H/P are the initials of Happiness Project. The French Electro-Pop project signed on BOREDOMproduct is already busy for years and this year released the first album as H/P. Driven by Christelle Fournioux, Cyrille Tuyeras and Fred Tuyeras the new work entitled “Programma” moves on there where previous Happiness Project albums stopped. Pure Electro minimalism reminding legendary 80s formations but with a more explicit vintage sound on top. “Programma” is a fascinating and achieved production which might serve as a referential opus for H/P. I got in touch with all members for this interview.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: What made you change the name into H/P and what are the main differences with Happiness Project?
Fred: That was something we had in mind for quite a long time, and that was an idea of our label, who wanted some change. But however, we have always named ourselves H/P, when we were talking about the band.
Cyrille: Our latest album before “Programma” was named “Mutation”, so it meant that something was expected to change after this album. When we started to record and produce “Programma” with BOERDOMproduct, we thought it was time to change and simplify our name which was not always easy to understand for people who didn’t know us and our music. We chose the initials of our name H/P to make understand that our music will become more minimalist and will go rapidly to its purpose. But the soul of H/P doesn’t not change at all, we’re still the same and I think one can hear this in our music.
Q: Tell us a bit more about the way “Programma” saw the daylight? How did this new work took shape and what kind of album did you want to accomplish?
Fred: “Programma” started with a very clear idea of the music we wanted to make. We wanted to sound much more minimal than the two previous albums. The reason was we wanted a big change. But from the original versions of the songs, to their final aspect, things took some time, because there were a lot of back and forth movements between the band and the label. This is usual work, I guess when you are in the production process?
Christelle: Simplicity was the idea for this album, and I think we reached this purpose with our label which made a great work of production to give to our music this minimalism which contains a true depth either. And we wanted to change the way to sing and the position of voices in our music. Voices are more present and maybe dark either and are in real harmony with our music. All this was the programma for our album !
Q: What makes the 80s sound that special and how did you incorporate this influence into your own composition? Do you have 80s standards?
Fred: The 80’s are so meaningful to us! Especially, because that was when we were musically born! I mean there was so much going on and so many extraordinary bands. Of course, we have so many standards from the 80’s ! The most important ones to us are Joy Division, New Order, In The Nursery, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins… But we have also been influenced by bands from the 1970’s, too! Kraftwerk and Space, to name two of them!
Q: You invited Alain Seghir from the legendary formation Martin Dupont to play bass guitar on one of the songs. How did this meeting and collaboration happened? And are there international 80s artists you also would like to work with?
Fred: Well, of course, Martin Dupont! We could have mentioned them before!! That’s such a long story. As fans, we bought all their albums, as they were coming out. Then Cyrille got in touch with Alain Séghir, via Myspace, who obviously enjoyed some of our creations. Then, we met at a concert in 2019, in Cognac, France. That was such a good moment. And as artists, we made the cover of “Just Because” for BOREDOM’s tribute album “Broken Memories”. The idea of having him on one of our songs naturally came to Cyrille who had an idea for a bass-guitar melody. He took a chance, sent an email to Alain and it worked out!
Cyrille: Martin Dupont is one of our big influence. We had all their albums at home and I am still listening to their albums now. It was a dream which came true when we covered their song “Just Because”. When this song was produced on the tribute album “Broken Memory” Alain Seghir sent us an email to tell us that he enjoyed a lot our version. We were so happy that we decided to make an unofficial video of the track, because this song means so much to us. And if you take a look of this video you will see in the latest seconds that we announce in a certain way the change of our band’s name! So to continue this wonderful adventure I decided to invite Alain Seghir to play bass on our track “Vicinities” because I have always loved the way this great singer plays bass too. And the result is so cool, we love it.
If we could create another track with another legend of the 80’s, personally I would enjoy to create something with In The Nursery, Brendan Perry or New Order.
Q: What did you try to express by the album title “Programma” and the lyrical themes of the album? Can you also tell us a bit more about the artwork of “Programma”?
Fred: As for the artwork, this picture was issued from a series of works, which question the human place in an expansive urban world. It was made by a friend of ours, Stéphane Coubret. With the title “Programma” we wanted something which could evoke a certain idea of technological advance. Therefore, a word which did not exist, this could be the name of a retro-futuristic place, like in the picture or the name of a computer program. As for the lyrics, they were all inspired by this idea and the situation, we were all living in: confinement!
Q: I noticed the reviews you already got for “Programma” are very positive. That brings me to ask you about the importance and impact of reviews, magazines and journalists? And do you sometimes consider to do things a different way because of reviews you get? And how critical are you with your own work?
Fred: We have never created any album as a response to former press reviews… at least, not consciously. Of course, we are sensitive to feedback but we have always created our music as a continuing pathway… and our goal has always been to not make the same album twice. We are critical with our own work, because we often feel doubt, uncertainty, but also willingness throughout the creation process. We do question ourselves a lot.
Cyrille: We create music to be listened and each feedback is very important for us and meaningful. When we have good reviews, it does not make everything, but encourage us to continue the long story of H/P. It gives us the will to celebrate our twentieth anniversary in 2023.
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