The TWO blues band: small number, big sound

TheTWO_(CH) - copie

The TWO have been making waves on the Swiss blues scene for the past three years, bringing depth, integrity and colour to what sometimes feels like a long-lost musical tradition. Made up of  Mauritian Yannick Nanette (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Swiss Thierry Jaccard (lead guitar, backing vocals), this tight unit is highly thought of in the Swiss blues community and has even caused ripples abroad by reaching the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis earlier this year.

 

The blues musical tradition has never felt so alive

Watching them play live at La Fête de la Musique at Lausanne’s The Great Escape, I was struck by how authenticity and simplicity are key to their success. Totally committed to their honest, organic sound without a hint of flim-flam to embellish all that is beautiful in its raw and rootsy state. Inhabited by some past life blues ghost once guitars are in hand, The TWO postively levitate with a feel-good factor even when the timbre is plaintive and sombre. The enthusiasm for their musical mission is palpable. The audience are with them, behind them, for them. The blues musical traditon in their hands has never felt so alive. « I’ve got blues in my bones, I’ve got groove in my soul » wails Yannick with a fire-breathing intensity and a voice that bridges the distant Creole with the Delta. It’s a haunting voice that cannot fail to penetrate, transmitting despair in a way that’s more unique than rare, thankfully it is equally uplifting in parts reminding us that the blues is also a music of hope and dreams.

 

“The blues is an enormous canvas to paint on”

a1366329240_10

I recently came across this quote from Roger Daltrey talking about his early influences with The Who: « Because it’s so simple and heartfelt, the blues is an enormous canvas to paint on ». Much from little is exactly the tradition that The TWO are carrying forward with effective heart and spirit. Their album ‘Sweet, Dirty, Blues’ was released last November off their own backs and is an honest, raw, relevant work reminding us that all forms of popular music stem from the stripped down simplicity of a nifty guitar riff and a pained, sincere voice. They’ve also just put out an 7-inch single on Lausanne’s Rocafort Records which can only be purchased at their live gigs. I have a hunch that more people will be talking about this vibrant, engaging duo after their first official appearance at Montreux Jazz this summer.

 

Some questions and answers with The TWO:

How and where did you meet? How long have you been playing together?

The TWO: We met five years ago in Sierre. Thierry was playing at the Hacienda concert hall with the funk band, Brainless. I loved their sound so much that I (Yannick) asked if I could join in for a jam session at the end of the show. They agreed, I rushed home, got dressed nicely, took my harmonica and the story began. Since then I’ve been touring with the Brainless band. Thierry and I quickly saw we had a special feel for the blues and soon decided to work together. Three years have gone by since then and we’ve been grooving restlessly wherever the music takes us.

Name some of the blues inspirations that have impacted on your sound and style of playing.

The TWO: Eric Bibb, Keb Mo, Ray Charles, Eric Triton, Menwar, Zanzak, Baster, Kaya.

There’s not a lot of Swiss blues music around, do you feel like a rare breed?

The TWO: The blues can be everywhere as long as the music is honest, as long as one drives it out from one’s soul, as long as the music is vital, as long as it is an urge to sing or die. What we mean is that the blues is not an aesthetic, some kind of drawer where one is categorised to suit a music market. In the beginning black people were singing to find a light, to cheer up and encourage themselves to bear the conditions of slavery. The blues was a prayer, a cry to come together, to be one, united to face hardship and suffering. Our blues comes from here and we sing with our soul, this same desire to make people come together and move for change. In Switzerland artists like Mark Kelly, Sophie Hunger and many more sing with this fervour, honesty and soul, which for us is the blues.

How did your trip to Memphis affect you?

The TWO: We were really happy to go there, proud to sing our blues where the blues was born. It was some kind of pilgrimage but there in Memphis, many questions came up. We realised that the blues cannot be imprisoned in a place. Music is art and if try to hold it for yourself, keep it in a museum, it withers and dies. The blues is everywhere! No matter where you are, no matter who you are and where you’re from, you can have the blues. It is not an American thing, it is a human thing.

Are The Two always going to be just you two?? Will there be more musicians featured on your forthcoming work?

The TWO: Music is about meeting people and sharing. From time to time we play with a drummer, Felix Bergeron and a violinist, Bastoun. In any case, The TWO is more than just two guys playing their guitars. So many people work behind the scenes, are unseen and these people help our music to be what it is. For now we are touring with our album ‘Sweet, Dirty, Blues’ that came out last year. Time, music and crossroads will tell what happens next.

 

Forthcoming live gigs:

03.07 – Summer Blues, Basel

04.07 – Gena Festival

08/09.07 – Sierre Blues Festival

10.07 – Vallemaggia Magic Blues

13.07 – Montreux Jazz Festival

18.07 – Cahors Blues Festival (FR)

19/20.07 – Verbier Festival

22.07 – Narcao Blues Festival (IT)

23.07 – Blue Balls Festival , Lucerne

Advertisements

Comments

  1. What a voice!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: