Portrait de Thomas Cochini

Thomas Cochini, engineer/slasher

Thomas Coch­ini is a seasoned vet­er­an of Trempo. After attend­ing the European Music Incub­at­or pro­gram in 2018, and the Accélérat­eur Cul­ture pro­gram in 2019, he has gone from stu­dent to mas­ter, becom­ing a train­er him­self. This musi­cian – who is also an agri­cul­tur­al engin­eer – has accom­pan­ied eight artists par­ti­cip­at­ing in Slash on sound­walk cre­ation, one of his areas of expert­ise – and one among many for this thirty-year-old, who has many more up his sleeve.

“I brought donuts.” When he shows up for his inter­view, Thomas Coch­ini unwraps his frit­ters, covered in powdered sug­ar. We politely decline: we don’t want to stain the com­puter keys, which are dirty enough as is. So we quickly change the sub­ject by ask­ing him about his career. Before becom­ing one half of music­al duo Labot­a­nique, Coch­ini grew up in the sub­urbs of Par­is where he atten­ded the loc­al clas­sic­al Con­ser­vat­ory between the ages of 6 and 13, before learn­ing jazz piano in a cul­tur­al asso­ci­ation from age 13 to 19. The Cochini’s are a very music­al fam­ily (his great aunt is a piano vir­tu­oso), but they take study­ing ser­i­ously too (Dad’s a doc­tor). So the young man went into agro­nomy while also study­ing music. In high school, he liked bio­logy and thought this would be a good com­prom­ise for post-sec­ond­ary stud­ies. After cut­ting his teeth with the group The Queen Couine, he met Ron­an Moinet in 2014 and set up Labot­a­nique. “We released our first EP, which was very DIY, and recor­ded my shoe­box apart­ment with­in a flat-share,” he recalls. “We were in the same vein as Odezenne, who were blow­ing up at the time. We star­ted to per­form on stage and won a few battles-of-the-band in the north of France. In Lille, a sup­port man­ager asked me if I was think­ing of pur­su­ing music pro­fes­sion­ally. That’s when I really star­ted think­ing about it…”

Green noise 

In 2015, the year they moved to Nantes, Thomas and Ron­an both gradu­ated in agri­cul­tur­al engin­eer­ing. They then thought about their pro­ject and, above all, how to make it eco­nom­ic­ally viable by diver­si­fy­ing their income. “In 2016–2017, we got our foot in the SMAC net­work (French organ­iz­a­tion for cur­rent musics) and star­ted organ­iz­ing cul­tur­al pro­jects at the same time. Those were our two points of ref­er­ence: the band and work­shops. I also worked at La ruche qui dit oui, a busi­ness dis­trib­ut­ing farm-fresh veget­ables. But it was too much of a strain, and music was becom­ing more than a week­end hobby. In 2018, I took advant­age of the company’s downs­iz­ing and left that job.” Since May 2020, Thomas Coch­ini has benefited from France’s gen­er­ous artists’ sub­sidies. “We’re so lucky,” he con­fides, “because with Labot­a­nique we had con­certs planned in parks and gar­dens. We even had some inter­na­tion­al dates. Everything fell through because of Covid-19…” 

In 2020, the duo were also awar­ded a FAIR grant, which helps artists devel­op their careers and become pro­fes­sion­als. With the can­cel­la­tion of their tour and lack of the media buzz that would nor­mally greet their FAIR award – again due to the pan­dem­ic – the duo could have giv­en up. But, for­tu­nately, the Akken agency approached them for a pro­ject with Cor­d­er­ie Roy­ale in Roque­fort at that very same time. This pro­ject asso­ci­ated tour­ism and cul­ture, and involved inter­view­ing loc­als, in situ record­ings, and writ­ing both a story and an ori­gin­al music­al com­pos­i­tion. Thomas and Ron­an decided to cre­ate a struc­ture called Bruit vert (“green noise”) in ref­er­ence to “white noise”, which is bril­liantly described in the Bible for the Dumb (aka Wiki­pe­dia) as “a ran­dom sig­nal hav­ing equal intens­ity at dif­fer­ent fre­quen­cies, giv­ing it a con­stant power spec­tral dens­ity.” This association’s primary goal is to admin­is­trate Labotanique’s record­ing rights. In 2021, the group self-pro­duced its first album, Expres­sions végétales. “We looked for a label, but we wanted an eco­lo­gic­al busi­ness mod­el. Fail­ing to find one, we decided to cre­ate one ourselves. With record­ing, cre­at­ing, hir­ing addi­tion­al musi­cians, pro­du­cing, shoot­ing two videos, press­ing records and cre­at­ing the art­work, this album cost us a hefty sum. But, through crowd­fund­ing, fin­an­cial help from FAIR, and a few grants, we did OK. And we’ll finally be able to play it on stage.

Exchan­ging and sharing

Bruit vert’s second object­ive is to man­age rev­en­ue from con­tent designed for museum and her­it­age spaces – the lat­ter activ­ity being their trade­mark. “Asso­ci­at­ing nature and cul­ture is our MO, and what sets us apart. We see ourselves as ‘medi­at­ors of the liv­ing world’, with the motto: ‘enthrall people in order to raise aware­ness of the liv­ing world’.” The association’s final goal is to integ­rate cul­tur­al action projects. 

Last Janu­ary, Thomas Coch­ini not­ably came to Trempo, where he had pre­vi­ously par­ti­cip­ated in two work­shops him­self: the European Music Incub­at­or in 2018 and Accélérat­eur Cul­ture in 2019. “These are some of the found­a­tions that helped struc­ture me in terms of my think­ing, my con­tacts, my resources… For example, I met Laurence Giuliani, dir­ect­or of Akken – a sound pro­duc­tion agency for tour­ist des­tin­a­tions and cul­tur­al ven­ues – with whom I col­lab­or­ate a lot today. I also met Her­vé Her­rero, head of sound at Château de Ver­sailles Spec­tacle, with whom I will be work­ing on a pro­ject soon.” Thomas Coch­ini now hosts ateliers of his own at Trempo. He has chap­eroned the eight artists who were part of Slash. For two days, in weath­er so cold it would wake the dead, Thomas and the “slash­ers” trav­elled through­out the city with the aim of mak­ing pod­casts one could listen to in situ: audio-guided con­tent that artist­ic­ally enhances a her­it­age site. “I’ve been lead­ing work­shops since 2017, but I was feel­ing a little pres­sure here because I wasn’t talk­ing to begin­ners but to exper­i­enced artists who had import­ant back­grounds in music. I was just shar­ing my exper­i­ence with them. It was excit­ing to be in this pos­i­tion. Exchanges and shar­ing are essen­tial. The more advice you share, the more pro­gress you make.” It’s still too early to say any­thing more, but the word on the street is that there might be a sequel… “You were right not to have any donuts. They’re not very good… Much too dry,” con­cluded Thomas before tak­ing his leave and going to Trans­fer in Rezé. This music­al jack-of-all-trades will present the res­ults from one of his inven­tions to sound and light tech­ni­cians: a device that lights plants up when you brush against them.

Slash Program

Slash is a Europe-wide train­ing pro­gram build-up by Trem­po with the great sup­port of SACEM. It aims to train emer­ging pro­fes­sion­al musi­cians in their career devel­op­ment. It is co-fin­anced by the European Uni­on through its Cre­at­ive Europe pro­gram (Music Moves Europe).

The European Commission’s sup­port for the pro­duc­tion of this pub­lic­a­tion does not con­sti­tute an endorse­ment of the con­tents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Com­mis­sion can­not be held respons­ible for any use which may be made of the inform­a­tion con­tained therein.