Oli Astral: an espresso with Olivier Grenier-Bédard


November 2, 2021

Oli Astral is the name of the new trio led by guitarist Olivier Grenier-Bédard. Together with double bass player Frédéric Alarie and drummer William Régnier, he is about to release the album “From the Astral” which is scheduled on January 14, 2022. 

> Ivano Rossato 

How would you describe Oli Astral’s music?
First of all, I think that the word “Astral” defines the project a little bit. And by “Astral”, I mean something that comes from the universe, from the stars, sounds that come from far, from the depth of our minds maybe. To describe this project, it’s important for me to mention that we try to blend certain elements together: Modern Jazz guitar, computers on stage, electronic atmospheres, improvisation, video images, etc… It’s a combination of jazz and technology. And that combination is what inspires us to try to create an imaginary world.

It’s a combination of jazz and technology. And that combination is what inspires us to try to create an imaginary world.

What compositional and recording process did you follow for “From the Astral”?
When I started to compose, I already had the idea of blending “electronic” and “organic”. So, balance between these two is the key in most of the songs. First, I composed/recorded stuff directly on my computer at home. It took me a while to design the “musical textures” that you hear in the songs because I created each of them separately (one by one). Once I had a little idea of the atmospheres that these electronic sounds could create, I sent some tracks to the rest of the band, and we started to rehearse and see how we could play along, trying to be both “electronic” and “organic”.
The album blends jazz and electronic atmospheres: which electronic music artist particularly inspires you?
I can say that I have been particularly into Mr. Bill. The album “Apophenia” is my favorite. I try to listen to a lot of electronic music because I like the worlds that come out of it. I also like to see how they proceed to create their music, and I try to incorporate their creative process in my music! I also have to mention Jacob Collier. He is not really an electronic music artist, but he uses computers in a creative and inspiring way in his YouTube videos. 
Where does the need to broaden the sound spectrum to include electronic atmospheres derive from?
The need for expansion. What I love about jazz is the philosophy behind it. The jazz artists that I love always tried to blend styles together. Look at the discography of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, etc. They explored different things, they tried to expand their music to new horizons I think. As human beings, maybe we all have a need for expansion and exploration? We are curious, that’s why we explored the sea a long time ago, and that’s why we want to explore space today.
How do songs change in live performance? Is the electronic component also improvised or does it represent a fixed “backbone”
Both! The modular Synthesizers of Frédéric are completely improvised. It’s crazy how this machine is surprising. Sounds always come out differently, and we have to listen carefully when he starts to play around with it! Other stuff like the drone of “From the Astral” and guitar overdubs are fixed. During live performances, I will be surrounded by controllers: I will trigger sounds with my feet, and with my hands when I’m not playing guitar. People will be able to get a little idea of what that looks like when our first video clip will come out on Youtube, on December 5th! 
What future plans does the Oli Astral trio have?
I already have something else beyond the album that I want to release during 2022. An extra song that we recorded… surprise! We are currently booking shows for the summer 2022. This project is pretty new, so I want to play with the band locally first, before expanding.
Oli Astral: an espresso with Olivier Grenier-Bédard copyright Jazzespresso 2021.
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