Author, composer and singer Serge Gainsbourg receives a foreign tribute at the Cité de la Musique retrospective in Paris. The bands include Japan’s Kenzo Saeki, John the Dog, and John Zorn from the US. Gainsbourg is no longer just French.
"I am a man with a head of sushi,” said the imperturbable Kenzo Saeki, showing up for the FRANCE 24 interview with a plush toy sushi on his head. Half rice, half man? Half serious, half kidding. That’s his way of celebrating Serge Gainsbourg, who’d once called himself a man with a head of cabbage. The Japanese pop singer’s homage balances fascination and farce.
Kaeki heard his first refrains of the French icon’s work at the time of the latter’s death. Starting in 1991, Japanese DJs began sampling Gainsbourg songs like “69, année érotique” (69, Erotic Year) and “L'eau à la bouche” (Mouth-Watering).
The sushi-headed man was heavily influenced by the sounds he heard. He added Japanese riffs to Gainsbourg songs, but kept the melodies intact. The result ? “Le Ponçonneur des Lilas” (“The Ticket-Puncher of Lilacs”) sounds
“One has to explain Gainsbourg in order to appreciate his music, because it’s so different,” he said. His friends tried to show him the double entendres and barbs that are part of Gainsbourg’s style. “But I’ve given up on translating it into Japanese,” he admitted.
Kenzo Saeki, Le Poinçonneur des Lilas, album "L'homme à la tête de sushi" (Sawasdee Productions)
A Japanese France Gall
John the Dog was also invited to the Cité de la Musique to represent Japanese Gainsbourgmania. She performs Gainsbourg-like "animal and sensual" riffs on the harmonica, clad in the costume of a German Shepherd.
John the Dog was initiated to Gainsbourg by John Zorn, a
Alex Dutilh, editor of the monthly publication Jazzman and a John Zorn fan, said, “I think Zorn was influenced by the evidence of melody in Gainsbourg. And of course, the provocative, asocial aspects must have appealed too.”
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Mick Harvey, The Ballad of Melody Nelson. Album "Pink Elephants" (Mute U.S.)
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The turnaround occurred in the
Gainsbourg’s success overseas is sometimes indecipherable. Last spring,
Date created : 2008-11-01