Improvised & spontaneous music made with regular and homemade instruments.
"Ever since Dubuffet coined the term “Art Brut” 70 years ago, it has been possible for artists to offer a poetic vision of the world without an academic background. The idea that one may have to learn how to unlearn, or to play instinctually, has inspired many fields and made a lasting impression on major and underground art movements alike. This not-knowing is celebrated by experimental music, primitive rock, no-wave and antifolk, as well as inventors of makeshift instruments and electronic do-it-yourselfers, to name only a few.
It's no wonder, then, that the Sonic Protest festival, which has been a major force for promoting “oblique” and singular musical practices, has supported the creation of the band THE HARRY’S. This group, comprised of six young adults with autism, practices noise improvisation in the tradition of free combos of sound experimentation. Their work is reminiscent of groups like the No-Neck Blues Band, and of the experiments of the members of Sonic Youth, the ritournelles of Fred Le Junter, as well as early Pascal Comelade.
In 2013, the festival invited Alan Courtis, the founding member of the cult combo Reynols, to lead an improvisation workshop with young autistic adults at the Radio & Music workshop of the Day Care Centre of Antony (Association Elan Retrouvé). The story might have ended there, as a simple cultural experience for a limited audience, but the result was quite the contrary. The workshop was held again the following year with Courtis, and then continued on a weekly basis by Franq deQuengo (Sonic Protest, Bimbo Tower, Dragibus...), Anaële Vié (educator) and Julien Bancilhon (psychologist and instrument-maker).
Today, THE HARRY'S are playing regular shows and collaborating with artists such as Fantazio, Emiko Ota, David Lemoine (the singer of Cheveu) & Antoine Capet, Adrien Kanter and Phil Minton. They also took part in the project FERAL CHOIR at Saint Merry's church in 2015, and have performed in concert at La Générale, the Self Managed High School of Paris, and at the "Sur Les Rails" festival at the Point Éphémère.
Not to be outdone, their radio presence is equally active. Every other Wednesday the group hosts "Radio Tisto" on Radio Libertaire 89.4, recorded in local and mobile radio studios. Their show, which mixes "albums, improvisation, imaginary sports commentary, total journalism, impromptu recitation and ramblings of all kinds," is now well established in the life of the station.
By changing just one letter, an autistic person becomes an artistic one. And by stepping back for a moment, we can see things in a different light. This is the challenge put forth by the team of the Day Care Center of Antony and the Sonic Protest festival by giving the members of THE HARRY'S this exceptional space for experimentation. These young people can express themselves and be heard in their own way, using professional as well as home-made instruments, such as drums and percussion, the accordion, various synthesizers, open-tuning guitars, home-made lap-steel guitars and microphones. Through these microphones they invent and weave their songs, borrowing elements of TV and pop culture, nursery rhymes and incredible vocal play.
On September 29, 2015, they are releasing GGOTS, a limited edition gatefold record and CD. The album's 31 compositions illustrate the group's various adventures, from solos and duos to trios and sextets, and were recorded with and without guests, in studio sessions, radio recordings, jingles and concerts. The next step in their adventure will be a tour through northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands this November, where they will perform and collaborate with other artists..
THE HARRY'S are not only shaking up outdated notions about autism, but also about the accessibility of experimental music. *****In this spirit, nothing is more natural than to let yourself be transported by a musical experience that comes directly from feeling, and is held up by real commitment. Autism only locks in those who are not listened to. THE HARRY'S know how to be heard. As Quentin, one of the group members, said, "On stage tonight, we will give them all we've got. We may crash, but if we do, we will fail with honor, with screaming guitars and rock in our hearts ... "
text by Olivier Brisson
Les Harry's is a project created by Sonic Protest & l'Élan Retrouvé and supported by DRAC-ARS, the EDF Foundation, the founding Albert Costa de Beauregard & FNARS