16 Shades of Blue

vendredi 2 mai 2014, par Cécile Desbrun

"I turned 50 this year – and certain people really helped me to see it in a different way and grab it with both hands. The song 16 Shades of Blue talks about ageing from many points of view. And as I started to dive into it, I started to learn from women of all ages that age was a difficult thing for them – whether you’re talking to a 15-year-old who feels pressure to choose their career path for life or a 33-year-old who fears she won’t get the promotion if it is known that she is planning a family. They all felt the pressures in the ageing process." (Mercury Classics Press release, March 2014)

"I discovered Cezanne this past year. And I just never got it before. All my life I have been going to art and artists to hear. One day I was looking through a book and I started hearing when I stumbled upon Cezanne’s ’The Black Clock.’ He was known to have at least 16 Shades of Blue as part of his color palette." (Mercury Classics Press release, March 2014)

« So age... I’m not saying it’s not an issue for men because it is. It’s different. All the women I spoke with and young women too, it seemed as if whether they were in their early twenties – some of the girls in their early twenties are going through this scenario – so they’ve been to school, they’re indebted, they have a very big debt to pay off, they have a qualification and they can’t get a job in this qualification. So they get a job
that will not pay back the debt that they’ve racked up and they start questioning their instincts. ’Should I have majored in this ? Should I have followed this as a career path ? The school just took my money.’ That’s basically what’s happened. They’ve taken the money and then you leave the school and there you are, there’s almost this huge gap that happens. You leave the school, there isn’t a final system to try, really to try and place people in the majority of schools.

So quite of a few twenty somethings I was talking to, they were really looking at a very bleak future. And the big thing was not trusting themselves. Because they had ambition and they had an idea that if I do this and if I pursue this path, then doors will open to take me to my next step. But no, those doors didn’t open. So then they’re rethinking, ’Well, I’m in a rut,’ all these things. And to be talking to twenty somethings who feel as if the future is dark, that started to really get me thinking. Because, you know, you can talk to a bunch of forty somethings who have menopause happening and they can see through darkness in anything.

And then you forget what you’re thinking about with menopause of course but you begin to think, ’Well, hang on a minute. Well, so if fifty is the new black, as some people were telling me of course, because when you’re turning fifty people say that to you, then you think for a minute, ’Well I have an opportunity here’ and yet, I’m talking to twenty somethings who really feel as if they don’t have a future. And I found that it was inspiring me to investigate age. And that it wasn’t fair to think thay just because you hit forty, fifty, sixty, that you’re dealing with age issues. Then, talking about teenagers and realizing... they have a different pressure, you have to choose what you want to study in college when you don’t even know who you are yet. Some might know what they wanna do, but some of them have no idea. And the pressure that they’re finding, ’Well, if we don’t choose it, we’ll get behind and then we will have spent four years in school, oh my god ! Then we will do something else.’

So I found from teenagers, to twenty somethings, to thirty somethings... Thirty somethings thinking, ’If I go have the kid, I’m not gonna get promoted. So if I stay and get the promotion, and I get myself to the place where I can have the promotion so that I can keep the job, what if I cannot have the kid ?’ And just everywhere I turn, there was an issue of age. » (Unrepentant Geraldines DVD interview)

"I didn’t get Cézanne for the longest time and I don’t know if I get it now, I get it in my way. But when people talk about arts sometimes, it can be fascinating to me, but I don’t pretend I know half of what they’re talking about just because, if I don’t hear it, then it doesn’t make sense to me. And then when I do hear it, I’m not listening to them anyway, because I don’t understand them. So if you hear the rythms and the counterpointal lines happening, you are looking at something, then I begin to know that at least I understand the feeling that the artist was evoking. I might not understand it, again, like certain art lovers do and it’s important for me to say that because somebody just came up to me and said, ’Oh so, you’re becoming a painter, now.’ And you think, are you kidding ? I’m not that delusional. I have no ability to paint and as a sonic artist, I go to the visual artist in order to not get trapped in a structure. When I’m listening to other musical artists, I have to be very careful and be very aware that although motivated, I’m not taking that structure exactly. And so that’s why I go to other mediums sometimes to really take a pilgrimage, whether it’s at an exhibition somewhere in a different country or whether it’s picking up books along the way and then taking them as we travel.

So ’16 Shades’ could only come once, I guess, I was battling myself with the idea of turning 50. A few things had to align for me to get it and looking at The Black Clock by Cézanne and reading about how he approached his work with quotes from all kinds of writers from Hemingway to Rielke. And because of the writers and their perception, I started to understand it. And Rielke was talking about how Cézanne had 16 shades of blue sometimes on his palette. So therefore, it all came together. I turned a page, looked at The Black Clock , no hands, battling my own issues with age. So battling it that I’ve been hearing from teenagers, twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings that middle-aged women don’t have a copyright on battling age. So, move over sister ! So I was like, ’Oh, get off the cross !’ So having heard all that, it just came together and while I was supposed to be working on ’Weatherman’ at Christmas, ’16 Shades’ was written in a couple of days, like that, after years and years and years of getting books by Cézanne and frustrating a lot of people, it came together after 48 hours." (Spotify’s Unrepentant Geraldines track-by-track audio commentary)