Switzerland's three most unusual musicians are also its least talkative. They never give interviews to the press, even when given the chance to publicise their latest album.
But ever-optimistic, Richard Dawson visited them at their Geneva apartment, in the hope of a first exclusive interview.
He was to be disappointed. Vassili, Johan and Naima may be regarded as multi-talented young musicians who between them have played 20 instruments in the three albums they have recorded to date. But it is impossible to get a word out of them. They don't exist - at least as human beings.
The three are papier-mâché sculptures first created by Jonathan Delachaux in 1994, who has adapted them every year so that today they look like what they are - 16-year-olds.
His 'imaginary musicians' have personalities and give 'live concerts' which in reality are recordings of modern jazz composed and played by Delachaux on many of the 94 musical instruments in his private collection.
When it comes to the trio, sometimes even Delachaux finds himself somewhat remote from reality. "I dream about them often," he said, "and some friends of mine show more affection to them than they do to me."
Matters were not helped when a newspaper journalist, told about one of their 'live concerts', reviewed the recording as though it had been made by real people.
Their most recent performance, at the Konsumbäckerei in Solothurn, is as usual accompanied by a cube-shaped painting of them and their audience, all created by the genuinely multi-talented Delachaux.
The painter and sculptor, who has also exhibited in India and Japan, plans to let his imaginary friends grow old with him, hinting at a possible retirement when they are in their seventies.
His exhibition at the Solothurn Konsumbäckerei ends on May 21.
by Richard Dawson
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