the record company name is Unicorn Digital, the label run by progressive
guitar hero Michel St. Pere actually makes great CDs, complete with
amazing looking artwork and snappy looking discs. Case in point is
a fantastic 2013 CD release by composer / bass player Antoine Fafard
entitled Occultus Tramitis. One of the top
jazz-rock bass players and instrumental music composers in the world
today, Antoine turned heads around with his stellar musicianship
in the group Spaced Out, who released some excellent albums on Unicorn
during the last decade. That said, Antoine fulfills his sonic mission
with his second solo album. Antoines greatest musical statement
as a solo artist to date, Occultus Tramitis is superbly packaged
with eye-popping album art and the music inside is white hot too,
filled with solid performances featuring Antoine backed up by a range
of players including ex-Group 87 drummer Terry Bozzio, the
great Jerry Goodman, drummer Simon Phillips and more.
Although Antoine plays bass and also guitar, he gets solid backup
from other fine ax men including Scott Henderson, Jerry
De Villiers Jr. and George Hayes. An hour of high-powered
instrumental fusion music, Occultus Tramitis is a dynamic,
superbly recorded album of 21st century jazz rock at its finest. www.AntoineFafard.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
mwe3: Can you tell us where youre from originally and where
you live now and what you like most about it?
FAFARD: Im originally from Montreal Canada, but now live
in London England. London is a city where a lot is happening on many
levels. And theres always something interesting going on artistically.
mwe3: When did you start on the bass guitar and the guitar?
What were your early years of studying music, the bass and the guitar
like and how has your sound, compositional style and overall sonic
vision changed over the years? Can you remember your first guitars?
ANTOINE FAFARD: I began to play the classical guitar at the
age of 11. My first guitar was a Takamine... Actually my last guitar
was also a Takamine as I recently purchased one! I switched to the
electric bass at 15 which has been my main instrument since. In the
recent years, I have reacquainted myself with the classical guitar
mainly to help in the creative process. Sylvain Bolduc and Denis Labrosse
are bass teachers I studied with who have both influenced me greatly.
I thought Id pay tribute to them on my recent album by inviting
them on a bass trio piece entitled Tree O which they both
I listened to a wide variety of music growing up and Im still
eclectic in my choice today, so I guess that my compositional style
reflects that. Ive always been fascinated by improvisation and
the music I compose has always room for it.
mwe3: Your 2013 CD is titled Occultus Tramitis. You
say in the CD liner notes, the title actually means Hidden Track.
What does the title signify to you, how did the album come together
and over the period of time, where and when was the music written
FAFARD: The title was inspired by the photograph on the cover
which was taken by Jean-Pierre Dodel who is an old friend of mine.
It also represents that the music I create is, like it is for most
independent musicians, hidden from mainstream news / music outlets.
It doesnt have a lot of visibility. Some of my listeners perhaps
accidentally found what I do which is like finding something that
I started to work on Occultus Tramitis not long after my previous
album Solus Operandi was released in August 2011. It took nearly
two years to complete Occultus, which is roughly the time it
normally takes me to start and finish an album project. The music
was all composed in my home studio where I also recorded my own tracks.
The tracks from my collaborators where are recorded in their respective
mwe3: Occultus Tramitis is a superstar filled CD. What
was it like working with Jerry Goodman of Mahavishnu Orchestra? How
did you meet Jerry and how did he inspire to bring your music to another
level on the CD?
ANTOINE FAFARD: I basically approached all the collaborators
on the CD via e-mails. Jerry Goodmans contribution had an incredible
impact of the overall sound of the album. His tone and his playing
are second to none and it elevated the melodic aspect to another level.
The first track he recorded for me was Holding Back Time
which also features Terry Bozzio. Once I knew that Jerry was onboard,
I then composed additional pieces specifically for him. It was such
an honor for me to have him and all the other great players performing
my music! One of thrills I have is to receive a track from a collaborator
and listen to it for the first time... it cant be described!
mwe3: Can you tell us who plays electric guitars on the Occultus
Tramitis CD and how did you choose the different guitar players
to work with you on certain tracks?
