gulliver interview
(February/March 1999)

In Robots.. number 4 we reviewed a demo tape by Gulliver and described it as being a kind of Gallic White Town or French Momus, a set of synth-based melancholy pop songs seemingly about loves old and new, lost and found, actual and desired, lasting and ephemeral, pure and even tainted. After playing the tape to Nigel at Pickled Egg a new release was slated and we sent Hugues Caullet, the man behind the band, a few questions. (Thanks very much to Donna and Agnes for translating from Hugues' French.)

Tell us a little about yourself

I'll soon be 32, not too young am I? I'm French, I eat snails and frog's legs, I wear a beret on my head and I carry a baguette under my arm! I have always liked to write poems and short stories. One day I tried to put a little music under the words et voila, Gulliver was born. Since then, it's been rare for me to write words without also writing music. This allows me, I believe, to have songs that are more coherent and, most of all, retain people's attention---but only the ones who actually listen say that I succeed.

Do you look more towards French or English language music?

When I started to write songs myself, I began to get more interested in French songs again after not listening to them much for a while. In France, despite all their apparently good intentions, the media and record labels don't do much to help French songs and artitsts. Only the artists who are already well-known or have a large commercial potential are at the front of the scene. I like a lot of people, for example Jean-Louis Murat, Dominique A, L'affaire Luis Trio and Julien Baer but they are not played much here considering their talent. Apart from them, I love the Beatles (evidently), the Kinks, early Rolling Stones, Police and REM. These are not up to date, are they? But I always return to their records.

I don't speak French, but your songs sound like they are about love. Are you lucky in love?

About two years ago, a friend said the opposite. He said "it's strange, you never write love songs," and it's true; up to then I refused to write songs like "She loves me yeah, yeah, yeah" or "She doesn't love me boo, boo, boo." After, I said to myself I could write songs that talk about love, but differently. In that way, I have written some songs like "Entre les meme murs," which talks in an ironic tone of two people who appear very different from each other but in fact cannot live without each other; or "Complainte geometrique" that talks of a vector on a blackboard that falls in love with a straight line. In fact, whatever the subject (and love is only one amongst many) I always try to write in an unconventional manner. Moreover, to return to your question, I consider myself definitely lucky in love. I have been really lucky in love for about 10 years.

What stuff have you put out, other than the demo tape we reviewed last issue?

I have appeared on 10 compilation tapes in France, Germany, USA and Great Britain (Grapefruit, Cream of the Crop and now Bliss amongst others.) The American label Low Voltage released a Gulliver cassette that sold well but I have a planned release on the English label Pickled Egg, an e.p., 4 songs which will be released soon. This will be the first Gulliver e.p. and it is very important to me at the moment.

Is Gulliver just you, or is there a band?

I indeed make all the music of Gulliver. I record on a simple 4-track at my house then I try to play the keyboards a little, electric guitar and some percussion instruments. Lastly, the only thing left to do is fiddle with the sound. I never had the chance to work with a group, it's an experience I would have liked to try. I build my songs tranquilly, word after word, note after note, sound after sound and then like that, Gulliver will remain a group united.

Last, does the name come from Gulliver's travels?

Yes, when I was looking for a pseudonym I remembered Gulliver's travels. In my head I immediately saw Gulliver captured and tied up by the Lilliputians but equally Gulliver lost in another world where he is this time small amongst the giants. I realised that for now I was as lost in the world as Gulliver was in the foreign world that he visited. I decided to call myself Gulliver and I don't regret it.

Contact Hugues at 11 Rue de pressoir, 52400 Melay, France. The Pickled Egg e.p. "Humalayo" should be out by the time you read this.

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