A few days ago, she was one of the many French people trapped in Morocco by the closure of the borders and the cancellation of air links. Now back home in the Basque Country, the singer Hollysiz (alias Cécile Cassel) will perform online on April 2 as part of the Sofa festival.
We see a lot of artists live on social networks, how does this Sofa festival stand out and how did it come about?
Technically, that doesn't change anything: you are in front of a screen and you are watching an artist in his living room. But it takes place over two days, where you will see lots of artists one after the other, like in a festival where you are in front of a stage. I like the idea that it's a real date, with very different artists: there isn't a festival today in which there would be such an eclectic line-up.
It was organized somewhat in parallel with everyone's desires to try to offer people something positive, which changes ideas. My record company called me saying it would like to bring all of us together, and the fact that it came from it made things a little easier in terms of organization. That doesn’t prevent everyone from doing their own way with social media.
How do you envisage this concert “face to the screen”?
I admit that it impresses me a little. There’s something strange about social media anonymously. I love concerts because precisely there is flesh, life, perspiration, we go among people … This is the antithesis of confinement. It’s going to be very new for me, I’ve never done a live Instagram even though I’ve always used social media as a platform for exchange.
I am thinking to offer something a little original and homemade. Obviously, I don't have my musicians. I have my trusty piano at home, so I think I will do the piano-voice, and I try to find devices to try to make things a little more rhythmic, for example … Everyone will do as they can because we are all confined with very different technical means, but I think that is what is going to be pretty and new.
I asked people what songs they would like to hear, I will also see at the time because they can react with us: the idea is that it is interactive. Even in normal times, the concerts are done in pairs, what happens on stage and in the audience. It will be even more palpable, so we must try to let the magic go.
The live performance world is obviously impacted by the epidemic. With the numerous cancellations of concerts and festivals, how can we support artists?
I would find it a little inappropriate today to call to help artists: the priority is to help those on the front line. When I spoke of the spontaneous initiative that I saw in Hungary where people decided not to be reimbursed for tickets for canceled festivals, the performing arts community was the first to be affected, now all of them are. What I meant to say is: if you have the means, this is a way to help the performing arts, already impacted by the attacks a few years ago. I imagine that a lot of people cannot afford it.
I don't do it for me. I'm not on tour right now, I have no interest in that, the only interest that I have is that I work in a world that has been the first affected. To date, all companies are in shit so it may seem superfluous, obsolete. At the same time, I continue to believe that culture and art, in France anyway, is an essential need. It is up to all of us, as artists, to find solutions to be able to help certain festivals, the small halls that may have to close their doors.
For now, what artists and streaming platforms can do is relay donations to caregivers, the people who continue to work for us.
On the website of the Sofa festival, there is a call for donations for the Fondation des Hôpitaux de Paris – Hôpitaux de France. As an artist, is it important to you?
As a citizen! It's normal. For me, it was unthinkable that this festival did not have an altruistic scope, beyond just sharing music. I am lucky to have a few people who follow me on social networks so when I relay this, it sometimes has a little more impact, but my voice is not stronger than another. You realize that for months the hospitals were on the streets and no one talked about them. Suddenly, we realize that the cry of alarm they launched, we are right in there. I hope the positive consequence of all of this is that we may reconsider how much we pay people in the medical services, that their voices carry.
When did you, yourself, become aware of this?
I have been doing things for years with the association “It’s only happiness”, which helps the lives of hospitalized children. So I have to go, apart from personal reasons, to go to the hospital regularly. I have friends who work in the medical profession, nurses, nursing assistants, and I see the life they have: the awareness has always been there.
The health crisis has been worrying me for a few months. But I am not an epidemiologist, I am not a doctor, I am not here to judge the way it is managed because I do not know anything about it. I am like everyone else, I try to follow the instructions that I am given to protect myself and those around me.
We know you are sensitive to the rights of women, are you afraid that they are suffering from this crisis?
What worries me most is the potential explosion of domestic violence. When people are asked to confine themselves, they are not always confined to the person they have chosen. I see that there are a lot of association relays that have closed, what will victims of violence do? It also seems that some children in care have been replaced with their families …
This confinement only accentuates inequalities in my eyes, acts like a huge magnifying glass. To privileged people, we say: meditate, read, do gardening … Go tell that to someone who has four children in 40m2, who must telecommute, at the same time go to school, and who potentially has problems within his couple! Containment only makes it all more visible. It’s, I hope, an even greater awareness.
Do you feel privileged in the current situation?
When you are the creator of what you do, yes certainly. I heard Tonino Benacquista say that confinement doesn't change much in his life because he's always alone at his desk. The moments of creation are times when I am locked up at home, I am quite a homebody, precisely in contrast to the tour where we are everywhere all the time. I always find it hard to say of my job that it is a job because I am lucky to live from my passion. We don't count the hours, we are happy to do what we do, what a privilege! I admit that right now, it would be even more difficult to say that I work, because the reality is elsewhere, with those who really work for us.
I try to be useful: make donations, listen to the people around us, donate blood if we can, relay help information …
Some suggest that confinement can be a breeding ground for creation, what do you think?
I feel like there is a small injunction to be extremely creative and extremely successful. It is as if we applied the pores of the acceleration in which we are today to this mandatory break … I think everyone is doing their best, that there is no obligation to have written two operas rock and two novels by the end of confinement. I hope at the same time, as a spectator and listener, that from all this will also be born wonderful works. I think we have to take this as we can!
What do you hope to see out of this crisis?
I have hopes, I think, very utopian. I sincerely hope that we will understand that the social system we have in France is sufficiently developed, free for all, that it is a huge opportunity but that it is not a given. Let’s reconsider these people who work for us. Anyone who has been sick or has had someone sick in their life knows the selflessness of these people who care for us every day and earn very little.
I hope we will reconsider the way we consume, travel … This global pandemic also tells us something about our way of life. I hope it will be a mirror and that we are not going to start all of us out of the madness in which we were. But I have the impression that there have been many other crises before and that we have not been able to hear them … I wonder about everything, how we are going to get out of all this. Grow up, I hope, and above all in good health!
Sofa festival, to follow online on March 26 and 27, April 2 and 3. With Hollysiz, Alain Souchon, Christophe Maé, Renaud Capuçon, Keen'V, Barbara Carlotti …