– Hello, lots of thanks for answering our interview. How is everything going into the ATARAXIE’s camp right now?
Jo: Everything is going good for us. We’re currently doing a well-deserved break at the moment so it gives us time to keep on promoting that new album and searching for some gigs across Europe.
– «Ataraxia» is a Greek term but, could you please tell us why did you choose it as the band’s name and how well does it fit you?
Fred: I think it was Sylvain’s idea at first. All in all, when I joined the band, I found it was a strong concept and that it would be very interesting to have some lyrics that would fit to the philosophical meaning of «ataraxia», which is an inner peace of mind that the stoician philosopher were trying to reach. Ain’t it what we all want at some point, and keep on failing to reach for most of our lives ?
– You will soon release your new album, entitled «L’Être et la Nausée», which has already been sent to the press, how are the first reactions being?
Jo: To be honest, we’re quite surprised to receive so many great feedbacks for the moment. Some reviewers even considered that’s our best album ever released so…As a lot of people complained about “Anhédonie” when it was released because of the rawer approach (compared to “Slow Transcending Agony”), we really thought we would be crucified with that new album. Indeed, you may have noticed it’s not an easy album to digest as it’s a little bit more complex than our previous ones and requires a few mores spins. There’s also a stronger death metal vibe on that new album. Yet, it seems that people didn’t judge that album in such a predictable way and finally admitted that Ataraxie will never compose the same album twice. Thus, it isn’t worth expecting us to come back to whatever style played on “Slow Transcending Agony”, “Anhédonie” or “The other path”. Our music will always evolve through the years even if we will always keep on playing our genre of doom/death metal.
– On this record there are faster moments, as we can hear on «Dread the Villains». Was this something you were striving for or do you just let your inspiration flow naturally?
Jo: In general we always let our inspiration flow while composing our most “normal” songs. We rarely have some “frames” of songs while composing. I would just say that “dread the villains” was composed like a death metal song so we really wanted it to sound like the death metal we love listening to.
– In fact I could say there are some Black Metal nuances so, is there always room to broad your influences?
Jo: Indeed, there are some black metal influences and so many more coming from different noble metal genres and even rock. Even if our main influences are rooted into doom and death metal, we don’t hesitate to use other influences if they can enrich the songs and bring something. We don’t like to limit ourselves even if we want our music to remain coherent at the same time. We will never include thrash or speed metal influences even if we all love these genres in the band.
– This creates a nice contrast with clean guitars and with an overall quiet atmospheric opus. Could you say this kind of contrasts are an important part of the ATARAXIE’s musical personality?
Jo: Playing with contrasts has always been one of our main trademarks. Even if doom/death metal is not supposed to be the most dynamic musical genre ever, a slow part will always sound slower after a blast for example. That’s the same for clean parts and distorted ones.
– Anyway, in general I could describe your music as emotional; each song is a different chapter, an emotional journey connected to the next song in mood. Due to this I would like to know what your music is for you, maybe some kind of outlet for your own thoughts and feelings?
Jo: Music is firstly a passion shared by all of us. We’re all metal addicts in the band. As far as I’m concerned, I can’t imagine myself a single day without listening to music to be honest. I always need to listen to my classics, discover new bands, search for records to buy and go to gigs. As for the feelings we want to convey, I think our music is a way to express our darkest thoughts about life in general. As human beings living in a society we all have to face what life is often about: routine, stupidity & ignorance & power thirst of people, absurd principles ruling our countries…So our music is about our own existence and our views about it.
– Again, lyrics explore the darkest human feelings, and seem to be quite real and passionate. Due to this I would like to know where do you draw inspiration from to create them and what were some special inspirations behind some of the lyrics on this brand new «L’Être et la Nausée».
