Colleen is French multi-instrumentalist Cecile Schott, who uses her voice and the treble viola da gamba (a baroque instrument with gut strings), to weave intricate stories about the human mind and heart. Captain of None is the most melodic album in her repertoire, with fast-paced tracks rooted down by prominent bass lines and assorted percussive effects. It is also an album that breaks new ground for Colleen in terms of production. While previous works centered around sample-based or looped, minimal compositions, on Captain of None Schott significantly changed her approach, setting her viola and her voice as focal points. Captain of None is inhabited by delicately crafted, other-worldly pop songs incorporating dub-inspired techniques.
Captain of None was recorded, mixed, and produced entirely by Schott in her music studio in San Sebastian, Spain. Schott tried to open the gates in the way she played, sang, and wrote lyrics for the album, and set out to explore how effects like delay and echo could go from the “cosmetic sound varnish” role they usually play to a fully dynamic, constructive, song-shaping role.
Although the influence of Jamaican music is subtle, its implicit impact is felt throughout Captain of None. As a child, Schott became enamored with a cassette tape of Lee Perry tracks from 1976 to 1979. She continued to explore the music of Jamaica, awed by the amount and the variety of incredible music that was recorded with such breathtaking inventiveness. This infatuation can be heard on tracks like “Eclipse,” where Schott utilizes some of the more common dub production techniques, such as using an echo effect on the percussion and vocals. Her love of Augustus Pablo can be felt on “Salina Stars,” in which Schott uses the melodica, an instrument that she played for years but never used on her albums. She incorporates a Moogerfooger delay pedal to create vocal feedback and analog glitches, and used homemade devices — chopsticks, an Indonesian metal printing block — as percussion.
As for her unique main instrument of choice, Schott first noticed the viola da gamba in the film Tous les matins du monde when she was 15 years old. The instrument, which has been said to be the musical instrument that most resembles the sound of the human voice, heavily resonated with her. However, rather than bowing the instrument in a traditional manner, and heavily influenced by African music from different countries, genres, and eras, Schott tunes the viola da gamba like a guitar and plucks it, opening up a new world of sound that she explores in great depth on Captain of None, an addictive, unconventional pop album.