Amelia’s Magazine | Hot Air Balloon: an interview with French for Cartridge

French for Cartridge by Antonia Parker

French for Cartridge by Antonia Parker.

French for Cartridge are an art pop duo who make melodic indie-pop when they step aside from their day jobs as contemporary composers. We love their unusual sound, which is accompanied by some beautiful imagery: they went to art college of course. Here’s more about the husband wife team…

French for Cartridge

Can you tell us a bit more about your day job as contemporary composers?
As composers we work freelance on commissions. This usually means that there are a few projects on the horizon and various pieces to write – some are small-scale, some are for larger ensembles, for film or for theatre. If it’s in the writing stage it means getting up in the morning and sitting down by the desk – if it’s in the production stage, it means running around theatres and studios making things ready for a performance. It’s never boring, for sure. Catherine has just finished writing a new opera, which premieres in December and which you can find some more information about on the blog that she keeps on

How does French For Cartridge differ and what makes you stand out?
Yes, hopefully we are a bit different – the world would definitely be more fun with more bands like ours. We’d like to think that we’re serious yet playful, experimental yet tuneful. Plus these days our gigs are seldom normal gigs, but have turned into something of an art project with music instead.

French for Cartridge album launch tower

You began life at Goldsmiths – what were you studying there and is that how you met?
We both studied music and composition there as did our drummer Akinori Fujimoto and we all met there. It was a great, open-minded place with lots of crazy ideas floating around.

French for Cartridge album cover

What inspires the look and feel of your accompanying artwork and videos?
For the videos we make ourselves, we try to stick to an idea that is simple, but strong enough to counter our limited film skills. But we are very lucky to have some very talented friends and for the most part we give them carte blanche to do whatever they want, usually with amazing results. Most things are up on or on YouTube.

French for Cartridge single cover by Damien Beaton

The album artwork is all Damien Beaton, who’ve designed almost everything we’ve put out so far. He does an excellent job in capturing visually what the songs are about.

What are the plus points and the downsides to being a couple making music together?
I don’t think we’ve ever argued about the band, so it’s definitely just plus points. We share everything else in life, so it makes sense to also share this, no? Because you know the other person so well and how he/she thinks, there are a lot of things you don’t have to explain or waste energy on and can get on with just creating some music instead. And it’s fun to tour and experience things together rather than one of us staying at home.

French for Cartridge album launch

How on earth did you find a medieval tower (in Hackney) for your album launch? where is it?!
Catherine had played another gig there a few years back. It’s St. Augustine’s Tower by Hackney Central station where all the buses and some of the more characterful residents of the neighbourhood tend to congregate. It was a super fun night – you can see some photos here – but carrying all the gear up a narrow spiral staircase built 800 years ago, on a hot day in July, was a bit silly.

Can you tell us more about the hot air balloon ride?
We had grand plans of a French For Cartridge-themed hot air balloon ride and had sent our mascots – a Russian doll choir we have on our gigs – to the British School of Ballooning. But they were set to go out for their flight the same week as the big storm last month and have been waiting for clear winter weather since then…they got up to this in the meantime though.

Digital EP Hot Air Balloon by French for Cartridge is out this week.

Categories ,Akinori Fujimoto, ,Antonia Parker, ,British School of Ballooning, ,Damien Beaton, ,French for Cartridge, ,Hackney Central, ,Hot Air Balloon, ,St. Augustine’s Tower

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