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On The Table Read, “the best arts magazine in the UK“, jazz musician Maëla Raoult talks about her music career and her latest release, Over The Rainbow.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Maëla Raoult about her life and career, what inspires her music, and the work that went into her latest single, Over The Rainbow.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Maëla. I’m a French clarinetist. I’m from Brest, in Brittany. I started playing music when I was a child. I settled in Paris when I was 18. I studied classical music in Paris and Brussels. I’m a professional musician for 10 years. I played in many orchestras, chamber music groups, contemporary and jazz ensembles. I play the clarinet and the bass clarinet. I’m a specialist of chamber music and contemporary music but I can also improvise in jazz and all styles of music.
When did you first WANT to write music?
Writing music came to me very late. My first job is to be a performer. I play classical music, contemporary music and jazz. I had writing lessons in Brest when I was 15 and then harmony lessons in Paris and Bruxelles.
Writing jazz came to me very late because my level of exigence is quite high. I tried and tried again finding everything imperfect. I think you have an interior journey to do, finding who you are before beginning to write something meaningful.
When did you take a step to start writing music?
I started writing music in a critical moment of my life. I had health problems (neck tumor). Everything around me seemed to be fuzzy and clear at the same time. It was a revelation for me. I finally was on the way to understanding my own story. I wanted to express the injustices in the world, the dangers of life. It was the time to write the sounds, rhythms and colors I had in mind. I felt a bit like damned. I had just stopped smoking and was in search of the light.
What was your first piece of music released, and what inspired it?
My first piece of music released is my album Avalon. It’s an arrangement of famous jazz standards. Some of the songs were recorded during the COVID pandemic.
What was your latest music released, and what inspired it?
My last music released are my album Reflections which is all about contemporary music and a new arrangement of a jazz standard, my single Over The rainbow.
On Reflections I play pieces composed by my friends Sina Fallahzadeh and Michel Lysight and other contemporary pieces of clarinet repertoire like The Three Pieces for solo clarinet by Igor Stravinsky, the Sonata for clarinet by Edison Denisov, the Fantasie by Jörg Widmann and other pieces.
Over the Rainbow is a personal arrangement of the famous standard interpreted in the film « The Wizard of Oz ».
Focusing on your latest piece of music. What were your biggest challenges with Over The Rainbow?
My challenge is to give something new and modern to people. To give them my best, with my skills and finding something authentic to express, to relate.
What are you working on right now?
I’m writing a new album for jazz quintet. It’s called Hyppocrate. I have a few songs in it : Sisters Grimm, Mutiny, Jaily Summer, Round Up…
No arrangement for this one. Only in edit songs composed by myself.
Do you keep to a theme with your music, or just go where the mood strikes?
I try to be as actual as I can with my music. My classical and contemporary influences can’t leave me but my mother lived in Algeria when she was a child.
So African beats and rhythms are frequently recognizable in my music.
What is your favourite piece of music you’ve recorded, and what do you love about it?
I think it’s Over The Rainbow. No speed race this time. Only music.
Do you find other people’s music inspires you? Who do you listen to most?
Other people’s music is absolutely essential. My favorite jazz composers are Ron Carter, Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis but I can’t live without Debussy, Bach, Mozart or Stravinsky’s music.
Do you record and produce your own music, or pay musicians and producers?
I record and produce my own music.
What instruments do you play?
I can play the clarinet and the bass clarinet.
Do you like performing live, or does it scare you? Where can people watch you?
As a musician I obviously like performing live.
Is your music available to the public, and where can people listen to it?
My music is available on all digital platforms. You’ll find more information on my social networks and my website.
Are you able to make music full time, or do you have day job?
I was a teacher for ten years but it was too complicated to do both so now I’m only making music.
Are your friends and family supportive of your music career?
My parents always believed in me. They helped me all the time. My friends also support me. I can’t live without them.
What’s something you never expected about writing music ? What have you learned that surprised you?
Maybe it’s vying. It’s something I can’t understand and which is not compatible with expressing yourself. You need to be competitive and challenge yourself all the time but some people need to ruin others to feel good. I think it’s not compatible with being a good musician…
Have you had any experiences that really stand out because of your music?
Making new acquaintances, visiting new places.
Do you have any important events coming up we should know about?
I also write teaching books for young clarinetists. A new edition will be available soon. A new single will also be available on digital platforms in a few weeks.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to write music?
The first advice I could give would be to stay open minded and connected to the present.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I think I did my best. What I’m proud of is that I had my own way..
Pop all your music, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Website : https://maelaclar.org/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/maela.clar
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/maela.clar/
Linkedin : https://www.linkedin.com/in/maela-raoult/
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