People prefer tasty homemade over Big Mac: Musician Sylvain Rifflet’s take on popular music

French saxophonist and composer Sylvain Rifflet has his finger firmly set on the pulse of modern times. Yet, he feels that music appealing to the popular taste, including rock and pop and also soul, reggae, rap, is like a Big Mac — whereas he likes to make homemade music.

“Music has become a product like the other things that you can buy from the market, but I still believe that people are happier with a good tasty homemade meal than with a Big Mac,” Rifflet told IANS in an e-mail interview.

“Maybe, I am wrong, but I would maintain that because this is why I make homemade and handmade music,” he said.

Rifflet was born and brought up in Paris. Both his parents were amateur musicians and he too studied music during his childhood.

He said that he started with the piano and then moved to the saxophone. “After that, I went to the Paris National Conservatory where I studied jazz and composition. It was natural for me to play music and I have been doing it for all my life,” he said.

Working with his group Alphabet, Rifflet has masterminded an innovative and spell-binding brand of music that combines the modernity of his jazz sound with New York minimalism.

He believes that jazz as a genre is “very open”.

“You can put pretty much all the things you want in it. This is what I like about it. I can always put in there some of my influences from classical to pop music and repetitive minimalist music,” he said.

The musician was in India recently on a four-city tour. “I feel blessed to be given the chance to travel the world to play my music. I really think that these tours are unique experiences and that they will help me remain creative,” he said.

According to him, his shows in India were about helping people discover something they didn’t expect. “We played tales from the unexpected side of music. The shows must have been an experience delightful for Indians. They have had a unique meal from a foreign cook,” Rifflet said.

“It has been a great experience playing in Chennai, Bangalore (Bengaluru), Mumbai and Delhi in very different situations but all were great moments,” he said, adding: “We enjoyed this series of concerts because we had some time off which was great.”

For him, “India is really another world and it’s fantastic to get the chance to discover it.”

Rifflet seemed extremely impressed with the Indian audiences. “Audiences have been absolutely great with people coming to us after the shows and discussing the music they just heard from us,” the musician said.

If he could change one thing about the current music scenario, what would that be’

“I don’t really think that there is much that I can change, but I just like to think that I am pursuing my call to give audiences the best I can and to provide them with creative and original music which is already something different from what they usually listen to,” he said.

For amateur artists, Rifflet had just one advice — seek exposure to all the novel and different things.

“Listen to a lot of different things, enjoy different experiences during all the different situations as you can,” he said.

(Mudita Girotra can be contacted at

By Mudita Girotra


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