Besson, 32, hails from a small town in Northwestern France, an existence which he ended up trading in to live in London at the age of 22. After spending a decade moving between London and Paris, with a brief stint in New York, Besson’s quest to live somewhere that fostered his creativity brought him to Berlin.
Before the initial two hours in Berlin passed, he decided to stay. That was two years ago.
Although a native Frenchman, Besson felt that the music scene in France – and Paris specifically – was far too stifling, particularly for someone who wrote lyrics in English. Although the politics of the French language have changed over the past 10 years, it used to be that non-French lyrics were considered less of an art form, due to nationalistic linguistic attitudes held in France.
But because Besson grew up listening to English music, writing in English made the most sense.
“French lyrics can work if you’re really funny or if you’re into poetry. But if you want to tell a story…it sounds good in English, it sounds horrible in French,” he said.
Not only that, but he admitted that with lyrics he is able to express himself in a way that would leave him feeling too exposed in his mother tongue.
“In a way, because I’m not native, I can’t so much gauge the weight of words as a native would, and I’m kind of also hiding sometimes behind words,” he said.
Although Besson’s job – working in IT – allowed him to work from home, even while in Berlin, he soon found he wasn’t challenged enough by it, and decided to take a break from the daily grind.
“A year ago I said, ‘No, fuck it, you know, that’s not me. I should be making music full-time now,'” Besson shared. “And so I quit.”
In the time since, he’s certainly been productive. Teaming up with Austrian music technician and sound engineer Andreas Freudenschuss, the two spent three or four months earlier this year working on Besson’s songs. At the end of that time period came the release of “Past Forward,” a collection of 10 songs, and a follow-up to 2006’s “Triggers” EP.
The difference of location and the span of time between the two releases is reflected in the sound, with the EP containing a more electronic edge, while “Past Forward” posits itself toward more straight-forward rock music.
Considering the combination of a new direction in sound and a tangible full-length to his name, Besson figured something was still missing: a full band. And so, after an exhausting amount of auditions, Besson and Freudenschuss rounded out the membership of Alphacloud by welcoming Israelis Ofri Ivzori and Tom Dayan into the band.
To date, the four have played one show together, with the second one scheduled for tonight. And although they come from three different countries, despite whatever cultural or linguistic barriers might arise, Besson insisted that the members have an innate sense of how one another functions and plays in the music world.
“To sound a bit cliche, [music] is a language in itself,” he said, explaining how communicating in English is the least of their concerns.
And although Besson admitted they’re still in the Honeymoon Phase, he said he’s looking forward to the next challenge: writing songs as a foursome.
“The thing with this project, we actually did things backwards,” Besson shared, explaining the counter-intuitive way in which Alphacloud was formed. “‘Cause usually…you form a band, you work on songs, you go out and play them, you record them and then you sell your album. And here the process was backwards. I recorded the whole thing and then I offered this to people to play.”
While Besson posited that the other members will be glad to have a hand in the songwriting process from here on out, he said that the change from playing solo is something he’s particularly excited about, because the interaction between members in a live setting instills the music with more possibility. In the past, Besson’s live setup consisted of guitars on top of sequencers, which required an exactness to the music that wasn’t always possible.
“It was nice but it was also very restraining. I felt very closed in,” he said.
Now that he has a band together, Besson said his plan is to pound the pavement in order to shape music into some sort of career. Yet the years of experience as a musician have taught him to be realistic, while simultaneously not losing sight of himself.
“You want to be true to yourself, to what you want to do, but you always have this paradox…you also need to kind of please the audience and make a living,” he said. “My expectations are really lowered with the years, and I think I’m probably less naive…Quite simply, [I’m] trying to make a living with it. That’s the goal.”
Alphacloud plays tonight at Schokoladen in Berlin. The show begins at 20.00.