there are several different musical identities listed on your site:
can you give us some hints concerning the different styles behind that? what do you want to express with each one in certain and how do you draw the line between each of them? is it linked with the choice of the instruments involved or is it more because of the certain musical idea?
It's difficult to clearly define a musical creation. Music is a wonderful way of expressing emotions, the subjectivity is obvious and rich. I seek violent emotions and introspection in what I like to listen to..., or make. Violence can easily exist in silence and quietness...That's why I like to listen to or do so many different things in music, I can say that you may find in any style of music something that touches you deep inside. Emotions!!... So it's not really a matter of instruments or method, but more so the soul behind the music. Like you said, a musical idea: ambient, harsh/noise, chaos and violence appear to me as different parts of the puzzle. Extreme emotions through extreme sounds, calm and chaos are quite similar to me... Different parts of a character.
are those projects mainly your person or are there any other people involved?
DouleurFantome, ArbreMort and Créature are my solo projects. I use different names based on what i give into them..., different moods and resentments I guess. DouleurFantome is my spontaneous and agressive style, ArbreMort and Créature appear more as a quiet side of my musical creation that's why I use other names..., the dynamic was different thus as was the result. ...And also the schizophrenic pleasure of having different names and personalities.
are you involved in further bands or projects? if yes, where are the differences to the projects mentioned above?
I've done some other stuffs with friends as
- ArbreMort & LeRireMauvaisDesEnfantsSages with Jérome Alban: I can define this as a smooth guitar and scratchy sounds folk ambience. a total improvisation reworked to its minimum. It was initially not prepared, we freestyled one night and it was created. I insisted on making an album out of this and I developed all of the project.
- DF/T with Raphael Sabatier: We were doing lots of work together as he is the guy who created (with two other friends) the A-haeon label. Logically and with our common point of view (of destruction...) we met through sounds and exploded through this project. Not so harsh in the end... but truly interesting! Thanx a lot Raph! You're always welcome
- Onamarchésurladernièreplante with Raphael Sabatier/Toyerro and Florian/TitanCerise: it was a joke that it turned into totally punk-chaos-harsh-screaming-noise-stupid live sessions that will (i hope!!) soon lead to a "souvenir" album.
You're part of something when you play with some fellows and are not alone in your thoughts. I did all this with those guys because they were my friends, and I wanted to share "my music" with them. A human social confrontation to make something new, not solo-minded!!
For now I try to find time with Jérome Alban (Year Of No Light) to explore a two guitars analogic/numeric folk/drone project but it's really hard... A continuity of what we tried through ArbreMort & Le RireMauvaisDesEnfantsSages but more mature.
This will be more a live project I think. I hope!!
since when are you into music and what styles did you run through?
I guess since 1998. In Bordeaux, I was playing,... well screaming in a hardcore band. An attempt..., not so good, but interesting. Since then I never really stopped: I played a few years with a basque hardcore band as an amateur screamer and mainly four years with "e-Volv", a hardcore- free-math-metal-core band in basque country too. Screams, words, visuals and ambiences were my work and pleasure. I learned a lot. At this time I discovered with Inaki Plaa (drummer of e-Volv, true thanx!!) computer possibilities in musical creation and the simplicity of material needs, this influenced me a lot to get something out i couldn't manage to do with e-Volv (...mainly because we were a band and I really wanted to do something personal that sounds violent..., truly sad and harsh...).
I started in the first months of 2003 to do my own harsh/noise/ambient side-solo project called DouleurFantome. I was so free to develope what i liked, the only one to decide..., so I sank into myself and vomitted up all those albums.
Finally I come from Rock and Punk/Hardcore as way of music but it's now for me a numerical experiment.
I keep on creating, the possibilities are so huge, meeting people and living things, that's a life I want, creative and spontaneous!... even if I'm an hermit while creating ;)
now let us come to "creature": what has attracted (and still does attract) my attention was (is) the extreme focus on "just one guitar" - simplicity and, although there is very slow flow in your music and a nearly calm and silent atmosphere, the tension never gets lost. so how did you compose the tracks? are there "first-take-sessions"? what about overdubs and background atmospheres that can be heard?
