The weekly TV show Acoustic has been TV5MONDE’s leading musical fixture since 2002. Presented by Sébastien Folin, the 26-minute production showcases Francophone artists in special studio sessions. The best-of compilation of the 2018-2019 season will be broadcast on June 20, 2019, to celebrate World Music Day.
France-Amérique: What sets Acoustic apart from other French music shows?
Sébastien Folin: Acoustic is a show made for musicians by music fans. It is filmed at the Guillaume Tell recording studio in the Paris region. This legendary institution, where the biggest names have recorded music, from Eddy Mitchell to Iron Maiden, offers artists an incredible experimentation space! We film without a live audience and there is no pressure on the musicians, who can perform their songs with total sincerity and authenticity without having to turn it into a show. Acoustic is an intimate studio session, as if the artists were in your living room and you were watching them while sitting on your couch.
My role is to present two short interviews with our guests. Over the 13 years I have presented the show, I have tried to understand the creative process, the influences, the emotions, and the ways in which these artists work. Each person has a different approach to music and the creative process.
You interview the biggest names in music as well as young artists who have just released their first albums. How do you choose your guests?
We promote Francophone creations and look for a balance between artists from France, Quebec, Switzerland, Belgium, and Africa. It is impossible to be exhaustive with just 40 shows per year, given the hundreds of albums released annually. But we offer a wide-ranging vision of music, from modern to classical and from jazz and pop to rap, rock, and soul. I am pleased to be able to interview everyone from Thomas de Pourquery to Jeanne Added!
We are curious about everything, and there is no overarching school of thought. I am neither trendy nor old-fashioned, but rather a bit of both. And that’s what I love! In fact, I think this applies to everyone. We can hum Dalida and be moved by Gershwin. The most important thing is for music to inspire an emotion.
What has been your most memorable recording session?
I have presented the show since 2006 and I have had many favorites, but the 90-minute episode we filmed for our ten-year anniversary left a lasting impression on me. Lots of artists came to celebrate with us, including a jazz dream team composed of Manu Katché, Richard Bona, Sylvain Luc, and Erik Truffaz. We also organized a contest between Paul Personne and Louis Bertignac, two excellent French guitarists, while Garou sang along with them, and we talked about their influences. This cult moment is still available on YouTube!
I was also lucky enough to receive Daniel Darc on two different occasions. I was very moved by his energy, his hypersensitivity, and the poetic way he expressed the darkest sides of his torments and feelings.
In celebration of World Music Day, you have prepared a best-of compilation of the latest season of Acoustic. What were you best discoveries this year?
La Fête de la Musique was created by Jack Lang in France in 1982, and has now become the internationally renowned World Music Day. We celebrate it every year on the show by personally choosing our favorite artists from the season and rerunning clips from their performances.
For this year’s edition, expect to see Clara Luciani, an artist who came onto the French music scene two years ago. This singer-songwriter has a politically engaged stance that she expresses in a cryptic, poetic way, as well as a true stage presence. Eddy de Pretto is another French artist whose sincerity appealed to me. His lyrics are very intimate and personal, paired with a keen intelligence and real style. He lays himself bare. And he is also really nice in person! We will also be featuring a rerun of Kimberose, an Anglophone singer whose voice is astonishing, and Therapie Taxi, a band whose lyrics reflect today’s generation. They carry the message of a disenchanted youth faced with unemployment and the rise of populism.
I am deeply moved by these young artists who are barely 30 years old. Their generation has absorbed the codes of the last 40 years of music, and they are reworking them in their own way to create a blend of new, different creations.
The 700th episode of Acoustic was broadcast in 2019. How has the show changed over the years?
Just like good wine, I would say we have improved with age. Acoustic has changed bit by bit in terms of set design, editing, and interviews. It is rare for a show to last so long! This longevity inspires confidence in our guests, which makes for interesting dialogues.
=> Watch Acoustic on TV5MONDE every Wednesday at 3:00 am EST.