a career of almost 15 years French Postrock/PostHardcore masters
DIRGE though used to be a dark horse for a long time,
waiting for the right time still to come. And finally, in 2007
real life and DIRGE’s very own cosmos juxtapositioned,
bringing the re-release of 2004 record And Shall The Sky
Descend to the hungry population out there, followed by
the fourth opus and masterpiece Wings Of Lead Over Dormant
Seas shortly after. Ban was broken and DIRGE explosively
came to awareness gaining enthusiastic praise and response,
as it happens on NH too, where DIRGE records don’t
leave the player without the highest rating. Time for a retrospective
and a look into the crystal ball…
Hello and greetings from Germany :) How are you doing, what
you’ve been up to lately?
Stéphane: We're OK, thank you.
Six months passed by since you have released your fourth opus
Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas and re-released And
Shall The Sky Descend three months prior the new one.
You almost came explosively into awareness of the metal community
at that time, setting off an avalanche of enthused response,
highest rated and raving reviews by fans and media. Did you
expect such feedback?
Stéphane: It would be very pretentious from us to
say that we were waiting for praises and compliments when we
finalized the album. The truth is that we were very happy with
the result, as this work fully filled us with satisfaction.
It was the most important thing. So I'd say that every good
response that came after was like a sort of “bonus”.
Of course it is very rewarding and encouraging but the ultimate
aim for us as a band, is to succeed in creating a work as close
as possible from what we have deep inside.
Seems like you have waited for the right moment all these years
like a sleeping larva. What was the initial impulse to “wake
up” and to set the ball rolling?
Stéphane: Nothing was planned. Musical trends come
and go, we just do our own things when we want, when we feel
that time is right for us to “go back to work” :).
For WOLODS we've just one day decided that enough
time had passed since the recording of our previous album. We
then were full of ideas, inspirations, and energy so everything
Reflecting on this time: What’s left of this turmoil these
days? Could you benefit from the media interest in any way?
Well… at least DIRGE is now a name many people know, although
you have to share this name with many other bands, even with
a French one ;)
Stéphane: We honestly do not know if our name means
something now for people interested in metalsludgepostdoomwhatever.
Concerning the benefits from these last months, I'd say that
things could be better for us, but we are not crybaby people.
Actually, what we miss the most is to play live, 'cause it is
still difficult to tour, to find good opportunities... Medias
and people received the album very well (and it's already a
very good thing), but it would be wrong to believe it changed
Concerning other bands with the same name... Well, some are
dead and buried for ages. The new ones (like the French one)
just seem not knowing how works Google or other search engines
when they search for a cool band name. That's a pity, and sometimes
Though, there is not too much to find while browsing the net,
except for the reviews of the above mentioned albums plus a
handful of interviews and live reports. Do you think people
and media are too superficial or the music biz too fast moving
Stéphane: First I think there is an interaction between
media and people. The first are supposed to feed the second
with interesting things, are supposed to go into details with
their interviews, reports, subjects etc. But do people really
want things to be like this? I'm not sure, as it also depends
on the age of the readers. Everyone knows, for instance, that
kids from the net generation are used to get quick information,
are used to engorge (with the help of internet) the music without
often really go into details with it. So maybe lots of media
follow this movement for fear of losing a part of their readers,
whereas it should be the opposite. Medias must offer new (or
old) things, must give the chance to let people discover, love,
hate, well-addressed subjects... It is quite always the case
with the indie webzines (and this is a very good aspect of the
internet), but not that much with the well-installed medias
like TV, press...
And it is also very clear that the musical “business”
moves far too speed today, but it is our modern world which
turns like this. Art becomes more and more marginalized by mass
Talking about Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas I think
one can state with a clear conscience that this record is now
kind of a reference album/a must-have for the so-called scene.
Something you proudly accept or do you just notice alongside?
Stéphane: It's not to us to say those kinds of things.
Time will tell ;)
As it is said, your lyrics get inspired by emptiness, loneliness
and huge plains on one hand and the inhuman, powerful might
of nature on the other. It’s clear to me for the emotional
side, but how much you have experienced of the nature side?
Have you ever been around the North Pole for example and seen
the Northern Lights? Experienced a volcanic eruption for example
or the desert’s silence (would you like to do so?)? Or
is it all born from your imagination?
Stéphane: I think you can make two types of experiment.
The first one is to immerse you in the nature, to contemplate
landscapes, to gaze into the skies etc. It's the “live”
experiment. The second one is to imagine, create, and re-create
things and events. It's the “dream” experiment.
We've never been around the North Pole, never walked along a
volcano, never witnessed any aurora borealis but we can fix
these images and turn them into feelings, then turn them into
music, into words. With DIRGE, a lot of things move,
rumble, knock together inside before being spitted out, like
a volcano, like a storm.
Do you follow a personal attitude, a special philosophy regarding
nature? Are you active in any way? If so, what kind?
Stéphane: First, we don't use DIRGE as a medium
to deliver messages. It's the creative and destructive power
of nature which inspire us (even though nature is not the only
driving force behind the band), nothing more. In our everyday
life, we act the best we can to protect the world from its terrifying
withering. We don't have any special philosophy regarding nature;
we just respect it as it deserves, but as we live in an industrialized
country, as we use cars etc., we sometimes face some “ecological
dilemmas”, if you know what i mean.
What exactly brings you to the desk starting with songwriting?
Inner need, outer influence?
Stéphane: It's only our own needs which start the
writing process of a song. Emotional needs, musical needs, experimentations
needs... Outer influences did have their importance in the past,
when we were younger but it is not the case anymore.
