Je t’aime… moi non plus (which would be translated in English as “I love you… me neither”) is one of the most famous songs of French musical icon Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991). Written in 1967, initially for actress Brigitte Bardot, it was eventually recorded in 1969 with Gainsbourg’s muse and lover Jane Birkin and it became a worldwide hit until today.
No wonder why French May Arts Festival and Alliance Française de Hong Kong have chosen the title Je t’aime… moi non plus – Tribute concert to Serge Gainsbourg for their highlight concert to be held on 10 and 11 June at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre.
Curated by Hong Kong jazz singer Angelita Li, with local bands Alan Kwan’s Quartet and The Majestic G, the concert aims at breaking the barriers of language, culture and arts.
We had the chance to exchange with Alan Kwan, award-nominated jazz guitarist, composer, producer and educator from Hong Kong.
Kwan devoted himself to jazz under the tutelage of local jazz musicians Ted Lo and Eugene Pao. In 2009, he moved to the United States and studied privately with David Berkman, Paul Bollenback, Stefan Karlsson, Rodney Jones, as well as many other renowned musicians. Since then, Kwan has actively performed in New York, Texas, Tokyo, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
This tribute concert will be his first time playing songs by Serge Gainsbourg, since his first encounter with the French artist in the soundtrack of the movie Da Vinci Code (2006), where Kwan heard the famous song La Javanaise, written and composed by Gainsbourg for Juliette Greco and interpreted by both of them in 1963.
What Kwan admires about Gainsbourg is that “he is not only just a singer or a musician, but also an artist and a pioneer trying to break the rules and to be himself”. Which Kwan is trying to apply to himself when writing his own songs, questioning himself “do I really mean it?”.
Serge Gainsbourg is a musical “icon” in France, often perceived as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians, with his diverse musical style from his early work in jazz, chanson, yé-yé to rock, zouk, funk, reggae and electronica.
Kwan thinks Gainsbourg is well-known in Hong Kong, “but not enough for sure”. Apart from his famous songs, “there are lot of his works, which are really under-rated, I think (…) especially his later works”.
Serge Gainsbourg’s style has evolved over the years, so, for this concert, Kwan chose a mix a famous and less-known songs, hoping that he “can rearrange those songs and take this opportunity to introduce them to the audience”: La Javanaise of course, L’Anamour, Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais, Les Dessous Chics, Harley David Son of A Bitch.
Kwan added: “Serge Gainsbourg has done so much in his whole life, but I did try my best to pick the most important songs to play in the concert. It is very hard to pick five or six songs to represent his whole life. That’s also not fair to him, but that’s also a good thing: we can do another tribute concert next time!”
In addition to Alan Kwan’s Quartet, the local music band The Majestic G will also be playing Gainsbourg’s songs. They are an original funk/soul/contemporary music group, spanning across a wide music spectrum including pop, jazz, soul, funk, rock, classical music, and traditional Chinese music.