This section is a collection of articles, reviews and analysis of MeeK songs and albums by various journalists and bloggers. The section will expand gradually, regularly welcoming new items.
MeeK : the brilliant continuation of a lost art
Par Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe
(Journalist, Indie Label manager)
What is this MeeK dude ?
When I first heard MeeK songs one decade ago, I simply could not believe it ! How could a musician living in France produce such a pure pop, of the same kind and quality as the one produced by the greatest masters of English-speaking areas ? With few exceptions in France like Bertrand Burgalat, Helena Noguerra and a few others, whenever I hear French radios I just feel like crying. It is as if Pop Music has never indeed existed at all. France has never really understood Pop Music. Fortunately, with Polnareff ('60s period) and Bertrand Burgalat, there are some happy exceptions. In this exclusive pantheon, MeeK's place is unique. He is a craftsman who refines his art with each album. Pop songs that get you hooked and instantly elevate your soul, like an obvious fact... It did take years of hard work to obtain so pure an expression of his art. MeeK is too smart to impose on us all the backstage hassles he's had to get through just to get there and prefers to let his songs speak for themselves. I discovered MeeK with his debut album "Psychotique", and it was like an old couple who meet again for a reunion and say: "This is our song !"... This album is unique and has a great sentimental value in my heart. With titles like "Le Papillon Junkie (The Junkie Butterfly)", MeeK dares play with pathos without ever self-indulging or drifting into immodesty.
"Psychotique" is an album that rejects cynicism and irony (which often are the postures for the pedants) to reach a total honesty and an invigorating freshness, even though some of his songs may appear to be somewhat tortured. Believe me, it's much easier to wallow in a deceptively complex music and writing cryptic lyrics. MeeK's "Psychotique" got me definitely attached to his cause. Since then, whenever he releases a new album, I can only get excited when I find out that the bar has been raised yet even higher. In that, this album serves as a yardstick ! Never derivative or sinking into parody or "revival", the MeeK Pop is nothing other than the brilliant continuation of a lost art, one that glorifies melodies and allows us to touch the clouds with the tip of our noses.
MeeK, thanks for the music !!!
One psychoanalytic picture
I wanted the cover of my debut album to represent exactly what was inside the record, both in form and in substance. Each element corresponded to something specific, an idea, a concept, or a reference, a nod to something that had influenced my writing.
The original (1973)... re-drawn in 2001
The little boy
The little boy is me when I was 3 years old. My childhood is central to everything I write. I realize now that most of the time, whenever I sing, it's not "MeeK the adult" who sings but "Stephane-Franck the kid" I was in the '70s really. Some of my songs are quite reminiscent of children's songs, I could say it's on purpose but actually it is not at all ... The kid I used to be usually takes over the composer I am, and I cannot help it. My artistic universe is a rather childish one in a way, in which I react and I tell things as I could have done at that age, without any regard to Politically Correctness or hypocrisy. And incidentally the sound of my voice is quite childish as well... People often tell me that when they hear my vocal harmonies, they find it unclear whether they're a choir of girls, children, or women with children ...
In this photo, I happen to look like the little boy in Stanley Kubrick's "Shining" and Kubrick is one of my heroes. This film impressed me a lot, his mental atmosphere was an inspiration for this album. This resemblance is a coincidence of course, but I was delighted when someone pointed it out to me. You can't turn down that geat a sign.
The lemon on the kid's shoulder stands for the acidity in my words. My lyrics are often marked by a slight sarcasm, there is little violence, aggressive images, something that wants to bite you and scratch your back. I like this contradiction between a rather harmonious music and a slightly bitter lyrical content. The lemon is symbolic of my words, the kid represents my music.
The soft guitar on the Louis XVI table
The soft guitar on the table is an obvious reference to Salvador Dali, probably one of my all-time favourites.
Surrealism is essential to my inspiration and some recording tricks I use on my voice: most sounds in my productions are usually filtered or distorted or oddly EQed. Very few sounds in this album were left pure and natural. I like illusions, optical effects, trompe-l'oeil. I like to think of myself as an illusionist. To me, writing pop songs is just like being a conjuror doing magic tricks: in my case, this is done with some trompe-l'oeil sound paintings, skits, and theater actually.
