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We recently met the French Black Metal project Créatures thanks to its debut album "Le Noir Village"; today we are going to have a chat with its mastermind, Sparda.
Welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine. How are things going?
Hail to you and Aristocrazia's readers, thank you for your invitation. I am pretty right, my album "Le Noir Village" received many very good reviews since its release, and I am happy to answer your questions!
Let's start introducing the project: its concept, member(s) and anything you want to tell us.
Créatures is my solo project of horror metal. I blend various musical styles including black, symphonic, death, heavy and doom metal as well as ambient and acoustic music. I use several atypical instruments such as theremin, church organ, piano, trumpet, violin, ethnic percussion etc. My new album "Le Noir Village" tells the story of a twelfth-century countryside village getting attacked by terrifying monsters. As in opera, all the characters of the tale are being enacted by different singers who are first person narrators to help the music tell the story.
The horror world seems to be an important element in your music, both in lyrics and sounds. Which are the works that inspire you?
The horror figures I used in my story (Werewolf, Vampire, Zombie, Ghost, Demon, Ripper) come from various folklores and religion, but felt in the collective imagination since they have been made popular by literature, movies, or video games. For the historical context, I made some research about medieval times in Western Europe and how the common people lived. Musically, the bands I am the nearest are Notre Dame, Tartaros, Gloomy Grim, or The Vision Bleak.
"Le Noir Village", which I had the pleasure to review, is the first official album after a demo released some years ago: how did the project evolve since that first release?
When I recorded the demo back in 2009 (at that time the project was called Horror Freak), I had just begun to play and compose music. This demo sounds crazy because at that time I had no notion of music theory, and I did not listened to black metal for many years. For "Le Noir Village", I spent four years to compose the whole piece and three years to record every instrument alone and each guest. So I took the time to make something more complex, and to put everything I want.
So let's talk about the album: how did you come up with the idea of the medieval village?
I really like conceptual albums that tell something and which are coherent from the beginning to the end. That is how I work with my other bands Hanternoz and Ê and that's why I admire King Diamond. I have always been interested in history, and the European Middle Age is one of my favorite period. I wanted to speak about the countryside because at that time most of the people were farmers or craftsmen, and I prefer to explore the life of common people than Kings or Knights.
The idea of having a different singer for each character really gave me the idea of some kind of Black Metal opera: how did you choose which singer would be a certain character?
Most of the guests are close friends. I chose their characters depending on their voice and personality. For example, the Priest interpreted by Géraud de Verenhe is the singer of Borgia, a black/doom/death band about the decadence of Christianity during the Middle Age. He had the perfect inquisitor voice and could really embody the character.
Being made this way, I can't help but imagine how it would be on stage; surely it wouldn't be a standard live show. Have you thought about realizing something like a theatrical representation of "Le Noir Village"?
I would really like to play Créatures live. I imagine shows with costumes and theatre set, as King Diamond and Arcturus do. Unfortunately, for the time it is hard to find session members and to set up rehearsals. I hope it could come up someday.
One thing I really enjoyed was how each song would sound very appropriate for its own story; you managed to include a lot of different instruments and ideas that help the listener to feel the scary atmosphere. How did you write the songs and their related stories?
I first imagined the story, before starting to compose the music. So I knew in advance which atmosphere or emotions I wanted to create for each part. During the whole process of creation, the music had been guided by the story. For example, I played a ritual ambient break in "A L'Orée Du Mal, Le Pacte Interdit" when the character Alaric summons a Demon; I used organ and trumpets when the character Grimoald enters heaven; I composed epic and violent riffs during fights, etc. Also, some characters have their own themes that are recurrent when they speak. These themes reflect the personalities or emotions of their characters.
I also liked really much the booklet: although I can't speak French, I tried to follow the lyrics and I really enjoyed doing it thanks to the medieval style of the layout and images. How much is the graphical aspect of an album important for you?
The concept and the story of "Le Noir Village" are as important as the music itself. It does not just come with the lyrics but also with the painting of the cover and the six drawings (for each song) in the booklet. Thanks to my friends Simon Hervé who made all these amazing artworks and Roy De Rat who made the logo and the design of the digipack. I worked very hard with them to propose something very coherent and ambitious. These graphics can also help the non-french speaking people to better understand the story.
