“Music is everywhere. You go into a shop and there’s music. You go to a restaurant, there’s music. You go in an elevator. There’s too much music for me and now I’m looking for the silence.” According to musician Antonin Bartherotte we are all in need of a revival to remedy this overexposure to music. The self-proclaimed bard allowed us to delve into his childhood, revealed to us his deep connection to nature, and recounted his musical journey. Antonin, a troubadour revivalist, expressed his desire to bring music back to its roots, where it was a means of storytelling and connection. With a unique blend of nostalgia, passion, and a touch of wanderlust, Antonin shared his experiences and dreams, providing a glimpse into his captivating musical world.
Antonin’s dedication to the troubadour tradition sets him apart from many contemporary musicians. ”I feel like I am back in the medieval times, when it was the time of the troubadours and everyone was singing. One of my fantasies is to play in a little market or a little grocery shop in a tiny village and you are paid by the food, greens, and fish. It depends on where you are and you play for the people and they give you a bed and they give you food. I think it’s kind of cool.” Troubadours were medieval poets and musicians who roamed the countryside, using their music to tell stories, convey emotions, and bring people together. We could think of troubadours as the original slam poets, using their words to verse and duel with one another, creating intricate lyrical poetry and performing as travelling artists. Inspired by their spirit, Antonin seeks to revive this ancient tradition in a modern context, where music has often become commercialised and disconnected from its roots. Through his heartfelt performances and lyrical storytelling, he aims to reignite the spirit of the troubadours, forging genuine connections with his audience.
Growing up on the picturesque Cap Ferret peninsula in southwest France, nestled between the waves of the ocean and the sand dunes meant that his childhood was carved by the sea and music didn’t immediately have its place in his life. “It was really like a tribe, and this meant we had no music as we were always outside and we had no time to wake up in the morning to put on some music. We were straight outside listening to the things of the world, birds, wind, waves, the song of nature.” This wild and untouched environment shaped his childhood, fostering a deep appreciation for nature. Surrounded by his six siblings, he experienced a sense of unity and harmony within his family, working together to protect their land from erosion caused by the sea. It is thereby unsurprising that it was amidst this natural backdrop that Antonin’s love for music first took root. His connection to the terroir and beautiful untouched land of Cap Ferret has strengthened over the years as he has worked and supported his father’s mission to protect the peninsula from environmental erosion. Benoit Bartherotte, who worked as a stylist in the fashion industry for over 20 years, has now dedicated his life to saving and protecting the precious Cap Ferret sea wall. He has worked tirelessly over nearly forty years to prevent further destruction of the land that they call home, building a protective wall of over 450 metres high with all of his own funds, Benoit is a real anarchist in the fight against this environmental damage. The natural erosion has been truly accelerated by the climate crisis and Benoit along with his whole family have been devoting their time to campaigning against this harsh damage.
A pivotal moment, the peak if you will, in Antonin’s musical discovery occurred after a family trip to the mountains. Overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of the snow-covered peaks, he experienced a profound sense of melancholia upon leaving. During the car ride home, his mother had put Leonard Cohen’s Songs From a Room on the stereo, and it was at this moment that music spoke to him for the first time. The emotions Cohen conveyed resonated deeply with Antonin, who saw a parallel between his love for the mountains and Cohen’s depiction of losing something cherished, “probably a girl”. This encounter ignited his passion for music and his desire to express his own feelings through songwriting.
Antonin’s exploration of music started with a simple guitar lesson from his primary school teacher. Although he did not know how to read music and still to this day does not, he grasped the essence of melody and emotional expression. Unfettered by the constraints of language, he created his own language through music, conveying his thoughts and emotions through sound. This personal and unfiltered approach to music became a defining characteristic of his artistry. Learning Le méteque by George Moustaki, his fingers caressing the guitar strings and teaching him a whole new language and form of expression.
While Antonin’s exposure to music was initially limited, he gradually expanded his repertoire and discovered diverse musical genres. Leonard Cohen’s introspective lyrics had a profound impact on him during his formative years. As he grew older, his musical tastes expanded, encompassing the Blues, Jazz, and Latin American music. His geographical location played a significant role in shaping his musical preferences, with winds carrying sounds from different regions. From the UK to the US, Brazil to Africa, Antonin absorbed the musical vibes from various corners of the globe. “The North-West wind comes straight from the UK, so it brings me the song of the Rolling Stones, and then I drift to the West and the music from the US. And I discovered blues and all. And I really love to listen to The Doors. I then move West to South West and this brings me the sound of Brazil and South America.” This original approach shines through in his music, when you sit and listen you can hear the songs of the winds and the influences swirling around Antonin like the currents in the ocean.
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By Tori Sharp for Semaine.
Photography by Tempé Cole Storm.
The Good, the Bad and Antonin’s streaming choices.
The perfectly crafted surfboard? Ready to try your hand and fingers at the guitar? Antonin's shop is your one stop summer wonder.
What does the word “taste” mean to you?
Taste means discernement.
Do you have a life motto that you live by?
Ça fait du bien.
What was the last thing that made you laugh?
My face in the mirror this morning.
What are your favourite qualities in a human being?
Who is your hero?
My mom and my dad, of course.
What is your biggest flaw?
What is your best quality?
What would your last meal on earth be?
A salty kiss.
What does success mean to you?
If you had the power to change anything you wanted in the world, what would you change?
Change the men into women and vice versa.