I met Benjamin Bourgine in 2003 at the University of Nantes and soon we became good buddies, sharing common passions for various indie music artists, from Piano Magic to Will Oldham. He was already a (cool) journalist, and I was trying to figure out something to do with my life. We loved also American literature, New Hollywood movies…which provided good fuel for the flame of Kowalski.
We started to play music together with our acoustic guitars and patiently laid down a dozen compositions. We recorded them with the great help of the sound engineer Claude Lusseau and we put out our eponymous first record in 2005, shortly after we found out our band name -from the character played by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar named Desire, Stanley Kowalski. We started to perform concerts and rapidly proposed to David Cadoret to join the band with his banjo and double-bass. Then we all moved out in a farmhouse in Rennes’ countryside and laid ideas for what would later become our second record, « A Room for Two » (2007), recorded by Claude and Antoine Pincon. Our folk became more pop. « Tender and gloomy » according to the music magazine Magic*.
Concerts followed and we added more musicians to the band : percussion (Antoine Pinçon), violin (Amélie Piron), female vocals (Aurore Pauvert). The old sound started to amplify and soon a new double bass player joined in (Benoît Le Dévédec) and a drummer (Aurélien Guérin). We shifted from Folk-pop to…Folk-rock. And we recorded « All things Brought Back to Daylight », still produced by Claude. Nine musicians collaborated to this fully arranged third record which was released in 2010.
Evolution/reaction: Kowalski got back on the road with Fred Kopo (bass) and Bruno Allain (drums) alongside me and Benjamin to promote the new music. With a bass-drum- two guitars more-sonic-kinda-sound we toured with Oscar Phileas all over France and played more gigs, including a performance at the Transmusicales festival.
Then we decided to take a new step and work on a Concert Dessiné with the illustrator Eric Mahé. Illustrating a complete story live on stage, and live-streamed with us performing electric, Eric and us tried to connect together two arts we loved and experiment with a special breed of ‘expanded’ show.
Naturally we thought about capturing the new songs we composed in a new way, as a reaction to the former record which was a yearlong process of composing, recording, arranging, mixing, mastering, etc. We decided to work with the producer MadFab from ZFProd in his studio in Domloup to assert a new sound -MadFab works a lot with musicians from the electro scene- and do recordings « live in studio » with the full four piece band, with minor « retouches, » overdubs and extra arrangements.
Our fourth production , « Driftwood Houses », was born.
We launched a successful crowdfunding campaign on kisskissbankbank to finance the vinyl and CD mastering and pressing. The record was out in the spring 2015. You can find it here. After a few promotion gigs, including at the Jardin Moderne in Rennes for the Shave The Date party and a concert in a chapel at the Festival I’m From Rennes in September 2015, I left for the US and we decided with the band to take a little break.
But the movie’s not over yet !
* Marie Daubert, Magic!