I had the pleasure to meet Thierry Jaccard and Yannick Nanette, who together form The Two, in July at Paléo Festival Nyon. The Two is a Swiss-Mauritian blues duo, the band came out with the first album Sweet Dirty Blues in late 2014. Both members are very friendly and open-minded we had a nice chat during which they explained what music and blues represent for them. The intensity of what they tell is always accompanied by a sincere smile, exactly as they do when they are on stage.
Thanks a lot to The Two for the precious time and thanks to the Paléo team for organizing this interview. 🙂
The Liberation : You are a relatively young band, you’ve been playing together for 3 or 4 years and you’ve already had a big success. What does this represent for you? How do you feel about that?
- Thierry Jaccard: It’s a child dream that just came true. Yannick and I have been playing music since we were young. And I think that we’ve dreamt about it since we were kids. I dream of being able to live a bit out of this, to travel and be able to meet people through music and here we are, it’s happening so it’s really a dream come true.
- Yannick Nanette: I don’t know how you’ll define “success” but in any case we have a lot of pleasure doing what we do.
The Liberation: Yes it can be certainly seen when you’re on stage!
- Yannick: You know, playing music is our childhood dream. I grew up in the Mauritius, having beautiful stages like these is very rare because otherwise you play in hotels. I spent a lot of time playing for tourists in hotels. There you play covers every time. To have the opportunity to play in beautiful venues, beautiful spaces in amazing festivals it’s incredible.
The Liberation: Yes, it changes
- Yannick: Oh yes, it’s really kids’ dreams come true.
The Liberation: I bet yes, cool! where does this love for blues comes from?
- Yannick: I don’t know, you know we were categorized in blues because we won a competition but our music it’s not only blues but is eminently blues. Because blues for us is not only an aesthetic. It’s not a music category, it’s really the human in all his sincerity, in all his depth of the soul, in his desire to encounter, his desire to be part of the world, to understand what is happening and to pacify things. Blues is also this and this is the reason we defend blues.
The Liberation: Yes.
- Yannick: Do you understand ?
The Liberation : It’s like a lifestyle.
- Yannick: It’s a state of mind.
- Thierry: But it’s also a lifestyle, a philosophy for sure.
- Yannick: Yes.
The Liberation: Yes, very interesting. How you mentioned before, a Swiss and a Mauritian guy, it’s a mix of cultures and a music which goes directly to the heart. Is it this cultural difference which represents your band and your music? Would you consider it as your strength?
- Thierry: I think it’s a strength. It’s funny because I met Yannick when he had just arrived in Switzerland and this despite our cultural differences and also our education, our childhood, we really lived in two different worlds. But we find ourselves with a more or less similar philosophy, with the same ideas and it’s crazy when you realise that you can come from the other side of the world and have the same desires, have the same energy for music, we have the same desire to say things through music and eventually we have more or less the same opinions about what is going on around us. So I think it’s one of our forces but I think it’s also crazy that we resemble ourselves on this point, given that we don’t come from the same universe.
- Yannick: Yes, then I must say that we also have the same desire. In our difference, the desire is to meet people, go and see the world and music is our ligand, it’s the mediator that allows us to meet the audience. How I told you before, we’ve had this dream since childhood, we are thirsty about this and we found ourselves at this stage.
The Liberation: Cool. How does your composition process work ? You are two but do you write your songs together? Do you start from the music itself?
- Yannick: No, we don’t sit at a table saying “today at 9 a.m. we’re going to do a writing session” it doesn’t work this way.
(Thierry and I laugh)
- Yannick: We observe what’s happening around us, I bring a text, I bring a music, Thierry tells me “see I composed this at my place, I was inspired”. We discuss a lot about what is going on in the world and around us. We comment information, we are also students so we also have a reflection going on through our classes, we share the reflection. Then things come little by little. There’s not a fixed thing, a square where you tell yourself this is what it’s going to be and today we’re gonna create a great song. No, it comes with time, it needs time to digest, to live. We nourish ourselves of all of that, of all that happens around us.
The Liberation: Ok. Your music allows us to travel far in places like the USA, the Mauritius with exotic sonorities. Does the inspiration comes from your own travels to these places? Do you write music while travelling?
- Thierry: Of course, the inspiration also comes from these travels, it also comes from the books we read, from the music we listen to.
- Yannick: From the encounters.
