franceInterview: Frédéric Gervais – Vocals, Bass

Hello!! First, how did you guys come up with the name ORAKLE – I’m going to start right from the beginning. Have you always associated your music with the avantgarde music genre or did that come later?
It’s been a while now… I started ORAKLE with Pierre (drums) and a few friends in the mid 90’s, when we were 14 yo teenagers. I can’t really remember who came up with this name, but I know we were looking for a simple word, understandable in many languages, and we kinda liked the mystical aura and sound of it. Nothing fancy here! Regarding the genre, our first EP (2002) was strange stuff, somewhere between atmospheric black-metal and more progressive elements. Our first two albums (Uni aux cimes in 2005 / Tourments & Perdition in 2008) leaned towards more “sophisticated” Black-Metal: we’ve been compared a lot to EMPEROR and ARCTURUS so I guess there were those “avant-garde” things involved. Overall, given the fact that ORAKLE has been our channel of expression since so many years now, I’d say it just followed our own tastes and appetites as musicians, and experimenting new stuff has always been a part of it.

How do you view this album in the grand scheme of ORAKLE’s progression over the years?
“Eclats” is our more personal and ambitious work to date. Well, I feel a little embarrassed to say this, because I often smile at bands’ usual marketing speech, ahah (“this is our best album so far… well, before next one”). But I really feel we did free ourselves from many codes and play a music that can’t be compared to anything obvious. Which is a good thing to me, whatever be the audience response when the album is out. So there’s not really something like a “grand scheme of progression”, but “Eclats” is nonetheless a cornerstone of our musical adventures.

ÉclatsCould you discuss the concept behind “Éclats”? What’s the story behind the album title? Please, can you introduce lyric side of “Éclats“? How important are lyrics in your music?
Lyrics are very important to us – being a musician and composer does not mean you shouldn’t put effort in writing strong lyrics too. Of course, one can experience ORAKLE just for music – and I’m aware that our choice of singing in French (we wouldn’t be able to go that “deep” in English) can surprise and obviously put many listeners away from the lyrical content. But it’s also a part of what makes this band special, I guess.

Regarding the concept behind Eclats, it’s more something that came at the very end of the recordings, not something that would have existed prior to it. We always did that way: Pierre and I write lyrics separately, discuss general guidelines and topics, and that’s only once the album is finished that we find common ideas or images. “Eclats” is a word that has a double-meaning in French. First, it means “fragments”, that is to say broken parts of an abstraction called totality – and that’s a key subject within the lyrics: the relationship between the fragment and the totality, the part and the whole. A song like “Incomplétude(s)” for example, deals with the anguish of humans as discontinuous beings, suffering from a kind of “serialisation” and yet claiming for self-sufficiency – at the end it invites to acknowledge the world as something swallowing us, rather than something we can control. Songs like “Solipse”, “Nihil incognitum”, “Le sens de la terre”, or “Humanisme vulgaire” also have to do with the place of the human being within an hypothetical totality, through different perspectives though. On the other hand, in French “Eclats” also means “sparkles” or “brightness” – a rather contrasted meaning, this one being connected to the light, and overall more joyful and appeased elements one can find in songs like “Aux éclats” (dealing with laughter as a divine experience where we are offered the possibility to defeat self-proclaimed superior values, be it God, idealism or any kind of seriousness), “Le sens de la terre” (a reflexion about contemplation and the state of deindividuation it brings) or “Bouffon existentiel”.

Orakle2Are there some writers/poets in particular that have been a source of inspiration?
During the last years I’ve spent a lot of time on the complete works of French writer/philosopher/thinker Georges Bataille. I already had a good contact with “L’expérience intérieure” ten years ago, but this time I went deeper into all his writings and discovered a fascinating and complex thought, which I really appreciate and feel close to. Obviously he’s been a source of inspiration for me. Regarding the lyrics I wrote, I can also mention French intellectual Maurice Blanchot (especially about the idea of “community” he developed), philosopher Hegel, poet Antonin Artaud, but also deeply religious authors like Angèle de Foligno and her “Book of visions”, or writers like Léon Bloy, Huysmans… Pierre has always been a great reader of Nietzsche (he studied philosophy and particularly the German philosopher in University a few years ago), but another influence came from Schopenhauer and “The World as Will and Representation”. Especially for the lyrics of “Humanisme vulgaire”, connected to the “Will of life”, the desire and common suffering of everything living. I can also mention a French philosopher named Pierre Hadot, who wrote an essay called “Le voile d’Isis” about the idea of nature and how it changed through History – this work influenced Pierre during the writing of “Le sens de la Terre”.

Orakle3Was the writing process any different for this album than it was for the past two?
Well, all three albums share a similar scheme, although “Eclats” pushed it a lot further. Since our first album, I’ve composed most of the music (guitar, bass, keyboards), mainly at home because it’s easier for me there to concentrate and go into “that” specific mood, and as I run a little studio (Studio Henosis, near Paris) I also have good conditions to record ideas. During rehearsals Pierre write the drums parts and we decide the songs’ global structures together. On the first two albums, our former guitarist (who left in 2010) also contributed a little to the guitar stuff. I said “Éclats” pushed it a lot further, first because we really wanted to explore new territories musically, and it took some time of practicing to learn new techniques, sound possibilities, etc. But what changed a lot compared to our previous albums is the absence of a full line-up during the writing period. We quickly ended up as a trio in 2010, so I chose to focus on guitar only. We recorded the drums and the guitars during the summer of 2012, but then I hardly had a note written on bass, keyboards or vocals… That’s one of the reasons why it took such a long time.