The Louis XVI table is itself symbolic of this slightly preciousness in my songwriting, a little baroque, sophisticated or falsely sophisticated. Some take it litterally, some others see the irony... My songs are "free admission". Everyone takes what they want from them.
The parquet floor
This is a reference to Van Gogh and some of his paintings like "The Night Cafe" which I love. Van Gogh means insanity of course, psychological imbalance : psychotic.
The zebra crossing
The zebra crossing in the middle of the hallway behind is a reference to Abbey Road obviously. Need I say more ? ;-)
The door ajar
The door ajar in the background is the gate of madness, the door of imbalance: an essential concept and inspiration in my writing. Madness is a lyrical theme I find dangerous but exciting at the same time because it gets near pure poetry and of course madness is so close to surrealism... Everything is linked. And behind that door ajar, it's the Big Leap into the unknown, or death, or nothingness, or renewal. No-one knows and that's the appeal. I will not give any answer in my songs. I just want to ask questions, tease a little bit, laugh a little, slap a couple of faces and then give them a kiss to sweeten the pain of the slap.
The odd and irregular colors of the wall around are a bit like the ups and downs and delusions of life. It is a shimmering wall, tinted, poorly defined, we cannot really tell what color it is actually ... This is a Photoshop-flavoured wall, a bit like this album really !
MeeK : half-Christ half-Evil
By Frederic Streiff
(Music critic/Cultural consultant)
Music being my petty crime since childhood, my money is largely spent on records and albums. Vinyl at first and then digital when CD was introduced to the world. I could easily be the majority shareholder of FNAC as I've helped fill their cash registers for more than a fair share. Being a seriously faithful customer and completist, I've regularly bought their new talents compilation "Indetendances", a pretty good way to discover new sounds, new artists, new songs. In "Indetendances N° 10" of the year 2003, I discovered among other things a songwriter, "MeeK", that I did not expect at that precise moment. In fact I never expect anything in particular, I love music and that's about it ! A subtle and beautiful Pop sound, my favorite music of all time. To start off with, a crystal clear production, a sweet melodious voice that really stands out from those heard so far in my discotheque... With words so special, so unusual, so original ... This musical UFO just slipped into my eardrums and never left them, like that layer of wax that builds up in our ears without us even realising it, sign of good health that is. "Psychotique" ("Psychotic") ... Never such a title for a song had ever been tried to my knowledge. But why not after all ? This deep dive into that sweet music litterally blew my mind. This weird character in the song who's saying that he's been "passing by himself without ever meeting himself"... I wanted more and I went and bought the whole album. I listened all the way through in one go and unlike other albums one consumes like fast-food, I have not skipped one single track after 30 seconds of the intro to move on to the next like I often do... I couldn't help listening carefully to each song from beginning to end.
Such a variety ... I mean varied compositions and varied lyrics, each one more surprising than the previous one, a somewhat different music. Listening to it, one can imagine a different, a pretty far out kind of being, away from all the rest. How can you possibly throw in a perfect pop melody stories about a "drug addicted butterfly", a "big fish", Christ, Mephisto and lemon, wrenches, decapitated tulips, large tubes, "the elegance of a cow" ? The offbeat quality of the lyrics just blends perfectly with these ideal melodies, the whole thing being built with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker... The ticking of these songs is precise, a perfection music rarely achieves anywhere. MeeK is extraordinary, a standout... And I fell in love with that debut album that moved me from the first to the last note. Some recordings from the past are milestones in our existence, but inevitably end up on a shelf in all stillness. This is not the case of this "Psycothique" album which is still a little off-beat in my collection, in the sense that it is always a bit forward compared to some others, the CD never has enough time to get dusty lying around, it is my Pandora's box. MeeK or Mephisto, pick up your choice !
A compelling, emotion-generating storytelling
By Whitt Brantley
As agency director for WBMT Literary, Music, Film and Television, my job is to fill a very selective agency roster with the strongest and most unique musical talent that I can discover from around the world.
After coming across the Meek music video "Six Feet Under", I realized that this performer was a tremendously talented recording artist who was recognizably unique in his creation and delivery of music, words, harmonic rhythms and progressions; as well, I noted his great strength with vocal harmonies and the amount of compelling, emotion-generating storytelling used in his songs. Later I learned (to no surprise) that Meek is a multi-instrumentalist master.
