First of all thank you very much for this opportunity. It’s indeed a great honor to interview a musician that I admire and not really too often, of course. Please, I’d like to ask you to introduce yourself to our readers.
Pensées Nocturnes is a one man band which provides me the opportunity to express myself without other constraints than my imagination. It’s really difficult to work in symbiosis within a band and concessions aren’t easily made when related to art. This project lies on a Black Metal basis and approaches many other influences to fit to what I have in mind. No matter what is usually done. No matter what people want. Pensées Nocturnes is the image of how I see music, what I really want to listen to. I’ve composed the first song in August 2008 and Vacuum, the first album was released in April 2009. Grotesque, the second album, has been released in March 2010 through Ladlo productions. The third one is an autoproduction called “Ceci est de la musique” and the last one, “Nom d’une Pipe!”, has been released in March 2013.
Last year you’ve released “Nom d’une Pipe!”, an album which I personally loved. There were many positive critics and a few negative ones (there are always some). How do you feel overall about this release? Is there anything you’d change or add on it? And, concerning this special release, what was your main goal when recording it?
“Nom d’une Pipe !” is structured as a play happening after He has eaten the Sun. We are following the narrator in this apocalyptic world where darkness reigns, running into bizarre personages like a suicidal dog, an unicyclist snail, an alcoholic puppeteer, a blondish siren, a fanfare made of men with a moustache… All these characters have their own way to survive in these shadows that are the representation of the philosophical and moral void we are living in these days.
To come back to the beginning of your question, as soon as you get a little “famous”, you receive a lot of virtual feedback, and often extreme ones due to the impunity to talk through the Internet. Very few are the ones that are really thought and useful. So far I just count one good review for “Nom d’une Pipe!”. I see others as basic promotional stuff, written by artless people for artless people. People who know music don’t talk about it, they just do it.
In my opinion Nom d’une Pipe! is indeed the best album of Pensées Nocturnes and so will be the next one. I’m not born with a gift to make music, I have learnt to produce it. It’s the experience that makes you manage more the way you compose and record.
I know this is a bit early to ask you, but, Vaerohn, are you already working on new songs/ sounds for Pensées Nocturnes? And if so, could you give us any idea of how they are?
I’m always writing some new stuff even if everything doesn’t necessary end up in an album publicly released. PN’s next album will be more of a jazzy album in the continuity of Nom d’une Pipe!. But there is still a lot of work to.
I am aware that you don’t copy other people’s music, but in a way, there must be some musicians that have influenced you and, consequently, Pensées Nocturnes. I read a review just another day, about “Nom d’une Pipe!” in which was stated that the album had also a Tom Waits feeling. Do you agree with this point of view? And what would be the main acts or names that inspired Pensées Nocturnes? I ask this not only about musicians, but also writers, philosophers, any other sort of artists that you’d like to mention.
I really listen to a lot of different stuff, from Groundation to Brassens, through Buddy Guy, Deathspell Omega, Igorrr, Banda Ionica, Celeste, Django, The Phantom Carriage, Diapsiquir, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, John Williams, Peste Noire, Santaolalla Gustavo… There would be thousands of names to give you, and I listen to all these different musics without any kind of logical concatenation during the day. I just follow my desires at the present time when listening to music and so is the way I compose.
Still, in a way, connected to the previous question, you’ve mentioned before that human nature is more complex than just reducing the emotions of a person using simple words such as happy or sad, calm, etc. and that Pensées Nocturnes is the expression of fact. Could you tell us more about this, how do you perceive this human nature? What are your feelings and thoughts over modern society? Do you feel that life has a purpose, a meaning?
PN is actually nothing else but laughing at modern civilised human beings. Whereas information (books, music, movies…) is immediately reachable today, people prefer sitting in front of the TV or playing angry birds than developing themselves and fighting for their freedom.
Everything has to move fast, to be useful or entertaining and thus the level of profundity in art (but in a lot of other different fields) has never been so low. We live in the dictatorship of image, the society of superficiality: you can propose everything you want as long as it’s in a nice box and it doesn’t require too much time or effort to be understood.
Media are a way for capitalism to lead people, to make they buy, eat and think what they have to buy, eat and think. You know some years ago, the manager of the first French TV channel (TF1) made the headlines by asserting that their TV programme was aim at keeping watchers’ brain at rest so that they can get fully impregnated with Coca-cola advertising. I think it sums-up pretty well how the system works. The more pathetic aspect is that people willingly accept this: they need this lobotomy and worse, they like it! You just have to imagine a big fat boy so corpulent that he can’t even move. This guy doesn’t want to talk about sport; he just wants to keep on eating more and more. No freedom, no effort, no dignity, just the pleasure to get fat and totally useless.
Then it leads us to the second part of your question: I think that Life doesn’t have a deep meaning, a precise objective, an absolute truth. The fact that human lives rest on their share of illusions and are led by a never-ending hope is undeniable. Nothing we do has an existential foundation aside from spending time. As if life comes down to everything that allows us to forget life… But despite this emptiness we have to “live anyway” and this kind of nihilism makes it possible to see life from a totally different point of view and to try to create something from this absurdity, something that you have chosen, something that don’t have to be conventional or “normal”. It’s a losing battle anyway so we have to make fun of life and laugh at our condition. PN is a little bit of all this things.
