Interview with Maïté (guitar) and Emmanuel (bass/vocals)
Interview conducted by Michel Renaud
Date online: May 30, 2001
I could easily have missed the small post advertising Visions de l'âme's demo CD "Ainsi soit-il" on a Newsnet Black Metal newsgroup earlier this year. I got curious and ordered the CD and found a band with great music and well though-out lyrics, with seemingly great potential. I then contacted them again for this interview. Visions de l'âme hail from France, a country that has been producing a number of respected Black Metal acts in the last few years. This interview was conducted in French and I did my best to retain the spirit of the answers when translating into English. Read on...
To start, could you give us a brief historic of the band and introduce the band members?
Maïté: The band was created in 1998 by Emmanuel and I. I had a few compositions so we started playing just the two of us. We then started looking for a drummer, which proved to be a bit complicated. After a few months without results, it's finally Romaric, my brother who was just starting to play drums, who joined us in the band. We then started working more seriously. To strengten our music, we were conscious that we needed a second guitarist. In 1999, Laurent joined the band. In December 2000, we recorded our first demo CD "Ainsi soit-il". Since then, we're trying to establish as many contacts as possible in order to play some live gigs.
So the band members are:- Emmanuel: bass and vocals
Did the band members have any musical experience before creating/joining Visions de l'âme?
Maïté: Emmanuel had some experience singing for many bands, but nothing long term. Same for Laurent at the guitar.
What are the main musical influences of Visions de l'âme and of each of the band members?
Maïté: Well, all four of us are metal fans before anything. But to be more precise, I'd say that my brother and I listen to various genres from Black to Heavy. Emmanuel is more inclined toward brutal Black Metal, but without spitting on the other stuff. Laurent has a very Death past but is also very open minded.
Who is/are the songwriter(s)?
Maïté: Most of the time, it works this way: I write two guitar lines then my brother and I work the drums. Then the other two members listen and judge. We re-work the stuff if necessary then we work on the bass lines. Once the music is completed, Emmanuel can work on the lyrics that the music inspire him.
I think you live in the country. In order for us to situate you, what is the closest large city?
Maïté: We are mid-way between Beauvais and Compiègne, about 30km from each.
Is the isolation of living in the country an inspiration for composing, and if yes, what does it inspire you?
Maïté: I don't know if living in the country changes anything. I think one can be pretty isolated in a city as well. I only need to be alone when composing because I need a minimum of concentration. I must not lose my line of thought. It's not like I would say "today I'm gonna write a song". I don't choose the moment, it comes by itself when I have too much emotions that I need to get out of my system.
You must be living in small communities where one can't normally take advantage of the anonymity of the city... Is it a known fact that you are in a Black Metal band, and what is the people's reaction to that?
Maïté: Well, most of the people around us have no idea of what Black Metal is. All they know is that we are musicians.
Your songs' lyrics seem more oriented toward war and death than the "satanic" themes more common to Black Metal. Could you describe in details what is the ideology of your band, what message you are trying to communicate?
Emmanuel: That's right, most of the lyrics deal with war and death, but there's also a little bit of satanism. Even though satanism is the principal theme in Black Metal, I don't feel obligated to talk about it. I talk about whatever I want to. There are no laws forcing me to talk about satanism? (definitely not - ed.) I think we can use whatever we want: war, death, nature, legends, dreams, nightmares and even God. But maybe on the next CD I'll explore the satanic theme a little more. This CD is about war and death (immortality, hell), and the next CD about satanism? P.S. No, we are not imitating Marduk. (laughs! - ed.)
Maïté: As far as I'm concerned, I don't think we trying to communicate a message. We just explore the subjects that interest us!
The beginning of the song "Ainsi soit- il" confuses me a little: "Sachant que je serai appelé à Dieu" (Knowing I will be called to God). The other songs dealing with death seemed oriented toward going to hell and suddenly this one seems to be talking about going to heaven, but also describing hell on Earth. And doesn't the fact of being "called to God" go "against" the usual anti- christian message of Black Metal? Maybe I didn't quite grasp the meaning of the song, or maybe I just think too much!! Can you shed some light on this, maybe even give a brief explanation of what each song is about?
Emmanuel: Phew!!! That's quite a question!! This song talks about someone who wants to end his days. There's nothing satanic. It's someone who didn't even want to be on Earth. Essentially, it's a song about suicide. The lyrics start with "Sachant que je serais appelé à Dieu", this is not anti-christian (euh.. That's what I said - ed.) It's just someone like thousands of others who believe in God and want to go rejoin him through suicide. It's neither a call for, nor a worshipping of God. It's only the suicide of a simple mortal.
Here's a brief description of the lyrics:
"Commun des mortels": A bloody battle in barbarian times with rather crude lyrics (very ;) - ed.)