He continues to remain one of the most gifted musical performers I have ever known and will continue to generate an even larger international fan base in the future.
"The elephants : louder please !..."
By Nadia Rollin
Shortly after the release of his second album "Margaret Et Ses Bijoux" in 2004, MeeK became seriously ill and withdrew from circulation for about two years. On his return in 2007, a new phase began for him, a new chapter which took the form of a radical departure in his approach and the beginning of a turning point that has probably marked him for the rest of his life. This period, both exalted and disordered, will always be symbolized by the album "Sortie De Secours" ("Emergency Exit") and its international Indie hit-single "Six Feet Under". For this album, MeeK ceased to be this self-sufficient "one-man band" to become "one musician among other musicians". The thing seems natural and simple to most people ... Not for MeeK though. Because the man is what one calls a "paradoxical autistic". Incredibly talkative, he constantly speaks and communicates but usually has a very hard time establishing any effective relationship with other people, not because he does not like them, but because he is scared of them and fears being rejected. And when you've said this, you've just described about 95% of what makes an artist "an artist" and 200% of what makes MeeK "MeeK".
MeeK : "
It was very new to me at that time working with a group of people as a team, for I had previously worked as a lone wolf rather ... It had become a bit of a boring routine, with many limitations. It was the perfect time to change things around and open myself to new tricks and suggestions from the outside. 'It was written', as they say ... Initially, co-producer Maxime Monegier Du Sorbier and I were like a funny little production team in the studio (although Maxime was more of an 'engineer-in-chief' than a real co-producer). There was also Paul Rochette, business partner of Maxime, and then all the other great musical talents that accepted to come along and play on my songs : Pierre Cohen, Remi Corot, Denis Morana, Nicolas Brunel, Nicolas lenti, Peter Sosin, Cyril Morana, Joseph Chedid, Charlotte Monegier and this pretty girl whose name I've forgotten and who came one day to play the cello on "Elle Est Tellement Vieille..." But the poor girl played very awkwardly and desperately out of tune, so her part was re-recorded a few days later by another cellist... But she was a gorgeous looking young woman and she was ever so kind...
Paul Rochette, MeeK, Maxime Monegier Du Sorbier
(...) I remember particularly the first few weeks of work that were really joyful in the studio. Maxime and I had the same reactions when working the Pro-Tools because we had exactly the same ear, which is rare in a business where 2 people never really hear exactly the same thing it seems... And somehow our personal tastes and backgrounds were complementary : I had the History of Rock in mind, with all the major references to the great albums of Pop, and he had the 'trendy' side, all the then current Electro Scene, the 'Hype' and the whole circus .... Elements that are quite important if you do want to move on. The people in the studio thought we were crazy because the atmosphere was often quite delusional and downright exuberant and jocular... That being said, when we would get on with the work and be serious, that was intense."
The album was recorded partly in Paris in three studios within the same complex located in the Sentier district (namely Raindrop Studios and Tango Zoulou which were comprised of 2 studios) and in MeeK's home studio in a house in the South of France. Production spanned over a whole year.
MeeK : "For this album, my concept was simple : there would be real instruments only, no synthetic sounds. Everything real, acoustic or electric and real ! Real drums, real bass, real strings ... On the 'Psychotique' and 'Margaret' albums, the bass and drums were real instruments too but they were often mixed with synthetic sounds just to be enhanced, and on some tracks I was really fiddling with some samples because I did feel insecure about my playing..."
MeeK : "And for the first time I had the pleasure to work with a real strings section conducted by Cyril Morana, which is priceless. It's an incredible thrill when you hear your little tune played for the first time by a quartet of violins, viola and cello, it's a real shock. You just 'see' your song getting into real clothing, it just gives you goosebumps all over... Up to that point, whenever you'd sung your song for yourself or for your friends around, you had done it on an acoustic guitar or a piano ... It had been naked. And then all of a sudden you hear it with the classical arrangement you've imagined and it's like switching from some old tacky truck to a Ferrari ..."
Dilemma : for the track "Les princes Morts" which closes the album, MeeK wanted a 40-piece symphony orchestra, no less ... But how do you do that when you only have 3 classical musicians at your disposal ?
Solution : you record them 15 times over playing the very same score.
Result : 3 talented classical musicians X 15 takes = a large strings section of 45 musicians which gives the album the elegant closure the artist had imagined.
