(RLSG Music)


Recording over in France, Renaud Louis-Servais Group released a masterful album of jazz-rock fusion entitled Iluna in 2011. Featuring the extraordinary guitar chops of Renaud Louis-Servais, the nine track Iluna CD features Renaud and his band performing a daredevil cross-section of jazz, rock and fusion instrumentals. 21st century fusion music at its best, Iluna travels all over the musical map and comes across as state of the art instrumental rock in the spirit of 1970’s music legends such as Return To Forever with guitarist Al DiMeola plus an added dose of Weather Report. Renaud’s music is quite intriguing and overall, Iluna makes for some amazing listening for jazz-rock fans and guitar fans in general. Commenting on the making of Iluna during his May 2012 interview with, Renaud adds 'In fact, for me, there are no real frontiers between styles, and this is the main concept of the album. I’ll say that my purpose is to fuse the classical harmony and the jazz harmony with the energy and sound of rock music.' presents an interview with

mwe3: Your father played classical guitar. Did you learn guitar and more about music from your father and what are a few of your earliest memories of learning to play the guitar? I know you were born in 1972, the same year YES recorded Close To The Edge. Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up hearing all the great guitar music made during the ‘70s?

RLS: Well I grew up in the suburbs of Paris, listening basically to ‘80s hard-rock music, which I was was very fond of. Yes, my father was playing classical guitar, but he was a very secret person, and unfortunately I didn’t learn a single note from him because he was always playing in secret. But he created all the conditions for me and my older brother for having instruments to play, ability to learn music. He even built a studio for us for rehearsals when I was 17, the same studio in which I recorded my album Iluna last year!

Growing older, I discovered Yes, if I’m correct, with a song called “Starship Trooper”. I tell no lies saying this track astonished me! The construction of it, the ideas in it, the progression through the different parts of it, all these things influenced my way to compose for the rest of my life. Later, I discovered Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, Weather Report... Another a new universe with incredible harmonies and musical liberty. And later again, I fell into classical “impressionists” French composers: Ravel, my favorite, Fauré, Debussy...

mwe3: When did you form the Renaud Louis-Servais Group, who are the musicians who recorded the Iluna with you and where and when was the CD written, produced and recorded?

RLS: The formation of this band had been a long, long process which started about 15 years ago. During this process, I never stop composing. Until I found the right people for it, a lot of musicians joined my project. Some stayed, some left... In 2008 and 2009, the band reached semifinal stages at the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) with three titles, so it gave us the idea to record the different facets of our music on a real album, and we began digging through the music material composed over the past 10 years. We recorded all the album stuff during 2011, both in my studio and in Alain’s studio. I produced the whole thing.

Now, I’m very happy because the album is released, and the band is stable, very talented, and really adapted to the music that I always wanted to play. We are very good friends too, which is important to me. On drums, we find Alain Bidot-Naude (Big Mama, Macqueen, After Beat) who joined me in 1999. On bass is Henri Dorina (David Koven, Peter Kingsberry, Art of soul, Faudel, Mokhtar Samba, Manu Dibango). And on keys and trumpet, Franck Guicherd (Eddy Louiss, Mory Kanté, Gérard Badini, Fred Manoukian).

mwe3: You mention both YES and Weather Report as big influences. Is that the link between modern jazz fusion and prog-rock that you explore on your new Iluna album? What other guitarists inspired you early on to want to become a professional musician? How about 5 influential albums?

RLS: Yes, you’re right, this album can be seen as a link between modern jazz fusion and prog-rock. A track like “Chani (Cycle du Désert)” is a good example of this idea. In fact, for me, there are no real frontiers between styles, and this is the main concept of the album. I’ll say that my purpose is to fuse the classical harmony and the jazz harmony, with the energy and sound of rock music.

Numerous guitarists inspired me. In my former “hard-rock” period, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani influenced me a lot, and still do. Then later, Pat Metheny was a real musical shock for me. And later again, listening to John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale and Scott Henderson really made me aware of what I would like to play. All these guys are geniuses for me. The 5 most influential albums ? I would say Fair Warning (Van Halen), The Yes Album (Yes), Travels (Pat Metheny), Black Market (Weather Report) and Electric Dreams (John McLaughlin w/ The One Truth Band).

mwe3: Can you recall your first guitars? What electric and acoustic guitars did you use to record the Iluna CD with? And can you say something about your endorsements?

