with Xavier Dubois of Ultraphallus
Name: Xavier Dubois
Bands: Solo, Ultraphallus, KAAPSHLJMURSLIS
Websites: http://xavierdubois.bandcamp.com, http://ultraphallus.com
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?
Xavier – Well, if “professional” means “making a living from playing music”, then I’m absolutely not a pro. I’d say I never had that desire. My desire & ultimate goal is to keep going, keep pushing hard to improve my skills & knowledge in order to express myself musically as freely as I can.
Being a professional musician could be a nice thing of course, but only in the context of doing what I want. I know very few people who make a living from their art doing absolutely what they want.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?
Xavier – As the word “career” comes a few times in this interview, let me say that, as I wrote for the “professional” aspect, I really can’t say I have “a career”. To me the word “career” refers to something you start at some point & end a few years/decades later, yet music is an endless journey.
To this day highlights would include each release of a new record. Also when I met the different people I’m playing/have played with, the birth & the first rehearsal & the first live show of each project. Playing in the basque country (where my step-family lives) with Ultraphallus. Having a sound installation (“Collision Zone” from Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert) at the Biennale of Venice. Playing with Harvey Milk in Paris. When I read an email from a great venue in Brussels that asked me to open for Philip Catherine last year. Since then Philip has become my teacher & each moment spent with him is gold & helps me to grow as a musician.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Xavier – Around 28-29, I think!
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Xavier – As someone with a terrible tendency to procrastinate, having a family is the best kick possible. It forces me to be organized & disciplined. But I’d say the main thing is that it is a huge inspiration to give my best. When you have kids, your relationship to time changes. I’m much more focused now than I used to be before having my children.
I can’t think of any negative impact. Sure having a family involves a lot of responsibilities but those are positives. Oh, wait. The lack of sleep is maybe one of the biggest problems....
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Xavier – Having a dayjob & making music takes a lot of time; one of my biggest fears would be to miss important or just good, cool moments with my children & my wife. I’m very aware of that. To me music & family are linked: I can’t feel good with my guitar if the equilibrium between music & family isn’t respected. & I tend to think that if you’re creative, curious, & disciplined then it has positives effects on your environment & the people you’re living with. Even if those creative moments mean being away or alone a few hours every day.
QRD – Have your children effected the music you make &/or listen to?
Xavier – The music I make is the result of who & where I am, so I guess yes. But it doesn’t affect to what I listen to. I still listen to death-metal!
QRD – Do you think being involved in music has made your children different than their piers?
Xavier – It would be a bit pretentious to answer “yes” & it would be wrong to tell you “no”. I’ve noticed these last two years a tendency for my older son to sing & replicate amazingly well the stuff that’s around him, be it a Django melody or the sound of an ambulance in the street. It’s funny to see your child listening to naive children songs & at the same time asking for a Moondog song in the car. He even knows Arto Lindsay!
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Xavier – No as I’m not a professional. Having a day job that you like is a good thing. Of course I’d love to be able to play all day, but having a different job makes you play the music for the right reasons. The last thing I want would be to have to do sessions or stuff just for the money. Playing music I don’t like. That would depress me a lot more than having to work outside of music.
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?
Xavier – Not really.
QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Xavier – This is no big surprise, but being organized is the key. Knowing what your priorities are, too. That might sound weird, but I really haven’t played, given shows, or practiced before as much as I do now. I also like to think that I don’t have to “divide” things. Just see the “big picture”. Playing music is a huge part of my life. My wife knows it, my children will grow knowing this, too. Music resonates in my house. That’s the way it is.
QRD – What do your kids think of your music?
Xavier – My older one likes my solo music. My youngest doesn’t speak yet; he’s 8 months old. So I’ll wait to have his feedback.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Xavier – Not only to young people: stop believing having a family & kids will bring a routine in your daily life. Stop believing having kids will “take” all “your” time. Nothing & no one has the ability to literally take “your” time. You’re the main person in charge of your time schedule.
Having kids bring chaos & constant surprises to your daily life & you have to learn to embrace it & to deal with it. That’s the beauty in it. To me you could compare it to improvisation: from an apparent chaotic situation something beautiful emerges. But that demands work, discipline, & will. Life without family or kids is totally okay too, but it’s far more routine!
QRD – Anything else?
Xavier – This is a great topic that is seldom discussed, so...thank you!