The Arts Interview: Eddy Guilloteau

John Rainsford

Reporter:

John Rainsford

The Arts Interview: Eddy Guilloteau

Born in the Vendée Region of West-Central France I lived most of my life in the city of La Rochelle.

My only connection with music at that time was my mother, who enjoyed listening to disco, but my family was not really musical at all. However, my best friend was a Jazz musician and played piano. I grew-up being influenced by that musical genre for over a decade and was able to teach myself Irish music, later, because it was already in my soul. However, my ‘day job’, today, is as a network manager and ISO norm manager in a DAF trucks dealership. Thankfully, they give me seventy days off each year when I need to go and play music for a while. My career, therefore, is ideal as it allows me to travel to Ireland and to play music often joining bands, like ‘Los Paddys De Las Pampas’, on concert tours.

It was at thirty-one years old that I first fell in love with Irish music.

I began by playing the bodhrán, as I was always interested in playing the drums, when I was younger. This was a turning point in my life and my decision to pursue it only came after listening to Irish Trad bands like Flook and their album ‘Flatfish’ with John Joe Kelly. Other musicians, that I greatly admire, include: Michael McGoldrick, the band Goitse, Jim Higgins, and Seamus O’Kane, whose style of bodhrán playing I try and emulate. It was just after the first time that I listened to it, that I thought to myself: ‘I want to do that, I want to play that’. Right then and there, I took the decorative bodhrán down from the wall and started to play it again and again, for eight hours every day, for three months. I was, then, living in Bordeaux and had just found for the first time what I wanted to do with 
my life.

Since then, I have featured on many Traditional Irish Music Albums, playing with great musicians like Michel Ouremanov (fiddle) and his group ‘Ardarah’.

Singer and guitarist, Paddy Mulcahy, of ‘Los Paddys De Las Pampas’ fame, invited me to guest on his recent album ‘Come Home’ (2013). I always have the best fun playing with Paddy who, like many of my Irish friends, is a graduate of the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWAMD). While I grew-up with jazz musicians around me in France, my love of the drums and Irish music pushed me to become a musician. I have, also, played with the ‘Avalon Celtic Dance’, and the ‘Brian McCombe Band’, to audiences varying in size from 6,000 to 300 all over France, England, and Ireland.

From 2003, I have been spending my summers travelling around Ireland visiting places like Feakle and Miltown 
Malbay.

There was already a link between Galway and Lorient. Indeed, I am always thinking of new ways to promote Irish music while playing in places like Nantes, Rennes, Vannes, Lorient, Quimper. I am, also, a bodhrán instructor at the ‘Le Bono’ Irish Music School as well as managing it. When people fall in love with music, or song, it is the best feeling I know in life. It is definitely not an easy task being a musician, but in a utopian sort of way, I try to attract people to traditional music, through the concerts that I do. People need to have some form of Art in their lives, because Art is to the mind, what food is to the body. You can’t have a fulfilled life without Art or music. I have noted how enthusiastic Irish people are about Breton music and began to think about bringing Breton music to Ireland. Indeed, musical figures such as Desi Wilkinson have tried exploring the connections between Irish Music and Breton Music.

All Breton music is about dance, hence the concept of the ‘Fest-Noz’, which is similar to the Irish ‘Céilí’.

Indeed, all Breton musicians are dancers, drawing from the haunting songs of the ‘Gwerz’ tradition, and the complexity of ‘Bagad’ pipe music, which are both steeped in rural life. For the last nine years I have, also, been the Brittany Winter School organiser, culminating in the Festival of Irish Music in Brittany. Following on from this, over the last two years, I came-up with the idea, that it would be great to organise a similar, Festival of Breton dance and music, in Ireland. So, in July 2014, I began talking about this with my Irish friends and Paddy Mulcahy was really interested. He explained to me that there was already a connection between Lahinch and Arzon which could be built upon. I simply rode the resulting wave of enthusiasm and asked some of the big names in Breton music, (such as Sylvain Barou), to come and join us. Today, I am, also, the Lahinch-Brittany Autumn Festival organiser, as well overseeing the Festival of Breton Music in Ireland.

Being a musician is definitely a good life.

Apart from touring France, I have, also, travelled through Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Morocco, England and Ireland, playing in many festivals, gigs, and sessions. In 2006, I spent around three months in Ireland and made many great friends along the way. In the future, I plan to visit Canada. I have met so many good people over the past twelve years, it is really amazing. However, none of this is about money, for me, I just want to focus on the passion that I have for 
traditional music!

The Lahinch-Brittany Autumn Festival takes place from 23-25 October inclusive. For more information about Eddy Guilloteau’s concerts please see the following websites: http://bws-irl.com/ and http://www.lbaf.ie/ For Facebook access: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lahinch-Brittany-Autumn-Festival/295694107286975