Julie Campiche Quartet- new album ‘You Matter’ and London/Manchester dates 28 May/2 June

“I am a musician. My instrument is the harp. My goal is the music.” Harpist and composer Julie Campiche released a new album with her quartet in late 2022 entitled You Matter. Music from this project will feature at two upcoming shows in the UK, first at Band on the Wall, Manchester, on 28 May, then at World Heart Beat Music Academy in London on 2 June. Interview/Preview by Tara Minton

Julie Campiche, Cheltenham 2019. Photo credit: Tim Dickeson

“How do we organise ourselves to live together as a community?” It’s a big question that harpist and composer Julie Campiche has been asking herself for many years – since her school days, in fact. 

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“We should have solidarity classes that teach us the power we can have on big things.” 

It’s no wonder then, that Campiche’s latest musical offering, aptly titled “You Matter” conveys a strong sense of global consciousness, exploring themes of climate change, the refugee crisis, patriarchy and human identity. Released on ENJA Records in November 2022, the album unfolds over seven tracks, opening with the single, ‘Aquarius’ – a ten-minute odyssey named for the rescue boat operated by Médecins Sans Frontières. It’s an eerie and captivating beginning to the record with bowed double bass from Manu Hagmann, underwater-like harp effects and a screaming saxophone solo from Leo Fumagalli evoking the spirit of the once great rescue vessel.

‘The Other’s Share’ is inspired by the relationship between oneself and the other – beginning with a rhythmically unsettling push and pull within the band before opening up into a moving and emotive harp solo. Campiche was the first harpist to complete a Bachelor and Master Degree in jazz composition and performance at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne (HEMU) and her training is evident in her playing. On the touchy topic of the harp in jazz, Campiche eloquently states “I am a musician. My instrument is the harp. My goal is the music.”

Track three, ‘Fridays Of Hope’ features the sampled vocals of Greta Thunberg, with a call to “wake up and change.” Clemens Kuratle drum solo is truly captivating, dancing around Thunberg’s vocals “I want you to act! I want you to panic!” 

Campiche believes music has the power to inspire “the process of getting involved.” This track is certainly motivating, and powerfully followed by the slowly unfolding ballad, ‘Parenthese’, which conveys the mind-numbing impotency of humankind’s inaction on global crisis’. 

‘Lies’ is a standout track tackling the patriarchy. It features some brilliant extended techniques on the harp, notably an impressively fast muted Près de la Table (close to the soundboard) section,  transforming the harp into an almost mandolin-like instrument. The interplay between the musicians in this number is particularly satisfying. In the six years the band have been working together, they have never played a show with a dep.  

“It’s a decision we made together. Just once I had to say no to a concert because someone was not available. Once in 6 years, it’s ok.”

It’s a bold choice not to work with deps, but one that musically has paid off. There is an overwhelming feeling of synergy and closeness in the sound of the quartet that only comes from years of playing together. 

‘The Underestimated Power’ is an ode to the power of women, opening with a shimmering and spacious harp intro that opens out into a slow building exploration of colour and timbre that sees the harp, double bass and saxophone dance between warm/inviting and harsh/edgy tones. The ultimate climax of the saxophone solo is a clear warning to the listener not to underestimate the power of women. 

‘Utopia’ is a powerful ending to the record with the band in full flight. It’s worth noting that the album was recorded live with very little overdubs, editing and postproduction. Even the electronic effects on the harp are performed live in the studio. It makes the prospect of seeing The Julie Campiche Quartet in performance an exciting one, to see just how they do it. 

The band are currently touring ‘You Matter’ and will be visiting the UK for two very special shows at ‘Band on the Wall’ in Manchester on the 28th of May and ‘World Heart Beat’ in London the 2nd of June.

 Though the album tackles some sombre topics, Campiche’s message remains a hopeful one.

“The feeling of ‘I can’t do anything about it, it’s too big’ – music can give us the energy to get involved and believe again that we can have an impact. We do matter, actually”.

PP features are part of marketing packages

Booking link for 28 May @ Band on the Wall, Manchester

Booking link for 2 June @ World Heart Beat

Buy You Matter by the Julie Campiche Quartet on Bandcamp

Julie Campiche’s website

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