Originally from Paris, Jefferson Fichou grew up with a unique understanding of guitar and production equipment. From the very start, he was looking for ways to create entire musical experiences, whole songs and performances.
Performing solo for the first time when he was just 15 years old, Fichou has gone on to perform with a number of different bands, as well as pursuing his own solo efforts under the name Jeff II.
Fichou enjoys combining elements of intricate music theory with an intuitive and emotional approach to music composition.
Vents was lucky enough to talk to Fichou about his musical origins and even his somewhat recent move to the United States, where he has continued to push musical boundaries and create emotionally-driven work.
You’ve been involved with multiple aspects of music composition and production from an early age. Have those aspects of production and recording informed your guitar playing?
I’ve always wanted to create and play my own music, so for me, it was crucial to learn how to record myself and use technology to express my ideas. I try to serve the music when I’m playing guitar, it’s quite easy to play a bunch of notes that you learned and practiced, but it’s harder to really play something meaningful and interesting. It’s all about telling a story.
How do you think knowledge of music theory can help guitar players improve their work?
Music theory helps you know and understand your instrument better. It’s a tool that also helps you communicate with other musicians. When you’re in a band or when you’re doing some studio work, having some knowledge of music theory is a game-changer and a time saver.
You’re able to understand things more quickly and really play the best guitar part that fits the song. Of course, there are some very talented musicians who don’t know any theory at all, but I think it’s key to learn the basics to move forward.
Can you tell us more about your first live performance experience? Was it intimidating at all?
I was 15, I was producing some instrumental tracks in my bedroom and I wanted to perform in front of a real audience to see how it would go. I had this weird little DJ controller with pre-recorded loops and sounds.
I was using it while playing guitar at the same time. This was in Paris, my hometown during the annual ‘music day’ where hundred of local bands are performing all around the city. I wasn’t nervous, I was very relaxed, I immediately loved the feeling of being on stage, and from that day on I wanted to play more and more shows.
What was it like coming to LA and playing all these iconic venues on the Sunset Strip? Did these venues feel different from past shows you’ve played in Europe?
It’s a great feeling, I like the vibe here. Los Angeles is a city that lives and breathes music. Playing here can be a bit intimidating at first because you’ve got so many top-notch musicians everywhere, especially in Hollywood. You know that no matter where you play, there will be other musicians in the audience.
This is the place to be when you’re a music lover, there are so many venues and bands to see every night. The competition is strong but it’s amazing.
Has your solo project, Jeff II, given you a greater amount of artistic freedom? Are there certain ideas you can only explore in a solo space?
Yes, definitively. I’ve always recorded my own music in the past but I needed a proper solo project with strong visuals and a unique sonic identity. I’ve been playing in bands for many years now and I wanted to give it a shot.
It wasn’t an ‘ego’ kind of thing but more a natural move for me. I wanted to release something that was more personal than my other projects. It’s not always easy to make your own music from start to finish, but I’m getting better at it every day and I want to keep releasing more tracks.
When it comes to music hardware, is there any specific gear that you love nearly always use when recording your own music?
I carry my pedalboard with me all the time when I’m recording, I don’t have many effects but I like my classic Boss Chorus and DD7 delay pedals. There’s so much you can do with a delay, not only for guitar recordings but also with synths, vocals, etc.
Do you enjoy working with different musicians on a regular basis? Do other musicians inspire your own work?
Yes, I love meeting new people and connecting with like-minded individuals. You always learn something when you play with others. My own work is related to the music I listen to, and therefore the people I play with. Even when I’m home, I take the time to reach out to other producers on the internet to exchange ideas, sounds, and build relationships.