Žánr: industrial / electro metal / EBM
Questions: H., Atreides
Hello! Let’s start with a simple question. The band comes from France but the name Herrschaft – if I am not mistaken – comes from German language. Why is it so? Does it have any special meaning, or did you choose German name just because it sounds good?
MaX: Of course you could think that having a German name for an electro Metal band just “sounds cool”, but it’s a little bit more complex than that. We chose Herrschaft by its German meaning, close to “reign”, or “domination”. First of all this meaning fit perfectly the theme of our two first albums, based on the reign & domination of humanity in a futuristic world. But it also appeared that this word, even for German people, had quite a blurry meaning, some kind of mystery in its definition… Well that was perfectly fitting for us.
When we talk about languages… almost all of your songs are written in English. If memory serves me well, there is only one song sung in French, “De flammes et d’ombres” from your first EP “Architects of the Humanicide”, is that right? Have you ever thought about doing more songs in French language?
MaX: Good remembrance, but we also have another song in French which is the hidden track ‘Uber Alles’ on “Tesla”. We have used French lyrics in an opportunistic manner only, only when songs were special enough to justify it. But In general, writing in French is a challenging process, we find it easier to write most of our lyrics in English and keep French only for some ‘special’ songs.
Zoé H.: That’s also why the name of this new album is in french langage. I like the way “Les 12 Vertiges” sounds.
Your music is a blend between metal and electronic music… I would even dare to say that Herrschaft’s music is not metal with industrial influences but that both metal and electronic elements are equal. Would you agree with that or do you still see yourself as a metal band? I would also like to ask how do you like purely electronic music styles? I guess it’s a positive opinion considering how your own music sounds, is that right? If so, which electronic genres do you prefer? The electronic side of “Les 12 Vertiges” sounds to me not so far from EBM…
MaX: We definitely see ourselves at the very edge between Dark Electro and Metal worlds, and fight to give this musical genre a new identity. They are so many bands, claiming themselves “Industrial” that just don’t bring any value to the Electro part except, like, a machine sample at the beginning of their song… Ok we do not consider being part of the same family. Hence, you are right when you see some EBM influence in Herrschaft. All members are very keen of groups like Combichrist, Wumpscut or Front Line Assembly, this is our second world aside of Metal influences.
Zoé H.: Maybe even the first one before Metal for me. I start a new song way more often with an electro shit than with a distorted guitar riff. That’s probably the biggest problem of all those self-proclaimed “industrial” bands who juste do a metal-core stuff and add a tiny synth sound in the background. Sorry guys: I like Fear Factory, but it’s not industral. Nine Inch Nails is.
One “bonus” question connected to the previous one. Daft Punk, probably the best known electronic act from France, released a new album after eight years in May. Have you heard “Random Access Memories” and what do you think about it?
MaX: Actually I heard it quickly by chance and I’m quite disappointed. Way too far from their Electro/Clubbing approach they had in their previous albums. Guess it’s a bit too funky for me now.
Zoé H.: I miss the clubbing approach too. They have created that fucking good damn french touch that make people dance all over the world. But well, you know… When a band evolves, we hate it because of puritanism. When a band does always the same shit, we hate that too because they are too old-fashioned. I don’t want to judge any band who tries something new or different so far. Just close your eyes and forget the band’s name. Listen to “Random Access Memories” forgetting it is made by Daft Punk. Maybe it’s a good album if the band’s name was “I Don’t Give A Fuck”.
Since your music – as we already said above – blends both metal and electronics, I would also like to know which order do you compose the songs in? I mean… do you write metal riffs and then add the electronics, or the electronic elements come first?
MaX: The first element in songs will come from an idea of me or Zoé… And then, always, will start a fight between Zoé and me because we barely agree with each other’s ideas. The song is broken, changed, denied by the other member, then back and forth, till the result gives birth to a full song. It’s fun working that way but very demanding and quite tiring.
Zoé H.: It can be started from anything. A synthetic sound I like, a drum pattern from MaX, a guitar riff, even an ambiance or an electro pad. We are more led by the sound of each element than by the notes, you know. We like textures more than melodies or technicity.
There is a gap of five years between the first album “Tesla” and “Les 12 Vertiges”. Why did it take so long to release the record? When did you start working on “Les 12 Vertiges” and how much time did all the parts of creating process like composing or recording took?
MaX: To understand you must know that Herrschaft is totally self-produced in Zoé’s own Studio in Paris. We have all the chance, and this latitude to record, build and master our sound under his magic fingers as much as we want. Yes, we really started working on this album in 2008, right after the release of “Tesla”. It’s just that… It took time to see the end and it took many efforts and doubts to be sure that we will be able to release it.
Zoé H.: Having my own studio (www.zoe-h.net) and being the producer of this album was a strong advantage, but it’s also the freedom to never end a song because you don’t have time or money limit.
