An interview with music duo veterans Fannie Suntag & Tomjo Frankin

An interview with music duo veterans Fannie Suntag & Tomjo Frankin

Over 20 years in the music industry, From cartoon music composers to pop music duo: Meeting Fannie Suntag & Tomjo Frankin

In their latest project, they may both be singer-songwriters but Fannie Suntag & Tomjo Frankin are musicians first. This pair of music veterans, has been on stage for over 20 years, performing under various stage names in various projects. Fannie Suntag is a vocalist and a pianist while Tomjo Frankin is a saxophonist and a bassist. For 10 years, they worked at Trocadero Studio Ltd. as cartoon music composers. In the past, they have released an independent album gathering the “crazy” songs of their musical show played on stages like the Blanc Manteaux, the Trois Baudets, the Trévise in Paris and all the way to the Metissons Festival in Senegal. The duo have now reinvented themselves. They are releasing completely new music, this time just as Fannie Suntag & Tomjo Frankin. 1 In Music spoke to the music artists about their new venture, an album also reviewed here. Note that the interview has been translated from French. The original French interview can be found here.

The musical roots

1 In Music: So you have had all these different music ventures, what do you think is unique about your new sound?

Fannie Suntag & Tomjo Frankin [FS & TF]: We have indeed been on stage for 20 years. We’ve moved from Jazz to French chanson and more, as artistic encounters determined. The music we create today emerges from all that experience. We don’t put a limit between genres. We can do instrumental, Trip-Pop, jazzy, electro to acoustic, French chanson… It may be confusing, but in the past, we have always worked in a box. So, we decided to come out of the boxes. We now completely follow our inspiration, our mood of the moment. And what is fun for us is to find a precise meeting point between each musical root.

1 In Music: What or who shaped your music and who supports you?

FS: Even though I have eclectic tastes. I have a fascination for voices and melodies: In France, the Powwow, Liane Foly, William Sheller; among English-speaking musicians, Bobby Mc Ferrin, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Supertramp; and in Latin Jazz, the pianist Michel Camilo;

TF: My taste is more around Punk (Pixies), all the Motown era, Otis Redding, Bill Withers. I also enjoy Funk with James Brown, Maceo Parker , Earth Wind and Fire, Jamiroquai; Jazz with Herbie Hancock; but I’m also a fan of Latin music like the Bueno Vista Social Club; I also love beautiful voices like that of Amy Winehouse, or Linda Perry of the Four Non Blondes.

Tomjo FrankinFS & TF: The first people who warmed our hearts were the CIM teachers: Jean Claude Fohrenbach in harmony (saxophonist) Bernard Désormière for the piano, Arnaud Fournier (harmony, guitarist) and Michel Valera, the school director. Then there was the meeting with Oliver Decrouille, pianist, Pierre Goudard, drummer, and Jean-Hervé Michel, musicians who followed us in our madness. Their musical level and their kindness allowed us to move forward with happiness . In the middle of the song scene, Mireille Morisseau from Reseau 94 in Ile de France (Paris) gave us enormously amount of support. Then the Manufacture Chanson (Anouk Manetti, Hervé Delaiti, Stephane Riva, Olenka Witjas) in Paris was of great support in terms of training. We even received an ADAMI Jazz and Current Music Grant. The Académie de Villecroze has twice selected Fannie Suntag (under a different name) as a singer-songwriter. A great jazz gentleman, Giovanni Mirabassi came to one of their shows, he wrote them a little personal note which gave them wings (even if life cuts them off right after…this recognition is engraved in never in their mind). But it is all the same in the end, their work force and the multiplication of different eclectic artistic projects that allow them to do their job as performing artists, more than just musicians.