Everything comes from improvisations: first-take-sessions as you said, I just worked a little on it. It comes from two different sessions: the C.èdre track comes from an older one mixed with another old texture which really enchanted me.
The four other tracks come from the same improvisation session. I was discovering my new guitar and enjoying the minimalist play. I just recorded it and reworked it for a coherent ensemble (few mix and a smooth master). As always in my work I was searching for textures in layering effects and effects..., or simply blasting some, until I liked the result.
For Creature that was a good and fast session. Every effect was on the live recording, I rarely add "after effects" on a session of improvisation, I usually prefer to mix it with other stuff, or try to do it again. Background atmospheres were present and I loved it, that's why I kept those tracks. That's an important way of working for me. The spontaneous side: sometimes, you can get something out that you can never do again, so I try to catch this!
The minimalism and the fact that I used "one guitar" brought me to use a different name.
in fact it took about 10 month to complete the record: is it a compilation of tracks that have been recorded over a longer period of time and putting it together as a record is something that results from the fact that you had to recognize that it just fitted or did you have in mind to make a whole work out of it from the beginning?
Initially it was not a project, I had some guitar/quiet stuff and proposed them to Jérome Moncada from Salvation/Basses Fréquences records who was more a fan of my guitar/drone stuff than my crazy/harsh/noise DouleurFantome.
He really appreciated it and motivated me to make it an album that he will release.
I can say this is truly thanks to Jérome Moncada that Créature came to your ears!
And his contribution was really huge because we chosed the tracks together as there are more than you can listen to; not featured on this album. The other ones will be on the next DF's album.
A sincere big thanx to Jérome Moncada for trusting me and having interest in this!!!
In fact all my albums came about because I was satisfied with certain work.
This decision usually comes when the work is done. I keep on doing things and decide to do something with certain materials because it's accomplished...
a creature is something raw and frightening or, at least, something with disturbing curiosity. is there any special relationship between music and the choosing of the name?
Of course, in medieval times a creature was the human/animal of somebody's will. The man who did bad things that nobody else could do.
It's a sadistic way of a melancholic retention through guitar play: containing in melody something harsh that wants to explode..., and this usually explodes through DF.
Imagining me as the DouleurFantome's guitar creature...
one characteristic that differs "creature" from other guitar-drone-ambient (and so on) projects is that you are very close to the electric guitar's "original" sound. the guitar is not only a sort of source to be processed heavily (like, for example, with justin broadrick's "final"). and: i do not hear cascades of delays or looping devices, another big difference. what is your opinion? do you listen to other artist's guitar-ambient / drone music? are there any bands like you?
Guitar drone was not really the kind of music I listen, I prefer much more folk things. I understand it may appear weird, but I mainly get bored after a while with pure drone albums. I have some stuffs like the drone/evil cd from Boris I really appreciate, also one or two SunnO))) but for SunnO))), according to me, it's more the live performance which makes all its sense and intensity. Evil stuff like Khanate or Monarch appears to me much more developed and I really like these bands, the intensity through the evil ambience, so big!
Oren Ambarchi's work is deeply interesting too in ambient style. I appreciate also the Earth's "hex" or simply the Deadman movie score from Neil Young; the Instrument is important for me, its sounds and tunes are essential, so if it is only a massive sound not evolving a lot I get bored, and I don't want to get bored in listening or in creating... ;)
I'm not a guitar player, i tried minimalism to reach to something emotional and quiet... And to make it massive and monumental with so few noisy textures was exciting so I tried. This album appears in the end more like a test than a true project. We (Jérome Moncada and me) were happy with the result so it came to people's ears.
as far as i know you did not use amps to record the tracks. what is the idea behind the fact of integrating a sort of "amp-hum" into some of the tracks?
The choice not to use "real" amps comes from a "moving/free" idea: I can move everywhere if I choose to, now I have my guitar to bring with me, but at the beginning of DF I wanted to move just with my bag on my back. When I played in E-Volv, we lost time in moving materials for every show and that was lowering my motivation. I was dreaming of doing something which did not demand all that time; in the "computer" world, you can find so many possibilities in addition to some pedals and external audio devices, only your guitar and computer and let's go!! I also did not use amps because of the lack of space in my small apartment in Paris, and the cost of good amps...
