Weird-pop music by Pili Coït – interview with Guilhem Meier
di Giovanni Panetta
An interview with Guilhem Meier about his projects like Pili Coït, Poil, Poil Ueda, Le Grand Sbam and Piniol. A vulcanic and extremely creative approach for punk/DIY spectrum.
Love Everywhere

Love Everywhere by Pili Coït. Artwork by Judith Saurel.

Guilhem Meier, the main character in the prog/noise spectrum with the French projects Poil, Poil Ueda, Piniol, Le Grand Sbam has given another excellent demonstration of fervid contribution to musical creativity and performance, with the project Pili Coït, this one in collaboration with Jessica Martin Maresco in her role of vocalist and percussionist. With the above-mentioned project with Jessica, Guilhem played guitar, and its minimal approach with this instrument appears far away from his progressive and technical professionality with drums, a key element in his more dated projects (Poil and Piniol), and this pop writing is distant too his arty or orchestral concept represented by Le Grand Sbam. The pop writing by Pili Coït can be original or ideally involving, where complex and stochastic rhythmic beats amalgamate with speed and minimal riffs on guitar. Pili Coït represents an extension to consonant territories differently to the other projects, like the punk version of zeuhl music and the experimental and progressive attitude respectively with Poil and Poil Ueda. Pili Coït released two album named Pink Noïse (2017) and Love Everywhere (2021), both for Dur & Doux (the second one was then re-published with the historical worldwide noise label from Chicago Skin Graft in 2022), which will be analyse in this article.

In addition to another Guilhem band, Poil Ueda is a collaboration between Poil and the Japanese satsuma biwa player Junko Ueda, which covers the role of a native storyteller, giving an exotic and hieratic touch to the project. Most specifically, satsuma biwa is a lute prototype lute of tradition from Japan, which is an important sonic element in the last album Yoshitsune (Dur et Doux, 2023); this one signs a certain differentiation to the previous self-titled debut, indeed the second album is permeated by magmatic, urban sounds in harmony with ethnic chants by Junko, in contrast to the rarified pattern in the previous release. In Yoshitsune, there appear more evident Poil tracks, with a zeuhl-like sound between hip hop and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, with an unexpected approach in music again.

Pili Coït

Pili Coït, from left to right side: Jessica Martin Maresco and Guilhem Meier.

Following an interview with Guilhem Meier about Pili Coït and his other projects.

Sus by Poil is an intense, cold math rock, with a hieratic elasticity in the relative sound. A certain hip-hop texture is dominant in this extreme vitality with a wavering approach to harmony, whereas several diversified vital forces elide to the almost-null force by a physical metaphor. Indeed, the sense of tonality is open and suspended, concentrating on mathematical rhythmic components. So, can you talk about the birth of this concept and its associated ideas?

“Wow, if you say so, maybe it’s true! The Sus album is indeed nourished by our love of Occitan polyphonic voices, and more generally of particular regionalist music. There’s more than a lot, and it’s an infinite source of great influence to get musical expression directly from the people, not from the main culture, the main political way of producing music. There’s no concept, just the desire to bring these “small” regional cultures (of which we are a part) to life through our language of hip hop, punk, classical and so many other influences.”

Poil Ueda is an organic project in collaboration between Poil and the Japanese storyteller Junko Ueda. The self-titled album by the project has a historical or religious topic in the Japanese context, which alternates homogeneously dynamic, math rock part with distended ethnical texture, whereas the satsuma biwa (a chord instrument) is the main character accompanied by Buddhist Shymo chants; if the track/suite Kujo Shakujo is a practice to ward off evil spirits, Dan No Ura recounters the naval battle between two clans in the Imperial Age. Can you talk about how the meeting with Junko happened, and the idea behind this interesting concept was born?

“We had a dream with Poil since a long time; playing with a real japanese traditional singer. We used to use themes or sound or musical shapes in songs we composed (specially the tracks Gagaku and Fionosphere), and after Sus, we had an opportunity to get a nice work residence, so we decide to make this dream real. A friend of us told us about Junko, when he knew about our searching, and we found her work on internet and felt in admiration about her singing. We contacted her by email, and she has felt very interested by our proposal. So we met her in Spain (where she lives) during a tour, and she played for us Shomyo buddhist chant and Heike monogatari pieces, so we chose to work on it! We wanted to compose music based on this traditional japanese music to keep the essence and the musical characters, so we try as much as we could to keep pure the japanese music, but integer in our compositions.”

Le Grand Sbam is in the sign of a great, original project whereas gramelot-ish vocal lines are accompanied by an orchestral sound with a grandeur-ish, intelligent attitude. Everything could be inspired by Christian Vander’s Magma or Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, with obviously a fervid link to worldwide math rock. A fervid idea of music is vital in each of its details with a renewed approach. So how this thoughtful musical corpus of ideas is born and did it develop?