The musical journey

1 In Music: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?

FS: It was very late for me. The theatre was my first love, so I got a Masters in Theater Studies. But I had been writing songs since I was a teenager. So, while studying I played sax in a group in college. But it happened in Paris, for the pleasure that I responded to advertisements for a singer, first with a trip-hop duo, then in the Parisian studios. (smoky at the time, so my voice broke at every rehearsal!). Then a group was formed with my compositions and the dates started to fall. But it was in 2002 that I decided to take a step forward by entering the CIM Jazz School in the PRO Vocal/Piano cycle. And there is the slap. I didn’t know anything about music. I knew it. I was attacking a mountain. And suddenly, I was embarked in jazz groups, from new orleans, and jazz clubs followed (until Sunset). Then everything was chained by dint of playing on stage, responding to projects. The profession in the field.

TF: I graduated from the S.A.E. as a sound engineer and production assistant. I also hold a degree in electronics speciality audio-pro. I was Technical Director of the First Sound Company (retransmission of concerts and shows (Awards of NRJ, “Bigard bourre Bercy”) – recording of concerts (Princess Erika, Kofi Olomide, for TMF9 (MTV Belgium). an audio-pro electrical technician at S.C.V., I took care of the maintenance of high-end sound equipment: SoundCraft/Studer VI6, BSS, AMEK, AKG… with a specialization in Lexicon 960L digital reverberations. I got to play in various funk groups as a bassist and was also part of a salsa orchestra as a trumpeter before moving on to the saxophone which I have always loved.

1 In Music: What type of music do you listen to?

FS & TF:Fannie Suntag Obviously, our tastes have evolved. Even if each of us has their preferences, there is a total fusion around Latin jazz music (Michel Camilo, Arturo Sandoval…). The brass orchestrations are a candy we can’t resist. We’ll always favour acoustic instruments. However, there is a trippy side to doing electro, and anyway, Fannie’s feet start like clockwork on this kind of music (a remnant of the long after party in the club after the catering services!) But in general, the 70s remain in place 1 of the podium. On the other hand, Fannie Suntag adores Pink, her energy and her voice, and Tomjo will listen with pleasure to an Uptown funk by Marc Ronson.

1 In Music: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?

FS: I get greatly annoyed by the fact that Michel Camilo does not play at least once a year in France. If one day I have the means (we have the right to dream) I will make it happen!
TF: (with a great burst of laughter) Us 🤣😅 but we’re working on it

1 In Music: How do you prepare for your performances?

TF: We play almost every day at least 2 to 3 hours. And thanks to Twitch, rehearsals are more fun. We learn new covers to feed our inspiration. We constantly work on our vocal and instrumental technique. Suddenly, the sound is different time to tame a new feeling.

TF: When we compose, it’s almost like a dance. Fannie may bring a song with text, melody and chords. I then take and arrange it according to her idea, enriching or modifying the chords; I rarely touch on the melody which is attached to the text. but if necessary, of course we adjust.

FS: Otherwise, Tomjo brings up a composition, and improvises on it until something makes us smile. For this project anyway the key phrase is:

We keep searching until we are both satisfied.

1 In Music: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?

FS: The list is long and very eclectic! It goes from subjects as distant as quantum physics: we don’t understand it but it fascinates us in documentaries/history books. We love walking in cities and discovering architectural treasures: Rome, Ostia Antica, Florence, castles (Bavaria, France…). We really like history, even if we don’t remember anything (well, Tomjo does lol). I love science fiction series, the Marvels, Louis de Funès, Rowan Aktinson, Tomjo has an idol: André Franquin (sic!) Gaston Lagaffe, and JoBarTeam. Here we go all the way from the intellectual to the popular. No boxes we said!

1 In Music: Success to you is…?

FS & TF: Money. loool

Success is having the freedom to do the job you want when you want. In this job, it is to bring to the public a moment suspended in time, a spatio-temporal breach of emotions and vibrations. It is to offer them a parallel world.

1 In Music: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?:

1- Life can be hard, rough, awful, without a warning. You just have to know it. Don’t just be surprised and stand there. You must consider your options.
2 – Not all people are nice. Unfortunate but true.
3- Be on stage to your fullest. Always learn and practice.
4- Never listen to just one side of a story.
5- Always hang around those who are better at your craft than you
6- Be (unfortunately) a little selfish (but it’s to be generous afterwards for the better!)
7- Learn from the past, from others’ mistakes, to avoid making the same ones. Even if we make new ones, it will already be less to bear.
8- Listen to your instinct, your intuition.

What next for Fannie Suntag & Tomjo Frankin?

1 In Music: Any upcoming projects?

F: This album stemmed from our need to relaunch ourselves after 10 very complicated years. Whilst work was going well, creativity suffered from problems outside the artistic life; we were supposed to release an album, but were diverted from our identity. We couldn’t find our way around, then there were health problems. We needed to release everything that had been waiting for years as well as new music (Norma’s Song).

We will be releasing in a few months an album called “Flood Artistic 2013“. This time, we will do it title by title as the new mode of digital distribution requires,  It will be a mixtape of tracks that have flooded our minds in the studio. We only have these leads. We can’t redo them, so we’re going to release them as they are. We are also working on another album, one of whose titles is “Running in the yard“. That track is in the same musical mood as Norma’s Song.

Nous allons sortir dans quelque mois, et cette fois ci, normalement, titre par titre comme le veut la nouvelle mode de distribution digitale, un album nommé “Flood Artistic 2013”. Ce sera une mixtape de morceaux qui ont été victime d’une inondation totale de notre studio. Nous n’avons plus que ces pistes. Nous ne pouvons pas les refaire, alors on va les sortir comme ça. parallèlement on travaille sur un autre album, dont l’un des titres est “Running in the yard”, dans le meme mood musical que Norma’s Song .

1 In Music: Where do we find you music and projects?

An interview with chart topping talent Jay Elle

An interview with chart topping talent Jay Elle

Jay Elle is an acoustic pop singer-songwriter who brings warmth and energy through diverse, well-crafted, “five star”, guitar-driven melodic songs. His soft inviting voice will uplift and soothe your spirits and his witty lyrics will provoke deeper thoughts about the world while sharing optimistic, positive, upbeat messages that will “have you carry on with your day with a smile”. The result is amazing success worldwide, including rave reviews by over 40 blogs, magazines, DJs and radio programmers (Press) and chart topping songs across multiple genres. 1 In Music meet the talented musician.

1 In Music: What is unique about you and your music?

Jay Elle [JE]: Great question. It’s definitely a unique blend of influences. I was born in France and grew up there. I lived right at the border between France and Switzerland, near Geneva. I went to school at the Conservatory of Music of Geneva. I studied classical guitar, singing and composition. Though I love Chopin and Bach, I also love Rock and Pop music and pretty much all styles. There are great Rap and Hip Hop songs. So, when you mix all these elements you get something fairly different. Nowadays, I strive to write great pop songs that would appeal to a large audience. My songs are melodic, guitar driven, often acoustic guitar, with lots of finger picking. I use a classical guitar on some of the tracks on my new album “Ride the Wave” produced by Caleb “kbc” Sherman. Tracks like “Tequila Kiss”, a song I wrote about Nina Dobrev, the fabulous actress from The Vampires Diaries TV series. Also, “Want Me Bad” is a classical guitar based piece. I use the classical guitar sound as a foundation, but the songs are totally rocking out. Caleb did an amazing job. I use a Martin steel string acoustic on other songs like “Angeling TM” and “Morning Rain”. I also put a lot of emphasis on having lyrics with hopeful messages and wit that makes them interesting. Rap is the perfect format for great story telling. Not always easy to do with a pop song. I keep things short and simple. My melodies have definite English Rock influences as well as French. The arrangements are alternative rock for this new album. It’s definitely a unique blend.

1 In Music: What or who shaped your music and who supports you?

JE: My passion for music started with my love for great pop songs. The songs that give you chills down your spine or goosebumps. I started playing guitar first before getting to singing and songwriting. But as a child before playing guitar, I was always moved by great pop songs. And I put lots of music in that category, from Queen to Chopin. There are pieces of music that just give you such great energy and take you to such a wonderful place emotionally. It occurred to me that perhaps I could learn to write songs like that or at least give it a serious try. I listened to everything Eric Clapton recorded. Talk about a great guitar player who also has great songs on his records. I am grateful for the support I received from my family early on and friends and now fans. I couldn’t do it without all of them.

1 In Music: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?

JE: In my late teens, when it was time to make a decision regarding where to go to college after graduating from high school. I had been playing guitar and singing for a few years. But once I started getting more into songwriting, I realized that I couldn’t stop. And whether or not there was a professional career in my future, there was no way I would quit.

1 In Music: What type of music do you listen to?

JE: I listen to everything that I can possibly get my hands on. I am open to all genres. In fact, I make an effort to discover new styles or certainly expand my horizons. I have my favorite types of course. If I want to have fun playing guitar, I’ll jam on a Blues song. Or, a fast heavy metal song. Jazz is perfect for fun guitar playing. Endless possibilities. Just let your fingers do the walking. I listen to great singer songwriters like Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Sting, etc. Elvis Presley is a great singer. It’s always inspirational to listen to these masters. I love Pink, Prince, Maroon 5 and lots and lots of others.

1 In Music: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?

JE: One could make the case that all artists are undervalued. And all music artists. 

Music is everywhere in our lives if we choose to have it or even if we don’t. Rarely will you walk into a store or restaurant and not hear music. It’s in all the TV shows and movies we watch. I am sure that some folks prefer reading a book by a roaring fire place without playing recorded music, but the crackling of the fire is background music to their reading experience. Oftentimes, music artists and their work are taken for granted. It’s there, it’s everywhere, sign up for streaming 10 million songs on one service or another… Music plays a big part on how we feel. We might be more aware of it when we hear something that sounds horrible to us, or really moves us in a good way, but the rest of the time music contributes to us having a better day rather than a dull one. Music during our commute to work, at the gym, etc… A great song can definitely turn your energy around and uplift you.

I am glad that some music artists have gotten lots of accolades. Hopefully more will in the future.

1 In Music: How do you prepare for your performances?

JE: I practice regularly and of course very specifically depending on whether I am going to record or perform live. Guitar is a little easier as you can practice for hours every day. Singing is tricky. If you practice too much you wear out your voice. I need to be rested and drink a lot of water so that my voice is clearer and lighter. I imagine and visualize performing while meditating as much as possible too.

1 In Music: What other passions do you have beside music?

JE: I love to get some rest with easy crossword puzzles. I watch murder mystery shows and movies. I haven’t had the chance to go skiing in a long time but I certainly try to go play in the snow when there is any coming down. Not much in New York City lately.

1 In Music: And Success to you is…?

JE: [Success is] Making people feel great when listening to one of my songs.

If I can write a song that is going to give you great energy and give you chills or goosebumps then I have succeeded. If it goes further and you start dancing and possibly sing along then even better.

1 In Music: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?

JE: I wish I were told that I should focus on what makes me happy musically. Unfortunately, the music business is a tough business where very few succeed financially and not always for very long. It makes sense for people who care for you to warn you and suggests you either do something else altogether or do things differently so that perhaps you can succeed.

I would recommend that you discover what you love about music.
What really moves you and focus on that.

Regardless of whether you can build a career around it or not has a lot to do with chance. In the meantime, do what makes you happy.

1 In Music: Jay Elle, many thanks for answering our questions. A last one for the road: Tell us about your current release and where can we find it?

JE: I am totally focused on promoting my new album right now.Ride the Wave” is a 12-song album with beautiful songs and lots of variety.

The pandemic shaped a lot of how his new album came to be and the songs that I wrote for it. I had planned to release an acoustic album, just my voice and my guitar. I wrote 30 new songs and recorded them in that format. I thought I could get a good album out of the 30. I pushed myself and explored various styles as I wanted the listening experience to be as interesting as possible. One voice and one guitar for 10 songs in a row requires interesting lyrics and melodies and guitar parts, in my mind anyway.
As I have been on lock down I have been spending time in front of the TV and on social networks. As I mentioned, “Tequila Kiss” is about Nina Dobrev (@nina), the star of The Vampire Diaries. The song “Ride the Wave” was inspired by pictures taken by my friend Jett Harris (@jettt1209) who posts great pictures of surfers riding waves. I thought that dealing with the pandemic was pretty much like riding a wave, a tsunami in this case. There is nothing you can do other than ride as best as you can. You can’t control the wave. Just ride and hope for the best and in the case of surfers have a great time.

