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Published on Novembro 10th, 2010 | by Fred Huiban

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Sad-Mutation Music (EN)

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To understand the life of Troy Von Balthazar we should know about his past and present in the band Chokebore. This combo has released many masterpieces on the so called sadcore scene and just regrouped this year. For some reasons only the insiders and the real connoisseurs noticed their utter brilliance. To make it short (full bio), this American band was formed in Honoulu (Hawaii) in the 90’s and achieved some success in 1993 and 1995, mostly in the USA and Europe after the releases of two albums “Anything Near Water” and “A Taste for Bitters”. So when you learn that one of the most charismatic rock leader of modern times is in town you would surely not miss the opportunity to catch him up and ask him a few questions about the album ‘How To Live On Nothing’ that has just been released on Third Side Records.

The meeting took place in a café in Paris by a quite sunny day of autumn.

http://www.deezer.com/en/music/troy-von-balthazar

What are the feedbacks you had sofar on what you recorded?
Actually the feedback has been very very good! I’m surprised because I really thought that everybody hated my music. And I was sure I was wasting my time almost… As you know it took a couple of years to find a record company, so much to release the album. So I started thinking it might be the music. I’m really happy that people seem to like this album. It’s an honest album… it’s real for me and I’m glad that some people can feel that.

How many albums has TVB released?
Two official albums  and then one vinyl gathering a couple EPs… So I released all the EP’s last year on vinyl with the company from Czech Republic. So it’s like TVB LP (!)

Why the Czech Republic? Any connections there?
They’re nice guys, they asked me if I wanted to and I said “yeah… sure…”

You seem to stand a step aside from the music industry, are you still like this?
Yeah … I mean I’m a musician, I’m not a businessman or a politician, so I’m not gonna say the entire world my album is the best album than it ever was and you definitely have to come to see my show. I’m just trying to write something honest and I eventually try to write something that is beautiful….

I went to your Deezer page where we can listen to the whole album and the comments mostly in French are really enthusiastic. How do you explain that?
Oh.. are they? Probably because I think I have a lot of friends here and I toured here a lot so… And It’s also a special place for me. I think probably most of my friends in the world live in France now. That’s why…

Due to the past with Chokebore…
Yes. Starting with Chokebore and then touring a lot as TVB in France mostly.

Have you ever planned to live here someday?
I still like moving and I don’t want to live anywhere. I lived in Berlin a little bit this last year and once again I lived in Los Angeles and Montreal, Hawaii and here in Paris. And I like moving. After about a month I just want to move no matter where I am. I’m just used to it I don’t know.

Do you often go back to Hawaii?
I try to go yeah. I went there one time last year and I think I will go in February hopefully.

What’s coming next ?
The tour starts in the next days and I do the tour with the band. I have two musicians playing with me : the drummer from Chokebore and Adeline who sang on the album. She has a great voice and is a great bass guitar player too. So tour, work on music, write music, type. I collect all typewriters so I type… That’s all I wanna do!

What’s that passion for typewriters?
I don’t know I just love them. I love the way they smell, the way they sound, the way they feel. I never write on a computer. I hate it. And I’m also working on some music for a film in France.

I think you should act…
It’s fun you say that because a director approached me at a concert and he asked me if I want to be in his film in France. Then I said “yeah… sure”. You can’t say no, you have to try this. I said OK… “So I’ll send you the dialogues”. And there was like 4 pages in French. And it was really hard for me to speak fluently and also to use the correct emotions for acting. I mean you really have to understand a language. And I practiced and practiced and practiced and then I went to the audition and I made it! I passed the audition. And there was the producer and everyone sitting right there. It was really scary… It was the first time I ever tried something like that. He just sat down and he goes “Ok Troy, GO !”. And I just had to say all this all scene in French, in a foreign language that’s really hard. Imagine trying to do that in Korean if you had to audition for a part… You’re a Korean man, in Korea, speaking fluently Korean, totally natural. It’s hard you know? So that was the same for me with French. But I studied really hard man…

You told me it was three months ago…? When will it be released?
Hopefully the film will me made and if it is, I guess I’ll be an actor in it. I can’t say no. I’d love to act. It’s an interesting job and I think that I can do it but my main love is of course Music. In English, I couldn’t think of an easiest job. You go you seat there, you have free food everyday at the catering… You have tables with different kinds of food, sandwiches, cookies, fruits, you can go anytime you want, anything is for free… that’s a good job! But what I’m really interested in is music and also music for films. Just long landscapes of music. I would love to seat in the studio for three weeks and just work on one film and just really concentrate on it. Piano, guitar, other musicians, whatever is needed… but I’m really interested in deep concentration. Not just for the sake of thinking thoughts but for the sake of creating something not like just sitting down for an hour and then just stop because you want to go to the toilet but sitting there for twelve hours and really work on a piece of music. This is how I want to spend my time. So that you’re so far into it that everything else is blacked out… Completely… That’s nice…

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When you say that we should then figure out how intense the lyrics are… Is it a job or an art to make it powerful?
Yeah. I mean it’s both. To make it powerful, to be a real songwriter is both. It’s a job and an art. There is a craft… there is the moment when you have the inspiration, which is a beautiful moment. You have a song in your mind and you realize you can write it and then there’s the couple of hours where you have to work on it, or maybe a month or maybe a year until the song is finished… that’s the craft. And I think that people who can do them both make beautiful songs for a long time. That’s what I wanna do. One day.

