Hails Monarque! First of all thank you for your time invested for interview with our humble zine. So let’s start with some basic info. According to my little search your label spreads plague for bit over a decade. Can you tell us what motivated you to start this project and what changed since labels foundation?
At this particular moment in time, there was a renewal amongst the Black Metal scene in Quebec city. A lot of interesting projects were created and the live scene was very active as well. I wanted to add another level of support for my comrades and decided to start my own label. Not much has changed since the beginning except that I rarely sell during concerts now and it happens mostly online. I still support local acts, old and new, that I believe have the true black metal spirit and deserve to be known. If I don’t like it, I won’t release / support it. It is a work of passion, and there is no or little money involved and it is simply for the love of the underground.
Back, when ”Ritual of the End” by Sorcier des Glaces was released I had to buy CD version as well, as I really didn’t get albums whole potential from this version. Now, LPH have approximately 50 releases on its account and most of these are in tape format. Whats the main reason for choosing this format instead of more durable Cd’s or recently very popular LPs? Aren’t you afraid that tapes might deliver bit less than other formats?
This is a question of opinion, but I think all 3 formats are great. Tapes are a bit cheaper to produce and I can have a limited pressing with them. Not the usual 500 or 1000 copies common with CDs. Since my label is not a full-time job and I don’t have the space, nor the money to have a huge catalogue, it seemed the best solution for me. With cassettes I can support great bands, and don’t sit on too many copies. Plus, I like the format very much, the possibilities with artwork and the sound of the tape. It’s like a little machine, something fragile, but that has a very powerful content. It is also because of nostalgia, as I grew up listening to cassettes and I am very enthusiast about it being still relevant to this day in the underground. I will occasionally release CDs too, but even if I collect vinyls as well, it is not a format that I plan on releasing with LPH.
French Canadian black metal scene really took me by storm, especially after I bought amazing re-release of ‘’Moonrise in Total Darkness’’released by LHP. As i kept going through your offerings I found many jewels but there are two I keep in highest regard – DÉLIQUESCENCE and ZIEL BEVRIJD. I was fortunate enough to get my filthy fingers on them but I want more. What happened with these projects? Are they on hold or dead? Any chance to release them on LP or CD? What releases created under your banner are you most proud of?
DÉLIQUESCENCE is on hold yes, but we are planning a re-release compilation on vinyl now. Maybe CD too, but I do not know. It will be release by another label, not LPH. ZIEL BEVRIJD is dead and buried, as the guy in this project has not been involved in black metal for many years. And I don’t think he will ever be into it again.
Every release on LPH is important for me. I do not consider the first Valknacht album a LPH release, since all I did was putting my logo on the CD to help friends, but I have not distributed it, nor participated in the production process. Every time I release something new, I am proud of it. So recently I would say that I am very happy with the latest Sanctuaire EP, “Feu Sacré”.
There are two other labels from province of Quebec which are held in respect by many – Tour De Garde and Sepulchral Productions. i know for certain that at least within UG items from this trinity are very much sought after, yet i would not dare to say that any of them crossed the border to mainstream. Far from it in fact. How do you see popularity of LPH? Does it mean anything for you at all or do you appreciate well deserved attention? Do you work together with above mentioned lapels/people behind them in any way?
I am not really aware of LPH being popular, all I know is that I often have the same people coming back to get the latest release, and a “regular” support like this is something that I really like. It feels like I have a common musical taste with these individuals and it shows a respect for what I do, and the artist that I support. In recent years I have been working closely with Tour de Garde. He probably has one of the biggest underground metal distribution in Canada.
Sepulchral is a good friend too, but he focuses more on CDs and only on a few bands. I like to have a wider spectrum of things. Nonetheless both TDG and Sepulchral are important in Quebec black metal scene, each in their own way. Sepulchral is actually the best booker for black metal shows here and helps the scene a lot with all kinds of opportunities for local and international bands. Sepulchral has help my band MONARQUE a lot and it would not be known like it is today without him, so I am thankful for that.
You are involved not just in label related activities but creating music as well. You told me that MONARQUE (which I assume was your main known project as far as I know) is on hold atm and you are busy with SANCTUAIRE. I find this change of interest(if i can call it that) as positive thing as I find my personal taste more closer to the latter. What is main reason for this change from quite well established project for newer one? Do you think that you said all what was needed with MONARQUE?
This is how I feel, yes. For now I think MONARQUE will rest in the shadows while I explore something new. I love new beginnings, that’s why I have always been and still is, involved with demo projects and releasing. I like the energy and naivety of starting all over again. Of course, it does not mean that I reject any “life-long” project or a well established discography. We evolve has persons and things change. Taste changes too. Sanctuaire reflects in a better way who I am today. While the project MONARQUE will always be a part of me too. But I think I have reached it’s peak now, and it will only come back when it has to.
