Going Back into the Light

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As published in the Japanese magazine BEEAST

My stay in Paris and in Tangier, although always too short a stay, has once again been magnificent, reminding me the great privilege that I have not to travel, although this is a privilege, but to have people who are precious to me, who are very dear to my heart, who are the bright colors of the soft breeze and the warmth that allow me to live my coming back to the light with so much joy and peace, and who, above everything else, remind me, or even allow me, to gaze upon the nature of the soul shadows that have been my companions for so long that they have become confidents, faithful journey buddies, the strange images of a life made with paradoxes we do not comprehend but that shape the very essence of our existence, at least for the one which I have often, if any, the less perspective of, the less grasp, the less distance to, the less understanding of; my life. So these last days did me a lot of good.

In fact, I have loved Paris since the day it was nothing but a distant dream, the illusion of a future I couldn’t even consider being mine, a long, long time ago now. I love to sway without a precise destination, join the dances of strangers on the run, who jostle, in a hurry, insistently living life on what seems to be the countdown of a lifetime, being carried by the perfumes of the neighborhoods that go by to the rhythm of my aimless steps, spying on time that goes by over and over again, never stopping. Here, a word. There, a smile on the horizon of a generous look. An indescribable happiness made of horns, arguments between passersby on a sidewalk never wide enough for the short breath of one and the panting of the other… life. These few moments, stolen from the life of strangers, inspire me shivers that I want to make mine.

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To have the chance of seeing once more my friends Bertrand, Pascal, Nico, Lau, Fred and Bruno in concert at the Zenith after the Grenoble pandemonium from last March was also a simple yet profound moment of happiness where friendship and heart overcome any debate of ideas, and even the polemic of their presence on stage. Above everything – and I really mean everything – the truth, the lies, what’s wrong and what’s right, the morality, the legal rights, the uneasiness, the prudishness, the horror and the legitimacy of the confrontations between both parties, for me, and not only because I would deserve the first stone if only for the abject nature of my past and the redemptive love of some that helped me see the good in others, Bertrand and the band are, before everything else, and above everything else, friends of mine. And for me, and this is very personal to me, friendship is a bond that is stronger than the toxicity of a few individuals that I frequent and commune with, without conditions nor consideration for the impact of the opinions the latter may have on my acquaintances. I equally love the friends who share with me their uneasiness, their astonishment, their disdain, their indignation. In fact, I appreciate, in the end, having the wealth of not being surrounded by the obscurity of popular beliefs and dictums. And my relationship to the wealth, popular or not, is always lived in the light, although I am of a reserved nature when it comes to my private life. It is said that we can only be who we are. I am wary of conflation and of single-answer-questions when it comes to human complexity. But that is who I am. I do not support and I do not fight. I love.

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This being said, I would feel bad if I didn’t share with you a highlight from Bertrand’s concert. Once at the Zenith, 2 of his fans, who were sitting at a close-by table as we were having a drink and were eating a board of cheese and cold cuts (they made me promise to talk about it, and I can hereby say that I have kept my word!) came to offer us a beer and started talking with us about life… Their own, that of their loved ones, of Bertrand, Noir Désir, the history of France, the state of the Republic, about the Bataclan, about choosing to forgive, to love, in spite of everything. The concert starts. We lose sight of each other in the crowds. We find each other again by luck. It is now our turn to share about our lives, our perceptions. And as Bertrand is telling censorship and its guarantors to go screw themselves on stage, here we are, once more against the flow, talking about the freedom that leads strangers to share and live an unlikely moment. Tonight, music, words, and yes, above all, love, are what feeds our laughter and our stories. While the medias have turned themselves in what seems to be a Shakespeare play, fed by the vivid emotions that circumstances have brought with them, a small human light flickers through the shadows that run and slip away. Yes, life goes on. But love, always, offers a new dawn, a new promise to pick comes morning.

