This album is called Illicit Hymns because the recordings were unplanned and unrehearsed. The locations were not scouted nor researched, rather stumbled upon.
It started at an artist residency at Chateau Orquevaux in rural France (Read the backstory in this post).
After the residency, I drove around France and Switzerland for a few weeks playing shows and singing in churches.
I’d turn the corner and find a beautiful cathedral nearly empty. The door would open, I’d walk around wide-eyed making a few coos and hoos, until I found a good spot. I’d lean my camera and audio recorder on whatever surface was nearby and start singing sounds.
Doing was first, documenting came second. I winged it. I was in each church for under 10 minutes. The visuals are shaky because of the haphazardness. However, I embrace these imperfections. If I did this any other way, the project would not be the same.
These recordings are from Gruyères, Switzerland in the Church of St. Theodule (Eglise Saint Theodule). Gruyères is a gorgeous medieval town that happened to be hosting an art fair when I arrived. I drove there to visit the HR Giger Museum. Instead, I ate grilled cheese in the Giger Cafe and headed to this church to sing. I had the place to myself with the exception of a few fellow tourists who popped in and out.
The spaces shaped the sound. The specific echo and excitement of each experience made the melody. I had never heard or sang these songs before. If I had scheduled a show, or gotten permission this would have been a completely different performance. These pieces would have never existed.
This trip was the first time I focused all my attention on art. It was an exploratory experience. It was a quest to honor and follow my intuition. It was life-changing and shaped my decision to pursue my creative calling.
There are 3 more cathedral performances to share. Stay tuned. Listen to the recordings on Bandcamp and wherever you prefer to stream.