When hearing AEPHANEMER for the first time, one automatically places the band in Finland. The symphonic melodic death metal from France is clearly Scandinavian influenced, and the third „A Dream Of Wilderness“ is no exception. Guitarist and songwriter Martin Hamiche and singer Marion Bascoul tell us in this interview about these influences, temporary paralysis and the hope for more harmony with nature.
Hello, thank you for taking time to do this interview. How are you the days?
Martin: Hello, thank you for interviewing us! We are very fine, and a bit busy just like every band releasing an album! (laughs) Hopefully, everything has gone very well so far.
You released your debut album „Memento Mori“ and the follow up “Prokopton” on your own. What has changed for you since you signed to Napalm Records?
Martin: Indeed, we released our two first albums on our own label Primeval Records, which means we had to do everything by ourselves. Releasing an album on Napalm Records is much less stressful as there are many things we are not in charge anymore! Being signed to Napalm Records also allowed us to gain some visibility and some credibility. It’s now possible to find our albums in stores all over the world, and it allows us to reach people that we wouldn’t have been able to reach on our own.
Your band name AEPHANEMER is a combination of the French words „éphémère“ and „fanée“, which means “ephemeral” and “fading”. Why did you choose that name and what does it mean to you personally? At first, I really had problems to remember it, because it seems very unusual, but also unique.
Martin: „éphémère“ and „fanée“ are two words related to the autumn season, that I love. However, I must admit that I didn’t come up with the name of our band myself: my sister did! And I now have to say it in every interview I do, otherwise there would be consequences for me…
How have you developed yourselves as musicians since your debut, what do you do better on your new album?
Martin: Well, if you listen to our discography, from our first EP „Know Thyself“ to our upcoming album „A Dream Of Wilderness“, you will probably notice that our technical level slowly increased. We weren’t exactly great players in 2014, but we improved over the years. I think it’s the same about our songwriting – I still love our old songs and I wouldn’t say they’re inferior to our new material, but I used to rely on a lot fewer musical elements than I do now.
How does the songwriting process work for you? Are you all involved, how are the songs created?
Martin: I usually write the music alone – guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, other instruments – and send the finished songs to the rest of the band. Then Marion writes the lyrics and the vocal lines while Mickaël (drums) and Lucie (bass) tweak their parts every time I write something unplayable (which happens more often than I would like to admit). I don’t know if we’ll always work this way, but so far, everyone is happy with the process!
At first listen I thought your music sounds very Finnish, for example like early Ensiferum, Wintersun and Kalmah. What’s your opinion on that, are Finnish melodic death metal bands among your influences? As a funny detail the album was mastered at Finnvox Studios in Finland.
Martin: Scandinavian metal is indeed a huge influence for us! I think the core of our music is Scandinavian melodic death metal mixed with various influences. Children Of Bodom, In Flames, Amon Amarth are the bands who made me want to write my own music. Nowadays, I don’t listen to them every day because I already know their songs very well, and it’s more satisfying for me to listen to new music and discover new musical elements that I could integrate into our music. For example, I love baroque music, Soviet patriotic marches, some religious songs and many video game and movie OSTs.
Each song feels like its own little journey with its own story. The interlude „Vague à l’âme“ divides the album into two halves, much like a vinyl record. What is the idea behind it and is the album made to be listened to in its entirety?
Martin: When I write an album, I like to write interludes, because they allow me to „decrease the intensity“ of the music for a short while, which I think is very important for the kind of music we create. The album is made to be listened in its entirety, it is not really a “singles & fillers” album but rather a long track divided in several parts. This specific interlude – “Vague à l’âme” – has a kind of story behind it, as I had originally planned to play more notes, more difficult things than what appears in the final version. I’m currently treating a focal dystonia in my left hand that has slowly paralyzed it over the years, and when I had to record this interlude and finish recording the album, my entire left hand was paralyzed, except for my third finger. So I could only record basic stuff. But I’m still happy with the result! It makes the song even more special for me.
The album was mixed by Dan Swanö. Why did you choose him, why was he the best choice for your sound?
Martin: Dan Swanö is extremely skilled and very easy to work with. His experience makes him able of mixing anything, as long as we can explain what we want. He is not the kind of person to disrespect your artistic choices or impose his own vision, he will do his best to create the specific sound the band is looking for. We also appreciate the fact that he still works mostly with small underground bands. He’s a very humble person and that’s something important to us.
