You may not think of rock ‘n roll when you think of France, but we certainly did when we chose The Fairchilds as our Featured Artist for May! Bringing their sound to the States is but one of many passions for Renaissance frontman Cyril Niccolai. Check out our exclusive interview to hear about his unique musical past, touring as Romeo in Asia, and how Alice Cooper made it cool to come out as a golfer!
1) Tell us about growing up in Paris and how that influenced your music?
Growing up in France definitely shaped my career choices and my current lifestyle. France being such a small country I knew very early on that I wanted to travel and discover the world. I was born and raised in the south of France, in the city of Nice and I’ve had a very “normal” childhood. Both my parents are doctors, so going to medical school was a natural choice for me. Even though, sciences and medicine in particular were a true passion of mine, I felt pretty young that my heart was dangerously attracted to music. My dad, a very grounded and practical man, is a great role model. I’ve learned through him the value of work and determination in whatever goals you have set for your life. I moved to Paris when I was 21 and joined what was at the time the biggest musical theater show in France called “Notre Dame de Paris”. I have toured the world for the first time with this show and I knew instantaneously that I wanted to make a rock record, tour the world and share it with as many people from different cultures as possible! That was my goal! American music has been my biggest influence growing up but being in Europe, music from the UK was always around. I like to think that our first record “Our Revolution” is the perfect combination between US Rock melodies and the British pop spontaneous approach. Listening to bands like Stereophonics or Kasabian made me want to work with a british producer and Jim Lowe was THE one!
2) How did you hear about WorldArts?
I heard about WorldArts through Reverbnation. As a musician, we sometimes feel lost in a sea of artists so it’s always very comforting to meet people as passionate about music as we are. From music lovers, by music lovers, to music lovers. Beautiful concept. The greatest way you serve your songs is to get them heard and you help us get the music heard. We can’t thank you enough for that. Spotify is a great way to discover music but it’s very impersonal, you rarely know who sings on the playlist you’re playing. I might be from a different era but I like to know more about the artists, who they really are, discover where they come from, it helps me have a better understanding and appreciation of their work. And that’s exactly what you guys are doing!
3) You have a wide range of hobbies and intellectual pursuits, what’s your latest interest outside of music?
Somebody once called me a Renaissance man and I had to google it to understand what it meant, and that’s way too pompous! It’s true that I am just very curious, I like to discover and learn new things and tricks, and always challenge myself. Lately, I am trying to understand few things about modern art, go a bit further than the usual “I like it/I don’t like it” routine. Once again, discover the artist to understand his work! I’m addicted to the “for dummies” collection! Other than that, I caught the golf bug! I know it is so not Rock’n’roll but after talking about it with Alice Cooper I feel less ashamed admitting it! And it’s the perfect outlet when you’re on writing mode.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present), who would it be and why?
I won’t be very original by saying that touring with Elvis, the Beatles or the Stones would be the ultimate fantasy. On a more realistic note, there are so many great bands out there that I would love to tour with. Because, their music influenced me on so many levels, I’d have to go with U2, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, The Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, Slash, and so many more. Jack White is a genius and touring with him and just being around him must be exhilarating. Because I love his 2 solos records, touring with Noel Gallagher would be a treat. Even though I am a huge Muse fan, I would hesitate touring with them simply because my lack of musicianship would be too obvious compared to Matthew Bellamy’s!!!
5) Tell us about the first gig you ever played?
Wow, I’m too old to remember that kind of things! One of the first shows that I remember was in Monaco, I was 20, and we were not opening but closing for big names. So, after whoever was playing that night, we were playing until the room was totally empty. Very humbling experience but I got to meet and learn from great artists like the Beach Boys, George Benson or even Julio Iglesias!
6) What’s your favorite karaoke song?
Good question, I think I would go for something theatrical “My way” or “I was made for Lovin’ you”! Singers are usually bad karaoke partiers. Way too self-conscious. So I’d have to pick a song that I could have fun with.
7) What’s the rock music scene like in Paris?
I am not a good ambassador for my country! Sadly, the rock scene in Paris ain’t that great, probably since rock music is banned from mainstream radio stations. We do have some cool festivals during the summer but we do not have a lot of good, inventive french rock bands. My friends from the band Shaka Ponk are actually very good and put on an awesome live show.
8) WorldArts is all about giving new opportunities to musicians. What’s your advice to new artists like yourself who didn’t follow the traditional career path that was laid out in front of them?
It has always been true but it is even more true now, there are no unique path to success. The business model is all over the place and no one knows where it’s going. Which means everything and anything’s possible. I guess, you need to find what makes you unique and bet everything on it. And to continue the poker analogy, I’d say you have to bet big in order to win big. Be smart, be inventive, be adventurous, be careful when signing any document but try to remain an Artist.
9) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Where should I start?! So many bad words are used in the music business : “360 deals, radio friendly singles, advance & recoupable, exclusivity clauses,etc”. We all know record sales are alarmingly low. Now that all forms of digital purchase are on their way down alongside physical, streaming has taken a leading role in how music is now consumed. All this leaves us, artists, in the middle of a battle between record companies, majors and independent labels, and distributors/consumers. Going on meetings with labels, the music is usually the last topic on the agenda. They’re more interested in how many twitter/Instagram followers and Facebook friends you have, how big a venue you can fill on your own (which means before having released a properly produced record).Basically being an already profitable band.”You may say I’m a dreamer” but I wish someday I’ll have a conversation about the art first and only then, the business aspects.
10) What’s next for you (in the studio, on the road, or new song coming out)?
I am so excited about the new music I’m coming out with. I’m still in full writing mode and I’m planning to start the recording process somewhere in the fall this year.
The past 4 years have had a major impact on my songwriting process. My emigration from Paris to LA, the discovery of America while promoting the album across the country as well as recent world events have profoundly coloured the new collection of songs. Having initiated a very special journey, Jim Lowe and I are excited to push our artistic collaboration further on this second album and we look forward to inviting listeners to join us.
I’m still writing for other artists and that’s a part I really like as well, writing the best song for somebody else’s voice is a fantastic feeling. Very rewarding as a songwriter. And I’m going back on tour with the musical “Romeo & Juliet” in Asia in September. I might be the oldest Romeo on earth but I’m having so much fun pretending that I am a young boy discovering love for the first time!