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Days go by, to the image of the affection that is given, received, shared and renewed between friends of all environments, social classes, for a reason or without reason. A drink with a special friend at the Bataclan, a family-made meal of laughter and sharing in the 7th arrondissement, a sandwich with an artist we admire and love in a park, strangers turned friends after only one drink at the Zenith, a Tangier-inspired visit with people dear to our hearts in Montmartre, lunch with a passionate advocate for the rights of the artists from Essaouira where she lives between work-related visits in Paris, a quick chat with the Kurdish owner of a pizzeria known for its authentic Italian taste, a taxi ride with an incredible 63-year-old man, born in Cameroun, turned French citizen in his early twenties, in love with life, who shared his African culture with us, his affection for France, his faith in Jesus… Sweet moments of communion with no boundaries. This is, for me, what turns these moments into great happiness, where “being” is not bound by any strict rules, no pre-made thoughts, into a unique beauty formed by paradoxes and its contrary, life shining in bright colors, with glimmers going way beyond the forecourt of the City of light, basked with an inexhaustible source of creativity coming from the gigantic heart of those people so often ignored in the midst of the magnificence that dwells in this city and that our eyes have a dire need to see in those times of collective cynicism and oh so personal obscurity. Unable to define the invisible, it is nonetheless reassuring to be able to touch what we like to think unchanging.

Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the 3 days I have spent in Tangier have been for me as singular as my time in Paris, although for different reasons. Despite their backlit reverse rhythm, the emotions lived there have been intoxicating with poetry and inspiration. Above all, to meet dear and intimate friends is always a blessing for me. As such, beyond our tangerine moments and their unique essence remains a love for the city, illustrated by the people who give it a true meaning, a unique flavor, dazzling colors, especially that these people have had on me a major impact in a time where I felt lost in a darkness of the heart, chained by an emotional blackhole, stripped of the courage needed to get myself out of this desperate situation. To go back home, amongst mine, made me happy with an indescribable joy, and rightly so, as my stay was made of peace and quiet, moments reminding us all the importance of taking the time to live outside of the modern paradigms and their frantic pace. It is good to break free, if only for a long hug, a spontaneous laughter, or an evening we would like to see continuing beyond the light of days. This is what it means to me to lie down on reverse, close my eyes, with no ambition other than being carried by the soft movement of the voices of people who are dear to my heart, surrounding me, soothing me, reminding me how far I’ve come from the person who drifted all the way to the doors of the Kasbah with nothing much, if anything at all, to commune with anyone.

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To revisit the house where we had established our studio in Tangier has been another example of he state of mind I am currently in. While I was expecting shivers as soon as I stepped through the door, it didn’t happen. What I experienced was instead a very neutral experience, I would say. We have lived there very human moments, this is where my friendship with the other band members has been reignited, we played and crafted music with no specific goal other than sonically expressing freedom the same way we lived it at the beginning of Your Favorite Enemies, making of this house the cornerstone of my coming back with the band and of what we wanted to share, live and commune with the people we love and who love us. It was a serene gaze upon what has been, a sense of fulfillment on a life that moves on and gives way to journeys in new territories, following its course and never stopping. Looking back, as I told Jeff as we got out of the house, we made it to a house that was ready to welcome an important step in our lives, but the spirit that lived there with us left the place as we did. The true testimony of this stage of our lives and the emotions attached to it will forever be found in the music and the words we had so much fun making bloom together, as if naturally, free from any sort of ambition, from the pervert need of control we so easily surrender our creative spirit to. So, once more, my emotions as we went back to this place generously testified that I was ready to take off with the band, but not where I was at 2 years ago… That I could now freely define what I want it to be. This only perspective is for me very thrilling.

As my friends told me when I left Tangier for a quick 24-hour stop in Paris before a short stop in Montreal on my way home, “It is time for you to go back into the light. Your heart is there, destined to beat with people you can share the beauty of life with. So “be”, and never look back.”

This is how I wanted to share with you my recent trip with Jeff, knowing that it not only represents my current state of mind, but the honesty with which I am living my coming back in the spotlight, nervous about finding my marks, but truly excited at the idea of experimenting the feelings I could never live before, paving the way to wonderful things ahead, shivers to be shared, and moments to be communed.

– Alex

Translated from the original French version by Stephanie

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