DAY BEFORE US | Aristocrazia Webzine


Band: Day Before Us
Line Up:

  • Philippe Blanche
  • Effrosyne Papamichalopoulou

I'm glad about the opportunity to have a few words with Philippe and Effrosyne to better understand what and who is behind the dark ambient project Day Before Us. Here you can find our (italian) reviews of their full length "Misty Shroud Of Regrets" and their recently released EP "Child Of A New Light".

Hi Philippe, first of all I'd like to ask you to introduce your project Day Before Us to our readers, probably some of them don't know about it yet: what is Day Before Us about? How would you define your music?

Philippe: This project was born around 2010, before this I spent years studying classical music and practicing the piano, mainly covering pieces from Bach, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, then Erik Satie and a part of the French impressionist school (Claude Debussy). Then I felt the need to express and paint with sound colors my own musical universe. This happened during my regular exchanges with Giuseppe Verticchio (member of post-industrial drone music projects Nimh, Hall Of Mirrors). I firstly met him thanks to my work as a reviewer for music magazines, we became friends and during several visits I had the chance to improvise a few things on his equipment at his home-studio. He was very enthusiastic and supportive about the result, then we decided to collect materials for the first full length Day Before Us release which is actually a collaborative work… In those time I was looking for a project name that could implicitly refers to a specific conceptual background linked to the union between symbolical poetry and the mystical idealism. I found a poem of Flower Adams with a really enigmatic title that for my interpretation makes echoes with an inner experience that leads us to a self-meditative estate about a nostalgia for a lost paradise, a melancholic imaginary surrounded by a feeling of poetical escaping. All my musical intent and philosophy were directly impregnated by those emotional estates. My music is sometimes called neoclassical dark ambient but I'm simply trying to explore in an empirical, intuitive and poetical way the qualities of mystery we can find in impressionistic soundscapes that hide a certain elegiac tonality.

So what is the purpose, the mission of your music.

Philippe: Step by step I wanted to give to my music a ritual or clamorous function, something close to what we can find in non-narrative religious experience. I consider it to be meaningful and adequate to my subjectivity and consideration for music writing. I published my first release in solo for Cathedral Transmissions (a small label devoted to avant-garde semiclassical ambient and anything related). This was a conceptual album about the German poetical wetschmerz. In itself the music is at the cross of early classical minimalism, cinematic ambient sustained by piano leads, field recordings, narratives with a persistent feeling of wonder, mystery and spleen. The second full length album after the one with Giuseppe Verticchio was published as a standard digipack edition for the martial / industrial Polish label Rage In Eden. In this album entitled "Misty Shroud Of Regrets" the musical compositions gravitate around the piano phrases, and various processed sounds obtained by the electric organ or by the piano itself. Musical themes and motifs are turned to the contemplative core of melancholia with a fundamental inspiration around stillness, dolorous isolationist state and mind introspection.

Day Before Us really became a band this year with the introduction of Effrosyne Papamichalopoulou on vocals, a great addition indeed. How did this collaboration begin?

Philippe: Thank you for your appreciation about the vocal component. I firstly talked online with Effrosyni, the actual singer. We exchanged based on musical materials and experiences, I discovered that she was actually one of the original singers of the apocalyptic neofolk band Decadence (mostly known for their album published on Cold Meat Industry). We released some fragments and experiments on a few tracks I was working on during this period (early 2013). The recording sessions were absolutely beautiful and decisive for me to give this project a slight innovative direction without neglecting the eloquently instrumental dark ambient features. Step by step we found a natural musical alchemy, we started to structure a few songs around a more dark inflected neoclassical line. I was still using processed schemas to obtain layered textures but I was more and more using single lines based on piano techniques, purely acoustic with lyrical parts to search a level of spiritual freedom, more intimacy and detachment. The EP "Child Of A New Light" is the result of this new orientation. Effrosyni is now actively involved in the creative part of the project. We are meeting each other between France and Greece. We are currently in the preparation of Day Before Us third full length release and we already have a contract with a serious label. It will show relatively similar sound aesthetic preferences with a clearreturn to a more moody-esque dark ambient path / soundscaping metaphysical inferno.

Effrosyne, tell us something about your previous experiences, I haven't heard of Decadence in the last few years, are they still active?

