„Expressing myself with sounds and movements” an interview with Cécile Cappozzo

Marta Jundziłł

Cécile Cappozzo is a french pianist, flamenco dancer, improvizer and composer. She told me about her child’s dream to becoming a dancer and musician, connections between playing piano and dancing flamenco and her attitude to improvised music.

You are proffesional flamenco dancer and pianist. Which proffesion is closer to you and why?

It’s difficult to say wich profession is closer to me because I’m part of both. I begun to play the piano at the age of 4, with my mother who was my teacher. When I was a
little girl, my dream was to become a dancer. I always heard music in my house: classical music, jazz, free jazz ... Today I have my own company which produces my flamenco shows and free jazz concerts, dance and piano master-classes,... I’m feeling like a body in movement : I have to express myself with sounds and movements.

Can you describe your emotions during dancing and playing piano? Do they have something in common?

When I play the piano, I feel my body in movement. I search my deep energy, I try to find the point of community with my soul and my body, then with the others musicians. I try to keep my own personality, listening what it’s happening, being free to a lot of possibilities but staying in my way. When I dance flamenco I’m making music with my body, with my hands, my foots, my heart. Flamenco music has a lot of codes, you have to know them for dancing. I love this space between stricts rules and freedom of expresssing myself. For me, dancing and playing, it’s the same thing, it’s about your soul and your body, your emotions, your respiration, how can you find your own place into the grup of musicians, how you can express yourself...

When and why have you started to interest in flamenco?

I started to dream to become a dancer when I was 5-6 years old. I was interesting about classical dance and about Mickaël Jackson ! But we lived far from away dance schools! Then I discovered a flamenco Singer, watching the movie „Agujetas, Cantaor” with my father at the TV, I think I was 12 years old, I was so impressed listening this way of singing ! Then at the high scool, my spanish teacher invited a flamenco dancer to make us a flamenco dance initiation, at this moment I don’t know what happened but I knew this way of moving was part of my dream. I loved her feminity, her strength and sensibility. Then I listened a lot of flamenco music, I discovered the great Singer Camaron de la Isla, I was so curious with these intricate rythms ! Later, at the age of 23 years old, I decided to go to Spain, in Andalucia, for living during 2 years, in order to practice and understand this culture, this way of moving, of singing, of playing, of living....

Your father – Jean Luc Capozzo is a great proffesional musician. Have you wanted to become a musician in your childhood? Had he encourage you to become a musician?

Yes when I was at the high school I just wanted to play the piano and to become a musician. (Flamenco culture was so far away !) I played a lot, I was listening a lot of classical music, jazz and free jazz music, contemporary music ... When it was possible I followed my father at the concerts, I loved that ! I also loved to be on stage. With him, I could meet a lot of great musicians, and I was so young ! My father encouraged me because he loves his musical life. Music is part of his life, this is his life. My mother encouraged me too. Very soon, Music waspart of my life too.

What profession has your mother?

My mother is a music teacher at middle school, she teached me to play the piano when I was a little child. Then she found me a piano teacher to dissociate family and learning. She loves baroque music. Every day we listened music with my mother or with my father.

Your father is a special guest on your recent album „Sub Rosa”. How it is to create music with such a close person?

Oh it’s very simple ! We play, that’s all! I like to play with my father because we know each other very well. I think it’s a very particular connection between us.

„Sub Rosa” is recorded in trio, but you are in charge of everything. How do you feel as a leader?

I love to be a leader ! I think it’s part of my personality because I have a lot of energy, I like to manage and to organize. This trio is called Cecile Cappozzo Trio because I called Patrice Grente and Etienne Ziemniak to play with me, I organized the sessions, but everyone has his one’s place, everyone can bring his own ideas, this is free music!

What collective improvisation means to you? What do you gain from it?

Collective improvisation is a place of freedom. I need to play this music because this music has his own history (musical history, jazz and blues roots, and political revendications) which speaks to me. While playing, I’m feeling alive. I have to make choices at the instant, keeping my own speech, with my soul, my body, my thoughts. I love the intercation with the other musicians, it’s like in life: sometimes we agree, sometimes someone is stronger, sometimes we found harmony. In this trio the most important for me is to feel 3 parallel ways, parallel lives.

What do you think about free access to jazz music in the Internet?

I’m in Bandcamp and in soundcloud. As a dancer, I’m in Youtube and Vimeo. I have my internet link www.cecilecappozzo.com
But I don’t want to spend a lot of time with my computer ...that’s not good for my promotion (Laugh). I think it’s great to find a lot of concerts, videos, CDa, in Internet. Yes that’s fantastic opportunity for people interested in music.

The world of improvised is dominated by men. There are just few woman who are great improvisers. You are one of them. Why improvised music is dominated by men?

Thank you very much ! Yes, Jazz music and improvised music are dominated by men, that’s right. I don’ try to play like a man (even if someone told me one day I have a strong piano sound, like a man, what does it mean ?), to speak like a man, to think like a man... because I love to be a woman! Nowadays, there are more women in orchestras, jazz bands, improvised music. But still, we are not enough. We have to change it. Let’s start right now!