So far you have two demos and three EPs released under Sanctuaire’s banner. This project is mixture of epic black metal and ambient. What are your opinions on these genres, their evolution and even combinations of them? Also I’m interested what is this project exactly about? It uses celtic/norse symbolism (cover arts, logo,…), yet musically it’s not related to any of these cultures (at least in my ears). Do you feel connected to european pagan ancestry? I must applaud also great idea of donating money from your limited edition box of first two demos to foundation preserving Quebec’s nature. Were there any reactions from people behind this organisation on money colleced from sale of black metal material (if they knew about it)?
Metal and ambient are two styles that have been with me for a long long time. I like to be able to create songs within these two genres and it suits Sanctuaire very well. At least, it is to my liking. Combining both of them is a bit trickier and it must be well done in order to be good and feel natural for the listener. I am still experimenting about this. It gives me a lot of possibilities, so I do not feel “restrained” by a particular set of “rules” for composing. There is great music in every genre, but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find the jewels and the good stuff.
SANCTUAIRE is a personal project and it’s based on a blend of ideas I have and my cultural heritage. I am a descendant of Scottish clan of norse and gaelic mercenaries and that is one of the reason why I use so many nordic and celtic symbols. Musically it is harder to tell since I have not incorporated folk elements, yet, but it does not matter. The music of SANCTUAIRE corresponds to my ideas and if the listener wants to associate it with it’s own mythos, that’s allright. There is also the language barrier that does not help, but there are mentions of both these culture in the lyrics, even if it is very metaphorical.
Thanks for your words on this donation idea. I feel very concerned with nature and wildlife in general. I thought that it was interesting to do something special and also help the preservation of the forest in a tangible way. I have to say I was surprised by how this concept was welcomed. There are even buyers who gave me more that the suggest price, so I could give more money to the wildlife foundation. That was much appreciated and it felt like I was doing the right thing. I am not aware of any reaction besides appreciation from the people who work for the foundation, I have not told them it was benefits from black metal music, maybe I should have now that you make me think about it… haha! I might repeat a similar project in the future with new music, I don’t know, but I am open-minded to do so.
Among other things you are live musician for french-canadian flagship FORTRESSE. How it came to this collaboration? Are you only live member or do you have any influence on albums themselves? Whats ideological difference between FORTRESSE and Sanctuaire/or other of your projects?
Yes, I used to play lead guitar for them when they first started playing live. Then I left for a few years and recently they asked me to join them again, which I did. I play live bass now. We are friends at first, so it was just a logical thing to organize a live setting together. Many of the Quebec bands are sharing live or session members. Ideologically it has similarities regarding how both projects are exploring culture and identity. But Sanctuaire is very personal about my origins, while FORTRESSE cherish and sings about the Québécois heritage, its folklore and it’s longing for independence. As of now I only played on the “Nuit pour la patrie” rehearsal and the Légendes split. Besides that, I have written lyrics for the band. I hope I can be a part of the next album as the official bass player, we’ll see when recording begins. It is up to them.
We are aware of pretty interesting festival organized in Montreal entitled Messe Des Morts. Last time it got even more and unwanted attention by junkie communist organisation called Antifa. Are you involved in any way in this festival? Whats your take on this unfortunate event when bunch of lowlifes get so much power that festival gets cancelled (if i remember correctly)? In Europe and especially in Germany this is quite common practise that venues or events got attacked/cancelled/bullied even if band is just released by label which is for one reason or another uncomfortable for degenerates. Is it common in your part of the world?
I used to be involved in the MDM organization, but I am not anymore due to lack of time. But it really is a great fest, and probably the biggest black metal festival in north america. I was trapped in the building with the bands and the police when the antifa protested. Of course, like any thinking person I have nothing good to say about antifa. We could say karma made it’s way, since this year’s MDM fest was held without a single problem, and about 40 antifas were arrested at a protest during the same week-end. They can fuck off! I know about that reality in Europe too and unfortunately it is slowly happening more and more often here too. People have to stand up and resist to their pressure. They will never win.
What I like on Québécois black metal is that unique feeling. I’m not necessary talking about originality in music, but there is that pinch of something which, if one listens properly, distinguishes the french-canadian spirit. Times of colonization of this part of world by your European ancestors, brave voyageurs, struggle with either hard environment or life in general. You do have that skill to grab all this emotions within your music and that’s why I appreciate it so much. So, my question is. What it means for you to come from this part of the world? Do you feel any loyalty to ancestral homeland of France even seeing what is becoming?
I think the way you describe our scene is beautiful and I thank you for that. I feel strongly connected to Québec, but not the rest of Canada, obviously. Like many other comrades in the scene. We have a unique culture here it is important to be conscious about it. As previously mentioned, I explore my personal norse-gaelic heritage in readings, archeology and documentaries, this is a personal quest. But first and foremost I am a Québécois. I do not really feel connected to France, except for the language. It is the only point that Québec has in common with them today.
OK Monarque, lets wrap it up. Thanks a lot for your time. Wish you all the best to the future and keep providing us with amazing music. Last words are yours…
I thank you for the interview. “Aut vincere, aut mori”!