“Each corner of my flat is a potential space for writing and composing as well as a place for family time.” These are the words Keren Ann chose to explain the essence of her home, a family flat whose doors have been discretely opened to us today for an inspiring and intimate visit. Perched on the mythical hill of Montmartre, the residence, with its relaxed atmosphere, transforms into an artist’s den based on its owner’s inspirations and projects. Alternating between author, composer and performer, Keren Ann also produces original scores for film, theatre and contemporary dance. A multi-faceted artist who has worked alongside artists from around the world with eclectic styles: David Byrne, Iggy Pop, Luz Casal and Henri Salvador. Inspiring collaborations she brings to life at home in her living room and kitchen, two central rooms in her flat where her creative process is most prolific. A piano and guitar sit proudly among the furniture, an integral part of the decor. Decor with a deep colour palette for a harmonious and intimate feel: aqua, charcoal grey, olive green and a touch of burgundy. Shades that translate into strong living spaces where a clever mix of materials round out the space’s unique decor. A velvet stool, rattan armchair, wooden coffee table and Persian rug. So many pieces of furniture with various histories and origins which underscore Keren Ann’s multicultural identity. For a hidden backdrop with a certain cachet.
Keren Ann, can you introduce yourself, please?
I am an artist, author, composer and performer. In parallel with my albums and tours, I work on original soundtracks for cinema, theatre and contemporary dance. I’m genuinely obsessed with sound! It’s a passion that punctuates my life and my role as a mother.
Tell us about your upbringing. Where did you grow up – and therefore develop your taste?
I grew up in a house where you would sit and listen to vinyl records, just like you would sit and watch a film. We also spoke several languages, but none of them perfectly! My soundscape was a mixture of English, Russian, Dutch and Hebrew. French came later – during my teenage years – although I was exposed to French-speaking artists from a very early age, along with North American crooners and songwriters.
Tell us about the designers, musicians and artists whose work has had a particular influence on you and your work.
North American songwriting has always played an important part in my life. Dylan, Springsteen, Cohen… and the songwriting in jazz. Billie Holiday, Chet Baker… I find the work of the crooners very inspiring too. Since my mother was a Francophile, I was brought up surrounded by French voices. Everyone from Gainsbourg to Hardy, and not forgetting Henri Salvador. Many female poets and authors have also guided me throughout my career. Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson and Virginia Woolf, among others.
How did you design your apartment?
I wanted a home with a large living room. But that doesn’t stop me spending long hours in the kitchen. Even though I have a dedicated workspace, the kitchen is where I always end up sitting down to write. Being in these two parts of my flat on a daily basis, it was essential for me to have a large living room close to the kitchen where I make coffee and prepare our meals.
What does this place say about you?
My Montmartre neighbourhood offers me a village quality of life without feeling isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city. Any corner of the apartment can become a place for writing and composing, and it’s also a space for family gatherings.
Where will we see you in the coming months?
You’ll find me on stage with my band on 17 June at La Cigale. It’s the first show, in Paris, that kicks off a series of thirty or so new concerts across France! And I’ll be on tour this summer with Le Quatuor Debussy; our first date is 18 June in Chalon-sur-Saône. We’re currently working together on an album that revisits my catalogue. It’s scheduled for autumn, if not winter, 2021! Alongside these projects, I have the pleasure of playing opposite Irène Jacob in our show “Où Es Tu? ». A piece combining music and poetry that we co-wrote together. Finally, the beginning of 2022 will mark the return of Red Waters, the opera I wrote with Bardi Johannsson, directed by Arthur Nauzyciel for the Opéra de Rennes.
Any corner of the apartment can become a place for writing and composing, and it’s also a space for family gatherings.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily