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Baker's Dozen

Inhabiting The Music: Charlotte Gainsbourg's Favourite Albums
Jeremy Allen , April 25th, 2018 07:45

Ahead of her appearance on The Quietus' stage at this year's Field Day Festival, Charlotte Gainsbourg takes Jeremy Allen through her favourite albums, from Portishead to Bach, Lou Reed to her dad


Bach - Goldberg Variations
I think Bach's Goldberg Variations was the album that was the most recurring when I was growing up. And I think in my father's house and my mother's house they were both listening to that album. I did too. It's one of those albums that just comes back to you. There's a peacefulness and there's an energy at the same time. It's one of the albums I go back to whatever state I'm in. Sometimes you avoid certain music because you want to avoid the power it has, but this one has a very strange power in the sense that it can accompany any kind of mood, and that's quite wonderful.

My father used to listen to Chopin and Bach. My mother listened to Mahler a lot. Then I started the piano and my father didn't want me to do music. He didn't want me to play the violin my mother gave me as a Christmas present when I was maybe 6, and he chucked it in the bin because he didn't want to suffer from the noise it made as you learn it [laughs].

But the piano for him was a very traumatic episode in his life. His father taught him classical piano and it was torture for him. He told me of his memories of having to sit down at the piano with his father that always ended up in tears. He hated everything about it but he then, as his father was, became a pianist in bars. He didn't regret it but he didn't want to impose it on me. I made that choice when I was nine when they split up. My mother asked me if I wanted to do any music and I leap for the piano. 

He wanted to be a painter, and he destroyed everything he made because he wasn't good enough in his eyes. We have a few of them, not very much, maybe five. You can see he had a frustrated relationship with painting and drawing. Music, the way he did it after, he never thought he was making art. He considered what he was doing was a minor art and not major art like classical music.