Gerard Bertrand Hosts Craig David & Lisa Simone at "Jazz a l'Hospitalet"

The Jazz a l’Hospitalet Wine and Music Festival is a perfect combination of open-air live music performances, culinary excellence and the finest French award winner wines in the world created by charming French winemaker Gerard Bertrand at his picturesque vineyard estate Chateau l’Hospitalet in the South of France town of Narbonne. “This is something special I look forward to the entire year”, he told me over dinner, that night we all wore red, while we tasted the best and most expensive rose wine in the world “Clos du Temple” a new wine, not in the market yet that he has perfected.

Gerard Bertrand Showing me his finest and most expensive Rose wine “Clos du Temple”. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Gerard Bertrand Showing me his finest and most expensive Rose wine “Clos du Temple”. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Gerard Bertrand, Selma Fonseca and Thierry de Bailleul. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Gerard Bertrand, Selma Fonseca and Thierry de Bailleul. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Musicians such as Nora Jones, Earth Wind and Fire and Dee Dee Bridgewater have played at this major musical event in the heart of the vineyards where each night 1500 guests enjoy sit-down dinner in the chateau’s courtyard and a reserved seating concert.

This year’s performers were Craig David, Lisa Simone (Nina Simone’s daughter), Ben L’oncle Soul and Melody Gardot which took place on July 24 to 28.

I exclusively interviewed British musician Craig David, he told me why he had chosen to be part of this Festival and working on his new album: “The rose wine is great.  I spoke to Gerard about the actual vineyard and what they’re trying to do.  I didn’t know that they’re not just organic. They’re trying to go to bio organic which is one stage further and then looking at the astrology and the lining up of the planets and how the solar and lunar effects on natural plants which is amazing because I love astrology and I’m very much to my metaphysical side of things.”

“The astrology of the place…I love that, so the fact that I got the opportunity to take them both back and to perform. The one thing I’ve realized the more time I’ve been doing this is that when I first started it was about how many records can I sell.  Not even that, it was that can I have a number one record.  As a young kind, you want to prove to the world…now I realize it’s actually about giving people a form of healing without having to preach, It’s a vibrational thing. You could be going through a bad time in your life, or depression, or a bad day.  You hear a song, it can completely shift you out of that vibration. My thing is I’ve realized that actually when I perform, I like to think I’m giving people positive healing that all of a sudden, they forget all their problems.  Every day you’re bombarded with politics and this situation’s happening and this is where the world’s coming to an end, and then there’s me who’s like let me sing you “Fill Me In” or “Nothing Like This” or “I Know You.”  For me in a certain career of longevity to realize that that’s your actual calling.  Your calling isn’t about how many records you sell.  Not for me anymore.  I’m actually living the dream because it’s not about a statistic.”

Craig has a great presence on stage and connects with his Audience, everyone was singing along. At the one-hour plus show he sang his hits “What if”, “Heartline”, “What’s your Flava”, “Fill Me In” closing the set with “I know You” and “7 Days”.  

He also told me he is very close to finishing an album:  “For me, writing an album is still really important.  I think there’s a lot of artists that don’t see the album as being that important anymore.  I think they realize that albums are very much becoming a thing of the past.  The streaming world and the way in which people want music, it’s playlists.  It’s instant songs.  It’s not bodies of work, but I’ve come from that body of work mirror and it’s important to me, so finishing an album, which I love.  Actually, I’m very excited about it. I’m still in the process.  The best part of it is like 80 percent of it.  The last 20 percent is usually the most fun because I always end up…the last 20 percent becomes the whole 80 percent.  Everything happens in the last 20 percent because the level is here, and I know I have to push it, and then some scenario will happen with an artist that I didn’t expect, and the next thing you’re talking and then you’re in studio and all of a sudden, you’ve got a whole new album and also, I like to take it not only just around like the UK and Europe, but also to go to America with the album and to…and its reinvention.  With the US, it’s different.”

He talked about his friendship with Justin Bieber and how he would love to make songs with him when the opportunity came around and if it’s organic because “I’m always one to never try and push, push, push, push.”

