artist

Prequell

Like a prelude to creation, like an unfinished electro-symphony, like an anthem heard and remembered in dreams, Prequell is first and foremost a musician’s achievement.

“Can pop music still be reinvented? Is it possible to offer an innovative sound, something we never heard before that is neither electro nor pop or rock? Those were the questions I kept asking myself as I started working on Prequell two years ago. I went back to the roots of my musical inspiration. From my orchestral training and my admiration for the great sound tracks by the likes of John Barry, John Williams to the intense creativity of artists such as Craig Armstrong, Massive Attack and Björk. I therefore started my own musical ‘Prequell’, as I projected myself into the future, beyond those early influences. Nurtured in a fascination for space exploration, I imagined a new form of pop structure in the form of an inter-galactic journey, flying in between classic orchestrations and electronic beats. 15 songs later, the album ‘The Future Comes before’ was born.” Thomas Roussel

With his first widely-acclaimed EP in 2015 (the opening track of which, ‘Part V’, was used in June 2017 for the world launch of Thierry Mugler’s new fragrance campaign), the French musician Thomas Roussel (aka Prequell) took on an impossible challenge – 5 tracks to renew pop music by means of classical orchestrations, large string ensembles, drums and analogue synthesizers. 

Adding to those 5 original pieces, 10 new tracks make up the rest of his first album: "The Future Comes before". It’s a record that keeps the promise of transferring this amazing musical universe to new, even more thrilling dimensions, somewhere between catchy pop and sensual R’n’B. Each piece is an epic journey in a Sci-Fi universe, navigating towards radiant planets and explosive comets - this first opus is a unique, powerful and exciting adventure.

Joining forces with the voices of 5 immensely famous young performers, Prequell totally embraces its pop ambitions. “Only the fullest voices could face the power of an orchestra”, says Thomas, “but more than just singers, I was looking for authentic writers capable of writing original lyrics and maintaining a genuine artistic conversation with me”. That's why Rae Morris, BBC Music Sound of 2015 with debut album ‘Unguarded’, paints over ‘Part XIV’ with her passionate voice and her feminine energy turning it into a sublime anthem. On ‘Part XII’ Claire Laffut proves that one can be at the same time an actress, a painter, a singer and a gifted song-writer, endowed as she is with a gift for writing and a voice that would warm up the coldest of hearts. A quick zip through the British alt-pop scene: Fyfe is the perfect link in between Sam Smith and James Blake. His mellow voice gives ‘Part XI’ a touch of strangely disillusioned futuristic romanticism.

And what about Shy Girls (Portland USA) who is at the very core of an American R’n’B’ revival? His feature on ‘Part IX’ achieves the unification of Michael Jackson and Massive Attack; an unexpectedly sensual combination. Teddy Sinclair from the band Cruel Youth, who co-wrote the Grammy nominated song ‘Kiss It Better’ from Rihanna’s latest album, is a young English singer who now lives in New York. She wrote and recorded her vocals on ‘Part VII’ with Prequell in Los Angeles; the result is a flamboyant duet of her diva soul tainted voice and the enticing strings of the orchestra. And finally, to create perfect balance, Prequell offers us five remarkable instrumental compositions with auras that shine blinding bright.

Thomas' musical expansion is by no means accidental. The album is filled with actual sounds from space: a NASA probe entering the magnetosphere of Jupiter (‘Part XV’), gravitational waves emitted by two merging black holes (‘Part XIII’) and the standing wave tone of Planet Earth (‘Part IV’). More so, the composer recorded ‘The Future Comes Before’ with two of the greatest world symphonic orchestras. First with the London Symphony Orchestra, world famous for gigantic scores, like ‘Star Wars’, ‘Harry Potter’ and The Beatles’ unrivalled ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band’. It was in the legendary Studio One of Abbey Road that Thomas recorded his music, conducting the 71 musicians. Prequell also relied on Isobel Griffiths’ orchestra, famous for performing on Adele and Massive Attack records as well as over 1,000 scores for star composers Hans Zimmer (‘Interstellar’, ‘The Dark Knight’) and Thomas Newman ( ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Spectre’) which makes it one of the most appreciated classical ensembles. Prequell also decided to record at Air Studios in London: the incomparable sound of this renovated chapel had previously been favored by Daft Punk, adding spacing and breathing room to the score of ‘Tron: Legacy’.

Prequell worked with a 5-star cast to make this album, never compromising on any facet of the production. On the drums was Ben Thompson, who has played with Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix, and Hudson Mohawke. Stéphane Reichart was in charge of recording and engineering the two great orchestras with the finest precision. After working on over 200 movies (including ‘La Môme’ and ‘The Tree of Life’) notably often with Alexandre Desplat, he recorded classical ensembles on Woodkid's ‘Golden Age’. For mixing, Thomas decided to ride the faders of Steve Fitzmaurice, winner of multiple Grammy awards for his work with Depeche mode, U2, and producing Sam Smith (notably ‘The Writing On The Wall’ for ‘Spectre’). To top it off, mastering was done by Randy Merill at Sterling Sound in New York City. Randy is the spiritual son and disciple of legendary sound engineer Tom Coy (Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Beyoncé, The Weeknd). Randy Merril has already been awarded 2 Grammy awards for Adele’s ‘Hello’ and ‘25’. 

It is fair to say that Thomas Roussel is no beginner. For 12 years now, he has collaborated with many prestigious musicians. He co-composed Jeff Mills’ now famous ‘Blue Potential’ and ‘Light from the Outside World’, which are still played around the world. Approached by Loris Gréaud who asked him to collaborate on his contemporary art project ‘Cellar Door’, Thomas composed an opera and recorded it with the Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France. He also composed a number of original scores for the film industry. But more than anything else his live creations for the fashion world have really put his talent on the map. Experimenting with a new way of using the orchestra he did away with tradition for Chanel, Kenzo and Dior Homme and imagined a state-of-the-art stage design in Paris, deconstructing the orchestra and placing sitting musicians in a straight line. 

With The Future Comes Before, Thomas Roussel is completing his first real personal project. From the first track (« Part XV ») to the last (« Part I »), in that reverse order, ‘Prequell’ is an avant-garde return to the roots of music and a re-birth for Thomas Roussel.