Much rather than keeping us glued to our screens indoors, Brussels musician Tuur Florizoone sends us – in search of salvation in lockdown times – into the city on a voyage of discovery. On foot or by bike, searching for dialogue and panoramic views.
During the first lockdown, Tuur Florizoone made his first solo album, Night Shift. Over the past fifteen years, the accordionist has mainly been known as a (film) composer with music that is intrinsically expressive. During the second lockdown, he therefore asked himself how artists, photographers, poets, draughtsmen and dancers would interpret his music. The result is called Night Shift Revisited and can, during the third lockdown, be followed five days in a row on his Facebook page disguised as short films. When we zoom in on him, Jessa Wildemeersch has just stepped outside and tomorrow, he tells us, he will go and see his good friend Harry Gruyaert in Paris. The actress came to read a poem by Herman Leenders which, according to the poet, matched a composition from Night Shift. The Magnum photographer selected a number of photos from his oeuvre that he in turn found fitting for Florizoone's music.
“I more or less managed the lockdown thanks to Harry Gruyaert's images,” says Florizoone. “He is currently making an inventory of his oeuvre, and I have the pleasure of making music to go with it.” Tuur Florizoone previously also wrote the score to the documentary Harry Gruyaert. Photographer, which was directed by Gerrit Messiaen and premiered at the Ghent Film Festival two years ago. “He is perhaps not as well-known as Stephan Vanfleteren, but his pioneering work with colours was a discovery for me. I'm not a big reader, but I do have an arsenal of photo books and I like to take photos myself.”
Asked about what cheers him up during the lockdown, Florizoone, who lives in the Noordwijk/Quartier Nord, without hesitation sends us out into the city. “Even though contact is discouraged, I find the dialogue among fellow townspeople crucial. Here in the neighbourhood, where I am the only one with blue eyes and blond hair, we talk to each other a lot. But as a teacher at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, I notice how much the situation is weighing on young people. I feel fine myself, but I have seen and experienced so much. My job is to get close up to people. So I can get by with less for a while. For people who are more sensitive to loneliness, it is more difficult.”
SON OF AN ARCHITECT
In the past year, Florizoone discovered the Tour & Taxis site. “The park has been redesigned and is an absolute must. Under no small compulsion from my children, I spent a lot of time on the swing and studying ladybirds. But my secret tip is Gare Maritime, which has been very tastefully renovated with a lot of woodwork, but is virtually empty due to the pandemic. Because it is spacious and heated, and you can play football there, it is a great success among local residents. As the son of an architect, high industrial buildings have always interested me. It does my eyes good to be able to look beyond a wall. In my dreams, I see jugglers and trapeze artists. I'm soon going to make a film there with students from dance school P.A.R.T.S.”
In one of his other favourite buildings, Les Halles in Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek, the “Great Black Music” exhibition is still running, which he urgently needs to visit. “The emphasis is on black voices and grooves, which in turn reminds me of my intense collaboration with Claron McFadden, an opera singer with a cannon of a voice. We have travelled the world together, but she amazes me every time. She turns sixty next month, but her energy and physical strength seem endless. I have seen many great performances in Les Halles, including the choreographer Fatou Traoré, and I once stood on stage with Manu Chao, who I now listen to with my children. His music, especially the album Clandestino, is for me the trick to make everyone feel good. If there's a bad vibe in the house, I put it on. Or Georges Brassens. That always works.”
Florizoone is also a fan of two podcasts. In Parel Radio, the Amsterdam-based host Stef Visjager – whose audio stories Florizoone has been making the soundtrack for for years now – selects the best radio documentaries. New York's Radiolab serves up mainly scientific podcasts, which also appeal to Floorizone because of the soundscapes. “I only listen when I'm on the road, not in the city. That is when I want to open up and I try not to get run over, because I'm a cyclist.” A thorny issue in Brussels, and also the reason why he sometimes joins the Critical Mass movement. “Every last Friday evening of the month there is a bicycle protest. If a cyclist is killed somewhere, there is a moment of silence and a Ghost Bike is painted as a tribute.”
Florizoone himself is in imminent need of a visit to the physiotherapist, because someone opened their car door just at the wrong time when he was cycling past. He hasn't been able to play for a while, which fortunately can be placed in the wider corona context. “We have been paid for two of the 90 cancelled concerts,” he points out the dire situation he and his colleagues find themselves in. “Fortunately, I always find my way. If I have to, I'll play in the street, but technicians don't have that luxury.” This is another reason why Florizoone plans to pop into the occupied Théâtre National in the coming days to take part in the debate around the artist in society.
TUUR FLORIZOONE: NIGHT SHIFT REVISITED
With Harry Gruyaert (29/3), Pieter Fannes & Herman Leenders (30/3), P.A.R.T.S. (31/3), Ugo Dehaes (1/4), Annelies Vanhaverbeke (2/4), 20.00, www.tuurflorizoone.be