Effrosyne: Well it's true that it's been a long time since Decadence have had a new release… to be honest I am not sure if they are still active, although they had shared some exciting new material with me a couple of years ago. I surely hope they'll find the right time and disposals to make their next official step, cause I truly believe they have yet a lot of interesting stuff to offer… and a highly devoted fan circle too! Decadence will always be a significant part of me, they were actually the very first to discover and believe I had something to offer artistically; and provide me with a solid genre orientation of course. I will be eternally grateful to them.

Have you had any other collaborations over these years?

Effrosyne: My post-Decadence period mostly included experimentation in some other musical genres, like post rock and dream pop, in search of my vocal range / potential and artistic identity. This entailed participation in small local groups and a few live gigs, but other than that no official collaboration / release was established for me. Day Before Us came at the perfectly right moment, when I was starting to feel the urgent need to make my next official step. This was a wonderful, unexpected gift for me and I am so grateful to Philippe who gave me this opportunity to "breathe" and feel alive again artistically… and also for giving me the chance to experiment and express myself freely within his soulful musical universe. I am so lucky and honoured to collaborate with such a talented and original artist, whose unique soundscapes are a constant source of inspiration for me.

Can you tell us something more about your next creature, is it at a good stage? Do you already have an idea about its release?

Philippe: The forthcoming album is at a good stage right now. We have to work more on a couple of tracks but realistically it should be finalized at the end of this summer and be out before the fall of this year. It will reveal various sound environments around plural form of compositional schemas, discreetly processed semi-electronic inflected textures, straight acoustic touches and many lyrical parts to enrich the instrumental content.

Philippe, while producing "Child Of A New Light" you've also created your own label. but now you're telling me you have contacts for your next work. What about Triple Moon Records, was it an experiment or do you plan to keep up with it?

Philippe: That is a good question. This first self-release experience was necessary for me to introduce to the audience this slight new musical turn in favor of more ethereal folk components… Feedbacks were very positive and encouraged me to carry on this way for a full length album (similar edition to the ones I released with Rage in Eden) which can not be handled by TripleMoonRecords label due to the fact it remains a micro one. However the label will be active in the following months, I'm planning to release the new David Newlyn (well established experimental ambient artist based in Great Britain). Actually I'm leading this net-label with a closed musician friend of mine.

One last question about "Child Of A New Light", the artwork's author is Jana Brike, a Latvian painter that I honestly didn't know before. Her works are very interesting and the cover she made for your EP is somehow innocent and disturbing at the same time, and it fits perfectly your music. What is the origin of this collaboration?

Philippe: This collaboration with Jana Brike came in a very natural way because a few years ago I worked with her based on animation film projects (available on her Vimeo page) in the context of International contemporary art festivals. In a very modest way I published the soundtrack for videos broadcasted at several exhibitions. We are in a continuous artistic friendship since the beginning of my project. She spontaneously appreciated my idea to include her artwork for this edition.

Live concerts are always something borderline for artists belonging to your musical scene, what is your idea about it?

Philippe: You are definitely right to point out the fact that in the dark ambient territory, live experiences are kind of rare and almost unusual. I'm opened to suggestions, depends of opportunities but this is always a welcome event to promote materials. The thing is that technical disposals must be required and the audience should be receptive to let say more immersive introspective sounding excursions. Most of dark ambient live stage experiences appear to be a fine combination of audio-visual association with many pre-recorded phases / looped process. From my side I would like to avoid the lap-top partial live session in favor of a more acoustic trip, I think it fits especially with the actual Day Before Us configuration and musical alchemy.

In my opinion your guess is absolutely correct, some shows I've seen sounded quite "false" to me, as most of the show was based on pre-recordings. On the other hand, I believe piano should be a great weapon on stage now that it comes along with a gorgeous voice, but it's probably something you will think about after the next release, when the material produced together will be more substantial.

Philippe: Well, yes you are right, dark ambient performances look and sound more like installations around a pre-established model, quite rigid and fixed with no real live essence / instrumental practice or at least very reduced. Dark ambient is more connected to "home listening" experience and remains an inspiring vehicle for transversal art creation on the listener. Fortunately there are many neofolk performances around Europe, in underground clubs, private concerts or during goth culture festivals. In the future it is a possibility to experience live performances in such dynamic.

Philippe, Effrosyne, I think you explained almost everything and definetely satisfied my curiosity. I send you my best wishes and give you the opportunity to add something or say some words to our readers as a conclusion. Thanks for your kindness.

Philippe: Thanks for your time and interest. I definitely appreciate you gave us the opportunity to tell a few words about our music to the metal crowd, I was part of it time ago [laughs] and to open minded listeners.