- Thierry: It comes from the encounters. It really comes from everything that happens to us. For sure the second album will be different from the first because we have another baggage, but we’ll remain, I really like the word “integer”, we’re gonna stay as close as possible to ourselves. And not try to, I don’t know how to say it…
- Yannick: To walk towards a target audience, an album quota, we don’t want to go into that. We don’t want to be in a capitalist market. Us it’s also our way to say “no”. We want to live things differently, we want to imagine a different society.
The Liberation: With music.
- Yannick: With music, with the encounters, music as a background, music as a social tie, as a means to do. But it’s always been the case, whether in the blues of America’s black or those of the Mauritius, of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Music was at the centre, it was the pillar that made people eventually find themselves. People met and there was a communal decision.
The Liberation: This is a very beautiful thing. Unfortunately there are not many bands doing that anymore.
- Thierry: I think there are still many, simply the music market is not going to put them forward because the music market is a question of money, and it’s clear that we try to escape this. But then if you want to play in festivals like this (Paléo) you’ve got to play a bit with it.
- Yannick: But how to remain integer.
- Thierry: That’s it, how to remain integer.
- Yannick: We were discussing with Aliose for example and we had the same talk, but the idea is how to be together and create a unit to go on together. Because if everybody stays detached, fighting each on his side it’s good but if we group ourselves it’s a strength. But it’s not easy. And then there are these politic elements that we learn to comprehend, to master, manage and to find a way in them. The idea is to make a dent and enter there and be able to reconsider things. We go on as we can, step by step, hoping that we’ll remain faithful to our ideas.
The Liberation: Yes, well this is important. If it’s really in the roots of your music and of your ideal.
- Yannick: Of course.
The Liberation: Thanks to the prize Swiss Blues Challenge that you won, you had the occasion to export your music and to play abroad for example in Memphis and in other important places. What did this give to you and how did it go?
- Thierry: The trip to Memphis?
The Liberation: Your travels and concerts abroad in general.
- Thierry: They are very very good experiences. Go to the US, where blues was born was one of our dreams and we had a shock, we didn’t expect it, it’s really a business in Memphis. In Memphis itself, blues has become an instrument to draw tourists. This was not our idea of blues, so these are experiences that also nourish your music because in Memphis we were disappointed so we continued in New Orleans and there it was incredible, we found the soul of music again with musicians that go on stage, that know each other, that leave again and really this feeling of sharing music. So yes, these are really experiences whether in US, in Holland, Denmark, Mauritius, … wherever we went.
- Yannick: This is where you realise that the spirit of blues, like art, when enclosed in a museum it’s over. We found in the music of Australian and Danish musicians, an intensity, a depth, a sincerity that we didn’t find among those who played in Memphis. But as I said, music, blues, art cannot be enclosed. You cannot enclose it in Beale Street, it is alive, it lives everywhere, it vibrates everywhere..
The Liberation: Wow! (Laughs) That’s cool!
The Liberation: So, if I’m not mistaken this is the first time you play Paléo. Is that right?
- Yannick: Yes, The Two yes.
The Liberation: How do you feel about it?
- Thierry: I grew up in the region, so it’s impressive to be here. There’s a double feeling, there’s this feeling of gratefulness that the Paléo tells us “It’s your turn” and you say “wow it means something to come and play here”. There’s this personal feeling to be where I experienced my first concerts, where I saw my first concerts. And all of a sudden it’s our turn, it’s crazy, it’s completely crazy.
- Yannick: I don’t know Paléo very much, I didn’t vibrate for it so much. But Thierry’s enthusiasm is enough to take me, I am happy as well to be here.
- Yannick: I discover this place differently and here it is, it’s happiness, it’s happiness. It’s a gift.
The Liberation: I look forward to see your gig!
- Thierry: Cool!
The Liberation: Which are your future projects? A second album?
- Yannick: We’re going to have a baby! (Laughs)
- Thierry: we’ve been trying for a while but it doesn’t work!
- Yannick: We haven’t found the formula yet.
- Thierry: No. Our projects there will certainly be plenty of things but why think about the projects when we are at Paléo?
- Yannick: You need to defend what you have in your hands at this moment.
- Thierry: You just need to live the moment. Here at Paléo we’re not gonna talk about next week, we’re just gonna live this.
- Yannick: Next year I would really really love to… buy a blue jeans!
- Thierry: (Laughs) You need to get over it Yannick, you have to buy shorts.
- Yannick: Ok, it’s half a jeans!
(They give each other a high five and we all laugh.)