Simon Carpentier, winner of Music In Motion’s Songwriter category, and his Her band mate Victor Solf have history together. Maybe that’s what makes them so compatible. Both are French natives, though each also spent time in other countries before connecting in high school.
As with many musicians, the attraction to music hit them both early. Simon took up the saxophone for several years before learning to play guitar and bass and joined several different bands. Victor sang in a local choir before learning to play blues on the piano. Now with one band under their belt that enjoyed some early success, they’re earning critical recognition (from Pharrell Wlliams for one) and gaining fans around the world with Her.
When Simon heard about the competition the possibility of working with judge Andrew Scheps was a big pull. As Simon says, “We thought it could be a great experience so we decided to sign in.” Andrew has engineered and mixed for some of the world’s biggest names in music including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, Metallica, Jay Z, Weezer and Audioslave. Plus, Simon and Victor needed a little creative inspiration to get their Music In Motion-winning “Love and Hate” track to the finish line. “Actually I was kind of at a dead end with the song,” he explains. “I didn’t know what to do with the song, which is about the duality of love and hate.” He says with a smile, “it mirrors the duality of our band.”
The value of precision
To help get the song the rest of the way there, Her’s sound engineer Michael Declerck used Pro Tools extensively, as he does for all of their music. While Michael uses the ‘classic stuff’ – the automation tool and plug ins – he particularly appreciates the precision and seamless capabilities of the system. “I like mixing with Pro Tools,” he says. “The timeline is very precise and I like the selection of sounds; the automations are also very cool.” For Michael, once the tools are at your fingertips, it’s all about how you use them. In addition to the range of capabilities afforded by various plug ins, he points to the playlist and set up. “I also really like the way you can create and manage the best set up. It’s very exact. The playlist is a tool – the way it’s organized is very helpful.”
Just as precision is important to Her’s music-making process, so are the more emotional aspects of their creativity. Both musicians feel it’s important not to rush, to take the time to be thoughtful and considered in how they produce their music.
It’s an approach that seems to be working. While Simon and Victor are French, they’ve toured extensively around Europe, including in the UK, and performed their first-ever US show earlier this year. And audiences are responding enthusiastically. The more people hear, the more they want to explore this music that has a smooth sensual quality while still having an edge.
Their sound and their sensibility might be distinctly French but they sing in English with no discernable accent, which isn’t surprising given their inspirations. Simon lists the Motown scene and black American music in general as influences. They also love the sounds of Kendrick Lamar and James Blake.
Stay on track
For Simon the most important tip he can share with other aspiring musicians is the simplest. “Focus on the music,” he says. The implication is that all of the other ‘stuff’ is there but not important. “There are so many other things – the social networks, videos. Sometimes people forget that it all begins with music.” Maybe this single-minded focus that guides Simon and Her is also what’s propelling them to new heights in music. Given them a listen. You’re sure to see, and hear, some big ideas and thoughtful music.
To learn how Pro Tools can help you on your music-making journey, visit the Avid website. Then download Pro Tools | First for free to start composing, recording, editing and mixing using the same tools as the pros.