Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Sunday Conversation with Abysse

French ambient metallers, Abysse, floored us with their two song EP entitled Le vide est forme.Filled with huge swells of sound and complex musical arrangements, this disc made the Ripple office stop and take note. A few months back, we were able to spend a few moments with the band to find out more about how they create their wondrous sounds and to find out more about the music scene in France. 

Every musician is influenced by those who came before them, but what were your major musical epiphanies that inspired you to create music? What major musical moments helped define you as musicians?

Abysse is a "friend band". We grew up together since we were 6 years old. Now, we are 20, time spent together has permitted us to discover huge bands as Opeth, Lamb of God, The Haunted but also to create our own music database, sometimes enjoying bands that the others totally dislike!

Defined as a beginner musician was an easy step "Hey Guys, it's time to learn instruments and create a rock band" (Summer 2004). Easy as fuck, uh?

We needed barely 3 years to create what Abysse is now. Mastering instruments, developing, creating.. We recorded "Le vide est forme" in summer 2008, exactly 4 years after the killing question: "Hum, who wants to play guitar? You Vincent? So I'll learn bass. What is a bass guys?" 

Entering in this professional recording studio was time to feel like a musician and say 'Hey, I'm part of a rock band. Not the best, not the perfect one, but a cool rock band. That's what we wanted guys, we’ve done it!' A year after, we can say that it was a little step, and we are now in front of the wall.

Le vide est forme is only a two song, twenty minute long EP. What made you decide to issue this release as an EP and not go for a full length product?

 Our writing process is very long. When we recorded it, we didn't have any add songs to record. It was the moment to end the garage band period. The concept "2 tracks - 20 minutes" was strong, original. We had a good feeling with our studio engineer (David Potvin from the band Lyzanxia (Listenable records) and One Way Mirror (Metal Blade). He understood what we wanted and made a very good job, giving soul to our universe. It was another step, give the audience our identity ' We are an ambient band, will never create radio hit'

From where we’re sitting, the French music scene appears to be a burgeoning entity of massive creativity. Being that you’re there, does it feel the same way?

 France is a particular country. Metal music is not considered as music for masses. Our top 5 is Rn'B, Electro, Pop, Rap and French variety. So there is no institute, no structure for metal bands. We have to find by ourselves the great bands who really kick ass in different styles. It's not so easy for them (and us!) to be heard. Many talents stay anonymous while our French proud (Gojira, Hacride..) is getting bigger and bigger. We've got a few bands who cross borders, who are recognize in foreign country. Even if we've got great bands (take a listen to Watertank, Overmars, A Subtle Understatement), we find that the French scene is poor as well. Maybe because we've got many bands who are a 'copy of a copy'. Dejà-vu as we say in France.

Is there a lot of camaraderie within the various bands of the French underground?

 Metalhead’s are very nice, sure it's the case in the whole world. We’ve toured since late 2008, so we do not meet a lot of people, but it's been a great pleasure to share with musicians, promoters (sometimes you find great assholes, but we forget them as fast as possible). We met superstar (Guillaume Bideau haha(singer from Mnemic, One Way Mirror, Scarve..!) and great unknown bands. When people are motivated, they are interesting!

What do you see as being the biggest obstacle in getting your music heard in some of the more major markets, such as the U.S.?

 US market is not untouchable. We don't have any distributor for the moment . . . maybe because we didn't search them. But it will be the next step for our first LP (recording session in a year maybe). For the moment, we will have to share with people like you, getting reviews and interviews, find radios... It's a very hard work. We are actually working on many foreign magazines, but sometimes, they are not translated in English... Hard time!

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

We probably have the most weird way to write... We get together in our rehearse place and play, until finding the best riff/arrangement. We only work together, 4 musicians, 1 music... We are not able to write alone as many bands. If one of the members is not here (even the bass player!), we can't write!
It starts with a guitar riff. Our drummer is the orchestra chief, he gives them sense, a soul, and the way he plays, our guitarist will accommodate for the next. Leads come naturally on and bass gives basement, leads by the drums. We need about 4 month to write a ten minute song... For our upcoming first long play, we decided to think about a concept, how we want to feel the songs, get a view of the art work. We've got a direction to create a coherent album.

What piece of your music are you particularly proud of?

 We love what we play, we give pleasure to ourselves. That's how we feel music. We are happy to see people supporting us, loving personal music like ours. We are proud about one thing. Show to people that music sometimes doesn't need vocals.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

 We can't pretend to live with music. But we've got inside of us the energy to push the band as far away, away as we can. We spend a lot of time with promotion, management, and booking. When you want to go further, you have to think business. Play instrumental underground pieces and think money both is possible . . . haha. We consider us a self managed band. We do everything. We produce our own show in our region, so we played with great bands (Hacride, Kruger.) We create our own promotion/management/booking structure, working as me want. We are actually evoluate as booker, working on a west euro tour with good bands, including Abysse as opening act. We want to become a label soon to sign Abysse and re edit 'Le vide est forme'. Work hard is the best way to get notoriety. When our next album will be recorded, we will need to find a bigger label, tour agency.

Describe to us the ideal (realistic) record label and how you'd work with them, and they with you.

 Ideal professional structure are the ones who give us musical liberty, let us work as we want, but giving us what you can't get alone (International distribution, euro tour, maybe US Tour :)) We stay unskilled in some domains, we need elders to get what we want, a label that works for you if you work for them. These two last questions give you a taste of how our business works.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

If you want Vinyl or CD, you need money. When we've got some to spend on good stuff, we get a better appreciation when items are real, artwork bigger. We will never buy mp3.

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