Antoine has not been living in Salisbury long but in a very short space of time has made a big impression and can be found regularly performing in pubs and clubs of the city centre. We caught up with him when he played at the open mic held at the Music Box in Salisbury. Antoine performed an array of original songs which seem to be written from the perspective of a spectator observing the world. His song 'Soul Cycle' is a perfect example of this, it focuses on the human condition in everyday life. As a musician Antoine's defining feature is his choice of instrument, he plays a small Mandolin type instrument called a Bouzouki which has a small body and produces a sharp metallic sound. To accompany himself Antoine has pre-recorded percussion onto a loop-station giving his solo performance a bigger fuller sound. Antoine makes himself at home on stage kicking off his shoes like he is performing in his own living room, this relaxed persona makes his performance free and organic. We were lucky to see Antoine when some of his old band members where in the audience, they were all invited on stage to perform an impromptu song which you can see in the video below.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOUZOUKI?
I wanted to play guitar but every man and his dog plays guitar, I wanted to do something different. I came across the Bouzouki after watching some videos of Irish music on YouTube. I bought one but only dabbled around with it at first, eventually I started to use it to write songs and it slowly became my main instrument.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE BOUZOUKI TO LEARN?
It's is one of those instruments that is easy to play yet hard to master. I'm learning different techniques all the time.
WHERE DOES THE PERCUSSION YOU USE COME FROM?
I like some sort of rhythmic backing because it helps to bring my set alive. I pre-record all the beats myself to a DigiTech loop-station, using using my bouzouki as a drum, a tambourine and a shaker. I have tried recording all the beat live but it just takes too long, I think it's okay occasionally but if I did it with every song the audience would get bored.
WHAT GENRE WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE?
It's difficult to pigeon hole what I do because there are not many people doing the same as me but I have always considered myself to be a folk artist. I drawing a lot of influence from Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span also drawing inspiration from eastern music and some traditional English/Irish folk. If anything catches my attention I will try to incorporate it into my songs.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MUSICIANS PLAYING FOR FREE?
I notice you ask that question to everybody. It's a difficult one but ultimately it's down to the musician. I myself don't mind playing for an open mic or for a friend. But if I am playing at a pub or club where money is coming in from other sources and I'm providing the entertainment and helping to draw an audience then I would expect to receive payment.