“Le grand Sbam is born because we wanted to get orchestral possibilities, with this great range of sounds and differents instrumental ways of playing. We have several ways of produce music, but maybe the 2 main types are the “rock” type, and the “written” type, like classical music. We are just as influenced by classical composer (like Ligeti, Grisey, Stockhausen…) than rock/hip hop bands, so we’re searching a kind of no limited way of produce instrumental/sung music.”

Piniol is a mixture between Poil and Ni, which are both math bands, describing a complex sound; it seems inspired by a certain coolness from electronics, whereas swinging parts are based on abstract creativity, which is warm and is a playful, no-sense attitude. Can you talk about how this collaboration is/was born?

“Poil and Ni made several tours together, and finding both of the bands get the same stupidities and no-sense way of living music, we found obvious to make a big band together, to get more stupid! But, the main reason is that we are friends!”

Pili Coït’s first album, named Pink Noïse, is permeated by a multifaced variability, whereas every arising element has a unique and interesting sense each time the listening, for its diversifying aspect. The focus in this case is also on the melody with organic creativity which consists of several escamotages in the writing. So how did this diversification happen?

“Actually, before Pili Coït, we had another band, called Icsis. When we made a crowdfunding for the release of our album, we proposed to dedicated song for each one who supported us with more than only buy the CD. So many people we know did, and we had to compose songs, about each person who helped. We did this only Jessica and I, and the duet Pili Coït born like this. So each songs of this first album is composed thinking about one particular person, with sometimes his musical taste, our his special character…”

Your last album with Pili Coït, Love Everywhere, moves in more urban, hip-hop territories, with the ordinary and strong math-rock component with the associated sweet and sour weirdness (which consists of a mixture of consonant sounds and outliers in music). So, can you talk about how was this work born and did it develop?

“The album has been composed in one shoot, we rehearsed it a lot and recorded in the same breath, during the Covid time. Also, I use a new 12 strings guitar, a friend of mine built, so I had many envy of exploring with it!”

In the first two tracks, Rain Napalm and Conveyor Belt, emerge a peculiar pop element characterized by oblique elements. A weird consonance is the main character, whereas the first track is the most homogeneous and the second one a math groove is more dominant. So how did this approach to melody happen in your record?

“Both of these songs, with very different atmospheres, have an strong initial rythmical and harmonic idea, and all the song is a developpement of the idea (like most of our song, in fact!). We very often try to keep a logical element which can be found anywhere in the song. But, depending of where goes the song, or the special character uprising whan the song born, the development can leave in many different ways! We like to get surprised of an unsuspected song of ours!”

Talking about Love Everywhere, a wavering energy permeates the various tracks. For example, Here this complex ever-changing rhythmic progression is the main character in Taïra No Tomo Momoriga, where hip-hop and melodic patterns alternate in a centrifugal way. Can you describe how were these elements born, which reminds me of a perpetual journey into ever-different landscapes?

“I’m not sure I understand the question, but I’m trying! Each song has its own story. For example, Taïra is an old Japanese story (the same one we use with Poil, in fact I composed at the same time for Poil and Pili Coït, and decided to use the same musical material in both bands!) So this song has a very particular meaning, it’s about the vindictive spirit of the Heike clan which has just been defeated. The music swims in the spirit of war, realizing that you can never win, because in winning, you build a loser! As another example, Disowner is about the things we’re supposed to create, which are in fact part of an immense collective creation (because when I started composing this song, it quickly reminded me of a Jeff Buckley song…). The other songs each have their own spirit, their own story, their own path, their own color…”

The final track, Endless Make Love Everywhere, is characterized by an urban sweetness, a sign of summerish feelings, and at the same time a certain mature austerity. Pili Coït has a more visceral and intuitive attitude but is ever-present a general deeply thoughtful creative act, each time fervidly with a diverse form. If you want, Guilhem, let’s talk about your association with the other project and your pop version.

“Difficult to answer! I’d say, perhaps, that in Pili Coït I play guitar (I’m usually a drummer), maybe that makes me compose differently. With this group, I want to go back to my first musical experiences. I started music by playing guitar. But when I seriously studied music, I started on drums, because I wasn’t attracted to learning guitar techniques, unlike drums. When Pili Coït started, I had a great desire to compose without (intentionally) using the classical or jazz techniques I knew, and I tried to compose like a teenager. But over time, all these ways of making music blended into my own. And of course, every band has its own universe, its own personality, so I can’t think in the same way depending on the band I’m composing for!”

So can you talk about the next project or live tour with at least one of your several bands?

“Yes, We have a new project… with Pili Coït!! We’re now playing with 6 other musicians; violon, viola, cello, kaval/ney, bass clarinet, tuba. We love to speak about love, and there’s a very old poem which speak truly well about love; The Canticle of canticles. It’s only about sensual love. We’ll sing it in Aramean language, and the music is influenced by middle east shapes, with non-tempered scales. We are working on it actually and it’s quite hard, but so exciting, it’s will be quite mad!”


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