Oh, are there already ideas for the next album? If so…
tell us more please ;)
Stéphane: We have already begun to write on the fifth
album, some songs are pretty advanced but I won't tell you more
as there's for the moment nothing fixed. It's the first time
we start working so quickly after an album, I guess that's due
to a good creative dynamics (or the lack of concerts :))
Looking back it seems like it was the cleverest idea to sign
to a “foreign” label and to re-release your 2004
output. Who came up with that?
Stéphane: Some years ago, nobody was interested by
the kind of music we were playing. Things changed the 2/3 last
years and we grabbed the opportunity to sign with Equilibre.
You know, we've always wanted to sign with a label, which would
take charge of the releases, the distribution, the promo-relationships
with the media, everything which is usually boring for a band.
But in another hand, we wanted to keep an entire power and a
total freedom regarding the whole creating process (music as
well as artwork). Equilibre Music was interested by the band
and as they let us totally free to do what we want, it was perfect
to sign with them. And to re-release And Shall The Sky
Descend was of course an excellent thing as it allowed
this album to reach much more people than the previous version
that we released through our own small label Blight Records.
And what happens now to Blight Records? You signed to Equilibre.
Do you have other bands/projects on your own label to work with?
Stéphane: Our label still exists, even though it
is today rather like a “stamp” on the back of our
CDs. For the moment we're on Equilibre, but whatever would happen
in the future, Blight Record will be still there, even though
we do not have (for the moment) the time and the money to promote
other bands through it.
With the release of Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas there
were rumors around that you might support this record with a
European tour in Spring 2008. It’s now spring time but
I didn’t see any announced tourdates :( What’s planned
on this sector in the near future?
Stéphane: Yes indeed, a tour was in preparation but
sadly things got nowhere. For the moment we do not have any
plans but we keep on working on it. We'd love to play in Germany
for instance. You know, like I said before, things didn't change
that much after WOLODS: it is still difficult
to tour and to play live.
Apropos live appearances… I read that you have visualization
live on stage. What kind? Who creates the videos? Seems like
that this is something typical for this scene, because there
is hardly any band that doesn’t use this stylistic mean.
Stéphane: Yes, since 1998 we use video on stage.
It is big mix of nature shots (storms, earthquakes, volcanoes
etc.), archives footages, visual effects... Until now I was
on charge of the collecting as well as the editing and all the
works on the images; but we'll be soon working with a VJ as
real sixth member on stage. I don't know what about the rest
of the “scene”. I know Neurosis is doing it for
ages but to be honest, except Overmars or Red Sparrowes (in
a pretty different way comparing to us) I'm not sure it is that
I absolutely love Nulle Part, a song that is quite different
from the other ones. It is slow but not that heavy and all destroying
and with a slightly ambient touch, calming down senses. Did
you have a different approach while writing this song? Or is
it just the influence of your former bass player Hichem?
Stéphane: Of course, as we let him very free of doing
what he wanted (he sings but also played the main keyboards
part, choose some samples), Hichem had a big influence on the
final result of the song. But this track was already very advanced
before he discovered him. To be honest, Marc T. did the whole
structure and found some definitive ideas several months before
entering the studio. Then during the recording process, we made
a lot of improvisations, sometimes in just one take. So of course,
from the very beginning we knew that Nulle Part would
have a very different feeling, a different sounding in comparison
with the other tracks such as Meridians for example.
As I read in another interview, you work much structured, detailed
and almost perfectionist before you enter a studio for recording
sessions. Did it ever happen that something deeply inspired
you between songwriting and studio or in the studio itself and
you completely messed up a song?
Stéphane: No, fortunately. It is due to the fact
that we enter the studio with ideas exact enough to know where
we can go and where we must not: we always leave willfully room
enough for improvisations (it allows to give a very live approach
to the songs) but we know how never going overboard. For us,
recording is a fragile work made of accuracy and creativity.
Summarizing what I have learnt and read about DIRGE it seems
that the band lives in its own micro cosmos, completely independent
from the business/media/fan needs, working with its own rules.
You create music for yourselves; is DIRGE your personal catharsis?
Stéphane: Yes, totally. We are five different persons
in the band and DIRGE fills what everyone is seeking
in its own personal life. The music fills some voids, heals
scars and frustrations, and brings joy and satisfaction, things
like that. I speak for myself but I guess it works the same
with the other members. It's a kind of philosophy and yes, media,
fans, outside people have nothing to do with it. But of course,
I have to say that external flattering comments (or even bad
critics) have their importance, but behind our own point of
view. I would lie if I'd say that we don't give a shit when
a person says that she loves what we're doing (if it was the
case, we wouldn't sell our records, and we’d keep our
music just for ourselves). So of course it also has its importance,
but it is not the driving force behind DIRGE.
That somehow implies that you are all much contemplative and
introvert individuals, no?
Stéphane: Personally, I am more contemplative than
introvert. But I think our music only reflects some aspects
of what we are, deep down in the inside. We're not dark or melancholic
people in our everyday life. As we are not one-dimensional people,
the music we play only sheds light on one aspect of our personality.
This is this dark side which pushes us to play that kind of
bleak and depressive music. But it appears mainly through DIRGE,
when we're on stage, when we create.
What kind of life you have outside the music? I guess you can’t
live on it?
Stéphane: You're right :) We're working, some of
us have kids. We live a pretty normal life outside of the band.
In a way, I guess that is which gives a great importance to
DIRGE for us.
What other creative outlets and interests you have?
Stéphane: Today, I think DIRGE eats all our
creative instincts :) Concerning our interests, I'd say cinema,
graphic arts, tattoos and even football (only for myself!).
Ok, I’m almost at the end of my questions ;) Thank you
very much for the time you spend on answering them all and I
really hope to see you soon live on stage :)
Stéphane: Thank you for your interest and your support.
Hope to see you when we'll play in Germany!