The whirlwind musician Jo Cimatti has some wonderful surprises for us








I dream of a world where people approach any form of expression with an open mind, where those who seem to be rooted are pulled upwards. In short, a world in which people become aware that the culture is a mirror and not a poster.

Jo Cimatti




DM: – Jo Cimatti is not very pop-rock as a stage name. It sounds more like musette and accordion. How do you assume the choice of your artist name and the ambiguity that comes from it instead of taking a pseudonym like any self-respecting artist who uses a name that would be good for marketing?


JC:  Popular accordion music? That’s rather nice! I haven’t really thought about a pseudonym and I think I’m respecting myself by keeping my real name.

For the time being, except for a few fans of paso doble and slow waltzes, I haven’t had any problems with any image conveyed by my name. And besides a pseudonym is a double- edged sword… Would you buy a record by « Jo Nialidé, » for example?




DM: – Before getting to your music, in about 400 words, could you summarize your life?


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JC: In four hundred words, the exercise seems to me to be very difficult especially since this first sentence has already cost me twenty…

But broadly speaking, I would say that I had a happy childhood, in a family full of good humour and affection, that adolescence was conventionally difficult, the first love stories beautiful and tragic, the first jobs exhausting, that I am living today with the two most wonderful persons in the world, one of those persons being a shared creation with the second and that there is a soundtrack for each period that helped me to construct myself.

I am faithful in friendship, faithful in love for obscure reasons inherent to my religious education, even though it has almost completely vanished.

I love the calm of the country and the hubbub of the city.

I love driving slowly in front of the guy who is desperately trying to pass me.

I love debating as long as you agree with me.

I don’t like symbols and flags, but I can force myself to understand the need.

I don’t like the proper way of doing things, the disdainful elitist and Adolf Hipster.

I have no tolerance for, in no particular order, shopping malls, parking ticket machines, arms merchants, wars, diseases and Cyrille Hanouna (French radio and television presenter, writer, author, columnist, producer).

I am a non-practising misanthrope combined with a frustrated optimist.

I am the only one who possesses the truth, like anybody…




DM: – 230 words. In the credits of your album, there is a prominent place for JP, alias Jean-Pascal Boffo, a « regular » with Levure littéraire: guitars, sound recording, mixing and mastering. How did your artistic encounter come to be and why has it lasted?


Like A Ghost


JC: I met JPB in 2006. That evening I was opening for Alifair, the duo of Jean Pascal on the guitar and Mira Cetii singing. I was pretty impressed at the time, because I had been hearing about him since my pre-adolescence. A quarter hour after a first shy handshake, we had already exchanged about 76,354 puns. In October of the same year, I recorded a few titles in his lair, Amper studio in Clouange (57), then I returned there for masterings with Yaro and LimitS. When I talked to him about the album project, around 2012, he was thrilled and I was very honoured. That is when we really started working together. I joined Alifair for a few dates, participated in their magnificent album « Le chant des fleurs [The song of flowers] », so it was natural that he would be part of the dream team that I had in mind. Still today, he’s the one who listens to new compositions first. Our common influences and our shared taste for more or less funny puns have given rise to a beautiful friendship.



DM: – Chronologically what were your musical wanderings, both in your influences and in musical practice and writing, since you are on your solo album, « The man from nowhere, » quasi author-composer of the whole thing?


JC: I started guitar at the age of 9 « to do like John Lennon. » I’ve always loved the Beatles and I’ve been singing them since I was very young. In 1996, with my buddies from the village, we created The Limits of Reason, which has since been renamed Limits (still active today with 3 albums to our credit). I’ve always written words in English because of my musical culture and for fear of hurting the French language, which is, in my view, harder to master. After a few periods in various groups in French (Nus’atch, le Zèbre, Le P’tit Kevin…) and a year with the Music Academy International of Nancy, I joined the Afro-Rock project Yaro with whom I recorded 2 albums, then I took part in the Pavlov collective (Hip hop alternative experimental nu jazz).
Musically, I’ve always composed under the influence of British and American rock music and classical guitar technique. Since, I’ve listened to a huge number of things (I am a kind of musical bulimic) and I try to bring across the emotions perceived in my compositions (like any creator).



With regard to writing, it’s a matter of the instant, I don’t have any pet themes and apart for a few exceptions, I write everything in one go. Then I reread, I test, I keep or I discard (well… I recycle…)


DM: – So the textual writing comes second. After seeing you twice on stage, I can say that the originality of the interpretation, the aura that emanates from the group and all your influences shape you into something out of the ordinary. A choice to be yourself and/or a posture to please?


Hot As Snow


JC: – When we’re on stage, we’re trying to get a reaction from the people even if its unconscious.

We want to move them, make them laugh, shake them up… Anyway, get their attention. So a posture to please, without any doubt.

But nothing is calculated, each concert is different, the people in the audience shape the show as much as the musicians on stage. And then in 17 years of concerts, you necessarily reach a level of comfort or a way to manage your discomfort and integrate yourself with a character who is a part of you. But I confess I don’t think about it when my guitar is hooked up.


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DM: – With regard to references, we really find the Beatles and Lennon spirit that you claimed, but also the early Roxy Music, Al Stewart, Fairport Convention, Renaissance, String Driven Thing, a little Queen, the original Bowie, the colours of all those artists interlinked inside a single piece.

It’s surprising in the literal sense, the linearity is often broken by changes, rhythmic and melodic. Which makes it difficult to retain, but surprises over several listens. A musical writing that is actually very English, simultaneously complex and captivating, with in addition a few incursions into the sixties US (Westcoast, Soul and Funk…).


It’s taking risks, because you feel initiation, maturation.


In a business in which the artist is asked to define himself and have an identifiable signature, you worked in the old-fashioned way, when an album was a concrete reflection of a personal idea, of a creative thought, without being one or two titles formatted with filling around them.




Do you find your audience, because it has to be strange and open? Does it exist? How can you expand it?


JC: – I am conscious in my creative approach of not being in the current circuit. But after all, music alone is not the cause of success or its opposite. It’s above all a matter of networking, of being there at the right moment with the right person, of mastering communication and image. Every year in the magazines, a group is labelled « neo psyche », they praise its vintage side while claiming that the future of music will be a return to sources. Then two pages later, a group with the same approach will be accused of only rehashing old stuff, of not taking risks. So it’s also a question of points of view for the critics and of luck for the artists.

As far as I’m concerned, the people who are interested in the music the group is proposing do not fit into a specific category: there are young people who discover a style that is missing from their playlist, people who are nostalgic for a period that they never knew, veterans of the sixties and seventies…

So the audience exists, but it’s not identifiable, which poses a problem in a world where you have to please labels…

Expanding it would mean giving up some to focus on others and do the same thing with the compositions. For the time being, I don’t feel any urgency or desire.


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DM: – Any projects?


JC: – I compose a lot and want to do all kinds of things: a second album with the group, of course, but also a collection of more personal pieces as well as more experimental things. I hope to soon be able to propose something new until all this can become a reality.


DM: – Any final beginning words?


JC: I dream of a world where people approach any form of expression with an open mind, where those who seem to be rooted are pulled upwards. In short, a world in which people become aware that the culture is a mirror and not a poster.







Journalist: Denis Meyer









Denis Meyer is a french psychologist, author and music producer. He lives near Metz and directs the association « La Lorraine est hardie » (Production and Promotion of Artists and Musicians from Lorraine).


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