The influence of the work of the late Marc Moulin on the music scene can hardly be overestimated. With various projects like Telex or Placebo, he pioneered musical eclecticism in a time when that was far from obvious. Jazz, fusion, electro, downtempo: Moulin had an answer for every exciting development during his time. 10 years after his passing, Moulin’s childhood friend and master guitarist Philip Catherine and STUFF. will pay tribute to the legend in two exclusive shows at the prestigious Flagey in Brussels. The latter is an interesting choice. Being the prime example of an eclectic band that doesn’t let itself be categorized under any genre, this quintet is eager to show what the legendary Marc Moulin meant for them. The first show on Saturday October 13 has already sold out, but there are just a few more tickets left for the second show the day after. Yet, we never really know what to expect when the boys from STUFF. hit the stage. So in anticipation of this truly exceptional tribute show, we had a little chat with the band’s EWI and sax player Andrew Claes.
In which way is Marc Moulin still relevant for today’s music scene?
"He has become more relevant every day. That guy was balancing between the worlds of jazz, pop and experimental music, which were all very much separated during his time. Now you see that combining different genres as an artist has become the norm, rather than the exception. Moulin really pioneered this position, being involved in so many different projects. In those days, it must have been a struggle to convey that message to the music scene around you."
"To be an eclectic artist was so much more difficult back then, compared to how it is now. Nowadays you can look up any piece of music that was ever written in one single click. Back then, it took years before the latest trends in American music made their way here. He just took the elements from any genre he liked and combined them into his new creations. Fanbases during those days were less open to hear music elements from other genres. Music conservatories in Belgium didn’t want to hear about jazz music until surprisingly recent (1993 to be precise, red.). In combining almost everything, Moulin probably stepped on a few toes, but he spoke to a lot more different people, making him famous. For example: his Telex project was looked down upon by many jazz heads, but for the DJ’s, this was his most important work. His Placebo project on the other hand spoke to a completely different audience. For those times, it was unique to look at music the way he did – especially for someone from Belgium!"
In Belgium, STUFF. is probably the best example of free-spirited eclecticism. In which ways has he been an influence on you guys?
"The spirit of Moulin has been present at STUFF. since our early White Cat days (in the beginning of their career, STUFF. used to host music improvisation nights at this small Ghent bar, red.). I remember we used to play J Dilla’s ‘Love Jones’, a track which features a very recognizable sample of Placebo’s ‘Humpty Dumpty’, after which we started playing the original. In a less direct way, he has been a major inspiration for us as a band of third generation jazz musicians. We like to think of ourselves as the modern formation of his philosophy. We work with a lot of unconventional elements for a jazz band, like having a DJ for example."
So what’s your favourite Marc Moulin track?
"That has to be Telex’ ‘Moskow Diskow’. I mean, that track is just amazing. When the track came out in 1979, that electronic Kraftwerk-pioneered machine sound was only just popping out. He didn’t do copy-paste. To embrace this extraordinary sound so early and making his own version of it with such success was unprecedented. You can still drop this track in the club right now! To make such timeless pieces of music like that with the instruments from that era is nothing short of a monumental achievement."
So what will you tribute show look like exactly?
"We started approaching this project with a simple question: will it sound enough like us if we just play his music? We want to remain ourselves and we don’t want to play his music exactly like he did. That’s what we’re figuring out right now. It’s a balancing exercise. Will we be able to find all the samples? Or will we recreate them ourselves? So we don’t have a clear image of what it’s going to sound like exactly, but you can be sure it will be an entertaining and powerful live show!"
Seems like you still have a lot do then…
"That’s the STUFF. way! First we listen, then we make a plan and divide the workload. After that we come together to experiment. The next step is to let it sink in for a while. And then finally we gather again to evaluate out the output and play everything we have from start to finish."
That’s a lot of work for only two shows
"Yeah, that’s partly because we have an international tour right after. In the end, we don’t care if we only do two of these shows. It remains something exclusive and exciting for us in this way. Look at it this way: we were thinking ‘what would Marc Moulin think of our show’? If we would take this show to a dozen other places it wouldn’t really be respectful in our opinion, it would just be ‘us playing his music’. To do only two special shows in one of the most prestigious concert venues in Belgium (and a venue that Moulin was known to love) feels a lot more like an actual tribute."
So what’s next for STUFF. after these this project?
"First of all: that international tour, which kicks off at the legendary Roundhouse in London. After that it’s Berlin, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Le Guess Who Festival (on which we got invited by none other than Shabaka Hutchings) and more. Then we have planned in some studio time to work on new music. And finally, we have another interesting project in the pipeline for January: A Belgian concert tour in which we interpret the music of Howard Shore, the legendary composer of eerie soundtracks for David Cronenberg’s movies."