Introducing Jérôme Fagnet, a 25-year-old singer, songwriter, and producer -- aka Broken Back. Born in August 1990 in Saint-Malo, France, he played his first notes at an early age, learning classical music and jazz with an unconventional instrument: the tuba. However, he didn't choose the path of music straight away. A brilliant school career enabled him to enter one of the best French business schools, where he specialized in entrepreneurship, management, digital strategy, and communication. At only 23, he had already co-founded two start-ups and seemed destined for a bright future.
But in 2012, a displaced vertebra forced him to ease off the pace for several months. Inspired to take his nylon guitar out of the closet, Jérôme began writing and recording his first songs, producing an incredibly unique and emotive fusion of electronic and folk music.
Since then, an unexpected and loyal fan base started to grow. At the same time, business angels and various opportunities to raise funds for his start-ups showed up. But instead, Jérôme decided to embrace this nascent music career.
So, inspired by his story and track "Happiest Man On Earth," I wanted to speak to him about his journey up until now, the meaning behind the track, and find out what is next in the cards for this promising and incredibly talented producer.
Have you fully recovered from your injuries!? I can only imagine…
Well, enough to be able to go on tour but I still have to take some medicine when my back is overstretched. The thing is that all the people working with me on this project started complaining about some back pain, so I might be cursed.
Depending on which way you look at it, displacing a vertebrae is a bit of a of blessing in disguise. Do you see it this way? Would you have pursued your musical career had this not happened?
It is, indeed, a blessing in disguise. At that time I was really focused on my career and this forced break gave me the opportunity to step back and reconsider what I was doing and what I really wanted to do. Back then I just grabbed my guitar and started to write the first songs of the EP Dear Misfortune Mother Of Joy And as you can guess, my “misfortune” turned into the unique "joy" of being able to live of my passion.
Does the title of your most recent track "Happiest Man on Earth" in any way relate to you as a person, or was the track written about and named for someone else?
In this song I really tried to write a poetic metaphor for life. I truly believe that the Happiest Man on Earth would be that guy who manages to go through life experiences armed with carelessness, relying on what really matters: people he loves. In a way, this song is about every one of us.
Based on your experience, what would you say to someone who was faced with the same decision you were, to follow their passion or stick to the daily grind?
I don’t think that my experience is big enough to give life advice. But I truly believe that finding your passion, working hard on it and enjoying every single moment of it is a key to happiness.
Have you always written music? Or was this down time an isolated incident to finally be able to do what you wanted to do?
I started to write my first songs as I broke my back but I used to compose a bit when I was younger.
What artists throughout your life were the most inspiring and led you to the form the sound you make today?
I know everything by heart from Cat Stevens, Paul Simons, Supertramp, Buena Vista Social Club, or even Manu Chao. Lately I’ve been listening a lot artist like Passenger, Vance Joy, Tom Odell or Chet Faker, these guys are genius.
The first music you learned and played was classical music/jazz. Do you still listen to that?
Yeah sure, I still love classical music. This helps me focus a lot you know.
My very first "favorite song" is without any doubt the Piano Trio No. 2 in E-Flat Major from Franz Schubert.
What would be your dream collaboration?
I don’t have a particular artist in mind at the moment. In any case, doing collaborations or being featured are really cool experiences since it brings you new and fresh inspiration flows ! I loved working with DJs like Klingande and Synapson. This is a completely different but exciting writing process.
What is coming up for you in the next year?
I’m currently running to my home studio in Saint-Malo whenever I’m not touring to finish my first album that will be released next year. So hopefully new songs, new videos, and new gigs across Europe with my drummer Sam.
Your musical ability notwithstanding, by 23 you had already co-founded two starts up! Is there anything you can’t do?
Contortionist. I can’t do that.
And finally, do you have any irrational fears?
Interviews! But facing my fears is part of the normalization process, so thank you Indie Shuffle.