TikTok is a great inspiration. You can thumb through lots of videos. It inspired “Miss Mess” the first single. Thanks to Facebook I reconnected with Caleb “kbc” Sherman who produced the album. It had been a while since we talked and worked together. I told him about my plan and he asked to listen to the 30 songs. He picked 14 and we ended up with 12 songs for the album. Caleb has amazing ears and brings together production techniques and musicality brilliantly. He feels the music so deeply and so well. That’s why I think everyone should listen to the album. It feels great. Caleb put together a mix of fast songs and slower ones. It makes for a great album. All of the songs are full of energy. And I get chills down my spine listening to them. It’s great work.

I really think it’s a wonderful album and that everyone should listen to it. Forget that it’s my songs and my voice. I really think it’s really, really good. Caleb “kbc” Sherman did such a fantastic job bringing the songs to life. It’s worth taking the time to listen for sure. “Ride the Wave” is available on all streaming platforms and in all digital stores, and of course on my website.

Coeur Vaillant: An Artist’s Profile

Coeur Vaillant: An Artist’s Profile

Discover Coeur Vaillant, a rising artist with a fresh, poetic, quirky and inspiring take on life which he instils in his music and generously shares with us

COEUR VAILLANT (pronounced “Kirvayan”) is a story of struggle for unity and love in an impulse of timeless nobility. It reconciles Pop and Classical, while elegant with a dreamy aesthetic. All the while, it doesn’t deprive itself of touches of crazy humor and full of freshness. His influences from Mozart, Serge Gainsbourg, Laurent Voulzy or even The Beatles, give him a singularity of his own. With a unique blend of Pop-Rock, the main artist also dares the presence of a string quartet in all his tracks, all sprinkled with jazzy influences. The melody is one of the strong points of Coeur Vaillant. They make us vibrate and stick in our head. We immediately want to hum them.

This intrepid adventurer has an atypical background. He’s lived in France and the Ivory Coast. These experiences have now parachuted him in Manchester to take us on his adventures mixing poetry and Pop culture. His sound is full of  hope and fantasy, where all dreams become possible. He invites us to travel in the name of the love of life and freedom, which are his greatest values. Coeur Vaillant tells us little stories with a Broadway feel that embody a universe of their own for each of the titles. Behind this lightness and apparent candor, texts with a deeper meaning reveal itself, leading us to a quest for meaning.

Cœur Vaillant distils emotions and encapsulates them in his songs like a skilled alchemist, to transmit his magic in pearls of experience. His spontaneity, his authenticity, his accessibility and his grain of madness assure us that he will not fail to surprise us throughout his creations. But don’t just take our word for it!

Join Coeur Vaillant on Instagram

Listen to Coeur Vaillant Music on Spotify

Subscribe to Coeur Vaillant Channel on YouTube 


Telegraph releases brand new EP Simple Drive 7 Feb 2020

Telegraph releases brand new EP Simple Drive 7 Feb 2020

It’s out! Telegraph has just released its first and brand new EP Simple Drive ! The three French cousins-mates are offering us a 5-track manifest of a three-year journey of work and travels, from California to Norway via Canada. They present the heart of the Telegraph project: a decidedly modern pop rock music, that is efficacious, open-minded, federative and cosmopolitan. The first four singles already hit 2 Million Streams. They have been aired on French radios and in movie theaters. This new release is the first big step in their career. Paris’ Nouveau Casino was the centre of Telegraph’s Simple Drive release party.  Over 129 people attended the party to encourage and recognose this set of new talent.
1 In Music first came across Telegraph with their single release, Down in the River, mentioned in this article. The music video for the single gives us a taste of the full release.

The trio has now made the full journey to completing the EP. The result is a four-track collection that you can acquire today at . The buzz is rising and we encourage you to join the wagon!
Follow the band and find out more about their upcoming live shows on Telegraph’s facebook page.