WE INVENTED PARIS is a Swiss artist collective, whose music can be described as a colorful mixture of folk, pop, chanson and electronica. The Basel-based ensemble just recently lifted the song Bubbletrees, the third single release off the band’s self-named debut-album of late 2011. With this record, the musicians and artists tried an adventurous balancing act by mixing up psychedelic compositions with sugar-sweet pop songs – and it worked out perfectly well: Within 12 months WE INVENTED PARIS have advanced from living room shows to famous concert venues, they were honored with the TV Noir award and they‘re mentioned in the same breath as BOY when people talk about the new musical confidence of the Swiss.
We met lead-singer Flavian at Maifeld Derby Festival and talked about his public-spirited ambitions and the collective’s team play.
Your name is Flavian and you’re the lead-singer of WE INVENTED PARIS. How many more people do belong to the band though?
Flavian- Well, quite a few actually. The whole project has developed pretty dynamically and is still developing constantly. I started this in summer 2010. I used to be a solo singer and songwriter back then. However, I soon came to realize that I’d rather made music with a whole band. So I founded the band together with Alex and Julian, who’s now responsible for our management and whom I met at university. Then we asked other musician friends of mine if they would like to join us for some shows and when they said “yes”, the whole thing initiated quickly.
You call yourself “European Artist Collective”. Why so?
Flavian- I prefer to call it a collective since I wanted to have good musicians by my side. However, these are usually pretty busy and sometimes they don’t want to join a band immediately. It’s not like musicians come and go arbitrarily, but since we want to promote creativity it’s necessary to work on something for at least a while to find out if it’s going to work out at all. We have some permanent musicians in the band but also some artists, like a painter for instance, who only join us for a tour. It’s an “artist” collective for the fact that we feature different visual artist, web designer, film designer, musicians and the like.
All collective members realize everything on their own: from the web appearance and the merchandising through to the stage design. – Why do you follow this DIY-approach?
Flavian- Well, I think this is something you just have to do these days. We’ve experienced that many labels are very good at realizing many things, but they can’t understand the artistic conception entirely. So it’s good to have a “family of artists” that take care of the same project and that know how to realize certain things. But it’s still a learning process that has a lot to do with respecting the other’s work. Everyone contributes their own skills and this has to be honored appropriately.
Now you’ve already played more than 140 shows – how come that you met with success so quickly and constantly?
Flavian- Mainly, it is because we’ve been thinking big from the beginning on and also because we decided to follow our path determinedly. I mean, when we started, everyone knew how to play their instruments, so we were already professionals that could focus on this project. To promote WE INVENTED PARIS>, I remembered a thing I had experienced when I was in Canada: people used to play home shows at their friends’ places and invited others to come over and watch their little concert. And this is what we did with WE INVENTED PARIS as well. We played at friends’ houses and slept on their couches and they provided us with breakfast and told their friends to join the parties at nights. It was a lot of fun for everyone. Then people started to spread the word and we became more and more popular.
In your opinion, what is music’s greatest power?
Flavian- The most fascinating thing for me is not to know what memories people connect to the music the moment they listen to it. One might remember his trip to Asia, because it was then when he heard one of ours songs for the first time, and another person might think of his broken relationship. In this way music can connect different people and even lives without necessarily having to bring these together in time and space. All they have to share is a song and it evokes emotions and memories. Your music actually meaning something to someone else is probably one of the best things that you can experience as an artist.
Who writes your songs and what inspires you to write lyrics?
Flavian- Basically, I write the songs and then I present them to the other band members. We often play them a couple of times, thereby adjusting them after our fancy until we like it best. When I was younger, I usually only wrote about how I felt and about things that influenced me emotionally at that time. By now, I’ve started to change my perspective and I came to write about different things, not just about my own feelings. It is hard to be critical about a song when it deals with your own experiences, so I decided to include situations that I’ve observed with others or stories about friends into my writing. This helps me to keep a certain distance to my own work, though I’m still highly emotionally involved.
What does the name WE INVENTED PARIS stand for, what does it mean?
Flavian- It actually refers to human ability to create certain associations. Whenever someone hears the word “Paris”, they immediately form an individual image, even if they’ve never been there before. The city is an illusion and we have invented this romantic idea of this place. And the same thing happens to music, like I just said before. Everyone has their own impression about a song, independent from where they come from and where they have heard the song for the first time. Music has this impact on our imagination and we are the inventors of this art.
You have your own record label called “Spectacular Spectacular” – sounds spectacular! Tell us more about it.
Flavian- I had once written a song called Spectacular. When we were about to promote our songs, we soon came to realize that most record labels would not be able to support us the way we would have wished for. So we founded our own label basically over night, which was quite a pain in the a** due to all the red tape. This label is our home. In this so-called “collective”, we feature other artists, one of them named DIPSY DIVER, plus we manage some projects of other WE INVENTED PARIS members, and we are pretty much tied up with this at the moment. However, we’ll see what the future holds and we’d love to take charge of other musical projects as well.
The song “Bubbletrees”, your catchy new single, sounds pretty carefree, positive, and happy. It sings “this tiny bird is showing us how easy life could be.” Is it more fun to make music that inspires people to live without a care? How do you feel about more serious topics?
Flavian- Once we tried to define the music that we make and we came up with the phase “melancholic joy of live”, which we think points it out best. We have some songs that are rather profound and others that are merrier. Yet we always try to be thankful for what we have and express this luck through our songs, like a loud “Yay!” to life and to music. We don’t just want to complain about how hard it is, though we deal with serious topics as well. Being a musician is never easy, so you have to be passionate about it. There’s always a chance for something else, but we’ve decided to be musicians and we put our hearts and souls in it.
Perfect lead over to our final question: What do the words “hope” and “passion” mean to you?
Flavian- These are two very strong words. One of our lyrics says “Hope where there is nothing to hope for”. When I think of passion, I often refer it to “com-passion”, since it has a connective strength. It’s never only about yourself, but it includes others as well, which I like a lot about this feeling. It might sometimes sound a bit cheesy, when these two words appear in a song, but they are essential concepts of our daily lives.
WE INVENTED PARIS
indie / folk
from Basel, Switzerland