Colleen is French multi-instrumentalist Cecile Schott, who uses
her voice and the treble viola da gamba (a baroque instrument
with gut strings), to weave intricate stories about the human
mind and heart.
Colleen is the alias of French musician Cécile Schott, who has released four critically-acclaimed albums from 2003 to 2013. Her forthcoming fifth album, Captain of None, has been released worldwide by American label Thrill Jockey on 7th April 2015. Over the past eleven years he has played more than 170 concerts all over the world, and her music has been used in countless films, documentaries, TV and radio programs, as well as in dance productions and in the promotion of a wide array of companies internationally.
From 2003 to 2007, she released three albums on British label The Leaf Label. While her much-noticed debut Everyone Alive Wants Answers (2003) was made up entirely of acoustic samples taken from her eclectic record collection, second album The Golden Morning Breaks (2005) saw her exploring a wide range of instruments which she all played herself - cello, classical guitar, ukulele, music boxes, windchimes, and a rare 19th century glass harmonicon.
In 2006 French radio station France Culture commissioned her to do a “radiophonic workshop” program which became the Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique EP, focusing on the sound world of music boxes. And in 2007’s Les Ondes Silencieuses fulfilled her dream of making a modern album using almost exclusively baroque instruments (viola da gamba, spinet, clarinet, classical guitar and crystal glasses), focusing on their resonance and the silence between the notes.
All four works garnered glowing reviews from key magazines and websites, from Pitchfork (“One of those rare, truly evocative abstract pieces of art where every observer takes away their own interpretation, and is left feeling a little more special about their experience as a result”
8.4/10 Pitchfork on first album) to the mainstream musci press (“Lyrical and full of light…magical” **** Mojo on second album) and UK daily newspapers (“Genuinely gripping” The Sunday Times on third album), as well as consistently positive continental European press.
After a break from recording and touring, Colleen returned with fourth album The Weighing of the Heart in May 2013 on British label Second Language. This new album saw a significant shift in approach,focusing on the possibilities of her voice and on a more colorful and rhythmic approach, using a treble viola da gamba tuned like a guitar and various percussion instruments.
Her fifth album Captain of None was released in April 2015 on American label Thrill Jockey to great critical acclaim (see press pack) and sees her using her voice and the fingerpicked viola da gamba as her main instruments, with production heavily influenced by 1970s Jamaican dub, while retaining a unique approach to both instrumental and sung music that can be traced back to her preceding works. She is now touring the album in Europe with a date at the Barbican/LSO St Luke in London on May 24th and will tour the US in June 2015 with shows at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, Seattle’s Good Shepherd Chapel, Portland’s Holocene, Chicago’s Constellation, New York’s SubCulture, Portsmouth’s 3S Artspace and Philadelphia’s FringeArts.
In addition to her albums, Colleen has been commissioned to write music for several projects, including music for dance (Série for Swiss choreographer Perrine Valli), institutions (music for lifts in the French ministry of culture, 2004), festivals (Présences Electronique festival, Paris, 2008 ; duo with Lukas Ligeti for Merkin Concert Hall, New York, 2008) and radio programmes (Atelier De Création Radiophonique, France Culture, 2006)