An interview with the Québécois “Black Metal” band Sorcier des Glaces. As usual, I prefer to start by asking some questions that could interest those that aren’t still familiar with the band and then some more specific questions. Hope you enjoy it.
01 – Greetings! It is for me a great pleasure to be interviewing you. Your music was recommended to me by a Canadian friend and I immediately was blown away. Please, introduce yourself to our readers/ listeners.
Thanks for your kind words! Sorcier Des Glaces is a duo that started back in 1997 by me and Luc Gaulin, who is an old friend of mine and my partner in crime in music! We wanted to create something very cold and evil, with a strong emphasis on misanthropy, isolation and winter. In fact, the main goal of Sorcier Des Glaces at first was to pay “tribute” to my favorite black metal bands. Strange to say, but I knew SDG would never be a very innovative band at all, but rather an icy incarnation of a darker side of my mind. Throughout the years, I think we found our own sound and style and we decided to label it “Cold Primitive Metal” as we don’t like the term “Black Metal” to name our music.
02 – Sorcier des Glaces is about to release a new album named “Ritual of the End” (or the album will be already released, depending on when this interview will be online). Could you talk about it for us? How was the recording process as well as what are the appeals for those who are Black Metal (or, in your case Cold Primitive Metal) listeners but still aren’t familiar with your work?
“Ritual of the End” is our most mature achievement to date, as it is a combination of every aspects of our music that made SDG renowned for these days. I record every guitars, bass, vocals in my own Hell studio at first, and then we record Luc’s drum. We take care of every aspects of production, mixing, mastering, etc I like to have total control over it. This time, I wanted to get a more cleaner sound, a more metallic production, but preserving the whole SDG concept. There is not even a single keyboard note on the album because in 2010 we decided that should never be any keyboard again in our music. I like to create music with “real” metal instruments for SDG, even if the music is very “atmospheric”. I create many layers of lead guitars in background, let’s say maybe it’s our kind of trademark.
03 – I’ve read some reviews praising the song writing, which, in their opinion, was complex (and I have to agree with them when it comes to the songs I was able to listen to before purchasing the physical album). Tell us a bit about your song/ lyric writing process please.
I don’t think the songs are complex in any ways, but I do understand what people say. It comes naturally in my mind, it’s kind of a melody in my head and when I get this, I know that I am in for composing songs!
04 – Connected to the previous question and still about lyrics, I find interesting to see how each band works differently. When I interviewed Thy Catafalque, a Hungarian avant-garde band, Tamás, the mastermind, said that “lyrics are a part of it all together with the music and the artwork as they walk hand by hand, that it’s all a matter of the atmosphere” and then the band Summoning had a complete different answer which was that “when we compose music for Summoning the lyrics play no role at all. Normally I think about the lyrically concept when everything else is completed.” How do you feel about this? For you, are lyrics more, as or less important than the music?
I think the same as Summoning. For me, the music is the most important thing. I compose all parts of the song, all instruments and after that I get all the atmosphere, I’m in a feeling of composing lyrics that will suit the music. That’s the same as composing music. Some bands will compose songs with all members involved , they meet and it’s like “tonight we’re gonna write songs together”. I’m not like that at all. I’m a little selfish when it comes to write music.
05 – The production of the album sounds very clean, but still “real” black metalish, meaning something “dark”, if this is that could be understood. Generally speaking, how important is it for you the production of the album or any album at all?
Every albums of any bands need a production that fits the music. I do like as much “cleaner” than “raw” productions. I think an album like “Nattens Madrigal” by Ulver or “Transilvanian Hunger” by Darkthrone are superb, even if it’s extremely raw. That fits perfectly the music. For Sorcier Des Glaces, I like some raw edges on the overall sound, but I prefer a powerful metallic production like a hammer! The most important thing is to preserve the “real” feeling, not fall into what I call a plastic sound. I like Dissection “Storm of the Light’s Bane” and Mayhem “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, they are my eternal models. We already did a dirty production on our first album Snowland. But all depends… I could write a future SDG album and decide to do a complete demo-like production!
