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Inbox: Benoît Pioulard

Sure, we're always curious to know about an artist's upcoming release, most recent tour, or arsenal of analog gear, but XLR8R's also got a curiosity for quirk. Thus, each week, we email a different artist and find out what makes them tick, in the studio and in life. This time around, we caught up with Thomas Meluch, the man behind Benoît Pioulard, to talk late-night creek exploration, that Eastern European girl from Captain Planet, and his beloved hand-held tape recorder.

What are you listening to right now?

Thomas Meluch: At this very moment, it’s Dorothy Ashby’s Afro-Harping, but I’ve also been way into Max Tundra’s Parallax Error Beheads You and Jonas Reinhardt’s self-titled record lately–both contenders for album of the year, I’d say.

What's the weirdest story you ever heard about yourself?

TM: Nothing too outrageous, I’m sure, but at least a few people have told me about the character of “Benoît” that they’ve created in their heads, based on an assumption that it’s someone’s real name–that he must live in rural France... that sort of thing. It’s also been brought to my attention (via Wikipedia) that I own a Chow Chow named Lou Reed and that I live on a horse farm, neither of which I was aware of.

What band did you want to be in when you were 15?

TM: Broadcast–or Mogwai. Actually, to some extent, that’s still true, in both cases.

Worst live show experience?

TM: Having not played too many, I’ve thankfully not had any really disastrous ones. However, I did open for Califone with a laptop-based set a couple of years ago and got a pretty harsh review in the paper, something about me musically cock-blocking the entire audience for 24 minutes, as I recall…

Favorite city to play in?

TM: Again, minimal touring experience prevents me from expertise here, but my favorite show so far was at a huge old synagogue on the lower east side of Manhattan–a combination of a great program (Philip Glass was involved) and a wonderful crowd.

What sorts of things make you lose your temper?

TM: Not much these days, though I got a good case of road rage going the other week while driving through Pennsylvania with broken windshield wipers in a heavy nighttime storm. Every tractor-trailer on the road carried on speeding and swerving around us. No fun.

What is your favorite thing you own?

TM: I don’t know if it qualifies as 'favorite,' but I almost never go anywhere without my hand-held tape recorder. Apart from my guitars, I’d say that’s the most-used instrument in my songs.

Name one item of clothing you can't live without.

TM: This time of year I’m rarely found without a fleece hoodie on. I’ve got a few of them.

Your music most closely resembles which Captain Planet hero (choose one): Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Heart.

TM: I’ll say “Wind”, since there’s a lot of it in my recordings. Also, I’m mostly Eastern European (like the girl on the show), and it’s pretty rad that she can communicate with birds.

What did you always get in trouble for when you were little?

TM Staying out past dusk–but that’s when I found it most interesting to wander around along the creek in the forest behind my house.

What other artist would you most like to work with?

TM: I’ve had a good amount of success lately working with Windy Weber (of Windy & Carl); though, with humility, I’ll also mention that I’ve always wanted to work with Tim Hecker or William Basinski.

What's the last thing you read?

TM: I just finished Psychogeography by Will Self and am forever finding my way through The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein, which is utterly fascinating, especially from a linguistic and grammatical standpoint.

Complete this sentence: In the future...

TM: We will still believe in a past and future.

Stupidest thing you've done in the last 12 months?

TM: Underestimating how fazed I was at the time, at one point this summer I jumped off a pretty tall part of some weird ruins along the Willamette River onto a big, craggy area of rocks and probably should have broken a few things, at least, but somehow just got a scraped-up hand. Fun, but not too smart.

What's next?

TM: I’ve got a new EP with some fancy packaging coming out on Blue Flea records in the early spring, and am otherwise working on a few things using a different recording process at home, so we’ll see where all that goes.

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