"L'antre de la folie": The story of a person who wanted to be immortal.
"Le porteur de lumière": After a battle, the souls of warriors end up in hell.
"Éternelle mélancolie": A man is separated from his love and ends up in hell because he disobeyed the divine.
Personally, I think the raw production of your demo is appropriate for your sound, although there's room for improvement, but still keeping it a little raw. Do you agree, or are you going to try to have top-notch production for the next recording?
Maïté: As far as I'm concerned, I'm not at all satisfied with the production and I think the rest of the band thinks the same. But we had very little money to pay for the recording, so that was to be expected. I hope our next recording will benefit from a better sound, more powerful, more compact. I don't think a raw production really fits our music, but maybe I'm wrong? (Hard to say, but I think keeping a minimal raw edge does give this kind of music some more power - ed.)
Did you get a lot of feedback about the demo so far? Was it positive?
Maïté: So far, the reviews have been very good. Almost all of them highlight our originality and our musical research, and we're very glad to hear that. Hard 'n' Heavy (French metal/hard rock magazine - ed) for example highlighted our heavy metal influence. Overall the comments are "an interesting music, it's a shame that the production is so bad!".
Are you working on new material for a new CD? Should we expect a full length album or a mini-CD of more professional quality soon? Has any record label shown interest yet?
Maïté: We are of course working on new material if only to play live. We don't have any specific project for a new recording yet, but of course we do hope that we will eventually release an album that will satisfy every member of the band. If we do release a second CD, it will have to be of professional quality, otherwise I don't think we'd release it.
Have you played any live gigs, or are you planning on doing that soon?
Maïté: We will play some shows including a festival on May 19 in the Mobihan. We will play in a suburb of Paris on June 23. We hope to play a lot more live gigs and therefore I would like to call upon concert promoters: please do not hesitate to contact us! Thanks.
A few questions on the Black Metal scene now. The French scene seems to be in pretty good shape with bands such as Seth, Hegemon, Hirilorn, Mutiilation and many others. Do you closely follow your local scene? Are you in contact with some bands?
Maïté: It's true that there are many good French bands. I don't follow the French scene more than the other scenes, but that said, it's great when a French band succeeds because it is very difficult to get some recognition in our country. There are so many other unknown, yet excellent bands!! Since we are starting to play more big shows, we have a few contacts, but not yet with the bands that you mentionned.
Except maybe for "charm singers", to my knowledge France never had much success in exporting its music. Despite the underground nature of metal, it seems like your metal scene, and especially Black Metal is getting more and more respect. Do you know the reason why France is producing more and more bands that play this extreme music? I think for example about Norway where most BM bands denounced the "church-state" there, or bands in Eastern Europe that convey a very nationalist message. I don't know, is there a frustration in your society that lead to this, or is there no apparent reason?
Maïté: Well, I must say that this is a difficult question to answer! I still can't understand why some "average" bands can succeed while some excellent bands remain unknown. It's a mystery for me! I don't think there are many more bands than before, but only that some labels have finally decided to support French bands et from there, a gap has been opened. Maybe the social problems have pushed certain bands to play Black Metal but it is not my case. It's a music in which, in some aspects (and definitely not nationalism), I can find myself. But it's only my opinion. I don't know what pushed the other members to play Black Metal.
What do you think of the current Black Metal scene? Do you think it lost some credibility with bands such as Dimmu Borgir and some others that are into symphonic, keyboards, synths, female vocals, etc., or do you think that it is an unavoidable "evolution"?
Maïté: Generally speaking, I hate uniformity. I think it's very good that Black Metal has evolved. Today, there are some excellent musicians in this style and an incredible richness. I don't understand those who bash the symphonic stuff. Nobody forces them to listen to it. Personally there are some that I like, some that I don't. But I won't bash them for that reason. There is still a "true Black Metal" scene and it will always be there, and that's a good thing. Now if certain people don't find themselves in it, I don't see why they couldn't do something else. It's no longer true Black Metal, ok, so what!! Just find a new name and that's it. But I'll let you do it because I don't like genre labelling.
Other than the bands that influenced you, what other bands do you like (BM and others)
Maïté: I'll only mention the most important bands for me otherwise I'd need three pages: Emperor, Immortal, Death, Yyrkoon, Bathory, Cradle of Filth, Maiden, Vaï, Symphony X.... some classical music and some movie soundtracks. The other members would probably name a few others such as Marduk, Dark Funeral,...
That's all I got! Thanks for your time. Would you like to add anything else?
Maïté: Thanks for your interest in the band. Bands, labels, associations, (fans?), please do not hesitate to contact us!
|Other information about Visions de l'âme on this site|
|Review: Ainsi Soit-Il|
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