##Some artists are simply born into music, while others find and travel more or less traditional roads to it. French crossover singer/songwriter and guitarist/double bass player (and actress) Roxane Arnal, who has made a splash on the Valencia scene, recalls two defining moments.
– I first discovered music when I was still a little girl of five. My parents brought me to a classical concert, I think it was Georges Bizet. It was practically love at once, and afterwards, I told them: This is what I want to do. They understood that I was serious beyond my young age, and let me take classes from then on.
At age 14, she found history repeating itself with a twist of genre when she was at the club Utopia in Paris, and came across the blues, listening to some of the capital’s veterans of the craft.
– Again, I had that tremendous, overwhelming feeling – This is it! – and, so to speak, got the blues. In a musical sense, of course! I listened to as much as I could, practiced all the time, and really felt at home. I play many kinds of music, but the blues will always be in my heart and soul.
Anyone who has heard her acoustic guitar-playing can testify to that. This writer even has a strong hunch that Ms. Arnal actually might be a reincarnation of some old master from the Mississippi delta …
Some three years later, she was getting bored of school – and ready for her debut.
– Performing live offers flexibility and the opportunity to improvise, and I like that. For example, playing off the mood in a club – no show or audience is ever the same, and that is one of the biggest thrills of attending a concert. And of giving one. I had met and befriended guitarist Michel Ghuzel, so we formed a duo named Beauty and the beast, and have remained working together to this day.
The pair’s music is impossible to limit to a just single label, and might best be called a potpourri that swings.
Thanks to her various engagements, Roxane later met Valencia-based jazz pianist Baptiste Bailly (profiled in 24/7 Valencia #224: https://247valencia.com/valencia-music-baptiste-bailly-trio-release-new-album-exclusive-interview/), and another collaboration saw the light – and sound – of day.
Their encounter soon led to an invitation to her first performance in Spain, three years ago at the popular Valencia bar La Vitti. That gig has since been followed by plenty more at many of the region’s most well-known venues, in the company of local talents such as Ales Cesarini, Mariano Steimberg, David Gadea, and Andres Belmonte.
– I was really fortunate to meet and get to know Baptiste. Beside our friendship and personal relation, the music and inspiration, he has opened up so many doors for me, and introduced me to so many important people. He had already been living in Valencia for a couple of years at the time we met, building an extensive network and making a name for himself. It surely made for a smooth arrival, and I am for ever grateful.
As a return favour of sorts, Roxane has also brought the French all-female country/folk outfit Dear John into town, a band where she plays the bass and sings.
– They needed a new bass player, knew about me, asked me to join them, and there you go, things just fell into place, and have kept rolling along. All the way to Valencia.
Somehow, despite her busy schedule and various projects, Roxane has also found the time to compose and make a record with Baptiste Bailly at the local studio Jazztone, an album that’s named Doorways and planned for release ”sometime after the summer”, depending on how a certain pandemic plays out,
When asked about her creative process, she explains:
– The music often comes before the lyrics. Individually, or in a group, a composition usually comes out of an improvisation that we are looking at, and on which we are starting to think more and more. Generally, it becomes less and less visceral, and the song quickly loses its meaning. Often, I end up throwing it away.
– Later, though, a new composition can come out of this procedure, with all the elements that have been digested by time and the song’s very own life that is making its way. As the saying goes, the day you plant the seed is not the day you pick the fruit. Sometimes, it can take as long as half a year.
At the moment, Roxane is staying with her family in France, waiting for the Corona lockdown to be lifted.
– We’ve been lucky and are doing fine, thank goodness! In these uncertain times, we can only hope for the best and wait, but when the time finally comes, I’m heading back to Valencia, to resume playing in the places that have been so welcoming – and hopefully others, too. In the city, in the community, and even beyond!
We’ll be expecting you, mademoiselle! Because you are certainly worth waiting for.
– Rik Wordsmith
(Roxane photo by Hugues Faye)
Beauty and the Beast: