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Debussy Sightings

(Recordings, Observations, Oussama Zahr) Permanent link

Debussy’s "Clair de Lune" has been popping up a lot in my life lately. I first noticed it last week in the 1995 documentary Unzipped, which I was watching as research for my interview with Isaac Mizrahi. The film shows the designer at his grand piano, retreating from the noise and intensity of the fashion world, seeking solace in quiet moments of music-making as he plays through Debussy’s gossamer composition (rather well, I might add).


As if a piano-playing fashion designer weren’t enough of a surprise, "Clair de Lune" reared its lovely head again a few days later, this time in a pop song called "Say You’ll Go," from Janelle Monáe’s new album The ArchAndroid (released May 18). Monáe is a tiny sensation, making small waves in the music industry for the high-concept sonic landscape of her music, drawing on influences from hip-hop and Cab Calloway to disco, David Bowie and movie music. She is fascinated by futuristic film dystopias, with album titles that reference Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The ArchAndroid creates its own alternate universe, filled with a riot of musical ideas. It’s nice to think that amid the general cataclysm, Monáe finds comfort in the wistful strains of "Clair de Lune," just as Mizrahi does. spacer 

Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays "Clair de Lune" from Debussy's Suite Bergamasque .  

Janelle Monáe sings "Say You'll Go" from ArchAndroid .
[Bad Boy Entertainment]

– Oussama Zahr

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