Most drums, electric guitars and bass-lines were performed by Joseph Chedid (brother of artist Matthieu Chedid or -M-) and Cyril Morana. Jerome Monod also played electric guitars and drums on the bittersweet ballad "You'll Never Die Alone". About 50% of all the basses on the album were played by Electro-rock musician Mewsil, with whom MeeK had also worked in 2006 on a duet written by the said Mewsil and titled "It's snowing ashes" (released on the 4-track EP "Object To Be Regarded As a Sculpture.")
Pierre Cohen came around to play some acoustic guitars and a particularly funky bass on "Le Gange Illumine" which stands out as the album's great cathedral of Pop. A colorful character named Remi Corot arrived with his Celtic bagpipe and flute, which explains this Irish Gig flavour in a song like "Je Vous Aime Immediatement" that only MeeK could have dared come up with these days and which will remain one of the most endearing and delightfully incongruous moments in the album. All the lead vocals and armies of harmonies were provided by MeeK himself course, like this unusually deep sounding rendition in the intimate jewel "Elle Est Tellement Vieille Que Tous Ses Amis Sont Morts", which takes the listener into the cozy atmosphere of an old tearoom with burgundy velvet armchairs, an impressionistic evocation from another era. The piece is like a breeze of nostalgia blowing throughout your spinal cord. It is MeeK again behind this cascade of vocal harmonies in the watercolored "Je Vous Parle De La Pluie Sur La Mer". MeeK still behind all the hard driving rhythmic acoustic guitars, like those thin sharp arrows in "Willy Boy Scooter" or the vaguely Garage Rock sounding "Paris France". MeeK also behind the pianos echoing in "Les Princes Morts" or in the psychiatric nursery rhyme "Maxime, Ne Fais pas L'enfant !", ironically and almost tenderly dedicated to co-producer Maxime Monegier Du Sorbier who had not asked... And loads of little percussions and crystal sounding tambourines sprinkled all along this 1-hour long album like grains of sand. The "MeeK sound" will always be the MeeK sound.
MeeK :"Even when I'd been working on my own, I had still been socializing with loads of very versatile musicians, so the idea then was to welcome the participation of everyone willing to and use the many different talents of everyone with no restrictions..."
The sessions were loud and noisy. MeeK was then emerging from a humanly difficult period, the overflow would flow. And it did spring out from these sessions. For better and for ... Better. Even if the interpersonal connections would sometimes suffer. According to all known serious scientific comparative studies, an artist during creation process is about as difficult to live with as a Japanese typhoon or an asian tsunami. But what can you expect ? Great albums are rarely made in cotton wools. Because all that matters in the end is the output. The release. (The Relief ?...) Release of the heart, that's certain. Out of the stomach. Release of the mind too, of a soul troubled for good or bad reasons. Release of a great album anyhow, one of those that take on patina as time goes by and those that bring you new beauties with every listening, gems you had not noticed the previous times. A warm "family album" of a kind rarely seen these days, let's face it... The kind of albums one replays not because they are 'hype' but simply because they are good. The kind of albums one listens to thinking : "This guy didn't do this for nothing and he knew what he was doing"...
While we were mixing the song 'Evaporee Charlotte Morphinique', there was a moment in the track where five electric guitars fiercely played the same solo in unison, in a very proud 'military march' kind of way and that always reminded me of the elephants marching in Disney's 'The Jungle Book'. And these guitars were never loud enough for my liking. And Max and I were really working our asses off on those mixes, so I must have spent like a whole week yelling 'the elephants, louder !' in the studio ... What kills me is that to this day, whenever I hear the song I still think they're not quite loud enough in the mix...
MeeK :"Although there were many references and musical winks here and there, I think this record was my first truly personal album, I mean very 'me', almost autobiographical amazingly enough... I wanted to go further in what was only mine, and not just seduce at all cost ..."