Some of the six stories of "Le Noir Village" are related with each other, with some recurring characters and themes. Will you tell more stories about this village in future albums or will you created a whole different concept?
The story of the next album will take place in the same context of medieval village, but I will concentrate on one monster. It will be a kind of thriller, an investigation to find which villager is the monster. I am working with a writer in order to create a novel that will come with the cd.
As I've already said, there are a lot of unusual instruments in your music and many of them are played by yourself. Which are the instruments you love the most to include in extreme Metal?
I have the chance to have access to a real classical organ in a church near my town. This instrument is very powerful: you can play with both hands and feet, and one note can activate tens of pipes. Church organ is an orchestra of its own. I really like to mix the celestial and divine sound of the organ to the blasphemy and violence of black metal. I also like to add theremin (the first electronic instrument, used in old horror and sci-fi movies) because it is almost unknown and never used in modern music. For the time I don't play theremin, I use a software.
Putting Créatures aside, you are also the owner of Antiq Records and member of other bands. What can you tell us about these other experiences?
I am playing bass in the folk black metal band about Brittany called Hanternoz, and in the oriental doom/death band about Mesopotamia called Ê. I am also starting a ritual ambient solo project using asiatic and oriental instruments and percussions called Dormin. As you said, I run the label Antiq with my friend Hyvermor (who plays in Hanternoz, Ê, Régiment, Grylle). We are specialized in bands with occult or historical concepts. Since 2010, we have produced about thirty releases and we have almost a thousand of underground stuff in distribution. Being my own label permitted me to control the release of "Le Noir Village" from the composition to the production.
Since you are really involved in the scene, I'd like to know your opinion about the Metal scene in France and worldwide. What do you like and dislike about it?
I like the French scene because it's very rich. From the most elitist underground black metal of the Black Legions to the internationally famous progressive death of Gojira. Also there are many crazy bands which experiment new things such as Diapsiquir (urban pop-black-indus), Spektr (jazzy black-industrial), Igorrr (electronic baroque mathcore), Pryapisme (8bit-metal), Peste Noire (medieval black), Pensées Nocturnes (depressive black) etc. Internationally I like how each country has its specificity, its own style of metal (pagan from Eastern Europe, Brazilian Thrash, Norwegian avantgarde, American HC…). What I regret is that there is no new style of metal that came up since the last two decades (or maybe djent metal). There are experimentations, evolutions, new mixes between several styles, but I don't find any band that created a new kind of metal that then had been democratized by other bands.
2016 just ended and as usual it has been full of good music; which are the albums you enjoyed the most last year?
- Diapsiquir – 180°: A sick album of a drug addicted guy who met God.
- Cultes des Ghoules – "Coven, Or Evil Ways Instead Of Love": Amazing Polish black metal. This album is composed like "Le Noir Village" as each song is an act of a story with many characters that are first person narrators and interact with each other.
- Pensées Nocturnes – "À Boire Et À Manger": The most experimental and my favorite album of this French band that use accordion, flutes, saxophones.
- Rïcïnn – "Lian": New solo project of the female singer Laure Le Prunenec (Igorrr, Öxxö Xööx, Corpo Mente). Strange mix of rock, classical, electronic.
- Krallice – "Prelapsarian": I have not received and listen to the cd yet, but I trust Krallice to make awesome avantgarde black metal!
Last question: if you had to choose the five most important albums of your life, which ones would you pick?
It's so hard to just pick up five albums… I will not choose the albums I like the most but the ones that give me the most emotions (depending on my taste and my personal path):
- Ved Buens Ende – "Written In Waters"
- The Ruins of Beverast – "Rain Upon The Impure"
- Dødheimsgard – "A Umbra Omega"
- Krallice – "Dimensional Bleedthroug"
- Iced Earth – "The Dark Saga"
Thanks a lot for sharing your time with us. I'll leave you this space to give a message for our readers.
Thanks to you for this interview, for the review of "Le Noir Village", and for your work to promote the underground scene in Aristocrazia Webzine.