I’m tempted to ask you about depression, but then again, I don’t think you can be depressed all the time, neither happy. I don’t think that happiness can be considered an everlasting state, neither sadness. “Are you happy?” At times. “Are sad?” At times. I just think that we live on a continuous state of blandness, with some happy and some sad times here and there, this isn’t sad per se, but rather life itself. Well, how do you feel over this and have you ever experienced the chemical process of depression?
I think the previous question answers this one: I’m not depressed, I’m just a regular guy who knows what he can expect down there and doesn’t hope for something more. Creation is part of the few things we have and it’s also so much. Depression doesn’t provide you a place to be in this life, creation does.
07 – Do you feel that adding another musician to Pensées Nocturnes, it would “contaminate” your music and your thoughts? Is that the reason why, when it comes to Pensées Nocturnes, you decided to play alone? And, as you played and play in band with other musicians, how do you compare both? Do you feel that it’s harder or easier to work alone?
I often play with other people and I also play live with other bands which means that PN is a way for me to try something different. I can assure you that running a project alone is quicker than having to deal with a lot of individualities and points of view: it’s more spontaneous and coherent. You don’t have to convince anybody, to agree on something, to rehearse, to deal with the fifth wheel… Sure sometimes you may feel a little impatient because it’s a lot of work but it’s really pleasant to feel you master everything. The other reason is that it’s impossible to innovate when reducing the instruments used to two guitars and a bass. I think that together with only using (often unconsciously) the minor harmonic scale, this is the origin of the fact everybody is doing the same thing again and again. How do you want to do something new if you begin by restricting yourself on the choice of the instruments? What I mean is that you won’t ask for a trumpet player to come to play only a few notes on the whole album, and this is particularly true for a band which plays live. You just do it yourself.
08 – I’d like to know more about Pensées Nocturnes label, “Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions”. In my humble opinion, they have a small, but very impressive roster. Enlighten us about this organization and how is it to work with them?
Les Acteurs De L’Ombre is a non-making-money organisation which was created by Gerald to organise concerts in France, mainly in Paris, and I am used to giving them a hand from time to time. Later it evolved to be also a webzine and three years ago Gerald quitted the president function to create also the label, LADLO productions. I guess you can understand that being a part of it makes it quite natural for me to work with them. On the one hand it is still a small structure so I can’t have the same expectation as I would have in a bigger label but on the other hand this situation provides me the freedom I need. I am not under a contract which tells me what I have to do the objective of Ladlo productions being here to support the scene and not to make money.
09 – Tell us a bit about your other band, “Way to End”, one more band that is on the “Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions” roster and that I too find it interesting. First, do you believe that this band would also appeal to Pensées Nocturnes admirers? And how you get involved with them? I believe you are a part of the musicians that recorded “Various Shades of Black”, how do you feel over this album?
Way to End is an Avant-Garde Black Metal band in which I mainly play the bass and ensure part of the vocals. Even with the number of instruments has nothing to do with PN, WTE’s music is pretty chaotic and eccentric and I think PN’s fan should get it. I have indeed recorded “Various Shades of Black” with the band and I consider it more accomplished than Desecrated Internal Journey, even if the production is not really up to it.
10 – The French scene is getting more and more attention lately over some bands that are becoming successful around the world. But also, there were/ are great well respected bands such as “Peste Noire”, “Blut Aus Nord”, “Deathspell Omega”, just to name a few as well as the early stages of Black Metal with “Les Légion Noires”. How do you feel over all the attention that the French scene is getting lately? And also, do you feel that the underground bands are also benefiting from this attention?
I don’t really see it that way since I put music before side issues (country, musicians, artwork…) and generally speaking I prefer to judge bands on a case by case basis and try to avoid cataloging as far as possible. I think with the development of the Internet this notion of nationality has no signification anymore (in music) so I’m not particularly proud of being French even if indeed it seems we have a strong Black Metal scene. I don’t really try to fit to a style and what I’m used to listening to follow the same rules; I’m not led by any kind of chauvinism, only the way I feel the music. As for underground bands, I think they don’t care, by definition.
11 – And a question just to know a bit more about the man behind the music. I know that you’ve stated before that Pensées Nocturnes stands for itself and that you don’t think people should be interested in your, but rather the music, the thing is that the listeners of your music surely would like to know just a few more things about yourself. Nothing private, of course. Tell us, if you please, your main interests outside the music world. Anything you’d like to share with us.
I like to drink my own beers and eat good French food. These are the main reasons I wake up every morning.
12 – And we reach the end of this interview. One more time I want to thank you for the time you sparred for this small conversation and to wish you the best in the future to come. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Thank you for your time. All the best.
Label link: http://www.lesacteursdelombre.net/productions/May 28, 2014