An Interview: Yann Tiersen

Infinity – An ode to the island! Composer of the film soundtrack for Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amélie”, Yann Tiersen answered our questions about his 8th studio album “Infinity” (Mute/GoodToGo) as he was rehearsing with his musicians on his Ushant Island home situated thirty kilometres off the west coast of Brittany. A few days later, the secret concert by the seaside took place. It is very difficult to write about music that contains so much in itself—that inspires more of a diffusion of colours and impressions than any words written about it could create. This is music that makes you stop and think about the secret world of your inner self.


It feels like any words would only be able to destroy the magic which it alone imbues. Yann Tiersen and his band will be playing in Berlin at Huxleys on the 4th October 2014, tickets on sale now.

A mineral sound.

Songs like the extravagant ‘Midsummer evening’ are dense with manipulated textures; strings and choral chanting. Yann Tiersen explains that when these soundscapes began, they were little more than noise made from toys; “The idea was to start with toy instruments in reference to my early works, then manipulate the sounds electronically.”

KALTBLUT: Besides its serenity, I couldn’t choose between melancholy or sweet childish joy to describe how I feel when I listen to the album. Do you feel comfortable with this ambiguity?

YANN: We all are made of everything and its contrary. There are opposite forces in everything. I worked on this album for a year, in a very peaceful way, every day. I don’t have a specific period of creation: I worked on it like a daily activity and there is a very serene aspect to this.

KALTBLUT: I was intrigued by its specific texture oscillating between acoustic and electronic. Is it something you especially work on for this album?

YANN: It is very special to this album because I didn’t want to use the direct sound takes: every acoustic sound has been transformed and digitally manipulated. There is nothing purely acoustic even if the sources were acoustic.

Yann Tiersen – A Midsummer Evening (Official Video – Starring Andy Dick) from Mute on Vimeo.

An ode to the islandUshant is a weather-beaten island in the Celtic Sea which is rich in stone and mineral, trees and vegetation. It played a major part in the process of creating “Infinity” as did the Arcadian wilds of the Faroe Islands and Iceland. His travels first took him to Reykjavik, Devon and Cornwall and finish the album off in Ushant.

KALTBLUT: Infinity is an album of the island life, with mineral inspirations. Does it take place in a sound research?

YANN: I am living in Ushant (Ouessant in French) and I almost composed all my album on this island.. Insularity is part of my daily life and we feel it in my albums and especially this one.


KALTBLUT: You mainly composed this album on islands. How would you describe your workflow from a studio album to a live representation?

YANN: I always composed in a solitary way. I don’t work depending on what is going to happen live. I have my studio and the live band participated to the recording. Musically I like to take my time and work on my own. Working on the live is a different task. Although I composed the strings part but didn’t want to record them myself (Among other instruments, Yann plays violin) so I asked Amiina to record them live.

∞ – The beauty of old languages

KALTBLUT: On the album, we hear Breton on “Ar Maen Bihan”, Icelandic on “Stein” and Faroese on “Grønjørð » Including various languages is part of your composition process?

YANN: Breton is a beautiful language that is close to me, it is part of my roots. These languages are older. As I started this album in Island, it seemed coherent to le to include Breton, Icelandic and Faroese. I am working with Ólávur Jákupsson since a long time, we are quite close and we share this sense of insularity. That’s why I asked him to write lyrics in Faroese.

Yann Tiersen and his band will be playing in Berlin at Huxleys on the 4th October 2014. Buy your tickets here:

Support the artist! Purchase the album on ITunes now:

Layout 1∞ (Infinity): Slippery Stones / Midsummer Evening / Ar Maen Bihan / Lights / Grønjørð / Steinn / In Our Minds / The Crossing / Meteorite

TOUR DATES: 31.05.2014: NEW YORK – The Highline (US) 26.09.2014: LONDON – Royal Festival Hall (UK) 04.10.2014: BERLIN – Huxleys (DE)05.10.2014: HAMBURG – Gruenspan (DE)06.10.2014: KÖLN – Gloria (DE)27.10.2014: PARIS – Olympia (FR)

This interview was kindly written for KALTBLUT by Berlin-based musician and composer Aude Gouaux Langlois, you can visit her website at:


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