20 juillet 2011. It was at Heathrow airport that the three members of the group Tristesse Contemporaine disappeared without a trace. After boarding flight 671 in Paris Charles De Gaulle, they had a stopover in London before arriving in New York where they were to give a concert that night. Very soon the airline noticed they were missing and called the police who immediately started a search. The only clues they had were a few biographical details provided by their record company :

“Tristesse Contemporaine is a Parisian trio:

–       Narumi was born in Tokyo, she began playing the piano at the age of 3 before entering the academy at 17. She started an all girl punk band at high school and covered songs by Staline (a famous Japanese band) and The Cure. As a fan of Godard and La Nouvelle Vague, Narumi came to Paris in 1994 to learn the French language and study fashion. She has worked for the music orientated media and for the Japanese gallery Poetry of Sex, as well as taking part in bands Suburbia (with Marc Collin), aswefall (with Léo Hellden) and Telepopmusic. It was on tour with the latter that she met Maik the singer. Screamadelica by Primal Scream is her favourite album.

–       Léo Hellden grew up in the suburbs of Stockholm and was focused on a career as a hockey player before he started playing guitar at the age of 18. Three years later he became the guitarist of Jay Jay Johanson and recorded three albums (Tatoo, Poison, Antenna). On his way to London, he met a French woman and moved to Paris where he started aswefall with Clément, as well as studying economics. Léo often quotes Robin Guthrie from the Cocteau Twins as a decisive influence.

–       Maik is from East London where his Jamaican family still live today. He is a fan of hip hop and started writing words after discovering Leonard Cohen (Maik hopes to equal him before he is 70). In the mid 90’s, he became the singer of Earthling after answering an advertisement in The NME. He recorded three albums including the cult trip hop album Radar. He took part in a project called Cuba, a group signed to 4AD, but the apocalyptic touring got the better of him. A French woman saved him and he followed her to Paris where he said : “If I had stayed in England, I would have died.”


Through friendship and compatibility, Narumi, Léo and Maik decided to start a band in 2009. They soon needed to record in order to back up their spontaneous ideas, their imagination and their powerful drafts. The demos resulting from their recording sessions were like nothing before although they were clearly inspired by the Talking Heads (Fear of Music), Young Marble Giant (Collossal Youth) and The Cure (17 seconds). Then they had to find a name. Whilst looking through an old bookshop, Léo came across a book called La tristesse contemporaine by Hippolyte Fierens Gevaert – a book on the main moral and intellectual movements of the 19th century. Tristesse Contemporaine was a French band of foreigners, a group of “back seat drivers” as they called themselves. Tristesse Contemporaine was a band of migrants, modern drifters.

Their first EP, 51 ways to leave your lover, released by Danton Eeprom Fondation, was the sound matrix Tristesse Contemporaine developed and confident: minimal, airy, opiate, on the edge. Pilooski (Discodeine, Dirty Edits) mixed their first album which has been released by Dirty, revealing the power of instant classics such as In the Wake, Hierarchies or I didn’t Know, capturing the time to ignite. With the stage as their best ally, Tristesse Contemporaine will be touring in the year 2012.”

27 juillet 2011. Kourou, Guiana. Narumi, Léo and Maik were found wandering at dawn on the launch base of the European Space Agency. When questioned by the authorities, they said they had no memory of the past week since their disappearance at Heathrow Airport. Since under medical supervision, experts have diagnosed a “blackout” while some natives refer to “the call of a higher power”. One year after the vanishing, their absence is still a total mystery.

Mgmt : Siegfried Vigier / Booking : Christel Martinet @ Corida