Madeleine Besson
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Madeleine Besson


Band Blues Singer/Songwriter


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The Walker 1st album (p) & (c) Abacaba 2014



The Walker is the debut album of a woman who took the time to make it. Her songs have worn different costumes- silky cello, shimmering percussions, finely chosen scents... And then, the evidence came up: Madeleine Besson belongs to the ranks of Janis and Aretha. To those that don’t restrain the power of their voice and the strength of words. This girl rocks. "I want to stand up for that rock side of mine" she says, straightforward.
Her songs do not slip unnoticed under doors, folded into a silk envelope. They're like a thunder storm; they sweep in, then blow you away and overwhelm you. Rock, we said. And blues songs, like no other French girl dares to play. Deep soul songs, sensual and cosmic... a soul that was thought to be long-lost.
The album was recorded quickly, with the energy of a live performance. The producer, David Coulter (The Pogues, Bob Wilson, Tom Waits, Damon Albarn, Arthur H...) knows how to work fast and smart.
Madeleine slips easily and naturally between English and French. She spent her childhood in America, came back to France when she was 7 and attended a bilingual school. So many languages, so many cultures.... This is the culture that she grew up in. But not only...
For Madeleine was born into show business. Her mother is French director Coline Serreau and her father was Swiss director Benno Besson, who, together with Bertolt Brecht, created the Berliner Ensemble. All of her siblings and cousins are artists in France and Germany. "There's only music to make me express myself that well", she says. Still, the public discovered her when she was 18, in Coline Serreau's comedy 18 ans après, in which she played Marie, a lively and unruly young heroin. Yet Madeleine did not wish to become an actress.
Music was far too anchored in her mind. "They put a violin in my hands when I was 2. I didn't ask for that. It was a struggle. I only began to like it when I was 12, when I started to get a good vibrato. I don't dislike the fact that I was forced to do it." Even though she studied Shakespeare at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, most of her artistic education was musical. First the violin, the piano, and when she was 15, classical singing. After her French "baccalauréat", she attended Didier Lockwood Music Center and Bill Evans Piano Academy in France. She then returned to the US to attend the University for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. "I saw nothing of the city. I was studying during the day and playing in clubs at night".
She got into singing with this double strength: the world’s best teachers and multiple experiences, rigorous coursework and countless encounters. For years, she practised sheet music and played jam sessions, studied great classical works and created her own compositions; she studied the greatest musicians in history, and she played in bars... A scholarly education combined with the humble reality of the profession.
At recording studios, she learned how to manage a session and to control a mix by composing and recording film soundtracks and music for the theater; she switched from low-budget demos to high-budget recording contracts. But above all, she did live performances. Sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background. She played her own compositions in between covers and learned how to grip the heart and soul of an audience and never let it go. A story of sharing, energy, heart and desire. When she was 9, she fell in love with the Beatles' music. "My tastes are kind of old school but broad", she says, quoting Otis Redding, Etta James, The Black Keys, Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin, Elmore James, Pink Floyd...
Madeleine doesn't deny it: she belongs to "the Y generation, the one that was born and stuck between two generations - many dreams. I am a utopian yet a very concrete girl." Just like her album: a mixture of insolence and sweetness, enthusiasm and emotion, explosion and caress. A self-portrait. A revelation.