Dimanche 25 21H30


"Touche pas à la Blanche Hermine"

"Touche pas à la Blanche Hermine" "My family come from around Nantes, Pornic, Saint-Aignan de Grand Lieu, Fay de Bretagne. My parents were born at Nantes, and my grandfather ran a newspaper called the Reveil in the lower part of the Loire valley, which later went bust. My family were Nantais, but my name comes from the south-west, a place called Ariege.

This is because my great-grandfather was a bear leader in the Pyrenees before he landed up on the banks of the Loire. His surname was Carrache, which means "square" literally and figuratively. When I try to trace my talents it seems probable that this bear-leading side to my family must be responsible. But I did have some violin player as an ancestor in St Aignan, and my maternal grandfather painted some pretty good watercolours; plus my uncle nearly went into films...

My parents got married in Ste-Reine de Bretagne, where my grandfather owned a brick works (could that be a sign perhaps?). My mother's school-teacher was the father of René Guy Cadou, one of the greatest poets of that era. A long saga of hardship and struggles ensued during which my two older brothers were born at Boulogne Billancourt, and which culminated with my father getting a job at Tarbes. Here it was that I first started to exercise my voice, on 1st February 1945, at the end of the war, with my mother imposing strict rationing on me instead of on my brothers - I very quickly put on weight, and now of course it's all I can do to get rid of it...

My birth marked the end of the Tarbes era, and when I was five months old we moved to Nantes and I discovered the bridge under which my godfather had flown in a plane twenty years previously. When I was one year old we moved to the vibrant town of Cholet, and there we stayed until I got my Bac Philo (much to my parents' surprise). I'm sorry to have to disappoint those who look to painful childhood experiences to explain artistic flair, as my early life was beautiful and happy. I loved my parents and they loved me. We lived on the outskirts of the town, in an unpretentious rented place. At my school children of farmers, policemen, public employees, workers and managers mixed together to the general satisfaction of all concerned.

The poor bourgeois children didn't go there - it was a state school. Later, at the Lycée I used to hang around with them a bit. We used to go on holiday at Croisic where my grandparents lived, and there, at the ship's club at Port-Lin, I experienced my first stirrings to do with the ocean. Once I'd got my Bac philo I left Cholet to study Beaux Arts at Angers. I still remember the emotional departure with waving hankies on the station platform. I really enjoyed my studies at Angers; sculpture, painting, lithography. I listend to Léo Ferré, Brassens, Ferré, Brel, Ferré, Hugues Auffray singing Bob Dylan and Léo Ferré. Things were hotting up during those marvellous years in the run-up to the events of May/June 1968. At last the masses were mobilising! All this brought about a radical change in me - I realised that I managed to express my ideas much better through singing than through drawing, and I also noticed that singing involved ongoing interpretation, whereas once a painting has been sold, it was gone forever...

As luck would have it, I met a poor old Groix islander in a café in Angers. His magic words inspired me to get the next boat for Groix. That was Easter 1969 - it was to lead to a total rethink and a new start. That's how I came to be singing in 1970 in an extraordinary era. We were broken in by an unfolding wave and at the same time the driving force behind it. Actually, unless I'd been incredibly blinkered, or deafer than Ludwig Van B I don't see how I could have been anything but a singer, and sung what I have sung..."

Gilles Servat


Copyright Technopole Quimper Cornouaille France-Ouest 1999