You did it for many people and for many years…
Oh.. God.. Really? I don’t feel like it…

You don’t feel like it?! Are you the kind of man always asking for more?
I love the process, I don’t want it to stop. One thing for me is that I can’t finish songs because then they’re finished, you know? What do I do after? What am I supposed to do? Go to the cinema? I don’t want to go to the cinema. I don’t want to visit my friends. I want to work on music and words. And sometimes I get really frightened like right now I’ve probably written six, seven songs that are almost finished… but…not finished. I’m afraid when I’ve finished them because it’s over.

Are you talking of the album that has been released or the coming one?
I’m almost finishing to write the next album. I can hear it in my head already and I’ve been writing it. I’m not interested that much except for these little things, that’s just me. I just like that more than the other things. And I don’t like the other things very much but I really like these two things.

What would you say to a friend of I who says that an artist needs other people to be alone?
To be honest I don’t really agree. I write because I know I’m gonna die and I don’t really write for other people. I write because I want to make something that’s beautiful. I like people but I really write for me because I know I’m gonna die and I want to do something with my time. I don’t know about what you said, I guess it’s different for everyone… I don’t know how I need people. So technically yes that’s correct. I need people… yeah. But I don’t really think that way. I’m interested in people and I write about people. And I like people but I’m also very separated from people so may be yes!

(I feel I’m talking about myself too much… freaky)

So let’s talk about something completely different, the night. How do you see the night in Paris? Do you sometime go out?
Not that often. Because it’s too expensive here. I don’t really have enough money to be social in Paris. You go here and you spend seven euros on a beer. I sometime go out but I think I prefer Berlin’s nightlife. I don’t want to say bad things about Paris… but it’s expensive and I’m a little claustrophobic and all the clubs and bars are very small and tight and for me that’s impossible. I’d rather be at home typing.

Is it different when you go to a concert hall? Like le Point Éphémère for instance?
I like that club… yeah. But I’ve never been there to attend a concert, just to play. I don’t go to concerts very much, I’m not a huge music fan…

Are you totally focused on what you do?
No… I mean I don’t want to sound like I’m totally that focused on it. It’s just really as simple as this. A year ago or a year and a half ago I got very very depressed. I was in Berlin in the summer I didn’t have an album released but had all these sounds recorded and I couldn’t find someone to release the album. No money, no future and I’m not twenty years old. You have to ask yourself what the Hell you’re doing sometimes in your life. Everybody does and this is for me one of the main times. I just had enough, I was speaking to the different record companies, everybody said “nooo”, “the industry is horrible” and stuff like that you know?’. I was sitting there and decided that’s it. The time to quit. And I’m a person who never quits… I’ve been doing this for a long time with no money you know? Longer than most sane people would ever do this. But I just had enough, I said “I have to stop or I’m gonna end up killing myself”. And I did it, I stopped and I sat there for about a week. I was kind of depressed but also asking myself what I could do with my life… Could I go to school? What do I want to do? And I realized there are lots of things I could do.

But then after about a week, I was sitting there and asking myself what I was just feeling like on that day. And the answer was “I feel like playing guitar and writing a song”. On the next day I asked myself the same question “what do I really feel like doing today? Give me directions, Yes / NO…”. Again, I just feel like writing songs and typing on a typewriter and then I realized that for the rest of my life, that’s what I have to do. Because with or without any money, with or without any career or anything, that’s where I want to spend my time in the day… So I had to quit in order to clear up my mind to realize I can never quit hahaha. And I don’t want to.

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Ohter shots click here

TVB is still the same tall white guy writing Sad-Mutation Music but this time he is surrounded by Christian Madrigal Izzo (seminal drummer from Chokebore) and Adeline Fargier (Singer from Valence, south-eastern France, but living in LA). The album was just released a couple of weeks ago in France, Germany and Belgium and in the next months it will be out in the USA and Canada. TVB performed with the two wings configuration (drum + bass) at Point Éphémère on November 4th. A very intense breath-taking piece of beautiful music. The concert was sold out, everyone staring at him and listening religiously. Adeline + Christian were giving free posters at the end of the show… and I even got mine. The concert was just perfect…

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Words by TVB & Fred
Thanks to Estelle for the recorder
Pics by Fred © 2010
Merci au Point Éphémère et à SUPER!

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