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​​Didier Sustrac

Author, composer, guitarist, singer



Photo credit: ©Christian Colomb

Born in 1959 in Grasse, Didier Sustrac picked up the family guitar in his eighth year, which he learned on his own, like a grown-up. By the age of ten, he was already writing songs. Growing up between Grasse and Avignon, in a family of music lovers, he listened to everything from Jeanne Moreau to James Brown, from Billie Holiday to Led Zep. But he remembers having searched for a different path from rock as a teenager, somewhere between the cool jazz of Chet Baker and the Californian jazz of Michael Franks. Not forgetting the bucolic and romantic Pierre Barouh, the ludophilia composer of the iconic theme of the film Un homme et une femme (1966), who was for many in his desire to travel.

Ten years later, nourished by the stories of his grandmother, a poet and painter, he set off to explore Venezuela, then headed for Brazil in 1979, spurred on by a record by João Gilberto and Stan Getz. Arriving in Rio during the dictatorship, he immediately understood that he had finally found what he was looking for: the smooth harmonies, the African rhythms of the Afro-sambas and João's bossa jazz, cut for the sweetness of his temperament and his whispering voice. “I took up bossa like the yéyés took up rock" he would later say. He stayed there for three years, enough time to swap his folk guitar for a violão and take his first classical guitar lessons, but also to learn Portuguese and understand that his writing language would remain French forever.

On his return home at the age of 23, he began his new life as a bossa singer in the piano bars of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, before setting off for the capital to try his hand at labels. In vain... The talent’s discoverer Varda Kakon (Dany Brillant, Lara Fabian...) was the first to believe in his swaying swing, in his dream world, in his "music for women", and convinced the producer Marc Lumbroso to sign him in 1993: first record, Zanzibar (Remark), first hit, Tout seul, and the Olympia in the wake, as the first part of Smaïn show... Since then, Didier Sustrac has made a series of albums and encounters: those of Chico Buarque, invited as a duo on the album Blues Indigo (Remark, 1995), Marcio Faraco, whose album he produced, and Claude Nougaro, who offered him an exceptional duo on the track Cogne (2003). There was also, in the early 2000s, that magical night spent playing and chatting with João Gilberto in his London hotel room... Among his innumerable concerts, we will note some prestigious duets: Chico Buarque, Michel Fugain, Yuri Buenavetura, Claude Nougaro, Pierre Barouh, Philippe Baden Powell and David Linx. An artist who makes no concessions between poetry, bossa and jazz, Didier Sustrac shows that he is one of those who best succeed in marrying Brazilian music and the French language.

In the midst of the crisis in the record industry, Didier also had to deal with the majors. Labelled as "variété" singer, he himself admits to having "sold" himself to EMI with Chanteur d'ascenseur (2000), an album whose bitter title bore his disillusions. He "found himself" back with Matière Première (Zinzin production, 2003), an album in his own image which sealed his friendship with Claude Nougaro in a rare duet on the song Cogne... During these chaotic years, his Brazilian tropism remained intact. He recorded in Rio the record Je chante un air (Zinzin production, 2006) with percussions and cariocas band, and continued to use bossa as a language to talk about himself, his life as a father (Au pays des papas, album of nursery rhymes released in 2010) and his dreams elsewhere. In 2011, he produced the DVD Voyageur (Azimut collection). Didier also wrote songs for Jane Fostin (Blues de Billie), Nana Mouskouri (Voir le monde) and Maurane (J't'ai pas tout dit), among others. 

Didier also shows his talents as an author by publishing several books, including "Busca Vida" (Orphie, 2000), and children's stories, "Chut le roi pourrait t'entendre" (Gautier-Languereau, 2007), "Mon grand livre des papas" (Thomas Jeunesse, 2009), "Le Capitaine Pff et le Dragon rouge" (Thomas Jeunesse, 2010), and his first novel, "Je hais les DJs" in 2016.

In 2016, Didier recorded the album Ostende Bossa (WEA music) which contains duets with Pierre Barouh (Samba saravah), David Linx (Mousailllon) and Camila Costa (Rua Madureira).  

More serene, freer than ever, Didier is turned towards the future but doesn't forget his role as a passer. With his musicians, partly Brazilian, he rebuilds with his generation this bridge always dreamed of between France and Brazil. He is thus recognized as the "most Brazilian bossanovist in France", but if his universe revolves around bossa nova, he draws his roots from his French roots. Claude Nougaro once told him "Your homeland is your language". In this context, Pierre Barouh has always been a kind of tutelary figure in his Franco-Brazilian universe. Faithful to his past, Didier Sustrac is regenerating himself, working tirelessly on new texts and new compositions.

His crossroads with Bossa Flor is linked to the release of his album Ostende Bossa, and constitutes what Pierre Barouh called an "underground river". Philippe Quevauviller came across a video where he sings Samba saravah with Pierre, accompanied by Philippe Baden Powell and other musicians, which led him to discover the album project, a double wink through the reference to Belgium and their common link with Pierre Barouh. From there was born their meeting, an appointment had been made in December 2016 with Pierre to discuss a concert in Brussels, but fate had another project and it was at the Montmartre cemetery that they would meet one day in January, accompanying the friend to his final resting place. Didier still came to present his album in June 2017, and a friendship, a common space for sharing, developed over time, with multiple encounters in Brussels and elsewhere ... In 2021, his album « Marcher derrière » was released, which he presented on several occasions in Brussels.

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