The most famous song on the album is of course "Six Feet Under", an UFO-like kind of song by many means and one that resembles its writer and interpreter very neatly... A contradiction in itself : a slightly morbid lyric packed with double-entendre and dealing with death, over a perky "classically pop" tune as MeeK casually puts it, seemingly self-assured and perched at the top of his parallel world in the original news report for the release of the album ... Aside from the obvious charm that made it an instant classic, the song is actually fascinating because of this dichotomy between its positive upbeat music and its dark words repeated over and over again like some hypnotic mantra, "on and on, on and on and you live and die that is all ..." Typically the kind of nihilistic anomaly that any "normal" songwriter would have vetoed out... But from the very first acoustic guitar chord that sounds like a little whip in the brain, the track works like crazy. "Six Feet Under" is probably the delightfully anachronistic little piece that will remain forever linked to that short name "MeeK", like a golden funnel on the head of a magnificent lunatic, an "advanced psychotic" like one of his previous singles presented him to the world... Crazy like this gracious looking young man seen in the elegant and minimalist video of the song directed by Emmanuel Bajolle, singing his song with that little insane look in his eyes insolently planted into the camera lens as if he was saying "I'm gonna do something really silly just to piss you off" ....
"The guy is downright weird but that's why I love him" is in essence what the half-thousand comments on YouTube have to say about it...
This track stands as a symbol to me, this is the last piece I wrote before my heath problems in 2005 and that was of course a nod to the HBO series that litterally changed my life and which I still consider a great masterpiece. It was the opening track on the album too, so to me it was like my health problems were really over and I was picking up where I had left... And that's the single that introduced me to a much wider international audience thanks to YouTube and the Internet in general. This song really gave birth to me. For the rest of my life, there will be a before and an after 'Six Feet Under', either the song or the series.
MeeK : "
It is on this album that I started to sing in a slightly different way, using a different tone, I 'freed' my voice and started to draw another sound with it. A voice is the most intimate thing for a singer, and every time I would take a layer of clothing off my sound I felt more and more 'naked', like 'exposed' with all my vulnerability. The album presents a different vocal sound here and there and not just my usual high-pitched trebly voice that had been so prevailing in the previous albums. I've been pretty much helped in that by co-producer Maxime who, while recording me in the studio, would torment me outright, manhandling me so that I could let go of my vocal habits !... At the time it was unpleasant but ultimately it helped me create something new."
As usual there was a lot of vocal harmonies on the album, because it's my trademark and a musician can never completely go against what he deeply is inside. But my musical identity was already moving on by then, maturing and gradually emancipating itself from my 'tics' ... Those were very weird days for me emotionally speaking, really troubled. I wanted to live fully and produce the best that I could produce with the invaluable help of artists a little younger than me and from social backgrounds radically different from mine. This record was a bet on myself actually, a challenge. Basically, I wanted to put myself in danger and in uncomfortable situations so that it would provoke something in me, just to see what it was going to lead me to. This new appraoch forced me to re-invent myself... 'Sortie De secours' ["Emergeny Exit"] was more than a simple album, it was a therapy."
MeeK :"This adventure changed me and turned me upside down, it taught me things, sometimes in a painful way. This album will remain very important to me for what it represents symbolically in my personal life and in my artistic development. Humanly, it was indeed quite self-destructive. For a thousand reasons - many of which not depending on me... But nevermind... Maxime and Paul came from a very different social background from mine and had had an education that were light years away from mine. I didn't know then that they were not really interested in my music and that for them I was only a way to get into the Business, as they'd just set up their company. And all this was my fault actually, at the time I was very naive and codependant, which means that if I was working with someone, it could not be purely 'professional', I had to be real friends with them. I needed to establish an emotional and a personal relationship, it was a constant thing with me and thank God those days are totally over now... As a matter of fact, today's problem would be the opposite : I'm out of reach and tend to be downright autistic (laughs) ... But things happened the way they were meant to, I'm sure. You cannot rewrite history, even if you're left with bitter aftertastes here and there. This adventure professionally and musically prepared me for what was to follow. All that matters is that we made beautiful music and what helps me forget bad memories is that the album holds on great and gets better as it gets older. At least there is that !"
Shortly after the album's release, MeeK changed life, changed his environment, he changed friends, his way of working, his way of having fun, his way of growing up... "Once again" you're thinking ! ... He walked away from false friends to focus onto the real ones, he moved away from delusions and illusions to get nearer his own self. Fitsgerald once said : "Life is not so much something you live, it is something you learn." Obviously, he was thinking about MeeK when saying that !
"Six feet under I lie but I've had you !" MeeK sings ... Who knows what one MeeK really means...
"Sortie De Secours" album page with links to digital stores, streaming and tracklist : ICI.