Jessica Fichot Band performs in Artesia
By Christina Stock
Jessica Fichot and her band present Holiday Around the World at Artesia’s Ocotillo Performing Arts Center, 310 W. Main St., Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.
Singer and songwriter Fichot (accordion, toy piano and vocals) brings a unique style of music to stage, which reminds one of the ‘30s and ‘40s chansons. It is a retro-style with a unique twist, including jazz and folk, that derives from the artists’ multicultural backgrounds, Fichot herself being American-French-Chinese.
Fichot was born in Upstate New York, but grew up in the city of lights, Paris, France. She lives today in Los Angeles, California. She has a graduate degree from the esteemed international high school in Paris, France: the Lycée International. She has a bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. While still in college, she refined her songwriting skills by composing children’s songs for a local children’s theater, and later, for publishing companies specializing in educational material, which is available today in more than a dozen countries.
In a phone interview, Fichot talked about her unusual upbringing. “I grew up in France, my French dad met my Chinese mom. My mom was born and raised in Shanghai and she studied in the United States, but did this exchange with a school in France where she met my dad. My parents are both engineers, my brother is also an engineer, but my parents actually play music as well. More for fun,” she said.
“When I first moved to Los Angeles, that is actually when I started to write French music. I kind of ignored it (French chansons in the pop and folk genre) when I was growing up in France. But when I moved to L.A., I wanted to celebrate my youth, so I started to write French music. When I started to write this style of music, it was very much inspired by other musicians writing French and music from all over the world,” Fichon said.
Asked why she chose the accordion as her favorite instrument, Fichot said, “I grew up playing the piano, not accordion, but the accordion seemed like the right choice. The accordion is experiencing a renaissance, maybe because I am in that kind of community. It is a very popular instrument — not only in France — but also in many different cultures; Mexico, Italy, Germany, even in China there is an instrument that is similar.”
Fichot said that when she first was putting her band together, she knew that she wanted to have an accordion player in the band, but she couldn’t find anybody. “I decided I’m going to play a little bit myself and I started playing the right hand and I got more and more into it. As an instrument, I like to accompany my singing, I don’t consider myself a virtuoso on the accordion, but I do like to use it to accompany myself and to lead the band with that instrument.”
Fichot has three albums out today and she said that her style has evolved over time, becoming more international.
“The program next week will be a little different,” Fichot said. “I will be playing some of my chansons, but mostly holiday songs from around the world. Christmas classics, songs in different languages. Not only Christmas, but different holidays from around the world that are celebrated with songs. Also some American Christmas songs in different languages. There are a lot of popular Christmas songs in English, obviously, a lot of them were translated. It is always fun how they translate it. You can’t really translate song lyrics without affecting the lyric or the rhythm of the music, you have to adapt it. I think it is interesting to see the different people celebrate holidays and the stories behind them.
While the band is named after Fichot, she said she wanted to let her audience know that the band is a quartet. Next to her performing are Sylvain Carton (clarinet, sax), Adrien Prévost (guitar) and P.J. Wyderka (double bass).
Carton is originally from France and is a composer in his own right, an accomplished performer who tours with a number of groups. He has several degrees in music and a Master of Arts in Music Composition from University of California-Santa Cruz, where he co-directed the Latin American Music Ensemble.
Prevost is an award-winning composer and producer, having scored custom work for companies such as Sony Pictures Classics, Amazon, Disney and Aviron Pictures. He received an Ovation Award this year for his score on Kaidan Project. The Ovation Award is the only peer-judged theater award in Los Angeles, California and given annually, recognizing excellence in theatrical performance, production and design in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Wyderka is classically trained by Dennis Trembly of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and studied Jazz with John Clayton. He has a bachelor’s degree in upright bass performance from University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He has performed with renowned gypsy jazz artist Gonzalo Bergara, touring throughout the country and overseas; he also played in 2018 along with Lenny Kravitz’s keyboard player, George Laks, a benefit concert at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Wyderka is also a teacher sharing his knowledge of his instruments of choice, upright bass and double bass with his students.
For more information, visit artesiaartscouncil.com or call 575-746-4212.