You can encounter so many solutions through computers (to buy or not). And this leads to a "similar" amp result for guitar experimentation because I wanted to reach a "true guitar" sound.
you have a destinctive sound during the whole record: everything is covered in a dark sound without the shimmering of treble. why?
I like the clearness of some sounds, and for this one I tried to smooth it very deep to get something pure like a "water" sound. Dark ambience as you said, that's what I desired to create for intimacy and transporting people in a clear deep sensation.
the cover artwork deals with trees, the tracks' names are the names of trees: you seem to have a special relation to trees. how do you get inspired by trees? do you express this inspiration only in music (with "creature") or are there other ways too?
I grew up among trees. Silent "lords" standing for far more years than us. They're friends, bringing us oxygen and shade in the summer and..., so many good and healthy ressources. As a child I played around a lot, on trees in the forests close to my parent's house. They brought me some humility as they're so old and still standing while we are dying. I decided after a long reflection to wear a tree tattoo on my whole right arm, in respect and true memory of what made me so happy when I was young. That's the result of an improvisation piece from the Bordeaux genius Christophe from Tattoo Spirit shop. It's quite abstract for the moment but I continue with it soon... Without trees we are nothing.
And I also worked with some wood to make "big piece" plugs for stretching ears when I worked as a piercer (i used to wear wood plugs only on my different piercing as the sensation is unique and it is a natural effect). As you can see, trees are a part of my life, I really respect them and get inspired by their presence and majesty. And this appears on all my musical and graphic creation.
did you already play live with "creature"? if yes, could you manage to transport the atmosphere? is "creature" more silent or loud (both, live and listened to at home)?
I never played Creature live. I'd like to but I'm not sure I am able to... As it really is a record of a precise moment...., but I hope to and am now working to get confident in my play. To meet again the same atmosphere will be a challenge for me. I guess I can something close to this album but never the same! Sadly! Something clear and very loud to appreciate the clearness of some textures. Creature deserves to be played loud, I think, to emphasize the importance on the contrast between silences and "attack" notes. I always listen to it very loud!
some words to your future plans. is there more "creature" to come? some live gigs?
I would really like to play Creature live but I think it'll be difficult for the moment. I have no time but if there is a possibility I will jump into it. For now I work on the next DF which will include some guitar plays (but reworked). Including some stuff similar to Créature's style of play (that's why I put the Créature name on the cover of the next DF).
The future of DouleurFantome will probably be linked to guitar play but in a harsher way. Maybe combining both will be interesting..., but I have to work a lot to be more precise on the guitar!
I'd like to travel around europe and try to find some live spots... I really want to come and visit Berlin!
last question: do you like to tell us about the music you listened to the last month (top 5 or so)? and (very last question): is other artist's music inspiration for your own work too?
1. "Converge": Jane Doe (I love this punk/rock violence and the power exploding from this fucking album!!)
2. A lot of screamo/chaos bands as : "I spoke", the fabulous "Saetia", "Suis La Lune", "June Paik", "Orchid", "the Apoplexy Twist Orchestra", "the Saddest Landscape"...
3. "Khanate" : Things Viral
4. "Envy" : All the footprints... / A dead sinking story
5. Some O.S.T. like Eddie Webber's "into the wild", Neil Young's "Deadman", Boris' "Mabuta No Ura"...
...and some of my new stuffs I'm working on...
As you can see, most of what I listen to is not really recent... I'm not really inspired by recent musicians, much more by video documents, books, life and martial arts, the roughness of life and human stupidity, the violence of certain emotions... The Philippe Grandrieux's work as movie director and scenarist deeply touched me and inspired me too. It's harsh and dark, I really like it. I try to speak through my music, it's another way for me to express, so inspiration comes mainly from myself and what I construct in my life...
I guess that's all..., a real pleasure to answer to your questions.
I truly thank all the people I mentioned in this interview and specially you for the interest you put in discovering what was behind this album! It will be a pleasure to talk to you again and/or to meet you. Vielen Dank Hellmut!