Before we start I wanted to say congratulations with the excellent work you did on ‘Darkening Light’. Now, the album was supposed to be released on February 16th but was delayed until the 23rd of March, what caused the delay?
Thank you very much! I'm very happy with the final result! As you’d probably guess, making an album is a long journey so it's very pleasant to see that people like it. Well actually, it was supposed to be released in last November but Sensory recently started to work with Sony Red in the US so that's why the album was delayed four times. I was a bit disappointed when they told me about it but in the end, I know it was a good reason, now Melted Space enjoys a pretty nice distribution in the US.
Your previous record was 2015’s ‘The Great Lie’ and I feel that there has been an enormous growth in the music, everything just sounds better. What do you consider to be the biggest changes in the last album and ‘Darkening Light’?
I would say production and songwriting. I worked from the beginning with François-Maxime Boutault on the production process to properly plan every step; recording the demos, booking the studios, building the album with every part... It's been a huge experience because he is a very talented producer and he completely understood what I wanted to do with this album and what kind of result we could make with our means. About songwriting, I would say that we had the chance to tour with such great bands like Symphony X, Leaves Eyes, Myrath, and we learned a lot speaking with Russel Allen, Michael Romeo. I always thought about shows and playing the songs live when I started to write it. Touring probably gave me some ideas...
I read that the artwork of ‘Darkening Light’ is ‘centered on the creation of the world and the rejection of the gods by Man’, is this also the theme/concept of the album?
Yes completely, I wrote the whole story before starting to work with Adrien Bousson. I sent him the story, my notes, the demos, the lyrics, and I told him to draw what he felt with all this. He sent me back a foist sketch that I really loved and that summarized all I wanted to transmit in the songs, in the album and the story... This great building where gods may live in their own world. The album deals with creation in general and I found it very interesting to see this kind of gigantic creation that only gods could make. I also loved the idea of this gate with all the connected points that perfectly fits to the story where every god or dimension is connected to the other and to the story. Everyone is equal to the other.
Like with ‘The Great Lie’ you’ve worked together with a real orchestra again, rather than sound effects. When you were working on ‘The Great Lie’, when did you decide that your music needed a real orchestra? And how did you go about finding the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra?
From the very beginning. As a composer it was a dream to work with a real orchestra. I already had the chance to record with an orchestra during my studies at the ‘Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris’, for the last exam, but it was obviously not the same. When I started to think about ‘The Great Lie’, I knew that I wanted to push the opera concept to the maximum I could so, I needed an orchestra. I heard about the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra because they already worked with metal bands like Within Temptation and Dimmu Borgir, who are my favorite bands. So I contacted them and they answered me “Yes of course, it sounds very interesting!” and we did it. It was one of the best experience in my musical life and I will always remember when they played the first notes, I thought I was going to die! Hahaha! Finally, we did it again on ‘Darkening Light’ and it was even better to work with them again because we already had this first experience together, so we already knew how to work together, how it’s going to sound. I think this one is a good one.
Was it clear from the start that ‘Darkening Light’ needed a real orchestra as well?
Yes of course, it's like a composer's drug; when you tried it, you need more!
Do you think you’ll ever play live with the orchestra?
Of course, I would love to! But I also know that it would be a huge project that would need a lot of energy and I have to admit that I don't have any more for now. As I write and manage everything, making an album is always a strenuous experience for me. Last year was a pretty hard period, leading the album and some troubles in my personal life, so I just need a bit rest before going back to this kind of work. I don 't know if I will do it someday, but I will check this point!
Once again you’ve found a number of guest artists who’ve agreed to participate on ‘Darkening Light’, but there is one that I was very surprised with. You’ve managed to get Jeff Scott Soto to sing in your album! How did you manage that?
Actually I have to thank my manager... We talked together about the different kind of voices I would need on the album and I wanted a very special voice to interpret Man character. I remember that I said “Hey why not Jeff Scott Soto?” for me it was just a joke. And a couple of days later, he sent me a message: “Jeff Scot Soto is ok” I thought he was kidding me but no, Jeff Scott Soto was ok! It was a really good day for me!
Other than Jeff Scott Soto there are a lot of other great guests, can you tell us how you decided who you wanted on the album and how you managed to get them on the album?
Well it's very simple. First of all, I write the story I want to tell. So I went to the library for 2/3 weeks, reading science and physics books, Stephen Hawking, mythology, how to create a hero... finally I wrote my own cosmology with all the different characters. Then I cut it in nine or ten episodes that gave me nine or ten songs. So I thought a lot about the different musical ways to tell this story, the way I wanted to use these characters, the different types of voices been appeared very quick. Then I heard a lot of music, always asking myself “is that the voice you need?” and in the end, I did my choice, the manager did some proposals, so did the producer, and that how we did the ‘casting’. Of course, I sent some emails to ask the people if they were interested in taking part of it. Most of them said yes. The only ones who declined were too busy when we wanted to record, so we only had some schedule issues and that's why I couldn't work with a couple of singers. Maybe next time, who knows?
Now, having a large list of guests doesn’t make things easy when you’re going on tour. Assuming you’re going to perform live, perhaps even your, how will you handle the sheer number of various vocals?
Yes for sure but I have the chance to work with such an amazing team with four different singers: Ailyn Gimenez, Lucie Blatrier, Guillaume Bideau, and Eric Favière. They have some very versatile voices and they can give life to the songs on stage. Furthermore, when I wrote the lyrics and the music, I did it thinking about how we can do it as a band, so there is their 4 different type of voices almost all the time so I know that it’s going to be easier to play it live.
Talking about playing live, what are your plans for a European tour? Will you maybe visit the Netherlands?
For now we only have two shows in France (in my hometown and in Paris) I guess that we will tour this fall but at this time, I don't know how and when yet. Of course we would love to come back in the Netherlands, I know that people liked what we did on the two last tours with Leaves Eyes and Symphony X. I remember that we played in the 013 in Tilburg and some people already knew the lyrics and were singing while we were playing! It's always nice to see that when you are on stage!
What’s next in your agenda?
Holidays! Hahaha! Actually it's not exactly true, we have to prepare what will happen next so we are working on a video shoot for this summer, as I told you, we will probably tour at the end of the year so that’s going to make me busy for a while... but I do not despair about holidays !
One last question, the music industry has drastically changed in the last decades. More and more people switch to streaming services such as Spotify or Deezer, but because most of those people aren't buying albums anymore it means that artists are financially impacted. On the other hand it makes the artist's music more accessible to people worldwide, which can lead to more fans. What is your take on all of this?
That's a very interesting question, actually I don't think there is only one answer but for me, the main thing is not about people listening to music on a computer or on their phone. First of all, it's about people moving to see bands on stage and sharing a nice moment all together. That is the better way to show your interest into music. We all know that Spotify or Deezer are not some strong ways to earn some money with music so I think that people can discover a couple of songs on Spotify but if they like it, they should come to see it on stage with the real guys playing their instruments. On their part, artists need to consider how they will make people coming to the shows and make them enter in their universe. That's very exciting even if it means some extra work.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, is there anything you’d like to mention to our readers?
Well thanks for your questions, thanks for reading me. I hope you guys will like the album and maybe you will discover the previous ones and come to see us when we will tour again! See you on the road!