12 Songs, 1 Hour 4 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

It’s no accident that the songs that make up This Wild Willing don’t sound like the typical fare one might expect from Glen Hansard, the artist best known for starring in Once (arguably the greatest movie ever made about a lovesick Irish busker). "I'm frustrated with the sound of a singer-songwriter in my own music,” he tells Apple Music. So before the former Frames frontman set off to make his fourth solo album, as part of an artist residency at the Irish cultural center in Paris, he imposed a few restrictions on himself. “Every time the word ‘heart' or ‘love' came out of my mouth, I would replace it with the word ‘cock,’” he says. "Just as an exercise for myself, not as a joke. It forces you to find another word—to not use the vernacular that I'm so used to as a songwriter.” That change helped steer the album in a decidedly darker, more eclectic direction, as did recruiting electronic musicians Deasy and Sunken Foal to shake up the production. But it was the change of venue that played the biggest role in sending his sound on a different course, particularly when it spurred a key collaboration with a group of Iranian musicians he met in Paris. He tells Apple Music what else he did during his time in France to help him ease his frustration and find a new creative direction.

Reading Ernest Hemingway
"The first day in Paris, I bought A Moveable Feast from one of the bouquinistes down on the river. When I went to the café to read, I realized I was sitting in the very square where the book opens. There's a line where he says, 'And the wind will blow the leaves off the trees of the Place de la Contrescarpe.' And I was sitting right there. That was a real welcome to Paris. Hemingway ended up being kind of a tour guide for my first few weeks. I didn't really hang out with anybody, I just read that book and wandered the streets, and it was a hugely inspiring time. I also sat down every day and wrote. And one of the lines that Hemingway writes in that book, which was really helpful to me—he said, 'If you can't write, if there's nothing coming, just write one true line. Write anything that's true and the rest will flow.’”

Engaging with the people of Paris
“The gilets jaunes [yellow vests] and all of the energy that was in the city at the time around the protests was definitely very inspiring—there was a wild energy on the streets. And of course, the Khoshravesh brothers, the three Iranians that I met and spent time with—just through playing along with me, they ended up bending my melodic line. After an evening of music with them, I knew the whole thing was going to take a different turn."

Exploring the countryside
"If I needed to be in the studio [200 miles west in Segré], say, tomorrow at noon, I would leave Paris this afternoon and I would drive to, say, Mont-Saint-Michel, or to Chartres, the cathedral. Or to Saint-Nazaire. I would do these long diversions on my way to the studio, which were just really helpful. When you're driving, your hands are on the wheel, your imagination is just freed up. My friend had lent me her little Renault Twingo, which is about the size of a fist. But I just had the best time in this little car, driving all over that area of France and going to flea markets and stopping in to villages and getting a sense of the French countryside."

Finding and fixing old mopeds
"I went to a flea market while I was there and I bought a Mobylette, a little Motobécane motorcycle. It was all busted up, and I spent about two weeks of my studio time obsessing on this little bike and its engine. I became kind of obsessed with these little motorbikes; I now have five of them back home in Ireland. With a song, if you've got a problem, there's a hundred ways to fix it—or there may be no way to fix it—but with an engine, it was built by somebody, it has a logic, it was designed to function and now it's not functioning. There's something about that simple fixing of the thing that really does help."

Drinking lots of wine
"In the French supermarkets, they sell the most extraordinary wines, and of course, it doesn't cost anything, so you can go in and get a really great bottle. Château La Gaffelière was one that I really loved. The studio was out in the countryside, and we'd sit out in the field and drink in the evening. It was wonderful."

EDITORS’ NOTES

It’s no accident that the songs that make up This Wild Willing don’t sound like the typical fare one might expect from Glen Hansard, the artist best known for starring in Once (arguably the greatest movie ever made about a lovesick Irish busker). "I'm frustrated with the sound of a singer-songwriter in my own music,” he tells Apple Music. So before the former Frames frontman set off to make his fourth solo album, as part of an artist residency at the Irish cultural center in Paris, he imposed a few restrictions on himself. “Every time the word ‘heart' or ‘love' came out of my mouth, I would replace it with the word ‘cock,’” he says. "Just as an exercise for myself, not as a joke. It forces you to find another word—to not use the vernacular that I'm so used to as a songwriter.” That change helped steer the album in a decidedly darker, more eclectic direction, as did recruiting electronic musicians Deasy and Sunken Foal to shake up the production. But it was the change of venue that played the biggest role in sending his sound on a different course, particularly when it spurred a key collaboration with a group of Iranian musicians he met in Paris. He tells Apple Music what else he did during his time in France to help him ease his frustration and find a new creative direction.

Reading Ernest Hemingway
"The first day in Paris, I bought A Moveable Feast from one of the bouquinistes down on the river. When I went to the café to read, I realized I was sitting in the very square where the book opens. There's a line where he says, 'And the wind will blow the leaves off the trees of the Place de la Contrescarpe.' And I was sitting right there. That was a real welcome to Paris. Hemingway ended up being kind of a tour guide for my first few weeks. I didn't really hang out with anybody, I just read that book and wandered the streets, and it was a hugely inspiring time. I also sat down every day and wrote. And one of the lines that Hemingway writes in that book, which was really helpful to me—he said, 'If you can't write, if there's nothing coming, just write one true line. Write anything that's true and the rest will flow.’”

Engaging with the people of Paris
“The gilets jaunes [yellow vests] and all of the energy that was in the city at the time around the protests was definitely very inspiring—there was a wild energy on the streets. And of course, the Khoshravesh brothers, the three Iranians that I met and spent time with—just through playing along with me, they ended up bending my melodic line. After an evening of music with them, I knew the whole thing was going to take a different turn."

Exploring the countryside
"If I needed to be in the studio [200 miles west in Segré], say, tomorrow at noon, I would leave Paris this afternoon and I would drive to, say, Mont-Saint-Michel, or to Chartres, the cathedral. Or to Saint-Nazaire. I would do these long diversions on my way to the studio, which were just really helpful. When you're driving, your hands are on the wheel, your imagination is just freed up. My friend had lent me her little Renault Twingo, which is about the size of a fist. But I just had the best time in this little car, driving all over that area of France and going to flea markets and stopping in to villages and getting a sense of the French countryside."

Finding and fixing old mopeds
"I went to a flea market while I was there and I bought a Mobylette, a little Motobécane motorcycle. It was all busted up, and I spent about two weeks of my studio time obsessing on this little bike and its engine. I became kind of obsessed with these little motorbikes; I now have five of them back home in Ireland. With a song, if you've got a problem, there's a hundred ways to fix it—or there may be no way to fix it—but with an engine, it was built by somebody, it has a logic, it was designed to function and now it's not functioning. There's something about that simple fixing of the thing that really does help."

Drinking lots of wine
"In the French supermarkets, they sell the most extraordinary wines, and of course, it doesn't cost anything, so you can go in and get a really great bottle. Château La Gaffelière was one that I really loved. The studio was out in the countryside, and we'd sit out in the field and drink in the evening. It was wonderful."

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