Orakle4How can you describe the music you play? What are your opinions on attempts to merge of different music genres? Is it only way how provide evolution of metal music?
I’m not very good at defining our own music… I guess one can hear many things in an album like this! It obviously has some black-metal roots, but we’re now able to inject everything we want in our music, and that includes rock, alternative, more avant-garde elements, etc. I mean, I’ve been a fan of METALLICA since my childhood, still enjoy many things in metal, be it really fast and extreme, or more progressive, avant-garde stuff, but I also listen to a lot of classical / contemporary music (Arvo Part, Penderecki…) and I’m also very much into prog and alternative rock, from bands like QUEEN, KING CRIMSON, TO THE MARS VOLTA, RADIOHEAD… To sum it up, we play metal music… in our own way! I also think it’s very challenging and demanding music. You have to sit down and take some time to listen to it, focus your attention, because the songs are quite long and frequently shifting. And to answer the second part of your question, even though I can still enjoy some very conservative bands, yes I feel it’s really healthy to try and merge different things – art and even life in general can only grow on new experiences, aren’t they?

Orakle5You have cooperated with a few labels – Melancholia Records, famous Holy Records. Are you satisfied with the support of Apathia records? Have you any expectations concerning the new label?
We’re totally satisfied with the support of Apathia Records. You know, when we finished the album at the end of 2014, we hadn’t a clue about how it would be released, when, through a label or by our own means… We had isolated ourselves from the scene for such a long time to complete this album – we even didn’t know if the band would still be remembered after all those years of silence, you know? Apathia came with a very humble, sincere proposal. They were very enthusiastic about the music, and you can feel the passion in what they do. That’s what we need, someone sharing our passion and commitment. Someone who dares releasing challenging music, like they previously did with a band like PRYAPISME. They’re not a big label, they run it on their spare time, but they’re really behind us, have a good distribution in France and worldwide, and are always ready to help the band getting better known. It’s been a really nice relationship so far.

Orakle_imageWhat are some of the bands that you are inspired by as far as creativity? Are there any other artists that you enjoy listening to at the moment at all?
Creativity is very hard to explain. I’m into very different genres, and even though we play metal, all of them have more or less of an impact on what I compose. In metal, bands like EMPEROR, SATYRICON, ENSLAVED or ABIGOR influenced me when I was younger, so they’re probably still somewhere in my DNA. I’ve always been inspired by what’s unique and different – in metal I’d say VIRUS, VED BUENS ENDE or ARCTURUS for example. But as I said before, many influences also came from outside of the metal genre, with artists such as Robert Fripp & KING CRIMSON, PINK FLOYD, Freddie Mercury / Brian May & Queen, Omar Rodriguez or Björk, MUSE, the new ULVER (was fan of the old too…) or classical composers like Scelsi, Penderecki. Really, it has more to do with something strong enough to stimulate us as artists. Sometimes it can be as simple as assisting to a concert: for example a few days ago I saw WOVENHAND live in Paris, and even though we’re obviously not playing the same music, I nonetheless came back home with the desire to take my guitar and “say something too”.

What do you think about metal scene? How have you observed the metal underground scene change over the years?
I don’t really think it has some kind of importance. We were quite out of this scene during a few years, as we deliberately chose to. Now, running a commercial studio and having renewed my interest in metal music, I discover new things, some really good, some bad… as usual. Nothing really changed: you always have those boring conservative people defending “metal” like they would with their wife and children, and on the other side more challenging and interesting stuff, open-minded people, etc. It’s more what’s around the music that changed a little: for example how even underground bands use things like Facebook now (… we did create our own page really, really late). Or this fashion of doing lyrics-videos, which I find quite boring.

Orakle6I would like to know which the current musical atmosphere is in France. How the public receives this music type like a black metal and avantgarde music? I think, that your new bands are really fantastic… For example: DEATHSPELL OMEGA, ALCEST, PRYAPISME, BLUT AUS NORD, HELL MILITIA etc. Do you know music of these bands? Are there any other interesting bands in your country?
Of course I know these bands, because I try to keep informed of what’s going on. I enjoyed the last offerings from DEATHSPELL OMEGA and BLUT AUS NORD, two amazing and unique bands, and the last PRYAPISME was killer too – not a copycat of anything, for sure. I enjoyed the last album of 6:33 “Deadly scenes” (crazy weird Burton-esque / Townsend rock metal), and can also recommend releases from bands like THE GREAT OLD ONES, WORMFOOD… Now regarding the audience reception, as usual there are some people curious and eager to discover new things, and some very traditional who will not tolerate what’s outside their limits.

What are you preparing for upcoming months? Do you want to conquer the other countries or is it more of a hobby?
We work on the release and we’re looking for live events now, mainly from September 2015. Maybe we’ll try to make a video clip for one of the songs too, but it’s not certain yet. The priority now is to find shows and play live. Of course, we’d like to be offered the possibility to come in other countries and play our music there! I guess you can call that a devouring hobby haha.

Any hobbies without music?
Not much. I spend my days as a sound engineer in my studio (by the way, any band reading this and possibly enjoying the album can contact me for mixing their album, EP or demo, or just doing a free test-song at contact@studiohenosis.com), give a few guitar lessons and write music, mostly. I have a family and a little girl too, so the days are well busy enough! When I have spare time, I enjoy reading, watching movies, travelling and partying with friends, like anybody else I guess.

Anything you wish to add to close out? All The BEST for you and ORAKLE!!
Thank you very much for your support. This album was a monster to give birth to, but I really hope people in your country will be curious and listen to it… See you!




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