June 21, 2013

Introducing ... The Noémie Project

Guys! I know this is not a comic, but as a total departure from my usual going-back-to-France rythm, I am going to Paris again two weeks from now (July 4-8), and I want to tell you why!

See that girl? That's Noémie. What is Noémie? Who is Noémie? Noémie is the result of that endeavour I had back in October to work on a comics-and-music project with a German musician. She is also, along with Master of Survival, the project that is taking up most of my free comics-making time since January. Let me tell you more about the project that now has her name on it.

I first had the idea for a project involving music and comics in October of last year, after discussing with my friend and former boss what I envisioned doing after my stint at the Info-Café was over. Since 2013 is the Year of the 50th Elysée Treaty Anniversary - which is a huge deal to anyone in the Franco-German world - it was put forth that I should apply for a grant with a project of mine that would contribute to the festivities.

Following that conversation - and as I was on a very tight deadline for that particular grant - I hit up the pool, as I usually do and did some exercising, brain-on-autopilot thinking about what would make a compelling project, but also something that would interest me as an artist, and would involve collaborating with a German creator, preferably outside of my discipline.

It sort of hit me around lap 20 that what had always interested and stimulated me in my writing was music, and that what would be really interesting both for me and for others would be to see what it was like if I actually sat down and let an original story of mine interact on a concrete basis with another musician's songwriting. (I play music myself but don't write it). I ran the idea by my boss, who thought it was excellent, and so I put out a call on my blog, Twitter, Facebook groups and through my church for a young German musician who'd be interested in the project - urgently, since the deadline for the original grant was October 31.

Within a weekend I had found five people, whom I then had one week to meet, mostly after work hours, explaining the details and making assessments of who would be a good fit. Everyone had something to bring to the table. It finally came to the Friday afternoon, hours before my deadline for making a decision so I could go to Brandenburg for the weekend and think about other things, and at 3PM in Friedrichshain I met Sarah Ehrenholz, who had just recorded an album with her brand-new band LYND.

This is Sarah.

My first impression of Sarah was that she was carrying her guitar and was wearing a black hat - it was already cold - or rather, that was my second impression, as moments prior I'd been attempting to get an idea of her stuff via her album on Bandcamp. Sarah's attention had been brought to my project by a mutual acquaintance from my church, who had sent her my ad. As we sat down to crêpes and talked, it transpired that we were at very similar places in our creative endeavours; her folksy, slightly melancholy style of music  alsohappened to be very close to what I imagined the soundtrack to the comic should be like.

On top of this, Sarah had just been in the US for over five years and could hold her own on the topic of identity and culture shock, which was also important for the project. After this conversation, it was quickly apparent to me that I didn't really need to look any further for a good match, and so we became... Claire and Sarah. (If my name was Tegan we would be Tegan and Sarah, but it isn't, so we're not.)

We found out early December that our project wouldn't be funded by the initial grant. Since then, and after some thought, we have decided to go ahead with the project, at least at first on our own time. Currently we are at the beginning stages, but already have a blog up and running, and we want to use it to track our progress. To that extent I have some bad news: as this is a Franco-German project, it is already in two languages, and I will not translate it into English. I already do that with Master of Survival and it is a huge amount of work. I do, however, encourage you to keep tabs on it if you are into makings-of, because there will be some of that as the comic and music progress. Also, you can teach yourself some French and German! As well you should!

Sarah and I were graciously offered the opportunity to bring Noémie to the festivities hosted by the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ/DFJW), which is celebrating its 50th July 6 on the Place de la République with concerts and a Franco-German village.  It is our plan to use the time to involve passersby in what we're doing and most notably to help us write the story, as there are a few factors we've decided to outsource. But we are also planning to have at least one original song to debut while we're there (we're currently writing some songs - and I am writing LYRICS again!! Hallelujah).

On that topic, I would like to announce that I am selling postcards again! All expenses for our trip are paid for by the FGYO, so this is just in the interest of you, dear readers, getting a piece of the action. Details for the purchasing of postcards will be posted soon (but you heard it here first).

With that, let me say that I am very excited about the fact that I am working on this project with Sarah, and I am very curious as to where it will go.

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