Storytime from Cluny, Burgundy

January 27, 2014
David Wexler

When two friends from France wanted to honor the music of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, they turned to their community of Cluny, Burgundy for help.

Zoe Petty and Stéphanie Morin — after learning of Janglin Souls’ ESMZ Cover Song video contest —  reached out to The Champêtres Grouve Band, a  group of friends and musicians from Cluny. They submitted their version of Home, shot in various parts of the community.

“The whole village and all our friends were part of this project,” said Petty and Morin.

Janglin Souls recently caught up with Petty and Morin (who will be attending their first Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros concert Tuesday night in Paris), as well as Gabriel of The Champêtres Grouve Band.

Q&A with Zoe and Stéphanie

Zoe Petty
Born 1982. Franco-American girl raised in Paris.

Stéphanie Morin
Born in 1977 in Paris and raised in Versailles. Mother of the two twin girls (8 years old) you see in the video (Selene and Aileen)

france_371Q: How did the two of you meet?
We both met at work in Cluny three years ago and soon became BFF. We both had moved from Paris for Zoe and Rennes for myself for different reasons. We were city girls who never thought we would make it for long in the country side but we soon went on from being the “new comers” to part of the city, immerged in the culture of the land, as Burgundy is very attached to its roots, its territory, its wine history. Its people are farmers or industrial workers. We both had thought we would only stay a few years here before taking on new job opportunities in bigger cities, but we decided the opposite, and we are even moving together as roommates in a house as of Feb. 1st. We are fully getting ready for next Saturday and are overwhelmed with packing those past two weeks.

Q: How did you get into Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros? Why are you such big fans?
A: The “Home” song has been a great hit here in France. Even though the song is famous, it seems the band itself is not; a few are able to name the band who sings this song. They have an underground image — they are not played frequently on the radio beside the “edgy” radio shows, but definitely not played mainstream beside Home.

Zoe and I went surfing on the French west coast last summer, and this song was the “motto” song the entire summer, and by extension the entire album. Although we have never been “groupies”of any band in the past, meaning we never had posters in our room nore checked their life on the internet, we only focused on the music and never went deeper in their private life.

We like how they sound and what they make public of their inspiration and their “conscience” of the world we live in. We relate to their vision of the world.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your friends in the band?  Why did they choose the song Home?

A: The Champetre Grouve Band is a band of friends, all native of Cluny surroundings, who grew up together and met through activities and music classes. They played in their parents’ yards, small festivals as entertainers … but it is only very recently that they are really understanding they are a band. Some of them really want to take their careers in the music industry (as the female vocals).

The people around really appreciate them.They mostly started by playing songs from bands they like. As they are a big band, they really enjoy brass bands, world music, ESMZ, etc.

I first met them two summers ago, while we are all volunteering for a local film festival held in a small village. I really loved them as teenagers, so full of life, funny, very happy to be born and raised far from big cities. Those kids are not the typical Y Generation, connected to smart phones, Facebook, etc. …  I remembered thinking “what the hell was I doing when I was 15?!!” when I met them. As that time, it was the summer, just a bunch of volunteers, all family and friends. I saw them again last summer, and we shared the same amount of fun for three days. Sidonie told me how she had decided to pursue her career after graduating from high school into music. And that remained in my head for a couple months.

Q: How did the video come together? Where was it filmed?
A: Back in September, Zoe and I wanted to do a video for ESMZ, something just the two of us filming on smart phones sending the video to them. Just for the fun of it. By searching the Internet with more info on how to contact them, we heard about your contest.

We decided to do something. But, here is the situation: we both CAN’T sing nor PLAY an instrument  … and visibly can’t read instructions either. So we thought about it and one night we went to our bar, “Le Bistrot,” which is a place we love and had a drink to think this through. We knew right when we sat, we wanted to share our friendship, how when you find someone who shares your craziness, you can achieve a lot, a lot more than you thought you would be capable of. Since Zoe and I are friends, our worlds really changed. We help each other, are very creative, try out new things, live new experiences, etc. We also wanted to show our respect to Cluny, and its community. Show people that you can live a full life in the countryside with less money but more love and sharing. And BooOOOm : that how we knew it had to be the song HOME.

On that very same night, Fred — the drummer of the band — was there with a friend. And the dots connected instantly in my head. We told him about the project of shooting the cover of Home, which is a song they really love and had played already. We started developing this idea that Zoe and I would change some of the lyrics to fit our story and how we so much loved the band and their genuine innocence it would be for them their first home made video project. A few days after, Fred told us the band was fine with the project, that we should be doing it. The point being … we only had a month to make it on time for your deadline, the members of the band being in various junior high and high schools at distance from cluny and only available one day per weekend given their chores, school, parents, etc. We also had ZERO money to do it. And that’s how our community helped us.

Q: How did you get your community involved in the project?

A: We started knowing the first scene had to be in Le Biestrot. They agreed to lend us their place for one night. We called up our friends and called for a few hours of their time for one night. We shot the video in only two hours…. realized afterward that the video was shaking, that all the people who used the camera did not know how to use it, that we lost some footage, etc. In fact, after that, we only had an extra morning of shooting (from 8 .a.m to 12 a.m. in the vineyards) and an afternoon in the place called Le Pont De Cotte, where we recorded the song. That place was also given to us for an entire day. That place, as you can see from the final image, is very big and was supposed to be both a nice restaurant and a place for concerts. But sadly, the owners did not make it full enough and had to close in January. It is now for sale.

