Name: Cyrielle Formaz aka Meimuna
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Recent event: Meimuna is one of the artists performing at 2022's Reeperbahn Festival which takes place in Hamburg, Germany, September September 21st-24th. Get tickets here.
If you enjoyed this interview with Meimuna and would like to find out more about her work, visit her official website. She is also also on Instagram, and Facebook.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
The impulse to create comes from a lot of different sources. I have the chance to dream a lot and I reference them, I note them and/or I draw them. Sometimes it gives my idea for songs (like my song "Au-Delà" from my EP Bestiaire II that really tells one of my dreams).
I’m also an illustrator and a fan of visual art. I use it a lot in my songs to built strong images and landscapes. I often go to the museum and I am very often inspired by some paintings, some questions that I ask myself, or simply some titles of artworks.
And of course my songs are mostly about my life. My lyrics are very intimate and speak of my places, my folks, my loves, my sorrows and my joys.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a ‘visualisation’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
It really depends. Sometimes I have very clear ideas: there are hundreds of them on my dictaphone and in my notebook. But often I start from scratch. I improvise with my guitar, with my voice or other instruments, and I let myself go without knowing where to go.
When ideas start to arise, I quickly build an architecture of my song in my head.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
I have tons of "early versions". Too many, all the time. And I really have to learn to accept to let go. I'm working on it!
I take a lot of time to write my lyrics. I do a lot of research, I read a lot of poetry. As I sing in French, each word has its importance, its sound, and I really try to make poetry out of it.
About my “preparation phase”, I like to write by hand, sat at my kitchen table, in front of a window that overlooks a small castle and the mountain. There is a beautiful light there.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
I no longer believe in the idea of genius. I believe that creativity is a muscle that needs to be trained, and I try to do exercises, to force myself to create even when I feel empty inside. Ideas always come when called upon!
So yes, I try to write every day, anything, even nonsense things. Just to be in the action of creating something. I also sometimes use tools developed by other artists like Laura Veirs' creation cards (I wrote “Où vont les Tempêtes” with them) or Brian Eno's oblique strategies.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
Create a landscape in which the listener sees themselves, recognizes themselves. Create stories that the listener has the impression of having written, of having lived. Create a cocoon of music and images that give the listener the impression of entering an intimate and secret sphere.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
When that happens, it's really one of the best things! Letting yourself be carried away by the flow. Let yourself be guided by magic!
Sometimes it happens, but for my part, it’s not all the time.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
I think you have to let all the ideas express themselves, but also manage to make decisions. Sometimes it's "sorry nice idea, I'll give you a place in a next song! your energy is not suitable for this time".
I really like the idea that Elisabeth Gilbert develops in her book Big Magic: You have to make ideas want to choose you! It is as if they are independent entities with their own will. You have to leave the door open for them.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
It is an ultimate moment that you offer to yourself. For me there is something spiritual about creating something out of nothing. Yesterday there was nothing, today a song exists. A song that's like a little piece of you.
Creating makes me useful, gives meaning to everything I do and makes me proud! I really do something with my life, I try to make it beautiful and meaningful, and if I can give other people the same feeling, it’s just the best.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
I am very involved in the production process, especially in the arrangement and the mixing. I'm passionate about sound and it's really part of the creative process. Also, it's one of my favorite parts: writing for other instruments, creating particular sound spaces, etc.
However, of course I have limited skills and equipment. So I also like to surround myself with people who know how to do it better than me, but I still want to work with them. Knowing what they are doing, understanding, truly collaborating.