“I like to go for the things I haven’t yet mastered.”
Ambroise Willaume knows himself well. In these few words, he sums up what seems to be the exceptional force behind his career to date : a young man constantly looking for the fresh and original, a rejection of all that is repetitive. Creating the group Revolver, after years of singing in classical choirs, he discovered the unequivocal pop universe. The band is currently on a break after two critically acclaimed albums and hundreds of concerts performed in France and worldwide.
It was during the last Revolver tour in Australia that Willaume’s studio was broken into. He lost all his guitars. He saw the event as an omen, signifying the beginning of a new chapter. Willaume is now under the influence of the piano, a new step in the process of song-writing.
This autumn, Willaume continues to go places nobody is expecting him to venture. Under the pseudonym SAGE (derived from Sagittarius), he is releasing his first solo EP with four songs he has penned himself. The attentive listener will detect the omnipresent shadow of Neil Young in the new compositions ; the loner from the ‘Harvest Moon’ era seems to be a musical godfather looking over these sumptuous ballads, highlighting the impor tance of the piano as much as the free style of singing.
Even if the initial charm of Sage’s songs remains pop to the core, Willaume has given them a superior dimension enveloping them in lush unusual arrangements, swinging between electronic and classical, traditional and futuristic. Meeting Benjamin Lebeau (one of the infamous halves of musical duo The Shoes) was the determining factor in this new sound.
He had crossed paths with Benjamin several times when they were collaborating with Woodkid as composer and producer. Letting themselves go in a fiery exchange of ideas, it took some time before they found a workable balance, going back and forth from one perspective to another until the final idea was rich enough to reach fruition. For example, Willaume notes : « On a song like ‘Last Call Couples’ we worked for two months on the first version, then we decided to scrap everything and star t from scratch ». In addition, Willaume got in touch with ‘Code’, the orchestra directed by Jéremie Arcache, his former song-writing companion in Revolver, for whom he also contributed arrangements to the orchestra.
The result is this superbly promising first EP; where the very personal meets with the collective (‘In Between’, ‘Last Call Couples’), and where melancholy becomes disarming (in ‘Summer Rain’). These four new songs promise to be the first step towards a stunning follow-up, songs like ‘To the River’ hint at what to expect in future releases. In the meantime, while a full length album is intended for release in 2015 SAGE begins its journey with a series of live dates. Willaume will be alone on stage for the first time, only accompanied by his piano and his machines. Just another challenge to add to his belt in the already boundary-pushing career of this young musician.
SAGE – In Between (official video) from LABEL G.U.M on Vimeo