FAFARD: Scott Henderson plays on The Chamber, Jerry
De Villiers Jr. plays on Sum Of Six while George Hayes
plays on Slydian. Whichever instrument I write for, I
sometimes I have a specific player in mind while I compose a song.
Other times, I simply compose a piece and then think about who would
be good on it. I didnt have a preconceived idea of how many
songs should have an electric guitar solo. It turned out that only
three of the 11 tracks on the CD feature some lead guitar.
mwe3: Theres also some excellent drummers on the Occultus
Tramitis CD including Simon Phillips and Terry Bozzio, who are
both legends of the jazz-rock world and in Terrys case, the
rock world too. Can you say something about the variety of drummers
that are featured on the Occultus Tramitis and what they brought
to the CD?
ANTOINE FAFARD: I describe Occultus Tramitis a little
bit like a drum fest! It was amazing to have all those players agreeing
to play my music. Im a big fan of drummers and it was important
for me to have great players who I admire and who I knew would do
a terrific job. The drummer can make a huge impact on the end result
of a piece being responsible to hold everything together as far as
groove, time and musicality.
mwe3: Can you tell us which basses and guitars you played on
the Occultus Tramitis CD? How about amps and other devices
you use to color your sound? What kind of sonic programming did you
feature on the CD?
ANTOINE FAFARD: I used my Sei Bass 6-strings fretless on nine
tracks and my fretted 6-strings made by the same London-based luthier
on two. I plugged the bass to a Boss GT-6B which was itself connected
to a Genz Benz amp. I recorded the direct signal as well as miking
the amp. I didnt use anything else to color the sound other
than adding some reverb in some key sections. As far as programming,
I use Spectrasonics Omnisphere and Stylus RMX a lot.
The new CD sounds great. Who else was involved in the behind the scenes,
mixing, mastering, engineering to give the album that bright, sparkling
kind of sound and can you say something about the eye-popping artwork
and design of the album / CD art?
ANTOINE FAFARD: Dave Weckl and Gavin Harrison provided a stereo
mix of their tracks. Other than those two drum tracks, which were
really great, I mixed the whole thing myself. The mastering was done
by Richard Addison in Montreal. As far as the cover, I tweaked the
railroad track photo taken by my friend Jean-Pierre myself as well
as designing the whole digipak, CD and booklet.
mwe3: With you in London was it a big challenge to record with
such a range of players who were situated in different continents
around the planet? What kind of technology do you use to bring about
those kind of sonic breakthroughs that were unheard of just a decade
or two ago?
ANTOINE FAFARD: The fact that Im based in London doesnt
change the recording process for my albums. I would use the same approach
wherever Id be in the world. Im of course not against
recording with other players in the same room. I simply dont
see the fact that the players I want to work who are spread around
the world... as a challenge to what I want to achieve. High speed
internet has completely revolutionized the way collaborations can
be made. Im aware that what I do now wouldnt have been
possible when I began to compose and record music. Possibilities are
mwe3: Whats new on Unicorn Records and who are some of
your favorite Unicorn artists? What was it like recording the last
Mystery CD, The World Is A Game and can you say something about
the group in general? Not many bands can claim to have a former member
of YES in the lineup!
FAFARD: Im not completely aware of the music that Unicorn
has been releasing lately so I couldnt comment. My contribution
to Mysterys last CD was a fun thing to do. I dont get
asked a lot to do this sort of thing so it was an interesting challenge.
The fact that Benoît was in YES for a few years definitely helped
What have you got planned for 2013 and 2014 as far as writing, recording
and performing goes. What new musical adventures do you have your
sights set on for the future?
ANTOINE FAFARD: I have my trio here in London with whom I recently
played music from my two albums. One
of our shows was recorded/filmed and I intend to make that available
shortly on YouTube. There are possibilities to play live in music
festivals in 2014. Im also working on new music... I will actually
try to work closely with Montreal-based Jerry De Villiers Jr. who
I think is a fantastic guitarist who deserves to be heard a lot more.
new music coming up soon!
Thanks to Antoine Fafard @ www.AntoineFafard.com