He also said, “I think Ariana Grande as a vocalist, she’s unbelievable.  I like her. Seven.  Anderson Pack.  I’d go Rick Mill.  I’d go the hip hop guys. I always feel like Mary J Blige when she was doing R & B and hip hop.  She’d be fantastic.  I’m just open.  Ella Mae, for example.  Like I was in the studio with her maybe 6-8 months before she had the huge record with Boot Up and then tripping.  I just love it being with people who are on the come up and then they have the hit and you’re part of that.  It’s exciting to me because then you’re part of the journey as opposed to being reactive and saying, oh, I want to work with this person because they’re doing well.  Bruno Mars would be great, as well.  He’s unbelievable.”

He explained to me how sometimes his songs comes to him while he is sleeping, “When I sang “I Know You” with Bastille… that song, the melody came to me with that [singing the song]… I promise you, in a dream that I had, and I woke up and I was like, “I’ve just got to put this down,” and the next thing, I was in the studio and then I was starting the melody and I called Bastille to ask if he would like to work on it.  He said he was like 15 minutes down the road. It was so organic.  He said he was finishing a session and he would come on after.  The next thing you know, bam, we had a song together.  So, the universe has a plan, and it aligns you, and I just know that if you’re in the right place at the right time and you’re passionate, it’s everything.”

On Saturday Jon Bon Jovi’s son, Jessie Bongiovi, who in 2017 collaborated with Gerard Bertrand on making “Hampton Water” Rose wine was at the Festival for just one day, I meet him at a lovely lunch at one of Gerard’s estates “Domaine de Cigalus”, Jessie told me how after dinner he was going to drive back to Barcelona, he has been traveling around the world promoting the wine.

On Sunday Lisa Simone and Big Band de Garonne gave a stellar performance with a collective of 20 musicians directed by Philippe Léogé, Narbonne Mayor and local politicians were cheering from the front row.

“Are you ready for the party? We are gonna be here for 88 minutes” Simone said making the crowd very excited.

She sang mostly her mother’s Nina Simone songs “Do I move you?” and “Wild in the Wind” saying, “Tonight’s concert was built on my first album Simone on Simone, and it is a tribute to my mother”

Before the concert, I sat with Simone backstage for an exclusive interview, she revealed to me: “My new album is called In Need of Love, it is coming out on the 18th of October on Elektra France. And my big break-out concert is on the 28th of February, 2020 in Paris,” she continues, “then you will see me with my trio. I’m a World Music Artist now which I am really happy about because that means I can just flow in and out many genres because that’s what I’ve always done. That’s what my mom has done. It’s natural. I don’t even know what the big deal is. I think it’s the music executives.”

She continues, “Because when I was a kid and you listened to the radio, you might hear Frank Sinatra and then after that you would hear Tina Turner, right afterwards…  After that you might hear, Mama Cass and The Mammas and the Pappas. So, there was no real format that was a specific type of music. I was raised on all kinds of music. Then of course you have Nina Simone, Mary Mccabe, Abbey Lincoln, and Otis Redding, Freddie Pain and Doris Day was playing in my house. So, you know there was no limit…”

“That’s how I come to the stage when I perform. I have something for everybody. If you’re an artist, you’re an artist. And uh putting us in a box is very limiting and it can be downright insulting,” she strongly said. “You see me here doing the big band. Then in February you’ll see me doing Reggae and Rock and Folk.”

She also talked about doing more Broadway shows: “Before I die, I think I will close the circle by going back to Broadway.”

She closed the concert set by singing “Return Home”. 

Simone just released a new single called “Right Now”. The music video you are officially introduced to her daughter ReAnna who’s in the video with her and if you subscribe to her YouTube page #LisaSimoneRightNow you also get to see the making of, which gets you the ‘behind the scenes’.

