Del Cielo: Match Made in Heaven

Del Cielo are a duo featuring two very active members of Rennes' music and arts scenes: Gaël Desbois and Liz Bastard (real name Cécile Bellat), and the minimalist electro-acoustic pop of their debut album 'Sous Les Cendres'  mingles sensuality with barely restrained tension. Here, Rockfort presents an English-language transcription of our radio interview from Les Transmusicales.


Rockfort: How did your collaboration come about?

Liz Bastard: It started in 2006 and it was through a label that I’m part of called Range Ta Chambre which releases collective compilations and, through some fairly playful methods, gets local artists to collaborate. So it can be through a lucky dip, or games, that result in artistic collaborations. And the first one we did, called ‘Fais chanter tes copines’ (‘get your girlfriends/female friends to sing’), involved asking the boys to write songs for the girls, then the girls got together so that each one could choose a track they liked.
Rockfort: Sounds fun…
LB: So I chose a track by Gaël. Originally it was only supposed to be for one track, but we wanted to carry on because it really worked out.
Rockfort: What qualities do you think you brought that made you want to continue this 'coupling'. (Ed: at this point, I used the word ‘accouplement’, which definitely describes something of a sexual nature, whereas it was only intended in musical terms! - David)
LB: What? (laughs). No, it was a great meeting because… it was purely platonic, I should point out!...
Rockfort: Of course!
LB: … but Gaël wanted to work on more tracks with me…
Gaël Desbois: It was in no way to seduce her! (laughs)
Rockfort: Gaël, what was it that made you want to continue?
GD: It was very straightforward really, after that first track together three years ago I felt I wanted to get Cécile to work on some more ideas. Following that was our first four-track release two years ago. When it really clicked, though, was after doing the song on the compilation in English, I said to Liz that I’d really like her to listen to other things I was working on, maybe something would interest her, and there was one track where she said “It’s funny, I feel like I wrote the words to this last night”. It was in French, so that took us from using English, which was just for that one song, to singing in French, which we now use exclusively.
LB: Before, I had always sung in English, which was easier, as opposed to French, where the meaning can be quite dense, if you see what I mean. So that was really a key moment, and afterwards we wanted to carry on solely in French.
Rockfort: Have you released your music on a local label?
LB: Yes – not on mine but on a label called Idwet, which is based here.
Rockfort: Gaël, you’ve played in several groups from the area, like Mobiil
GD: Yes, it’s another project that I have with a friend who I started making music with at high school, so a long time ago. At the moment it’s on stand-by, he’s always involved in a lot of different things…
Rockfort: You’re talking about Olivier Mellano
GD: Yes. We’ve been in several groups together, some ended and we started others, but Mobiil has been going since 2001, and we’ve made three albums, with Idwet releasing our third album as well.
Rockfort: Olivier Mellano is another musician like you who seems to be involved in seemingly innumerable projects…
GD: Yes, I think that’s what he feeds off, he needs that. He’s always been like that, looking to get involved in lots of different projects, not to spread himself thinly but to learn from it. He’s important for me, he’s a real motivator… right now we haven’t seen each other for a while but I know he’s there and we’ll continue to work together.
Rockfort: Is it the same for both of you, do you feed off diverse experiences? Can you imagine yourselves just focusing on one group?
LB: For me it’s different because aside from this I work in the plastic arts as well, so it’s a nice balance to do other things.
Rockfort: Having talked to Complot, this multi-disciplinary approach would appear to be pretty common in Rennes.
GD: I don’t know, I don’t think so. In Rennes we’re still fairly enclosed in our particular disciplines. It’s a lot easier in a place like Brussels, for example, where there’s a lot more interaction between different forms of art.
LB: The good thing is in Rennes we’re lucky to have a lot of festivals, not just music like Les Transmusicales, but also cinema, theatre, there’s a lot happening all year round, and I think that naturally creates a dynamic. If there are so many groups in Rennes, it’s in part because events like Les Transmusicales create a desire in young people to make music.
Rockfort: Is there a good infrastructure of venues and rehearsal rooms here?
GD: Yes, there are places like Le Jardin Moderne and L’Antipode, which are both venues and rehearsal spaces. And through the festival itself, we were asked to take part in a Transmusicales tour of three dates in the west of France, and as part of that we were offered free rehearsal time at L’Ubu (Ed: festival director Jean-Louis Brossard’s venue in Rennes).
Rockfort: What phase is Del Cielo in now?
LB: I’m really depressed.
Rockfort: Why?
LB: Because it’s done, it’s finished.
GD: Yes, we’re splitting up. Our intention was just to make one album and that’s it.
Rockfort: No follow-up?
GD: Well we don’t really like each other that much (Ed: none of this was said very seriously…!).
Rockfort: The ‘coupling’ didn’t work out…
GD: No, we’ve tried lots of positions but…(laughs)
LB: It hasn’t worked.
Rockfort: But maybe with a bottle of wine…
GD: Ah, well that can always help!At three in the morning, with a nice pint, we can always find a way to connect.
Rockfort: So we can hope that Del Cielo will return in some form?
LB: Of course, we’re going to carry on, we’ve got a touring agent and we’re hoping to play some more gigs soon.
Rockfort: So everything’s ok, the depression won’t last too long.
LB: No, we’re already working on the second album…!
Interview by Ludovic Merle and David McKenna, translated by David McKenna