06 – In my humble opinion, French is one of the most beautiful languages and, again in my modest view, it fits extreme metal very well. You have some songs in French. Is there a reason why you don’t write more lyrics in French?
French is my main language and of course, I like to write some songs in French. Since I write music, I always wrote mainly songs in English… I think it’s because I want that people understand the meaning of the songs as English is the most recognized worldwide language. It certainly has no political meaning about this. That’s a personal choice for me. Some bands in Quebec only sing in French for political views, our history, but it is certainly not my case. I don’t know… I always been more comfortable to compose in English.
07 – And now, not thinking about the reviewers, what the fans would say, an answer from you only (you’ll understand why I say this at the end of the question). Before Ritual of the End, Sorcier des Glaces has released four highly acclaimed albums. It seems that the same will happen with Ritual of the End, but, of course, we have to wait. In your opinion, how would you rank your albums, including Ritual of the End? Perhaps you could say how you would compare each of one of your albums?
#1 is of course “Ritual of the End”: It has everything I always wanted an SDG album should have: It is cold, evil, it has a melancholic vibe all over the album. And we worked a very “Metal” production with the drum loud in the mix. It will not please all people, but for me it is our best achievement to date.
#2 “Snowland”, be it the remake or the original 1998 version: It is some of the best inspiration I never had. The songs are more simple, but the overall feeling is what I wanted for the first SDG album at the time. I didn’t like the poor playing on the original one, that’s why we decided to re-record the album in 2011. The remake IMO has kept the original feeling intact, but the playing and also the production is much better.
#3 is “The Puressence of Primitive Forests” because of its old school feeling. I wanted to really pay tribute to the masters of the genre on that album. It is also the album that marked our future direction without keyboards anymore in our sound. It’s a kind of resurrection for SDG, as our last real studio recording was Moonrise in Total Darkness in 1999…
#4 “Moonrise in Total Darkness” There is some really strong songs on this album, the title track and the french song “Là où la Pleine Lune Éclaire les Ombres du Royaume des Glaces” among others. I do like this album, but it is too much drowned in keyboards in many places. In 1999, me and Luc was experiencing with studio recording, we were very proud of that album, but shortly after Luc was leaving Moonlyght, our main band at the time. I had to reform entirely Moonlyght, so the Sorcier Des Glaces project was put on ice and this album was buried by time and dust!! Releasing that album in 2006 was way too late, maybe in 1999 or 2000 would have been more appropriate.
08 – The Canadian metal scene has been very prolific over the last decades, but we can specifically sense the raise of the Québécois metal scene, mostly on the Black Metal genre (or Extreme Metal). We could say that Sorcier des Glaces has been one of the pioneers on this, since you’ve been around for almost 17 years. Do you have any explanation on this raise and how beneficial could this be for Sorcier des Glaces? By the way, do you have any connections with these bands or, at least, enjoy the music produced by some of them?
Absolutely. In Quebec we have so many great bands, be it newcomers or old ones. I don’t have many connections with black metal bands here, except for Monarque, who is a great guy. We collaborate often on our albums since 2010. I made the production for their latest album “Lys Noir” album and play keyboards and some guitar. We share some taste in music but also when it comes to composing songs. I like Except than that, I do like a lot Voivod.
09 – I’ve read that Sorcier des Glaces is a band that doesn’t play live gigs. There are several studio bands only that, currently, are thinking about playing live, under some circumstances. If Sorcier des Glaces would ever play a show, which would be your main requests to play live?
Sorcier Des Glaces is not, and will never be a live band. We decided that right at the start. I think our music should be appreciated alone, I don’t think it should be associated with stage diving, walls of death, and so on. We’ve been asked so many times, but the answer is still no.
