Mateo Rouco (photos Julien Espiaut)

 

Every Sunday, the sound of his voice carries across the streets of the Marais, one of the most beautiful Parisian neighborhoods. In the heart of the Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Geraint Jones, born in Wales, sings with passion, whilst passers by enjoy the sun. Both Parisians and tourists from all around the world look at him with surprise. They enjoy what they hear.

A few streets away, an old woman is sitting in a park near the Institut suédois - the local Swedish institute, which serves some of the city’s best home made cakes. She listens to Geraint’s music whilst reading a book. None of them knows the other, but there is little doubt that they are connected in belonging to the same neighborhood.

He loves the Marais. The Marais loves his music. She loves both.

Here’s Geraint’s story, one of the most well known street musicians of the Marais.

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Can you tell us what you’re doing in Paris and where you’re from?

Hello Mateo, where I’m from is a difficult question; I was born in Wales hence my incredibly Welsh name but I grew up in North Yorkshire, England. Since leaving I’ve travelled extensively in the UK, France and other parts of Europe doing exactly what I do in Paris, singing on the streets. Although I admit that I’ve started to do a lot more concerts since settling in Paris 3 years ago, I’ve had a band and now I’m launching a new project musically.

What kind of music do you play? 

It all depends on what I’m doing, if I’m busking* I’m mainly playing covers from artists like Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Elvis Presley and so forth, but my own songs are a little harder to define. I touch on a few different genres but I like to keep that folk edge. The new project is slightly different however as it is more synthesiser based, still keeping with an alternative vibe but focusing more on ambiance than energy.

*busking= performing on the street

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What do you feel when you play music? 

Playing music gives me release, it’s honestly hard to explain what one feels exactly but I know that I miss it when I can’t. I lost my voice through illness a couple of weeks back and I couldn’t sing for a week, it affects me and I don’t know how else to fill my days.

 

How do you find people, which kind of people you looking for when you create a band? 

I am actually in between bands and so looking for people to play with. When looking for people to play with I am mainly looking for people who are motivated to play, who like my music and the music that influences me. Right now I’m writing and playing with one person and the beauty of our relationship is that we agree 90% of the time on all decisions musically, that’s special.

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What´s your favourite place to play music around Paris? 

My favourite place to play… I can tell you a place that I’d like to play, it’s called Les Trois Maillets. Its a quaint, little bar with a piano in the corner and the singers (mostly women) weave in and out of the tables, leading the crowds in renditions of old French songs. The atmosphere is great, I’d love to sing there for a night, singing Charles Aznavour, Serge Gainsbourg and Charles Trenet all evening.

 

The first time we met you were playing music on the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, in the Marais. Why did you choose that street? 

I chose that street because ‘Le Marais’ on a sunday is Parisian institute! They close off all the roads leading to it and everybody eats falafel on the curb, drinks coffee on the terraces and they just generally flane around, it’s great to be a part of the atmosphere. There are other places in Paris where people are too busy to listen to the music but there everybody listens because it so relaxed!

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Where are you giving your next concert? 

Every Sunday in the Marais! Aside from that I do have a couple of festivals coming up this summer but no exact dates yet so you’ll have to keep on checking my Facebook page for the details.

 

In Paris, what do you do when you miss the UK? 

I don’t really, I like to keep looking forward.

 

What’s your best memory of your hometown? 

Growing up with my friends, listening to music, waiting for new albums to come out then listening to them on repeat. I remember one summer when my friends and I first got cars; we would drive around the countryside while the sun was shining, listening to the Beatles, those are my best memories, starting to become cultured, without pretense and no responsibility at all.

 

And finally, as a creative person are you a crazy extrovert? 

Ha ha, tu m’as cerné! That all depends where I am. I like to have a laugh and my humour is very, erm… questionable sometimes. A lot of people would probably class me in the “crazy” category but I can also be shy and reserved. It is true that I’m more a doer than a thinker!