Despite still being in his twenties multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Pierre-Marie Maulini has already enjoyed an enviable career. Born and raised in the South of France where he first cut his musical teeth performing with his brother in the band A Red Season Shade, Maulini would go on to write for and produce artists such as VV Brown and notably spend more than two years on the road as part of M83 following the hugely successful ‘Saturdays = Youth’ album.
Having toured the world, playing and headlining festivals everywhere from Australia to America, Maulini returned to Paris in 2012 inspired to once again focus on his own music and start work on what would soon become STAL. Fusing blissful electronica, cinematic post-rock with a pop sensibility Maulini set about pouring his life’s experience into music, the resulting EP, ‘We Are Two’ would reveal an artist with a singular vision and position him as one of France’s most exciting new artists.
“I wanted to write about my life, the lives of those around me. Life’s this universal thing, it’s something that we all, whoever we are, experience, so I wanted to write about the things that connect us, that bring us together. Love, despair, the things that makes us human.”
Which bring us to ‘Young Hearts’, STAL’s debut album recorded in Paris and Brussels and produced by Maulini himself. As debuts go it’s a serious statement of intent, from the opening track single notes hang like frozen droplets in the air, synths wash over us, chimes merge with wordless chants and it all builds inexorably to a dazzling climax.
Make no mistake for a debut album everything about this album is big, the ambition, the sheer scale of it, but importantly ‘Young Hearts’ reveals that Maulini also understands that for music to be more than just something to admire from a distance it must also speak to us on a more intimate level. Time and time again, just when the sheer size of it all, the massed wall of sound threatens to overwhelm you, when the prettiness becomes too much to contain and collapse upon itself like a supernova he brings it back down to an intimate, hushed moment, revealing the humanity at the heart of the dizzying spectacle.
“When I wrote this album I wanted to create something epic, I wanted to write about a big subject, life, and wanted the music to reflect that but at the same time at its heart it’s about something very simple, the connection between human beings, how we relate to each other.”
It’s that contradiction, both tonally and musically, the dynamic shifts from the impossibly huge down to the intimate that give ‘Young Hearts’ it’s power and ensures it works as well listened to at home alone through headphones as it will as a communal experience, when its songs will light up the night sky at festivals. And with the album recorded it’s festivals and playing live that is once again on Maulini’s mind. Having recruited Hugo Rattoray on synths and guitars, Renaud Rodier on drums, work is now under way in bringing the album to life, and once again Maulini’s ambition is clear.
“Playing live is just so important to me. I loved writing this album but live music is what we were made for. Working in he studio is great, it’s where we can work on details and shape our sound, but when we step on stage and can connect directly to people, it’s the most beautiful thing. We’re working hard on the live show to try and create something really special.”
Having toured the world playing other people’s music to thousands, Maulini knows what it takes to win over festival sized crowds. But whilst pyrotechnics, lightshows and lazers might all feature in STAL’s near future, with ‘Young Hearts’ Maulini has produced an album that more than stands on its own, as dazzling and immersive as any stage show could be, the perfect first chapter to an exciting new story