By: Dream Chimney

The following interview was conducted on June 17, 2024

BlendreedBlendreed is French saxophonist Musina Ebobissé who is about to release his stunning new EP on Madrid based label, Tenorio Cotobade, entitled ‘Armaun’. An acronym of Ambient Resistance Music Against Urban Noise, designed to take a stand against the noise pollution of city life, the four pieces of music truly do bring out a feeling of peace and calm. Here we get a chance to put some questions to this exciting artist on the week of his release.

Where are you from and where are you based today?

I'm from Strasbourg (FR), I lived in Berlin between 2013 and 2020, I'm now based in Paris.

What can you see from your window right now, paint us a picture?

I live ground floor at a street corner, fortunately there's open space in front of this building which is nice as it is rare in this city. I can see people passing by, a bike lane, parking lots, a one way road and the yard of a high school on the other side of the street. There are trees which is nice, and I can see a fair portion of a cloudy Parisian sky.

How long have you been friends with the saxophone? When did this relationship begin?

I started playing quite early at the age of 8. I followed a music oriented school program with conservatory of music, which lasted until high school.

Interview Image

Why did you choose the saxophone do you think? What do you love most about this instrument?

I grew up in an environment full of music. My dad, who is a Camerounian expatriate, was really into jazz music. I was exposed to Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker early on and it definitely played a big role in the choice of my instrument.

I love everything about the instrument. First and foremost its sound, the interaction of the wooden reed and the metal; its shape, its complex array of keys, pads, holes. For me the saxophone is a landscape in itself.

It is a cliche to write it but I do see it a a continuation of one's body. There something intimate about woodwind instruments, I guess it comes from the breath, contact with the mouth, the blowing, pressing the keys etc…it's like a second voice to me.

Who are the other great sax players in time that inspire you?

I mainly listen to jazz saxophonists. John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd. Among more contemporary players I'd say Steve Coleman, Mark Turner, Walter Smith iii, David Binney, Donny Caslin, Chris Speed and many others.

As I am writing these questions, I can feel myself exhaling in relaxation as I listen to the tracks of ARMAUN. What effects - positive and negative - do you feel the noises within our cities have upon us?

Hearing a sound is hearing either a presence or an activity of some kind. It can of course be positive in the sense that it reminds us that life and phenomenons are happening around us. It can make us feel surrounded, comforted etc.. But just like the difference between poison and its remedy, it’s sometimes a matter of amount and quantity. Urban life is both exciting, stimulating, exhausting and irritating.

I’d love to hear about the initial idea for the release ARMAUN. When did you first approach this concept and what was your original intention with this release?

The music came before the acronym. It is a selection of improvised pieces I recorded at the of 2022. I then got busy with other projects and left the tracks aside for a while, procrastinating its release until Jorge Cortes approach me.

I’ve always lived in cities. I like the opportunities and diversity of experiences the urban has to offer but it comes at a price. Paris is a very dense and noisy city and the constant huslte and bustle wears me down. Our senses are constantly caught, solicited, captured. I found myself using my headphones more and more, trying to extract myself from my sonic surroundings, creating my own space to relieve myself from the stress and the pressure. ARMAUN (ambient resistance music against urban noise) is actually equally meant as a serious and humorous statement. Serious because of the reality I just described, but humorous because declaring and labelling your own music as -resistance music” is quite pompous. I really wanted to have an acronym that sounds good though ;)

It is as if this music sits in the hypnagogic space of neither sleep nor awake. Was that your intention?

Honestly no, but I definitely know what you mean and I can experience it in this way too!

They say we take our most relaxation, and also that we dream the most in this space. Are you aware of this, and was that your reason for creating this space in sonics?

I was not aware of this. For me it takes a lot of meticulousness and focus to create dreamy sounds. I mostly evolve in acoustic context.

What was most important for you to convey through this record? Do you feel that you were able to accomplish all of your intentions?

Hard to say. Maybe a certain focus, attention to details, both concentration and detachment, a certain state of mind, some sort of happy melancholia, of peaceful nostalgia. Inviting the listener to take a moment to enter a space where musical time is felt differently (as opposed to my other projects). Invite them to escape the cold objectivity of the clock that inevitably brings its share of task and responsibilities and follow at their own pace and tempo, their train of thoughts.

Whether or not that is mission accomplished or not is out of my hands. I try to play compelling sonic stories, the listeners are then free to interpret them as they chose.

What are you most proud of with ARMAUN?

In general, I fell like this Blendreed project allows me to approach playing music in a different way. It’s my third release, and I’m quite happy with the sonic result of working with saxophone and guitar pedals. I’m happy with the balance I found between transforming the sound of my horn while maintaining a clear and identifiable saxophone sound. Whether or not it is original is not so relevant, but it feels authentic and organic to me.

Interview Image

What was the most challenging part of bringing this release together?

Fortunately it was not such a hassle to release this one. I was fortunate enough to have somebody to work with me and produce it.

You are releasing on the label Tenorio Cotobade. How did you first connect? What can you tell us about the label?

I didn’t know the label before Jorge Cortes contacted me half a year ago and proposed me to release something together. I’m very thankful for his interest in this music and his efforts to release it !

What drives you to create this type of music?

The same thing that drives me to play other types of music I guess. The need and the will to express myself, to communicate through art and music specifically. I think Blendreed satisfies the part of me that loves to slow down, to daydream, to relax, to reflect, to imagine.

Where do you find the most inspiration when it comes to discovering new music?

Nowhere specifically. It can be freshly released music or older records I didn’t know. Checking out live music, of course. Sometimes just talking to friends and colleagues, or digging into the work of artists who collaborated with others I didn’t know. Check out what the overpresent algorithms on different platforms are proposing, Youtube, Bandcamp etc…

What troubles you most about the modern world today?

On a systemic level, commodification of everything, humans and nature and the struggles of the left to effectively change the balance of power in late capitalism and to create a counter narrative. It is sadly the far right that is benefitting from the anger and frustration that capitalism creates. I was born in 1990 and I’ve always lived in what Mark Fisher would call “Capitalist Realism”. A lot of issues we face on a personal/psychological level nowadays are direct or indirect consequences of what I just mentioned.

What is next for Blendreed?

I don’t know yet, I’m working on several different things, let’s see what will come out first. Either another ambient album, possibly ARMAUN Vol. 2. I’ve also been playing a live set this time with a sampler/groove box. Adding rhythm brings out something that I had not explored in solo so far. I might also finally compose actual songs rather than “just” improvise. Maybe a collab of some kind, we’ll see!


Check out the latest release from Blendreed.


We have lots more interviews on Dream Chimney.

Read More