By José Oliveira & Rosine Alleva – Rock At Night EU Editors
Blessed with an impressive voice and a great way with words, French singer Veronique GAYOT traveled between local groups giving concerts on both sides of the Rhine River, singing blues rock in her own way. The consecration of her talent was rewarded last October with an invitation to perform in Germany at the prestigious “Rockpalast” TV broadcast. RAN met her in OBERNAI, a beautiful Alsatian little town where she lives, to talk about her last work: ANIMAL.
RAN – A true invitation to the party, “Let’s Go Crazy” is one of the hit titles of ANIMAL, your latest work. Unfortunately , with the lockdown we’re paralyzed since a year, due to this terrible pandemic. How do you handle this situation?
Veronique GAYOT – Hello José, thank you Rock At Night for your kind interest.
The title “Let’s go crazy “was written a few months before the pandemic but considering the actual situation it just sounds like an echo to our obvious frustrations!
In case we need to avoid a hard breakdown, celebrating life and sharing good times is the best therapy. I’m looking forward to those moments with an urgency feeling.
RAN – Did you take the opportunity to write new songs?
VG– No, but my cigar box guitar has never been so much in action !
I always got millions of things to do, but still Music belongs to my daily life.
RAN – Could you give us some clarification on your career to date?
VG – My musical career started out significantly the day I went to a band rehearsal in a dark cellar lit up with red spots.
As they played rock, it came as an evidence to me that this was the place where I wanted to be.That was the first triggering factor that led me to Music.
The second one, for the anecdote, is the proof that faith can move mountains :
As I was not making Music yet, I went to see Hubert Felix Thiefaine at the Music and wine festival ( “la foire aux vins”) in Colmar and found it so intensive that I said to my friends: ”I would like to live such a scene one day” but as they laughed at me I declared: ”five years,I just give me five years to be on such a stage”
Five years later I played the same day, same place, same stage …that was just a magic symbol! Then I played with friends, we were making our own songs and touring all over France.
During 5 years I had a break and took time to take care of my son Jim.
During 10 years I played with a pianist in duet all over Europe.
Then I began sharing Blues with my band “Barking Jack” enjoying very nice stages.
One day the famous German Blues Man “Timo Gross” gave me the opportunity to enter further in the world of Blues. And that was the beginning of a brand new and awesome adventure.
RAN – When were you first aware about music as a kid? Which were your first musical influences? When did you get that Blues secret sauce?
VG – My first discovery was the band “AMERICA”, and at the age of 18, I spent days and nights laying on the carpet listening to bands like CCR, Led Zeppelin, JJCale and hundreds of others …
The Blues entered my soul the day I listened to Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck “Amnesty international 1981” because at that very moment I discovered one could make a guitar cry… that was my first Blues Emotion and my first real connection to the Music of the Soul.
RAN – ANIMAL feeds above all on your beautiful hoarse tone and this very present passion for Blues Rock. With the Mississippi and the far distant cotton fields, where does this attraction to BLUES come from?
VG – This is kind of question that can hardly be answered with words, it’s like trying to explain why Blues is called Music of the Soul. I suppose I got like millions of my fellows good reasons to do it. Blues is more than just a music style it’s the History of people, of humanity, of you and me so I belong to the Blues as I belong to the Human Race.
RAN – Where do you get your inspiration to write your texts?
VG– I really like to let myself get inspired by a basic rhythm, a simple riff, I can write about anything with my sensibility and rich imagination, I simply let the words and the images come to me.
RAN – What is your writing and recording process ?
VG– As soon I got one word I can build my whole story, giving great importance to the color, the atmosphere… it’s important for me to write a story that can bring to the foreground different feelings and that carries a deep Spirit. Being a Blues mediator is for me a Mission of the highest importance.
RAN – Like the first album “WILD CAT”, you continue on your second opus to work with the German guitarist and producer TIMO GROSS, who co-signs a few songs. How did you meet him and what influence did he have on this work?
VG – I must admit this was a real turning point in my Musical career. Timo Gross was a friend of my guitarist in the “BarkingJack Band” so we had some opportunities to meet and share stages. When he proposed we could collaborate I was really excited considering his experience and his talent.
