Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, Charlie walks into theirs…
OK, not quite. But for a city of nearly 25 million inhabitants, Shanghai can seem at times awfully small. And like the famed Casablanca café, the city is host to a complex array of characters who shouldn’t perhaps belong in the same scene but who – for different reasons and through different vicissitudes – find themselves connected by their coexistence in this particular limbo.
And so it was that, fascinated by the multicultural layers of this megalopolis (which can go from “futuristic laser virtual-reality parlor” to “archaic dim-lit narrow alley” in the short course of an elevator ride), Charlie T arrived in China with a handful of songs and a wide open mind.
Seeking to collaborate with local talent on Électriciennes‘ new EP, soon enough became evident that all roads led to a small cadre of international stars who have been brighting up the city’s musical nightlife for years. And thanks to their inestimable support, the album began to take shape. With the enormous voice of Anne Evenou – the international Jazz star with Classical roots – giving power and mystery to “Gone”, a track right out of the musical universe of Blade Runner. With Elle Blink’s sensual, flawless rendition of the electro-pop anthem “Polaroids”. With Alyona Lee’s masterful deconstruction of “To Be The One” – an acknowledgment of the often overlooked heartache that comes with leaving someone we love. With the playful amalgamation of Tina Zigura’s many nuances, building up to the techno-reggae of “This Time”. And with the timeless magic, grittiness and soul (nay: SOUL) of Denise Mininfield making a surprise appearance in the album.
Six months later, the result is a cathartic exploration. A deep musical conversation about colossal change, the ambivalence of desire, the nuances of self-worth, and the inevitable familiarity that comes with decades of listening to other people’s music.
The project now moves on to mixing. Alongside the Parisian tree-lined boulevards of Xintiandi, Charlie seeked to benefit from the sharp ear and impeccable taste of Benjamin L’Hotellier. Also, least we forget, the solid array of alloy and circuitry that is KerSound studios – which already powered albums by Quentin Paquignon, Tia Ray and Joelle Jay (and also created the sound design for, among others, Porsche and Ferrari; because, why not?).
And although we wouldn’t go as far as calling Charlie a drunkard, he would doubtlessly nod upon hearing Captain Renaud’s retort: “That makes Rick a citizen of the world”. That Charlie surely is. And to be sure, regardless of your musical inclination, this has been indeed the beginning of a number of beautiful friendships…