Jo: I draw most of my inspiration from my everyday life and literature which shares my views about life (Sartre, Sade, Kafka, Cioran, Nietzsche, Camus…). The human being is such a never-ending source of inspiration especially when you live a in big overcrowded city like Paris. People are so dehumanized there that it’s not rare at all to face the worst sides of human beings. I usually just have to look around me and look at people behaving to get some inspiration for my lyrics. People can be so pathetic sometimes that I’m really convinced we’re the worst species living on this earth. Watching or reading news is another way to convince myself there’s something wrong with what’s going all around this earth. It’s a bit like mankind will never learn any lessons from its past mistakes…
– You have always been working with Japanese label Weird Truth Productions, which has always caught my attention, as I wonder what kind of acceptance are you getting from Japan and if it’s easy to get a big coverage in Europe.
Jo: To be honest, I don’t really know what kind of acceptance we really have in Japan. I just know that Japan is a metal country filled with metal addicts and brilliant bands like SABBAT for example. We’ve been happy to work with Makoto (Weird Truth owner) because he’s a huge doom metal fan and he’s fully involved in the metal cause since the foundation of his label. He has always done his best to promote every single release of us so why should we change? As for the acceptance in Europe, it seems we get more and more from outside France than France itself as we’ve played fewer and fewer gigs through the years. France has never been a metal country anyway…
– For this new album you’ve worked with a veteran team for the recording, master and mix. Would you mind to elaborate a bit on how was this whole process like?
Fred: As you guessed, this time we worked in a different way than the one we used to. We chose Kris from Worship Studio to produce and record the album with us, because the work he did on Funeralium’s Deceived Idealism was really great and beyond our expectations. This time we took our time to prepare the recording better than before, and for the first time taped the whole album during the preproduction process. Then we fine-tuned everything until we were ready to hit the studio. Kris did all the takes on the album, implying Sylvain Biguet during the drums recording process. It was all done at Worship Studio, spanned over 4 or 5 weekends. Then we mixed everything with Sylvain Biguet, which has been recording many famous french metal bands, including Klone or Trepalium for instance. Sylvain and Kris know each other well, they are a very efficient team. The mastering process was done by Collin Jordan, as Sylvain and Kris would see no one but him do this work. And I admit they were more than right… he gave the whole mix the extra thing it needed to sound 100% like we wanted it to.
– This time around the cover artwork is simple and straight-foward, it gives a clear idea of the mood and music on the album. Was this what you were looking for?
Fred: Yes indeed. We asked Vertigo Studio to work for us on this one because we knew that they were going to use photographic works, which implied it was going to be very straight-forward. When Vertigo threw the concept of the cover, with this screaming face, we knew they had succeeded in turning our music into a powerful concept. This is totally what we meant, by this titles «l’être et la nausée».
– You’ve had a new team both for the production as well as for the cover. Besides the music and composition itself, could you say this helps giving each album you release something fresh and make them distinguishable?
Fred: Well, life is made of encounters, and at certain points of time, you meet people that you feel understand what your art is about better than anyone else. It’s clearly been the case for Kris, which really understands our music so much that he could imprint his own vision of how we would have to sound like, and succeeding in bringing what we seeked. It’s been the same for David, who could listen to our preproduction recordings and have it inspire him for the artwork. He made our music his own, and created this perfect artwork for us. But it all starts with the music, and we clearly want, at least try, to throw new ideas that reflects our evolution as a band. The team evolving with us is a consequence of this, not the cause.
– You have always had French titles but English lyrics. What’s the main reason behind this? Maybe some kind of aesthetic?
Jo: We don’t always have French titles and French lyrics as “Face the loss of your sanity” is an English title with both French and English lyrics inside. Let’s say I mix both languages. I’m used to writing French parts when I think it fits the best on a particular part of a song. That’s just a matter of feeling and it can be based on aesthetic. For some reason, I can consider that French lyrics would sound ridiculous on some parts we have.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
Fred: We have a lot of work in the very near future. As you may know, Sylvain made the choice to leave the band after 13 years, and we made a choice that does not only implies to find an suitable replacement, but also made us move from our comfort zone. I can’t tell much more for now, but our future is full of an interesting potential, artistically-wise.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Fred:Thank you for your interest and patience waiting for these answers, we apologize it took so long to answer ! We really hope to meet some Queen of Steel readers soon at our next gigs !