I had taken the camera on other locations and filmed footage for our own use afterwards, like a “Best of,” and filmed extra “Heys” and ideas with friends. Turns out that when we handled everything to the couple Yannick and Absinte, who are professional editing and movie people, they had so much fun watching the extra footage that they used them. They did an amazing job because they made it possible to see us actually sing and perform the song, which was not at all intended as such in our mind. They kept the spontaneity and friendships, all the good vibes but reckon that it was the first time in their life, the footage for a clip were so much NOT made on purpose with a storyboard in mind! For instance, all the parts in the Pont De Cotte where we recorded the song was not supposed to be in the video at all. Yannick and Absinte are fans of the band and friends of them, since they know them for the local film festival.

So basically, it turned out that we wanted to show Cluny, our friends, the land and the vineyard and everybody loved the idea of helping out a band of teenagers and 30s made a dream possible… We felt like in Cinderella, all those people giving their talent for us.

Q: Have you seen them in concert before? Are you planning to see them in Europe?

We have never seen them.  Zoe and I are taking the TGV (train) tomorrow … It is a 400 km distance. Just seeing them is incredible. We would love to “meet” them but we know it will probably be impossible. We hoped that one day they will see our video because everybody was so happy doing it, filming it. It was such a, “You guys are nuts” story. We thought we were amateurs, helped by professional people. We were so blessed.

When we reached 500 views on YouTube it was already more than we expected. Seeing them live for Zoe and I is part of that “happy ending” story, like a “date” for the two of us. It will remind us that video but also all our stories we share and the fact that even crazy dreams can come through. That we should never stop believing. And who knows? Maybe we’ll meet two Prince Charming.

The rest of the band could not make it. I think we would have come all together in a mini bus if they had invited us, and we would have been so proud of the “kids” if they could have heard them sing that song, but that is for another project maybe one day. The Champetre Grouve Band will be at the first part of ESMZ tour in Paris!!

Q: Any additional comments, stories, thoughts?

A: Like everything you see on the video, from the clothes, to the surfboard, to places, everything was made on the spot — no preparation. We were frozen in the vineyard that morning, the farmers were staring at us with a surfboards. The friend who filmed in the bar had had way too much to drink, so that is why the image is blurred. Another one of the filmers thought he was Spielberg and over-exposed everything. My girls even shot some images, but are way shorter than us, so sometimes you don’t see our heads, etc.

For the first time, Zoe and I recorded a song knowing we still don’t know how to sing or play an instrument! We do the “Hey” in that song and the part were we talked. Since we so much do not have a musical hear, a friend had to make signs for us when we had to sing the “Hey!” That is why we mentioned the “Hey Man” in the credits!

The band had so much fun doing this. They realized how talented they are, and how many people beside mummy-daddy think they are cool. Zoe and I, even though we had 15 years difference with them, all got along on the project like one. We were without any doubt more childish than them! It was a great experience. Now, we would love for them to make more videos and go on with their talent! We will ask them to perform at our housewarming and we will again all volunteer next summer in that local film festival. Zoe and I are focused now on future projects that the new house will allow us to do.

Q&A with Gabriel of The Champêtre Grouve Band

Q: Tell me a little bit about The Champêtre Grouve Band?

A: The band started as we were doing our first year of high school which is about two years from now.  We were all very good friends and loved music, so we decided to meet once and a while in the high school music room. The first time we played in public was in the end of year school performance. As we started to be very enthusiastic about this project, we asked my younger brother, Yonatan, to join us and eventially we found our drummer, Fred. So the whole band is about friendship and joy. Nowadays we play our compositions in local festivals and little concerthalls.

Q: How did you discover ESMZ?

A: I first heard about ESMZ through NPR Radio on the Tiny desk concert shows. I was completely stunned by this band, which was in many ways, very similar to ours. First, the band had many musicians who played various instruments just like us. And they all seemed to be good friends, playing for happiness and people’s good. Anyhow, this amazing band inspired all of us to continue playing and writing our songs. In fact, during that first year of high school, our German teacher (who also knew about ESMZ) asked us to play Home as a peaceful farewell for our German penpals. From this moment on, we kept on listening to ESMZ melodies and playing Home in the green fields of our countryside when the sun was out. The band is now called The Champêtre Grouve Band, where champêtre refers to our bucolic style.

We were delighted when Stephanie and Zoe asked us to make a clip of Home song. We did’t have much time to record the song and film the clip but we got lots of support from friends, Cluny theater and le Pont de Cotte which lent us a place to rehearsal and record. All in all, it was a great adventure. We had great pleasure making this short video and we’d be pleased to meet ESMZ band.

Q: How did your band get involved in this project?

A: We were delighted when Stephanie and Zoe asked us to make a clip of Home. We did’t have much time to record the song and film the clip, but we got lots of support from friends, Cluny theater and le Pont de Cotte, which lent us a place to rehearsal and record. All in all, it was a great adventure. We had great pleasure making this short video … ESMZ are the most welcome to our home, south burgundy!!

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