Visit the official Jazz a 'l’Hospitalet website

Ben L’oncle Soul and Gerard Bertrand. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Ben L’oncle Soul and Gerard Bertrand. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Chateau l’Hospitalet Vineyards. Photo by Marine Duplan

Chateau l’Hospitalet Vineyards. Photo by Marine Duplan

Jon George of RÜFÜS DU SOL Interview at The Surf Lodge

RÜFÜS DU SOL, the alternative dance group comprised of Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt performed at The Surf Lodge Concert Series presented by Lincoln on Sunday, June 11, 2017, to a packed house. After the show Jon George talked to me exclusively about moving from Australia to Los Angeles, California, working on their new upcoming album, and playing at the iconic Montauk Hotel The Surf Lodge.

The band played all their hits "Like An Animal", "You were right", "Brighter", while the sun was setting and the sky turned orange and red on the background. The show was a lot of fun and crowd was singing along and dancing.

Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George,  and  James Hunt

Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt

Here is the interview, enjoy:

If somebody doesn’t know you at all, how would you describe yourself and the band?

House music is generally what we revolve around.  However, we’ve both got different backgrounds of Indie music and different like even rock and stuff, so it’s like this big live analog and acoustic element to what we do.  So basically, dance music done live, I think, is probably the best way to describe what we’re doing. 

And how do you write your songs? Do all of you write the songs together?

Yeah, so like on stage, we all have different roles.  There’s Trevor and Tyrone who sings and plays guitars and plays keys, and I play keys, as well, but in the studio, anyone can write any drum part.  Anyone can sing any sort of part, write any vocal melody.   We’re all pretty multifaceted and able to produce in the studio.  It’s a lot more fun and we’re open to everything.

How about the lyrics.  Do you write yourself?

Yeah, so like particularly for lyrics, lyrics is the last thing we write.  We usually write melodies and everything before that, and lyrics are the very last thing that comes to what we’ve done so far.

 A lot of people do the opposite. 

 Yeah, so I think that like first and foremost is the feeling of the melody and things like that that sort of strike us, and then we try and let the lyrics represent what we were feeling.

Okay, and what are those feelings usually?  What’s your inspiration for the music?

It just goes through different iterations.  In the first album, I had just been through a few breakups and so I was feeling a lot of that.

Breakups do make great songs, right?

Yeah, and I think what we do, like it’s been pretty inevitable that it’s hard to hold down a relationship while traveling, so there’s always been like a push a pull between whether you’re like…you’ve been in love and also you love what you do as a career, and it’s really hard to just leave someone at home and then say, “Hey, I want to fucking make music and travel around the world and do this.”  It’s hard for everyone to accept that. 

Are you in a relationship right now?

I am in a relationship. 

Is she from Australia?

Yeah.  She’s been touring with us a little bit, too, which is…I’ve got a nice situation for me at the moment.  She sung on the last record.

Oh, so she’s also a singer?


What’s her name?

Her name’s Dena Amy, and she DJs, as well.

So, she’s very musical.  That’s great. 

Yeah, so it’s been good for me because my girlfriend’s around a lot. But before her, it was really tough to be able to sustain a relationship.  Either way, like with lyrics for a song, I think it can be from just looking at a sunset and a feeling of what that feels like and trying to be like trying to project that imagery to people is basically what we’re trying to do when we’re writing lyrics.

Sure.  And you were mentioning outside that you were going to work on a new album.  Can you tell me about that? What are you working on the rest of the year.  What are your goals?

Yeah, so we’ve just moved over to L.A. about two months ago, and we started that process in writing new tracks.  It was just an initial period, six weeks before we knew we had touring coming up, so we were just like let’s start the process again.  We’ve been touring for two years since the last album.  Let’s try to work out how to write again together and get into each other’s heads, and we just sort of having fun with it.  So, it’s been a lot of fun.  It’s been really easy.  We bought a bunch of new synthesizers and toys and stuff to play around with, and we’ve just been—all three of us…

What kind of toys?

Mainly just new keyboards.  We’re very passionate about electronic synthesizers and things like that, so it was like a whole new playground for us.  We just went a spent a bunch of money on like different toys.  So that was the starting process.  It felt real fun, and we started touring again.  Now we’ll keep touring up until August through Europe and stuff.

