Colleen’s Chill Playlist for a Laid-Back Dinner Party

The French musician, who recently released her sixth studio album, composed a soundtrack for a low-key dinner party with a few Jamaican jams.

Photo Credit: Estudio Primo

French musician Cecile Schott, who performs under the name Colleen, has composed six albums of instrumental music featuring an ancient string instrument, called the Viola da Gamba, layered with electronic effects. Pitchfork says several tracks on “Captain of None,” her new album, “positively vibrate with melodic ideas.” Here she is with a chill party playlist.

Colleen: Hi, this is Cecile, a.k.a. Colleen, and this is my dinner party soundtrack.

Arthur Russell – “Tone Bone Kone”

My first song is “Tone Bone Kone” by Arthur Russell, the really important composer/producer during the ’70s and ’80s.

I really got into Arthur Russell’s music, in particular, in the spring of 2010. I was still living in Paris, but getting ready to move to Spain. And I was just thinking seriously of getting back into making music, and I read an incredible biography, and just got so inspired.

He helped me decide that I was going to sing in my music. He also offered powerful proof that you can be melodic and experimental at the same time, and you can use heavy effects on the classical instrument and make it sound like a totally new instrument.

If I have some guests at home, I think I would want to start the evening in a very laid-back way, and I think Arthur Russell’s music fits the bill.

Big Youth – “Cool Breeze”

My next song is a Jamaican song, and it’s by Big Youth, and it’s called “Cool Breeze.”

Jamaican music is the music that’s been most important to me over the past two years. It has the immediate effect of putting me in a really good mood and making me smile — it’s like, immediate. Big Youth is one of the classic Jamaican toasters. “Toasting” is just someone talking over a song to get a crowd excited at dance halls. Basically, that’s how it started, and it actually has very strong links to the birth of hip-hop.

So, this song is Big Youth toasting over an original track called “Stop That Train” by Keith and Tex. I think it’s just amazing that different songs, you know, springing just from one song.

The Gaylads – “Slipping and Sliding”

The third song would actually be, possibly, the moment when people start dancing [laughs].  So for that, I chose a song by The Gaylads called “Slipping and Sliding,” and it’s a special version that’s called a “disco mix version,” which has nothing to do with disco — it’s just what the Jamaicans call its dub version.

This song starts off as a very soulful, pretty laid-back number with male vocals that go impossibly high. But in the background, from the start, you can notice some kind of bubbly sounds, and after two minutes, those sounds come to the fore, and the track becomes something else entirely.

It’s like you’re stepping into a kind of sonic soup of some sort. You could dance to it, but you could also just crash on the sofa and just get lost into the sound. So, I think there’s something in it for everyone.

Colleen – “Soul Alphabet”

If I really was forced to choose something from my own music, I would choose a song called “Soul Alphabet.”

It’s kind of mixed between a bass line — which probably owes a lot to Jamaican music — and then a treble viola part which evolves throughout the song. I guess that’d be the perfect song to leave the guests on a happy note before they head back home.


Check out and subscribe to Colleen’s playlist on Spotify: