“Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi” was released Oct. 1, 2010. Louis recently released his second solo album, “Album 2”. Check them out.
Though she greets me at the door with her usual smile–the corners of her mouth rising to reveal her teeth without, somehow, moving the rest of her face–Genevieve doesn’t seem herself tonight. She tells me that she’s working on a piece of music for her grandfather. He’s sick, and she worries that she won’t be able to finish it in time. While she works, I occupy myself with a foam ball and the basket affixed to her living room wall. I’m trying to bank a shot off the opposite wall when she closes her laptop and joins me.
She asks if I’ve made one yet. I reply that I haven’t, and hand her the ball to try the shot herself, but she hands it back. Her smile returns, and she demands that I keep trying. Even though I’m pretty sure I can’t make the shot, I try again. And again. And again. A hundred shots later, I feel bizarrely invested in this once pointless venture. I’m beginning to think that I can make the shot after all, that I’m going to make it. Sure enough, the ball finally finds its target. Genevieve shouts her approval and high fives me.
I wonder out loud how long we’ve been at it. She shrugs. My question suddenly seems silly to me.
Pop musicians are in the business of showing people a good time. One occasionally detects a note of desperation in their theatrics, though, a nervous compulsion to look over their shoulders as they shake their asses in our faces and silently plead from behind steely eyes: “are you having fun yet?” Therefore, when I say that I don’t consider Louis and Genevieve to be pop musicians, I mean it neither as a compliment nor a slight, but rather to distinguish their particular brand of fun from what normally passes for fun these days.
It is often taken for granted in today’s musical culture that musicians must choose between being serious and having fun. Young musicians seem either manic to the point of insanity, or so sad that one wonders where they find the resolve to pick up an instrument. Louis and Genevieve have artfully carved a niche for themselves someplace far from both extremes. Theirs is the fun of an absurd idea carried through to its conclusion, whether it be comic, tragic, or some combination of the two. Fun, in this context, is not so much the continual exudation of happiness as it is an attitude towards ones life. It is the ability to open oneself to the strangeness of the world without fear. Fun is a model for courage.
If that seems too dramatic, I wonder: have you ever heard anything like this?
Louis comes by later, and he doesn’t seem himself either. He’s been working on music all night. As we discuss the album over Genevieve’s kitchen table, neither of them seems quite sure what comes next. “We’ve spent a year of our lives on this album,” Genevieve says, “and I don’t know if anything will come of it.” An uncomfortable silence follows, which Genevieve breaks by asking me if I want to make brownies.
No ordinary mix will do. The three of us peruse the selection at the local grocery store for what seems like half an hour before settling on double fudge. But perhaps triple fudge would be even better. And why is there no quadruple fudge brownie mix? A lengthy discussion of why no such option is available ensues; would that be too much chocolate, or is the word ‘quadruple’ too inelegant to be printed in sweeping cursive letters across a box? No definitive conclusion is reached, but the matter seems terribly important, to hear Louis and Genevieve talk about it–a sensation oddly similar to the way their music makes me feel.