the two hands really together,
which is surprising to say that
but most people don’t. It’s very
hard to have two hands play
well together. There are all
kinds of things. Like you don’t
touch the strings because you
want them to resonate in sympathy with the rest to create a
Do you follow a strict alternate picking technique?
Usually when you change
strings you use a downstroke
as much as possible and you
use more downstrokes than
upstrokes. There’s no real rule.
It’s not as precise as that. It’s
like when you drive. When you
learn to drive, you put your
hands on the wheel and learn
everything internally. After that
you are able to drink a coffee
and drive, so the rule becomes
“drive.” It’s the same thing with
For your latest album, did you
compose specifically for this
project or were these tunes
laying around for a while?
Almost all of the material was
written for this album. “Bistro
Fada” was the song I wrote
for the Woody Allen movie
Midnight in Paris. I remade a
new version for this album,
for sonic reasons and to match
the color of this album. There
is also “Water is Life,” which
was written for my first album
in 2005, but it was a classical
guitar and bass version. We
recorded it more like how we
perform it live with the drums.
Otherwise, everything else was
written for this album.
Speaking of Woody Allen,
how did he approach you to
create the theme for Midnight
The first time he used one of
my songs on his movie [Vicky
Cristina Barcelona], and the sec-
ond time his producer called me
and asked if I could compose a
theme for the movie that would
represent the magic of Paris.
Woody tours with his own
band all over the world. Did
you ever get a chance to play
Nah, I’ve actually never met
him. We talk through his
producer. Once it’s time for
pre-production he is already
onto his next movie or some
other thing. It’s not like we have
time to hang out. Busy guy.
When you are presented with
a compositional “assignment,”
like writing a score, how do
you approach it? Is your process any different?
Actually, I go blank and move
into a trance state. It just happens. When it’s time to compose
I get in that mood and it lasts
for a few days and since I can’t
score ideas in my head I throw
the ideas into GarageBand. I
then go back and refine them
and it becomes more architectural work. For me, it’s very
important to have a mood and
a musical idea. That’s the first
thing. After that, I rework it.
Do your ideas usually begin
with a melody or a chord
It’s all entangled. Once I have a
rough idea I spend a few hours
to really play around with it—
change chords, move the bridge
around—so many choices. I
usually do that on the spot right
after composing a song.
The track “Tsunami” really
shows the orchestrated, more
scenic influence of movie
scores. What composers do
you listen to for inspiration?
I listen to movie scores a lot.
I listened to a few scores from
Hans Zimmer and I have
checked out the classic ones like
Jaws [John Williams]. A score
that I really love is the one from
Pi [Clint Mansell], and I am
also a big fan of Howard Shore
[Lord of the Rings, Hugo].
What is it about those scores
that draws you in?
I can’t tell you. I have no idea.
There is just something about it.
You know, there is just so much
you can’t explain about music. I
don’t go too far as to say I like a
certain kind of harmony because
it’s beyond that. When you lis-
ten to music, either something
touches you or it doesn’t. It’s not
because of the notes, the notes are
the same. It’s just something else.
Do you have aspirations
to do more movie and
As of now, people know me and
have asked me to score their
Armed with his cedar-topped Bob
Holo Nouveau model, Wrembel
leads a quintet through “Tsunami,”
off his latest album. The band kicks
in at 2: 57 as Wrembel effortlessly
unleashes some of his Django-
Search term: Stephane Wrembel
“Tsunami” Live on Soundcheck
This 15-minute performance from
Wrembel’s weekly gig at Barbés
starts with some exploratory drones
but gives you an up close look at
his right-hand technique.
Search term: Stephane Wrembel
at Barbés (2009)
Fronting a trio with rhythm guitarist
Ryan Flaherty, Wrembel tackles two
of Django’s most famous compositions, “Minor Blues” and “Swing 48.”
Search term: Stephane Wrembel,
Ryan Flaherty – Minor Blues/Swing 48