The creative and writing process was generally always the same. I sent him my songs ideas with musical directions and he sent me his ideas, then we recorded at his local. He is a perfect coach for me, giving me that chance to explore my whole potential, exploring the Best I could give. It always seemed easy for him to answer my expectations and take the right direction where I wanted to go. Still I’m persuaded I’ve been in very good hands, and this adventure was finally fruitfull and very intensive.
RAN – These fantastic musicians who have accompanied you on stage are not the same who were in the studio for your two albums. Why ? Can you present them to us?
VG – Timo Gross and his musicians played on the albums and we shared 2 years tour together. It was good for making the machine run. I composed a new team just before the Pandemic, with wonderful musicians and gentle kids. So I’m very proud to introduce them:
Yannick EICHERT: Guitar – vocals
Jerome Spieldenner : Drums – vocals
Jerome Wolf: Bass – vocals
They all are professional and play with international musicians.
Those cool boys are wonderful to my eyes and I feel lucky to have such an incredible gentle and talented team on stage.
RAN – Singing with such great musicians, what are you looking for in a collaboration ?
VG– Simply to share our mutual passion with smiles on our faces and hearts beating same rhythm. A good work and preparation makes free musicians on stage. that’s the good deal!
RAN– Is it for someone that echoes your tastes, or someone who’s going to be completely different and who will challenge you?
VG– A little bit of both surely!!!
RAN – Performing at ROCKPALAST Germany, where all the best of the rock world performed in the 70’s and 80’s, must have been a very high point in your career. Where did this idea come from?
VG– That was just incredible to live our very first concert in such conditions!Of course that was a real challenge but on stage we all felt home because confidence was one of our biggest strength. We were one at that moment with the same desire to make that instant unforgettable, live and share it as true as we could, with our deepest faith. We got 2 wonderful german bookers who offered us that opportunity to play at “ROCKPALAST”. I’m grateful!
RAN– The images created a particular emotion…
VG– That’s the real Blues power, when something touches you deep in your heart, your soul… that’s how the Blues must be, that’s how we love it!!
RAN – You have more than 30 years of experience in prestigious concerts and festivals, not only in France, as in Germany or Switzerland. Do you already have dates scheduled for the promotion of this second album?
VG– Yes, of course we already, considering the situation, cancelled the tour in France and Germany but the new album “ANIMAL” will be released on June 2021 with a few dates in France and a big tour in Germany in very notorious places. We will have that pleasure to return to “ROCKPALAST”
RAN – You sing in English and I approve. Do you think you could have expressed the same feelings if you sang in French?
VG– Finally I must admit I really love to handle with english language, and it came as natural thing to make those albums in English.
I think that’s only a question of evidence. If I hear some music and think about French word I will write in French.
The way you express is the same, but the way you choose your words is little bit different because French words don’t have same musicality. Whatever, the emotion is no question of language.
RAN – What are your musical preferences right now ?
VG– I still like to discover old Blues players and Blues sounds like Bentonia Blues, Chicago Blues, texas Blues. But there are many great young Blues players like Eric Gales, Johnny Lang… I also like to hear any kind of music reggae, rock, gospel, funk, soul, folk… only question of vibrations, I may be touched by any kind of music.
RAN – While visiting your website, I discovered your great passion for painting. After JONI MITCHELL, DO MONTEBELLO, this is the third time that I discovered an Artist with this talent duality. Does it ease your creative inspiration?
VG– For me these are only 2 different kinds of expression. But painting is like making Music in so many ways, inspiration, creation process, and the same vital need to feel alive.
RAN– Did you already expose your work?
VG– Yes, all over Europe.
RAN – Your shared videos with THOMAS KIEFFER are excellent. Is there a joint artistic project?
VG– It was awesome to share a distant musical adventure with such a talented musician, that’s one of the reason I consider Music as a present that can bring people together in a wonderful and exciting way. It makes me believe that it’s one of the things Men can do Best.We both got much work with our own musical projects but I will be happy to share again with him in the future. With no doubt I won’t hide my pleasure! I just wanted to share with you the pride I feel about the second album “ANIMAL”. I spent hours and days researching about the History of the Blues. It was important for me to give proper tribute to the Blues and the Blues players through songs like “Big Black Mama Style”, ”Wicked shot”, ”In the hand of the Blues”, ”Good Blues on the radio” with respect, gratitude and much humility.
My way to say : “MERCI – THANK YOU”
RAN: Thank you!! It was a pleasure to meet you and break with this too long enforced isolation.