UNNO, the fanciful trio…
UNNO, the UNexpected NOte, like a surprising bill, arriving out of the blue, where blend and then untangle many textures, but especially three guys united like brothers: Awir Léon, J.Kid and Tismé. All three stem from the prolific Dunkirk-based collective Jayfly, and are a part of the new wave of French artists that prone originality and poetry as the basis for their work.
Copyright : Pierre Volot
Pause. That introduction lacked originality. I could have copied it from a press release whose content is pure information-based and doesn’t lead to reflection. With no animosity or sourness on my part, the few lines that were given me to read about their first EP “As We Land” were as useful as reading a clinical report written by a mad scientist. Lines so poor that the words had to force themselves to not sink into indifference. So, since I needed something to write about, I asked a few questions to the three rascals. I use the term “rascals” the same way I’d say “mischievous”.
Awir Léon: Hello, I’m “El Cantore”, as my people say. I started at the beginning, now I’m nearing the middle, I don’t quite know where the end is, though. There you go. I can’t help being poetic.
Tismé: I’m UNNO’s Guinean/Malian quota. I left Paris from Gare du Nord, successfully made it to Dunkirk, and I’ve been living there for four years now. Within UNNO, on stage, I’m the drummer, beatboxer, backup singer, and in the studio I do a little bit of everything, like we all do. The only constant in the studio is that our national treasure of a singer is Awir Léon, and that he chose the language of Shakespeare to do it in. Joachim and I, we don’t speak English.
J.Kid: I’m the songwriter/arranger. I got into music at the beginning of 2000, playing guitar and doing CAM (Computer-assisted music) using the ACID software at Spock’s, Jayfly’s Great Guru, and here I am today, a third of UNNO. Within the group, I’m the one who functions in binary: “that’s awesome/that’s rubbish”!
UNNO’s liking-rate measures itself between irony and insolence. An offbeat humour is required, and shows what they truly are: a bunch of mates. But still, if all groups of buddies turned their shenanigans into EPs like theirs, the music world would be blown away. That’s not the case. At least, not all the time. This rarity does have an advantage: it enables us to not fall into complacency and be fairer and more objective with our judgment. To compare UNNO to James Blake and Metronomy? No, that’d be too easy. We compare everything to James Blake and Metronomy when we hear dubstep, folk and pop making love. A ménage-à-trois, a threesome. UNNO sounds like UNNO, and that’s already pretty good.
Awir Léon: We try to be the most honest in our music. We don’t ask too many questions, but it’s interesting if people hear connections between our various projects, if it becomes a puzzle where you recognize some pieces!
J.Kid: All three of us have as many common influences as we do different ones, and we influence ourselves a lot. It’s therefore hard afterwards, even for us, to know who did what. So the best thing to do would be to write an article on UNNO and answer that question for us. There would be no wrong answers.
Tismé: But maybe, it’s true that with the three of us, our pastry is flakier. This Awir Léon dude is moving more towards a shortcut pastry.
Besides their music that’s full of surprises, UNNO’s other intelligence is its aesthetic. A sound one, of course, but also a visual one, brilliantly transposed by Julien Capelle in their video “Walls”. An extravagant spirit, woody poetry and mystical folly, these are a few adjectives that could translate the video’s mood. That was in May 2016, following the release of their EP in April. And then, at the end of 2016, UNNO returned with the red monochrome single “Sirens”, still under their Parisian label, Nowadays Records. With a slight evolution to their sound, maybe less infantile and intensely surprising, meeting in the middle of these three confluences, these three men, these three friends. An estuary as a landmark, a friendship as a compass. Siblings, harmony, crossroads. Anyway, my mind’s running away from me. Just listen, and you’ll understand.