5 Minutes with Les Fils de Teuhpu

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The eclectic Paris ska band Les Fils de Teuhpu are playing two shows in the UAE this weekend; the Abu Dhabi will be a live soundtrack to classic Buster Keaton films and the Dubai show a more tradition concert affair. The trumpeter Rodolphe Sallès speaks about the challenge of bringing life to silent films and the group's international flavour when playing live.

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You are playing shows in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. But the Abu Dhabi one finds you guys providing a live film score to two Buster Keaton silent films. How is the challenge of performing a a film score live?

It is more difficult. We are six musicians and we have to be in line with each image, maintaining the good rhythm and tempo. It requires a lot of concentration - more than a concert.


How did you write the film scores. I can imagine DVDs of the films were put on repeat at band members' homes.

We watched the movie many times and we had lots of discussions about it. After, we take some sequences from the film and we play with it. We don't tackle each sequence from the beginning to the end. We do it randomly sometimes and then we look back at it see if there is anything relational to it. Both films have different styles. The first film is more burlesque, the second film though is more cinematic and similar to [the film composer] Lalo Schifrin with the same music coming back in the film but not in the same way.


Your performance in Dubai is a more traditional concert. For those who have never heard of you, how would you describe the band's sound?

It's all original. We play all the music that we like and want. We play afro-beat, some hip-hop, rock or jazz. When we want to do something we play it and in the songs there is a lot of music from different cultures. It is a real melting pot.


Despite the world flavours, your sound is still unabashedly French. Did it translate well in your previous tours of Europe and America?

It is always fun to speak to people from different countries, chat about their cultures and lives. The music is really important and we never had any problems with the language barrier. But when we perform we don't just speak in French, we speak in English, Spanish, German and Russian. The world of the music is French, but we never had any problems interacting with audience.


Finally, what does Les Fils de Teuhpu mean?

I can't say. It's a French, Parisian joke but it may sound rude so I won't say it.


I was told it simply translated to "Tell your mother?"

Yeah...well, it's something like that, but I won't say it.

Les Fils de Teuhpu will play a special performance tomorrow night soundtracking Buster Keaton films at Abu Dhabi's Aloft Hotel, Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre. Show starts at 6.30pm. Tickets start from Dh125 at www.timeouttickets.com. You can also catch them in concert mode on Friday for a free concert at Dubai's Wafi Rooftop Garden, Garhoud Road.