Coco Chanel was described as “outsider”, and the same could be said of Bertrand Burgalat: an unconventional character who belongs nowhere, remaining on the fringes of recognised genres, creating his own special universe in the shadows of mainstream music. He’s the epitome of the musician as polymorphic artist, his roles including writer, composer, arranger, performer, producer, band leader and influential player on the French music scene.
His peers admire him, respect him and use him as a source of reference. The public knows him best for the compositions he created for Christophe Willem. He has also crossed paths with Alain Chamfort, Philippe Katerine, Mick Harvey, Supergrass, Robert Wyatt and Marc Lavoine.
Over the last twenty years, Bertrand Burgalat has worked on over 150 albums as producer, arranger, composer and musician.
From the moment he set foot in a studio, Burgalat realised that he had to count on his own resources if his unusual projects were to see the light of day; he needed to create the tools that would give him total control over the different aspects of his work and allow him to produce the projects that meant so much to him.
So, in 1995, Bertrand Burgalat created the Tricatel label, a non-aligned, independent and sovereign principality as well as a collective endeavour, home to the production of the most eclectic of projects.
Tricatel pays elegant and gentle homage to the spirit of singularity and teamwork, the team in question here being groups of musicians, lyric writers (including Pascal Mounet, Matthias Debureaux and Elisabeth Barillé) and filmmakers (such as Kuntzel and Deygas, Daniel Klein and Serge Bozon). The label’s editorial line is fluid and fantastical - and impossible to classify. Burgalat makes records like other people offer gifts. The label revives forgotten artists (André Popp, David Whitaker), pays tribute to writers (Michel Houellebecq, Jonathan Coe, Jean-Jacques Schuhl), launches new bands (A.S Dragon, The Shades) and produces behind-the-scenes musicians (April March, Count Indigo, Etienne Charry, Burgalat himself), artists who belong nowhere, who stay out of the spotlight, and of whom we know little.
In the late 90s, Tricatel pushed out the boundaries of good taste. At the label’s musical Monday nights at the Bowling de l’Etoile, you could listen to a carefully chosen selection of tracks, with no distinction between good and bad taste: rock, hip hop, soul, electro - everything except omnipresent house music, then overrunning the night-club scene. Entry was free, to avoid penniless music lovers having to pay while others got in on the guest list, and the evening began at 7.00 p.m. To shake off the trendy contingent who kept turning up, the irrepressible Tricatel moved away from the centre of town to Main d’Oeuvres in the suburb of Saint Ouen. On Saturday afternoons, an enthusiastic crowd came to listen to Tricatel and other artists in concert or amateur DJs playing their favourite tracks. Entry was €5 for everyone. When this approach began to catch on, the label moved on to pastures new, its mission accomplished.
Burgalat’s influence may well be burgeoning, but his commercial success remains modest. He keeps his label alive by working on commissions such as soundtracks for films and commercials and sound designs of every sort, usually under the direction of Olivier Kuntzel and Florence Deygas.
The label’s sparkling catalogue will feature 43 works this year, from the very first Valérie Lemercier chante to the very latest Indiamore by Chassol.
Staying as true as ever to the spirit of independence, Tricatel has just inaugurated its own recording studio in the middle of the Pyrenées. The new studio gives concrete form to Burgalat’s desire to build a professional work tool, designed by himself to his own standards.
The son of a police commissioner and lyrical singer, Bertrand Burgalat was born on 19 July 1963 in Bastia, Corsica. He is married to Vanessa Seward. His cat is called Joe.