RLS: Yes, for sure! I was 13, my first guitar was a Paul Beuscher for Christmas! (lol!) Aluminum whammy bar and plywood body! I was the happiest boy on earth. Fortunately, with years, I had the opportunity to afford real instruments! I think I bought tons of guitars since this first one.

For the Iluna album, two electric guitars were mostly used: my alder Tom Anderson Drop Top which is my number one guitar, and my mahogany i1 Brian Moore, an instrument with an incredible sustain. For the acoustic, I used a Taylor 614 CE for the intro take of “Chani (Cycle du Désert)” and a Takamine Hirade with incorporated tube preamp for the “nylon” takes of “La Quête de Roland”. For jazz takes on “Euria (Cycle de la Pluie)”, I used my Gibson ES175.

I’m endorsed by Tom Anderson guitars in France, and how it happened is an interesting story. I always loved to play Tom Anderson guitars, and one day I decided to travel from France to L.A. to meet Tom and ask him to build me the guitar of my dreams. So I’ve go there, met him, and the human contact was very good. We talk hours with Roy, his assistant, about the specs I was looking for this instrument, woods, neck size, fret size, all these things fascinating only guitarists. (lol!) Then I came back to France and 4 months later, I received my new guitar. Since then, I enjoy so much that guitar that I use it in most of the shows I play. I asked Tom to about an endorsement deal, and we agreed with Audio Tube tech, the Tom Anderson guitars French importer, about an endorsement contract. That’s very cool news...I’m proud to represent these guitars in France.

mwe3: What do you look for soundwise and feel-wise in a guitar and how do you combine your guitars with specific amps and guitar effects?

RLS: First of all, I look for being comfortable with a guitar. Next, I want a distinctive sound, means “distinctive in a mix”. This involves woods, guitar mics, amps, cabinets, recording mics... In this way, it’s difficult to say that a guitar sounds bad or good in general. For me, a “musical chain” sounds bad or good, i.e. from the guitar pick to the cabinet. And in that chain, a guitar is adapted to the situation or not. So a cheap guitar can sometimes gives very good results, and a very expensive guitar can sound like a pancake! That’s not a price question. The musical chain is a combination of acoustic and electronic properties, sometimes very surprising.

These days, I’m very happy about the system I use. My guitar signal goes through different overdrive/distortion pedals, then in a Mesa-Boogie Formula Preamp in clean tone, then in a TC-Electronics G-Force multi-effects, and then is amplified by a Mesa-Boogie Simul-Class 2:90 amp. Then the amplified signal goes into two Marshall cabs.

mwe3: Why do you call the CD Iluna and in addition to the musicians in your group, who else was involved in the production and on the record label side?

RLS: The name Iluna was found by Alain Bidot-Naude in reference to his basque origins. In basque language, it could mean “obscurity” or “moon”. We were searching for something referring to science-fiction and planets, because my music is very inspired by science-fiction books, like Frank Herbert’s “Dune” which inspired me to write the “Iluna Trilogy” or Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” which inspired “La Quête de Roland”.

Two guest musicians were involved in this project: the great film-music composer Guillaume Roussel played piano on “Gimmick” and Fender Rhodes/strings on “Chani (Cycle du Désert)”, and Alessandro Nocco, an Italian saxophonist who came specially from his country to play amazing choruses on “Gimmick” and “la Quête de Roland”.

For the recording, Steve Prestage (Gino Vannelli, Peter Gabriel, Prince, Gary Moore) was the magician who put the mics on the right places and made an amazing mix of the whole thing. Besides being an incredible professional, Steve is really a kind guy too. I learned so much things, working with him.

We made the mastering with Raphaël Jonin, who did a very good job too. All the production process after that was made by me, because it’s an auto-production from A to Z, and I’m very happy to have done things this way and been able to keep the control on every aspect of this project.

mwe3: Can you say something about future plans involving further promoting the Iluna CD as well as other plans you have regarding live concerts and writing, producing and or recording new music moving forward?

RLS: Well, since the album release last year, I’m working a lot to it promotion and dates research, etc. In September, I’ll be in N.Y. for a few days and I’ll try to make contacts there for future dates in the USA. And I’m currently working on new tracks to come on the next RLSG album… so watch out!

Thanks to Renaud Louis-Servais @


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