Q+A: Five Minutes With Sélénite
With the support of Radio France and the Sud Ouest Journal, Mathieu Tamisier, also known as Sélénite, has deeply resonated with audiences in his native France and is now reaching far and wide across the globe. Over the past few years, he has graced the stage repeatedly, playing nearly 300 shows. Notable performances include sharing the spotlight at the Zenith de Pau with Feu! Chatterton and captivating audiences at the Rock School Barbey Bordeaux. His last single gained support from Music Crowns, About To Blow, iGuitar, Plastic Mag, and more. His stunningly serene album Sandboxes is out now, released on the 22nd of September.
We’re loving the introspective and tranquil nature of Sandboxes, and we heard you retreated into seclusion to create it. Can you tell us more?
Thank you so much. I dreamed about being totally alone in a small and isolated place, like a spiritual retreat in a way. So I found a wooden cabin lost in the south west of France, and I locked myself into it, with as much gear as I could take. Honestly, making that strange place mine to feel free to create has been a tough process. We are so used to living in concrete smoothed houses, that we forget sometimes that a wooden house is alive. It cracks, it breathes. It demands a few days of adaptation. But when I found my own rhythm, the whole album flowed naturally, I had kind of fourty songs or songs ideas when I begun. One month later, only eight remained.
Tell us about what the album means to you. What themes and emotions are listeners likely to encounter?
It came to me in a period of profound questioning. The entire album deals with that moment you realize that you’re out of place, like if you played in someone else’s sandbox, since so long that you’ve forgotten who you really are. There’s nostalgia in it, sadness, but also hope of a better life.
Walk us through your creative process when recording.
Most of the time, it starts with an emotion, a sensation I can’t clearly tell, but so true that I cannot ignore. So I take my guitar or my piano to dig deeper. And when a melody or a riff makes me shiver, that’s the sign I’ve found something. And with these main foundations I can precise textures, forms, and maybe find where the song guides me. It’s like I was seeking something. Sometimes I imagine myself in a white coat, trying to prove some metaphysical theory haha. When it’s time to record, there’s a delicate alchemy between pure emotion and technique I try to respect.
What led you to a life of music in the first place?
I come from a non-musician family, so I didn’t see a concert ’till I was 15 years old. My school organized a gig with student local bands. During their performance, I still see myself, being struck by what I saw/heard, letting that new energy plaguing me. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to feel it again in my life. So I started to learn drums, then guitar and other instruments. Composing quickly became kind of obvious to me.
We know you’ve played around 250 concerts to date. Tell us about the feelings you feel when sharing your art with others?
It’s like I’m wearing a thin mask every day which explodes when I play my songs live, in front of people. It’s like a confession. Like if I could be myself.
Who or what were the main artistic inspirations for this album?
Hard to say, but I listened to Ben Howard and The Tallest Man On Earth albums a lot before my «retreat». They are an inspiration to me, like Aurora, Glen Hansard or Adrianne Lenker.
Is there a favourite song or moment for you on this album?
The recording of the song “sandboxes” has been one of these moment you know you’ve found the right energy to put on a song
When you’re not secluded in a cabin, what’s a day in the life like for Sélénite?
As much as possible, I try to have a slow life. Taking time to live is essential to me. When you cultivate idleness, your true needs appear, far from what society wants you to do/be.
Any emerging artists on your radar? What’s in Sélénite’s listening playlist?
You could definitely check Nasty Joe and Blackbird Hill music, they are clearly invested by what they do. Love them.
What’s next for you as an artist ?
Play more and more music, spread my songs everywhere I can. Finish writing an ambitious book. Live from my art at my own rhythm. And drink tea. Tea is important.
Famous last words/Words to live by ?