Quinquis photograph by Richard Dumas

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is Mute Records newest signing, Émilie Tiersen, a true artiste, adept at any discipline, singing exclusively and expressively in her native Breton, under the moniker QUINQUIS [pronounced kɛ̃kis].

Having recorded two albums as Tiny Feet, Émilie has been musically reborn as QUINQUIS, a name referencing her maiden name and pointing towards a personal and family history that lies at the heart of the intimate and yet expansive sonic pallette on new album “SEIM”. The record, out on 20 May, is a collaboration with producer and artist Gareth Jones (whose CV includes Sunroof, Liars, Depeche Mode and Apparat, and is prefaced by the haunting yet aptly titled “Adkrog” (which translates as “start again”.

It’s our great pleasure to welcome Émilie Tiersen aka QUINQUIS to Velvet Sheep!

Here’s the video for “Adkrog” by award-winning director Murat Gökmen…with a beat like a heavy heart scored by the electronic beep of life support machine with extra-terrestrial interference, it’s deeply affecting.

and if that hasn’t whetted your whistle yet, try this one for “Setu”

It’s quietly contemplative music for gazing at the stars and wondering what lies beyond, or for gazing at your navel and wondering what’s knotting your stomach – simultaneously interstellar and introspective.

With the birth of her son, Émilie has been drawn deeper to her own Breton culture and roots, and it’s been both life affirming and artistically inspiring. Characters she’s discovered both in her own life but also in historical Breton culture have begun to inhabit her songs, including Ankou, a servant of death in Breton mythology, who appears on ‘Setu’; and also  Seiz Breur, a 1923 Breton art movement founded by a young woman in the very same small village Émilie is from.

It makes the work uniquely atmospheric, almost mystical. And with her often sombreity tempered by the lighter touch of Gareth Jones, it’s esoteric studiousness comes with intrinsic hooks.

And if it wasn’t intriguing enough, other collaborations come with Ólavur Jákupsson, singing in Faroese on ‘Run’ (which translates to ‘Hill’), and the writer and endurance cyclist Emily Chappell who features on ‘Netra Ken’, reading an extract from her book in Welsh. The album title “SEIM” means “sap” and while “nature healed” during the early lockdowns, human nature and nurture is at work in songs with a tale like the remarkable ‘Ôg’, featuring a story about a woman from Ushant who lost her husband at sea while she was 8 months pregnant and found help with the baby from the widows of the other 51 men on board.

It’s truly an education and I feel at least 10% smarter having imbibed “SEIM”.

But what can we learn from Émilie’s choice of tune? Plenty it transpires. So without further ado, here’s QUINQUIS “song for ewe”…

“Ana Roxanne – A study in vastness

When I first heard this track I felt like it was talking directly to my body. I couldn’t feel the moment when it came from the outside to get into my ears. It sounded like the air. It looked like the waves. It felt like the wind on my cheek. It reassured like the gentle touch of a lover on the eyelid. It was carrying life as much as death. It was as balanced as soil can be. It cleansed my mind. Ambient music often cleanses me, but this track especially felt like a gift from nature rather than a human creation.”

THANKS TO EMILIE AND TO ZOE MILLER AT ZOPF PR

“SEIM” is out 20 May on Mute Records.

https://www.quinquismusic.com