to be a bit of a magician, a bit of an artful dodger to tame it, to make it dance on the burning coals. With his double bass quill-pen, a theme pops up regularly, that of “popular music”, he has yet troubles to define : “It’s quite difficult to put words on it, it doesn’t rely on the simple dichotomy underground/commercial. I wrote a text that said : “Popular music is like a whore who has 30 pimps on her back in each neighborhood”. When I left for China for a year in 1992, it affected me deeply. When I came back (to Paris) I found every kind of music to be nourishing. I had “de-rockabilized” myself. So then, my idea of popular music had de-materialized : now, I see it as something invisible that enters the body unexpectedly. It doesn’t belong to anyone, and the more you try to catch it, the more it escapes”.
Fantazio can see his popular music wandering away, deserting our sanitized streets. In short, popular music is at stand still : “I have the impression that everything is frozen, motionless, exhausted, that the Big Musical Story has stopped. Everyone is digging into what’s already been done. We are always influenced, whatever questioning you may have is always determined from a position you want to hold. In these conditions, popular music will always fly away because it’s something you can’t catch or grab. It’s there, lying asleep in people’s hearts. I’m amazed by those jazz schools, training people to create a music which is by definition wild and spontaneous. Music festivals are also places I deeply dislike, where even the idea of creation has disappeared, has been decimated”.
Dark picture : between loss of impetus and fits of enthusiasm, popular music would be an endangered species, like the Asian Elephant. Fantazio sings it his peculiar way : Ce train d’enfer me ment comme un arracheur de dents”. (Play on words impossible to translate ndt between infernal pace and confinement train: “This infernal pace/train of confinement/ lies to me worse than a mean fiddler/ fibber”.
Train of confinement that would be necessary to put off the tracks. Chop chop and with music if you don’t mind. - Article 11


The hexagonal equivalent of a Captain Beefheart, which in the heyday of Trout Mask Replica, pushed the boundaries of rock'n'roll, Fantazio deconstructs la chanson francaise, blues, punk and jazz (among others) into an avant-garde maelstrom belonging only to him. Impressive and stunning - Leitsmotiv


An Unidentified Musical Object. An expression often used haphazardly, but in this case, illustrates Fantazio’s universe perfectly. A true showman, a spirit haunted by an incredibly extravagant creativity, bringing together the most divers crowds over the course of his performance-like concerts.
Covered in childish tattoos, traumatised for a long time by the poster of the Elephant Man, his fictitious name inherited during his punk era, this wild individual is a character out of the ordinary and his music totally uncategorised. As if he and his doublebass where one, his fingers bashed by mishandling the cords, he has travelled with his peculiar music throughout different countries, concert halls, theatres, circuses, bars, street alleys and is now known since the beginning of the 90's as one of the most fantastic figures of the Parisian alternative scene.
If one had to name all the different styles in this musical ensemble (one might judge as having no head or tail), you could probably find as much scruffy punk as anxious jazz, archaic primitive hazy hip-hop, fine-spun reggae, brassy rock as well as electronic rhythms. A mixture between an aniseed brass band and a surrealist experimental work shop, the man-elephant and his Gang playfully dodge expectancies using noises that wander and tranquil sounds to the limits of obliteration. At the centre of these treasures of musical inventiveness, Fantazio narrates, sings with his malleable voice, spits out, roars, howls, becomes a malicious geisha or a crude crooner, his sudden outburst of words provoke strange stories in his own hallucinated storyteller posture. - Krinein Music


Discography

2010: Double LP « Lost and found sounds » Fantazio, Akosh.S et Denis Charolles (Fantaztic Records / La Triperie)
2009: CD et LP "5000 ans de danse crue et de grands pas chasse´s" Fantazio Gang (La Triperie / Pias)
2007: CD et LP « The Sweet Little Mother Fucking Show » Fantazio Gang (La Triperie / Pias)
2003: CD « Black Betty, Live a` Rennes » Fantazio, Dgiz, Stephen Harrison, Cyrille Andrieu (Les Ateliers du Vent)

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Bio

Born in 1972, in the saddest area of Paris, between Nation and the périférique.

1982 – Death of the Argentinean Mother.

1983 – Again in Argentina, gets kicked out of school for insulting the national flag.

1984 – Travels to Colombia. Trips in the jungle reading L’Arrache-Cœur by Boris Vian. Trips in Santa Marta marked by violent smells and by unreal atmospheres full of fruit juices and hard sun.

1986 – Punk era. In it. Student protests and the beginning of street concerts. 1989 – Experiences with the streets of theatre.

1992 – A year in China.
Comes back in a state of commotion. Stops buying records, urgent urges in researches for primitive sounds.

1994 – Goes off on a project with the Mano Negra and Royal de Luxe in Colombia, becomes deeply disillusioned by the alternative, protesty, underground scene, observing that there’s not much more solidarity than on the opposite side.

The Début of the implacable, implicated at 100% and ready to play absolutely anywhere.

The Chevauchée Fantaztic kicks off
1994 until 2000 - endless improvised solo grooves all over Europe : Berlin - Wild and spontaneous outbursts in Prenzlauerberg & Mitte in art galleries, bars and at the Berliner Ensemble... Then off to England, Spain, Switzerland. But escapes further to Japan & South America...

In 1993, realises that one can be deeply happy and violently sad at the same mother fuckin’ time.

1998 – Realises that a concert has to have a reason, a meaning to be. Funeral music for example has a purpose, a social reason... If there’s no real reason to play, then there’s no point in playing music in front of people. Discovering new purposes behind the established codes - is a meaning in itself. Music is a tool for something to happen. If music is just a race for success, the race is vain. Music is as precious and archaic as cooking.

In 2000, realises that in today’s society, to aim to play for an expected audience or professional network is suicidal.

2000 until 2010 – Melodic and textual constructions in 5 languages, French, Italian, English, Spanish, Chinese... Magical encounters with Parisian musicians : Hip-Hop crooners, Punk Rock’n’Rollers, Jazzmen... Sets up workshops with children, adults, teenagers, all with Autistic troubles. Does a lot of Surrealist Cabarets in Paris.

An average of I50 to 200 concerts played per year.

In 2003 – “Balck Betty” a project mixing Ol’ Timey with Hip Hop becomes an album.

2004 – First recording with The Gang after 10 years of deliberate vanished sounds, just to leave a trace : “The Sweet Litlle Mother Fuckin’Show”. Completely auto-produced and distributed by a coop. It did well, there’s none left.

2006 – A little musical tour in the Balkans.2007 – Other tours in other odd places like Algeria, Norway, Venice, but obviously France & Belgium. Starts to push on official venues to be able to federate those magical encounters met during those last 15 years, including graphic artists, painters, graffiti artists, actors, screen-printers, all sorts.
Odd tour in Germany, Croatia...

2009 – Records his 2nd album with The Gang and other oddities like René Lacaille. “5000 ans de danse crue...et de grands pas chasses” (5 000 years of raw dance a large sashay steps).

2010 – 2011
New production with René Lacaille & family. Release of the 2nd album ” “5000 ans de danse crue...et de grands pas chasses”. Concert at The Cabaret Sauvage (Paris).
Invited to the “International Improvisation Festival” at the Bouffes du Nord. (Paris). Improvisation workshops at the Royaumont Foundation.
New production with the Quatuor Bela / Moriba Koita/Fantazio for the Scène Nationale de Chateauroux.

Setup of Fantaztic Records label to record improvised projects on vynil:
Akosh. /Charolles/ Fantazio
Katherina Ex / Fantazio

One year residency at the Cité Internationale de Paris (cabarets, workshops, concerts).