I speak to Yann Tiersen a few hours before he is due to play the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, as he continues to tour his new album Eusa. A collection of ten piano songs originally released as sheet music, Tiersen decided to record the songs after playing them live. In the midst of his tour, I find Tiersen unwell with a miserable autumn cold. “At least I don’t have to sing tonight!” he laughs, before coughing and spluttering over the phone to me some more. Despite being so unwell that he clearly should be in bed with whatever the French equivalent of Lemsip is, he continues enthusiastically. Nothing, especially not a meagre cold, will stop him conveying the love he has for his latest project – a musical mapping of his home in Ushant.
It doesn’t seem like eighteen years since Tiersen’s 1998 solo album Le Phare, or fifteen years since 2001’s Bafta winning Amélie brought him into the musical consciousness of so many. Made up of tracks from his first three studio albums, La Valse Des Monstres (1995), Rue Des Cascades(1996) and the aforementioned Le Phare, the Amélie soundtrack felt like a love letter to the bustling Parisian area of Montmartre; Le Phare, by contrast, was an album where the remote, desolate landscape of Ushant inspired Tiersen to write in self-imposed seclusion on the island. Eusa, as it is known in the local Breton language, is again providing inspiration for Tiersen’s ninth studio album; however, rather than being merely inspired by Ushant, the album is Ushant, as Tiersen uses music to paint a vivid picture of his home landscape.