The album title, the beautiful cover artwork, the lyrics and your music videos indicate that you are close to nature. Is that so and what does the „Dream of Wilderness“ mean to you?
Marion: As for a lot of people these days, environmental issues are a source of both anguish and sadness for me. I’m also very sensitive to the cause of animal rights, like my band mates who are mostly vegetarians. For me, „A Dream Of Wilderness“ represents the hope that we can collectively change the way we look at nature, which is the condition to stop destroying it and maybe build a way to live in harmony with it.
Besides nature, progress and renewal seem to be big themes in your lyrics. Which themes inspire you in song writing?
Marion: In general, I draw inspiration from my readings for the support of my songs, what story I’m about to tell. But writing lyrics is also an opportunity for me to reflect on subjects that interest me or that I need to process. There is always a philosophical idea behind the story of each song, that I try to develop in relation with the theme. For example, “Le Radeau de La Méduse” is based on a book written by the survivors of a shipwreck, but I tried not only to tell this story but also to deal with the moral dimension of it: how the different protagonists of these tragic events behaved, and to what extent they had the choice of their actions.
I think the album is way more symphonic than the previous ones, would you agree? Was this the plan from the beginning for “A Dream Of Wilderness”?
Martin: Not really, when I wrote „A Dream Of Wilderness“, I didn’t really think about the symphonic parts. It was a natural process. I can’t help noticing that symphonic parts are becoming more and more important in our music, but it’s not really on purpose. I think with this album we have reached the right level, at least for our tastes. I want to keep a kind of balance between the guitars and the symphonic parts, because both are important. If we were to tweak this balance for our next album, it would probably be in favor of the guitars again.
How did you create all the orchestrations and symphonic elements and what influenced the symphonic sounds? Sometimes they reminded me of Dimmu Borgir.
Martin: The orchestrations are created via virtual orchestras and unfortunately not real orchestras. It would be great to work with a real orchestra, but it is totally out of our budget. However, this time I used many different libraries, instead of just a few ones. I mixed a lot of different instruments to create the sound I wanted. To be honest, it’s not really complicated… Songwriting is complicated. Finding the right melodies, the right chords, the riffs, it’s hard. But when the song is written, writing the orchestrations is pretty easy and fun! I think the symphonic parts are mainly influenced by my “not metal” listenings.
Have you thought about playing the album live with a real orchestra? Would that be something you would like to do?
Martin: That would be awesome and we really hope we can do that one day!
You recorded in “Le Radeau de La Méduse” in English and in French. Why did you choose this song to do in two languages?
Marion: I have wanted to write lyrics and to sing in French for a while. When I was working on the lyrics for “Le Radeau de La Méduse”, I thought it was a good opportunity to try, since the song is based on a French historical event and borrows its name from a famous French painting. So I suggested to Martin that we write and record two versions of the song, one in English that would be part of the album tracklist, and one in French that would be a bonus track. It was a first for me and I had no idea what the result would be, so making this French version was a way to give it a try and gauge the feedbacks, while keeping the stakes low since it was only a bonus.
Can you imagine singing more in French in the future?
Marion: I will definitely do it ! At first, I thought English was a much more appropriate language for death growl than French, but now that I’ve written a song in French and seen it work, I don’t have such a strong opinion and I’m looking forward to experimenting singing in French again!
Let’s conclude with our traditional brainstorming. What comes to your mind first when you read the following words?
Current favorite album:
Marion: 1914 – Where Fear And Weapons Meet.
Martin: Dark Tranquillity – Moment.
Marion: From controversial to an essential source of income for artists.
Martin: Huge promotional potential.
Marion: “The Lord of the Rings”.
Marion: Any “Zelda” game.
Martin: Any “Total War” game.
Marion: I’m a cat person.
Martin: I love goats and pigs. They are awesome.
Something that makes every bad day better:
Marion: Chilling with cats.
Martin: Music, chocolate, exercising, friends, walking.
AEPHANEMER in ten years:
Marion: Back again with our eighth album!
Martin: Alive and more energetic than ever!
Thank you once again for your time! The last words are all yours. Is there anything left you want to tell our readers?
Martin & Marion: Thank you very much for reading our interview, we hope you will enjoy our new album “A Dream Of Wilderness”!
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