I run way faster when i’m working for other bands! (laugh)
I know that Zoé plays with The CNK and that he also used to be involved in some other bands. However, I have to confess that I don’t know anything about other musical projects of the rest of Herrschaft members. Do they play anywhere else except of Herrschaft?
MaX: Not really, we all have other musical projects in mind but, aside the CNK experience, all these were postponed after the release of “Les 12 Vertiges”. We’ll see if we will have more time to work on them now!
Zoé H.: Herrschaft is almost 10 years old. Imagine, I was under 20 when I started that shit, we were too young to have other projects! (laugh). And today, if each album takes 5 years of work, I don’t want to know what could happen if we all had several projects!
But MaX is a bit shy. He used to play in the previous shape of the actual Otargos, black metal from Bordeaux, France.
There are few guests on “Les 12 Vertiges” – Jessy Christ in three songs, Krank Nox in “Rat in Cage” and C.N.X. in “Allmighty”. I have to confess that I’ve never heard about any of them before and even Google hasn’t told me anything… Could you please tell us who they are?
MaX: They are a lot of talented people… We have known all three by playing gigs together and sharing interests for each other’s band. We knew we would be able to collaborate one day or another and we are proud that they responded our call for this album. Jessy Christ was the singer of a former Electro-Rock band called Psycho-shop (https://myspace.com/psychoshopmusic). C.N.X. is the singer of the Temple of NemeSYS (http://www.temple-of-nemesys.com/) and participated in bands like Tamtrum. Krank Nox was the singer of former band Dexy Corp_ (https://www.facebook.com/dexycorp). Now you asked, you must check all this material if you don’t know yet.
Zoé H.: They are all well-known bands in that industrial french scene at that time. Most of them don’t exist anymore. But you know what, I’m a big fan of all of those bands. They are probably the most played music in my iPod. So we really wanted to have them all on that record. We litteraly wrote the songs for each of them. When MaX brought me the lyrics of the song “Allmighty”, we said “it has to be C.N.X, no other kind of voice will fit”. Same thing for Krank.
Now I would like to ask about a few songs from “Les 12 Vertiges”. I unfortunately don’t have lyrics by now because I received only music from your label so I have to ask according to the song titles only… There is a track called “Kimi Ga Yo”. As far as I know, “Kimigayo” is the national anthem of Japan. Is there any connection between it and your song?
MaX: The Kimigayo anthem means “our reign”. We took the analogy with Herrschaft’s meaning to integrate the anthem lyrics into our own song. Appart of the ‘japanese’ synthetic touch, it fitted perfectly the song’s purpose.
Zoé H.: Jessy sings the first sentences of the japanese anthem in that track, exactly. It’s a very poetic anthem. Much more civilized than the french one (laugh).
The last song on “Les 12 Vertiges” is called “Mephedron Trip”. Do any members of Herrschaft have experiences with drugs or mephedrone concretely? What is the meaning of this song?
MaX: Concretely is the word. The whole album has been built on these kind of concrete experiences, with drugs, or alcohol, mixed altogether with life, to create an independent vertigo and lead to a song of the album.
Zoé H.: That’s basically the point of the whole album… We had experiences, mind trips, with the help of chemistry or not. And each trip became a text, a music and then a song. Twelve stories, twelve vertigoes. I hope we will not be seen as simple junkies, but more as psychologist entertainers in a social research.
Another track from the album is entitled “Thirty-Six”… what is the meaning of the number 36 in that case?
MaX: 36 degrees. There are some times your body temperature will reach this level and this is usually no good news. This song is definitely the most desperate of the album in its music and its lyrics.
Zoé H.: It’s the last one we wrote, and it is the climax of the lifes of MaX, Jessy and me during those 5 last years. It relates the last experience we had all together before finishing that album. It is the most desperate song, with “Whispering Clouds”, for me too…
The next thing I’d like to ask about is the cover of “Les 12 Vertiges”. The body part and the symbol on its chest reminds me something like anatomy but I can see also the part of the Tree of Life from Kabbalah in the background. Is there any connection between the body and the Tree of Life or any of its sephirot? And what about the title of the album itself? Does it have any precise meaning or is it linked to something bigger – apart from the fact, that each track (probably) represents one single vertigo?
MaX: The tree of life symbol is a key element of the artwork and the album concept. You will find it in the body interior of the cover, blue and red as a tree made of arteries and veins. You will find it again, free this time, in the booklet. And of course in the Kabbalah tree on the cover… Indeed all these symbols are meant to represent the inner life, in conjunction with the marble body and all these vertigoes.
Alright, here comes the very last question, this one won’t be too much original. Could you tell us what are the plans of Herrschaft for the nearest future? Thank you very much for the interview and for your answers!
Zoé H.: Now that the album is out it’s time to focus now on live experience again. We have built a brand new line-up and are working hard to prepare our next stage appearances.
In parallel we have a project of gathering and releasing all Herrschaft-related remixes that were done by friends in the past years into a consistent release that would give credit to all the work done. It should be a reality in the next months, we have a 10 year-old birthday to celebrate after all!