STAL is a word that translates to “steel” in several languages. It is also the name of French musician Pierre-Marie Maulini’s current musical project. Maulini got his start in the industry by performing in post-rock outfit A Red Season Shade. Then he met Anthony Gonzalez, the mastermind behind M83, and soon began traveling the world with him as a touring member of the band. Now, as STAL, he has toured with acts like Nothing But Thieves and Matt & Kim and released several EPs, including his upcoming release, Fresh Blood.
We recently had the chance to ask Maulini a few questions via IM. Read on to learn about his transition from Paris to LA, his dream of working with Kanye West, and his best “magic trick.”
TYF: You spent almost two years playing synths and guitar with M83 on tour. What’s the most important lesson about music you learned during that time?
Maulini: I’d say rigor of work. And it brought me into a new world for me, the electronic side of music. I [have] a rock background and playing with M83 brought me into a lot of synth sounds, working with computers and machines. And rehearsing for hours was totally new for me. I’d say I discovered the professional world.
TYF: Do you have any favorite tour memories?
Maulini: I’d say my best memories are when we were touring in the UK with Kings of Leon and we spent some time with them drinking cocktails at their hotel. Funny thing. I remember how they are just cool guys. We had a talk about they cook lamb in Tennessee… haha, this is far from how we see these rock stars. And of course, playing in front of 20,000 people is just something crazy.
TYF: You relocated from Paris to LA—has that changed the way you find yourself writing music?
Maulini: Totally. Being in the US offered us so many opportunities we would not have in Europe that I think I’ve grown up as a musician. LA is a land of creativity where you don’t have boundaries. This is the main difference with France. In LA, it’s like, Don’t be afraid to be yourself and if you wanna mix hip hop with classical or whatever, you’re welcome. I love that! That’s exactly what I loved [about] working with Eric Palmquist [who produced Fresh Blood]. He made me think beyond my own limits. That’s such a big step forward for me as a songwriter!
TYF: You’re about to release an EP called Fresh Blood. Do you have a favorite lyric on the album?
Maulini: Hmm. I’d say “When Words Are Not Enough” is my favorite because it’s very personal. I wrote this song after my cousin’s loss 2 years ago. But “Fresh Blood”’s lyrics are just so cool. We had so much fun writing them. I don’t know why, but my favorite lyrics are, “I walk like Kate Moss, disco like Diana Ross.”
TYF: If you could collaborate with any of the artists you mention in “Fresh Blood,” which one would you choose, and what kind of song would you want to make with that person?
Maulini: Marvin Gaye, no hesitation! “Sexual Healing,” of course! That guy was the groove himself.
TYF: Your Facebook page says the message of Fresh Blood is that “life can be really tough, but in the darkness there’s always a light that guides you.” Besides music, what would you say are some of the lights that guide you in your own life?
Maulini: Family and friends (they are sometimes your family too). Those who left us too fast and those who are there everyday are our strength. I really believe you’re always stronger if you’re not alone. If you wanna go further, on a more abstract side, doing something that [you’re] really passionate [about] can be a light even when things are tough. It’s here to give you the will to move forward and pushes you to be better, as a human being and professionally.
TYF: Now a more lighthearted question: You have a song called “Magic”—do you know any magic tricks?
Maulini: Absolutely! I know how to be drunk and appear as fresh as possible, haha.
TYF: Imagine that you have unlimited resources to make a music video for any song off the EP—which would you choose and what would the video look like?Maulini: I’d love to have Kanye West starring in a “Fresh Blood “movie, laughing about himself. This would be very cool. But I think I wouldn’t have enough money to make the others come back to life, haha.
TYF: Do you remember the first song you learned how to play on guitar?
Maulini: Haha, yep, it was “The Ballad” by Millencolin.
TYF: Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Maulini: I don’t like being too serious, so I’d say, “If you like red wine and French cheese, we are meant to be best friends,” haha.