10 – One question about the Progressive Dark Metal band Luc and you, Sébastien, are a part of. I personally find the music that Moonlyght very interesting and would like to listen to something new some day. For those who aren’t familiar with this band, could you talk a bit about Moonlyght? Do you have any plans to release a new album?
Sure! Moonlyght was my first band that I started in 1995 along with Luc and some close friends. We released two official full-lengths albums and a demo since 1996. We’ve got many line-up changes through the years, and in 2008 I decided to split Moonlyght because of internal tensions with some members. In 2011, I thought that Moonlyght should revive as a studio project only, and that would better. Me and also Luc reunited with our first bass player ever, Christian Jacques, and Thierry Nadeau-Cossette (keyboards), who was part of Moonlyght since 2000. I started to write a third album, much more progressive, dark and brutal than everything I had composed for the past albums. Our third album is called “Return to Desolation” and should be released sometime at the end of 2014 or first half of 2015. It is by far, the best Moonlyght material ever, and this time I will take care of the whole production myself at Hell studio. I think that our second album “Shining” was plastic and lifeless, I must confess that I don’t like that album at all!
11 – Si Smith is one of the members of your podcast/ website. Once he interview a band, it was so long ago, I don’t even remember which one, but I could never forget one of his questions and sometimes I ask band members this one as I found it interesting for those that are starting bands. There are many metalheads out there who want to create metal. What would you say is needed for someone to have the character to see this kind of thing through to the end? Have you any advice for such a person?
Do what you want and don’t let the others tell you what to do! The most important thing is to remain true to yourself, and never make any compromises because of what the others would want you to become. I always made what I want and my music pleases me at 100%. That’s the point! It is a fact: music should never become a living but rather a creative hobby, like writing a book or painting for exemple. We have all dayjobs and it is correct like that, we never thought ever we could get huge, sell thousands of albums and make tours as a living. This is when you loose the creativity and the “magic” touch on your music I think.
12 – And now a little about yourself. Nothing too personal, of course, but, the fans always wants to know a bit more about the person behind the music. Could you share with us what are your favorite hobbies, if you prefer beer or wine, do you enjoy movies and/ or books and if so, could tell us some titles? What do you prefer to do when you go home after your work? Are you more into a social meeting in a pub or relaxing at home?
I have a family, and of course I like to relax after work at home! Contrary of what people would think because of the whole Sorcier Des Glaces concept with all the misanthropy, evilness and isolation, I’m a very sociable person! There is time when I need to be alone like everyone, but as a person I consider myself a very cheerful person. I’m a wine lover, I’m really into that. I like to explore all facets of wine, terroirs, etc. I do like a lot of movies, my faves are “The Shining”, the Indiana Jones and Back to the Future Trilogy, Magnolia, and so many others. I do like a lot of movies from David Lynch, I like the overall atmosphere and the creativity behind his movies.
13 – This is something that I don’t know if I’d ask if I already knew the answer from the previous question, but I’ll give it a try. I love tasting beers from all over the world, be it when I travel or at home and I’ve concluded that Quebec has some of the finest beers around the globe. We all know that Germany and Belgium produce amazing beer and, in my humble opinion (again), Québécois beer deserves way, way more recognition! What do you think about the beers produced in your Province, do you have any favorites, any that you’d recommend?
I’m more into wine tasting, not much into beers, but I think that many of the Unibroue are remarquable: Blanche de Chambly, Don de Dieu, or La Maudite. I do like a lot of the Archibald beers, La Tite’Kriss is good! There is also the Cheval Blanc beer that I like.
14 – And we’ve reached the end of this interview. I hope you enjoyed it and again, thank you for taking your time to answering it. Do you have any last words for our readers/ listeners?
We are already working on our next offering that will be called “North”. We should record drums next Fall, all instruments and vocals were already recorded back in 2011, around the same time as The Puressence of Primitive Forests! We promise you again an offering of ice and darkness. For now, open a good bottle of Pinot Noir, light some candles and listen to our latest album Ritual of the End.April 14, 2014