A few days ago, I had the opportunity to chat to Neige from Alcest after their show at the Oran Mor. It was a little unplanned, having only got the ok from the promoters a few hours before hand. Despite it being unplanned and a tad rushed, Neige happily answered my questions in a calm and reflective manner.
James: You’re currently doing a series of shows throughout the UK and just finished playing the one in Glasgow. How do you think the show went?
Neige: Actually tonight we were very very surprised. Pleasantly surprised by the crowd and we just loved it, you know it was a great show. The crowd was very enthusiastic and nice. There was a positive energy in the room and it was definitely a good show.
J: And how’s the tour been so far?
N: It depends on the date you know. We play in very different places. In Ireland it was not that good you know but yesterday in Manchester it was great with a packed venue. And tonight was great as well and I know that tomorrow we play the Incineration festival which is going to be a big show too. Yeah I’d say that everything has been good so far.
J: If my Sources are correct there’s only two of you in the studio band and you have two live members that have been playing with you for a while. If you don’t mind me asking, is there a reason behind this?
N: Yeah, I mean I’m writing all the music, all the lyrics and this band was a solo project for ten years. So I was alone and then in 2009, Winterhalter the drummer joined the band so I was with another member. I used to record drums myself but for the album he participated to, I needed a more complex drumming style and he came in the band and now we are two. He’s quite involved, he always has ideas. If I come to the rehearsal space with songs, he can tell me what he thinks of them. It was in 2010 when we started touring, so we needed to find 2 other guys. And these guys are very very good friends of mine, I’ve known them a long time and we’ve played in bands together before.
J: Would you say that you are getting close to the sort of sound you want in the band or is it more of a natural progression?
N: Yeah I think it’s more like a progression, But it doesn’t mean we’ll stick to a certain style in the future. You know it’s not because we did softer records that we keep being softer and softer. Every time I’m making a new record it’s sort of in reaction to the previous one. So for example the first album was very uplifting and very major key oriented. And the one after was darker and it was more like a.. little bit more metal. You know I like to change the sound every time to keep inspiration. I need that you know. If I had to do the same record over and over, I would be so uninspired and so bored.
J: In terms of lyrics, what do you normally sing about?
N: That’s a complex matter for Alcest as this band started as a very personal from of expression for me. I had a spiritual experience as a child which completely changed my vision of living. When I was a teenager, I wanted to express this experience through music which started the band and is still a very big part of the concept of the band. I’m very attached to spirituality and I believe that this world is just an experience and we are going onto something else. 90% of my lyrics are related to this topic.
J: What do you currently use in your live setup in terms of guitars and amplifiers?
N: We like to keep it simple so I mainly just use 3/4 pedals for delay, reverb and distortion. The amps we use are Roland JC 120 amps as they don’t have tubes and they always work and are cheap. I use a Fender Jazzmaster guitar as well.
J: For someone who has maybe never heard your music before, what would you describe your music being most like?
N: People struggle to put this music in a box as I take a lot of influences from different genres and styles of music. As I told you, this music is very spiritual and I would rather say it’s very other worldly but with a few heavy parts. It’s very hard for me to describe it.
J: What Inspired you to become a musician?
N: *chuckles* I don’t know man. I guess I needed a way to express myself. I started to learn piano with my grandmother when I was 6 or 7 and then I started drawing until I was around 14. I then discovered metal and wanted to play guitar as every other metalhead. So I bought this guitar and really started to like it. I’ve never actually played a cover, I learnt guitar as I was composing my songs. I started making music and have never stopped.
J: It’s been a little over a year since your last album Shelter. Have you started work on the new album or do you have a set period for writing?
N: I’m actually writing all the time and not taking any breaks. Some people are telling me to take a break but I just have to make music. 2/3rd’s of the new album is already written but I want to take my time.
Huge thanks to Neige for taking the time to chat to me, Meline for recording it and finally Joe from Black reach and Mark from Audio for helping organise it.