Do you have a studio that you work at or did you build a studio?

We built a studio in Venice in L.A.  We acquired a house.  We loved it—it had like a music studio separate from the house.

No way?

Yea, it’s a big 4-bedroom house, a pool, a hot tub.

So, was the studio was already there?

Yeah, so it was just an empty studio, so we brought in all this gear.  We went to town on it—new desks; new monitors; new screens; new synthesizers; drums—everything.

What dream? 

It was amazing.  It was hard to go to sleep because it was so much fun just to be in it. 

I’m sure. You probably just wanted to make music.

Yeah, you could just be up till like 7 a.m., and it’s not the type of staying up till 7 a.m. when you feel guilty about it.  It’s like when you’re being that productive, it’s like, oh my God—I could stay up forever.

My friend Lionel Richie always tells me, “After 9-10:00 pm or even midnight, everything is so quiet. The streets are quiet.  The phone’s not ringing.”  This is when he can make music. Do you feel like that?

Yeah, that’s a really good way of putting it, too.  I think that our friends and the reason that we moved to L.A. because we wanted to be able to be writing and have everything at our disposal which is hard in Sydney because it’s not so…there’s a lot more to be able to be used here in terms of production, equipment, choirs—everything is at your disposal in America. So that was one part.  But another part was just to get away from friends and family so you weren’t distracted.  So like a big thing here is like, yeah, girlfriends will be here.  We still to have friends in L.A., but it is like everyone sort of pitters off around 10 p.m. or something and you just start to go, fuck, I could go to bed now or I could get in the studio and stay up all night. 

That’s when it’s quiet.  My mind works much better at night.  As soon as the sun goes down, my mind wakes up…

I think we’re on the same page.

I think a lot of musicians are like that.  A lot of artistic people.  So, what about your next Album do you have a vision for it yet?  Like a name maybe?

We do have some things in mind, but nothing that we would want to say. I think the main thing that we’re very excited and focused on is just the amount of toys and stuff that we bought.  I don’t know if you know, when you buy synthesizers and stuff, the amount of change they can make to the sound of an album. It’s so huge.  So, we’ve just started focusing on really authentic analog, organic production which we really want to focus on so it’s going to sound a little warmer and that’s sort of where we’re at at the moment—just as a sonic palette, but we’re happy for everything else to be discovered in the next six months or whatever.

What are you aiming for for the next album?

I think realistically, the record will be out next year, mid year.  But I think at the same time we don’t really even care about putting a time limit on ourselves.  Let’s just have fun; let’s make the best album we can make, and there’s no reason to rush it.  

Of course.  I mean, you just released one not too long ago, right?  And it’s doing really well, right?

Yeah, so like all these parties that we’re playing in America.  Everything just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year for us. 

I know.  There are so many people singing along with you guys.  That must feel so good.  And all those girls in the front. Did You see how they were going bananas?

Yeah, it’s crazy. 

How does that feel?

It was very cool.  I mean, in Australia, we’d been used to seeing crowds build and America was a big solo for us at the start.  Even Europe it still slow for us, but in America it just really picked up over the last year and it’s crazy just watching like going from playing like 1,000 people in L.A. to now playing like we played three shows that ended up being like 10,000 people.

Nice.  Yeah, you did Coachella and the Governor’s Ball, right?
Yeah, it’s been really fun.  Amazing. And easy.  It seems like people are really getting into the sound we’re making.

How did it feel playing here at the Surf Lodge with this beautiful view?

This is like I was saying to you earlier before—you get very skeptical when you don’t really have a full production, the full sound system, so I walk in very skeptical going, oh, shit, this could be hard work to try and keep everyone in the groove in the pocket where we want them to be.  But yea, it’s crazy when we walked out today and everyone was just singing along the whole time.  It was very easy.

I was looking behind me and I was like “Wow—this is incredible,” and the girls on top of people’s shoulders, right?  That’s so much fun. George’s last words:

Yeah, we’re very lucky.