Where the melancholy comes from? We know how it goes on, how it feels. All silently, sweet and dark. A soft, silent and sweet darkness, this is melancholy. Just like a chat noir. All tiny, warm, liquid and intense. Just like jazz but without the tiny. Jazz is everything but tiny. Its vastness opens the spaces for musical exploration to artists that go beyond boundaries of genres.
Chat Noir is a band that goes there where jazz intertwines with electronic music, noise, experimental, rock and ambient music. Beginning as an acoustic jazz trio in 2001, it all evolved to what is now called some hybrid modern music. Their latest project, Hyperuranion brings the Chat Noir’s co-founders, keyboardist Michele Cavallari and bassist Luca Fogagnolo together with the guitarist Daniel Calvi (who contributed as a guest on the group’s previous release, Nine Thoughts For One Word) and Nils Petter Molvaer on four tracks. Endearing, daring and free, Chat Noir is the story of music told by friends exploring “the outer limits of what it can be”.
So, it was keyboards and bass at the beginning and then added a guitar… How did you guys met, actually, and what brought you together as a band?
We started as a jazz piano trio piano, double-bass, and drums in 2001. The evolution of our style has reshaped our band throughout the years, and now we are a four piece band – the three founding members (Michele Cavallari on keys, Luca Fogagnolo on bass, Giuliano Ferrari on drums) and Daniel Calvi on guitar. From the beginning our band was rooted in longstanding friendship among us.
What about the name, Chat Noir?
The name has two main references. One is the bohemian vibe of the late nineteen century’s entertainment establishment in Paris depicted by a famous Henri- Toulouse-Lautrecs poster. Luca had that poster in his house and his brother suggested naming our band Chat Noir. Another reason behind the name is the album Le Pas du Chat Noir by Anouar Brahem, one of our all-time favorite composers, which was released in 2001 when we were about to start.
You played nicely with words and images on your album Weather forecasting stone. How you guys get there, at names of songs or albums? It seems quite a fun, interesting process…
It is a fun process that we like, although we don’t have a precise scheme of doing it. It just happens. Given the primarily instrumental nature of our compositions, we usually choose titles based on feelings that particular music brings to us. But we often try to come up with general concepts that leave some space open for processing and interpretation by the audience. Weather forecasting stone was a peculiar and unusual case. It’s basically a concept album with the title of the tunes related to one another. The titles of the albums and tracks are based on a funny sign we saw in Norway during a vacation, but we liked the magic aspect of the concept.
What about the experimental part of your music. Are you all into it?
We all come from a music background that involves experimentation and improvisation. That aspect has been always present in our music, although the way we experiment has changed over time different instruments, for instance more and more electronic devices, and different settings to freely explore the possibility of our music, which is a mix of individual and collective explorations.
What other projects are you into? And I am not referring exclusively at music here.
Although music is a big part of our lives, we all have other interests for instance Luca is also a writer, and Michele a neuroscientist.
Not the first time in Romania. Is there anything that you remember? Something that you observed or just is worth mentioning about Romania, from your experience?
We really enjoyed spending time in Romania. Bucharest and Transylvania are our favorite places so far. I always recommend my friends to go visit such a beautiful country. Bucharest is a unique mix of a vibrant city with an old history, a true hidden jewel (for people who have never been!). We also had a lot of fun, people were always friendly, and showed some genuine interest and curiosity about our music.
Have you ever had blisters on fingers?
We did, though we can’t scream louder than Ringo so we decided to sample him!
Do you feel your music, as a group but also individually, evolved or changed somehow and what was the trigger of that if any?
Our style has changed a lot from the beginning of our production as a jazz trio to the hybrid electronic sound that we are proposing now. It’s been a natural process though mainly derived from our personal taste and music we were more inclined listening to.
What do you like listening to right now?
We still listen to a lot of classic jazz and rock, but we definitely incorporated more electronic music in our playlists lately and everything in between! Some of our major influences in terms of bands that are still active are Jaga Jazzist, Tortoise, The Flaming Lips, Jon Hopkins…
This article evolved with the help of Dani Alexandru Cruciat.