Genre: avantgarde / black metal / trip-hop / ambient / jazz
Hello Steven! The very first question will be a little bit unsual – where are you at the moment? I know that you moved to Norway before creating “Sørbyen”… do you still live in Norway or have you moved anywhere else since then?
I left Norway about a year ago and I currently live in Darmstadt, Germany.
I’ve read that Norway was the main source of inspiration for “Sørbyen”, is that right? Why did you decide to move there? Do you think that the second album of Netra would be completely different if you didn’t move to Norway, or do you think there would be some similarities?
I moved to Norway for professional reasons and indeed, “Sørbyen” is some kind of a diary of my time there. The place where I lived was incredibly peaceful, quiet and particularly appealing to my creativity. I would certainly have come up with something very different had I been in another country.
Since “Sørbyen” was inspired with Norway, it just suggets itself to ask – did you think about singing at least a part of the album in Norwegian language? If I am not mistaken, only the titles of the record and the title track (which is, however, instrumental) are Norwegian… And what about possibility of using French language?
English has become my everyday’s language since a few years now. At work, but also at home with my girlfriend. I suppose that I could have written lyrics in French, but that would have been maybe too personal. It’s sometimes easier to find the right words in another language than your own. As for Norwegian, I got to learn it during my stay but I was not able to express as much as I wanted and I was also afraid of the underlying affiliation with the black metal genre. English seemed like the natural choice at that time.
I hope that I am not mistaken but I guess the person on the cover of “Sørbyen” is you and the area around is probably the Norwegian town you (have) live(d) in… is that right? Why did you decide to put yourself on the album cover?
That is absolutely right! I wanted something simple, raw, somewhat transparent and anchored in everyday’s life.
I have to say that every time I listen to “Sørbyen”, it gives me a little bit different set of emotions, it’s almost like the album is never the same, one day it’s more melancholic and the other day it feels like claustrophobic record. What feelings did you intend to create with the music?
I have to say that I appreciate that kind of comment! I intended to depict a wide variety of feelings with this album, which is why it is so long and heterogenous. Looking back at it after a couple of years, maybe it is a little too confused, but so is life sometimes.
Who do you think your music is made for? I think it might be too much experimental for a fan of one genre. We’re a website mostly about metal music but I am not sure if most of the metal fans would appreciate Netra. So who do you think are listeners of Netra? Perhaps open-minded people? Especially after “Dreading Consciousness” it feels like that probably no one else than open-minded person could enjoy the music.
I don’t really know. People like me I suppose, but that is not even easy to define. For sure, in order to enjoy Netra’s music one must be used to the harsh production inherent to the black metal genre, that is a prerequisite.
Now I would like to ask something about the creating process of “Sørbyen”, mainly because there are almost no information in the booklet… How much time did it take to create the whole album? When was the very first song finished? For how long did the recording process itself last? And also – where did you record the album? I couldn’t find any information about a studio or anything else…
It took about over a year to produce this album. It’s hard to give you more details, the whole process was a bit unorganized, the different steps (composition, recording, mixing) were somewhat overlapping each other. Everything was recorded at home, no studio, no one else involved. I wanted it that way.
“Sørbyen” is divided into two parts, “Différends” and “When the Time Is Right”. Why so? Is that meant as two individual halfs, or are they somehow connected, something like two parts of one story? Is there any global concept across the album?
Yes, there is a reason behind this. The first part is intended to depict something light, hopeful and melancholic whereas the second part leans more towards something dark and hateful.
If I am not mistaken, some parts of “Sørbyen” contain samples from four movies… If so, could you please which ones and also why did you decide to use samples from them?
I used indeed samples from the following movies:
– “Louise-Michel”, directed by Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine
– “Rottenetter”, directed by Arild Ostin Ommundsen
– “Stay”, directed by Marc Forster
– “Ond tro”, directed by Kristian Petri
I cannot explain why I chose these movies exactly. It’s about an ambiance, a feeling that would fit a song.
Not so long ago, the music video for “Crawling” was made available. Why did it take so long to create the videoclip… a year after the release of “Sørbyen” itself? If I understood it correctly, the whole video is a work of one single person, Jason Caridi, is that right? How did you participate in the creation of “Crawling” videoclip? And why did you decide to create a video for this song?
We expected the video to be ready way earlier, but the production got delayed several times, I won’t go too much into details. It is indeed the work of a single person, he took care of absolutely everything, I just contributed with minor comments. As for why this song in particular, I just had some graphic ideas around it at the first place, it turned out that we did not use any of that at the end, but that’s what got it all started I believe.
This might be a little bit cliché question but… as an author of the music, what differences do you see between “Sørbyen” and “Mélancolie urbaine”? I would say that the debut feels more like metal and “Sørbyen” is even more experimental and avantgarde, despite the first is very unusual music as well… What do you think? I could ask also about the differences between the albums and “Dreading Consciousness” but I guess that the differences are quite obvious in this case (laughs)…
I might not be the best person to answer that as I very much lack of perspective.
There is a song called “Emlazh” on “Sørbyen” album. What does the word “emlazh” mean?
It’s a breton word for “suicide”.
Another track from “Sørbyen” is entitled “I Shall Slay the Monkeys”. Why would you want to slay the monkeys (laughs)? Or is it a methaphor? Could you please explain what is this song about?
There is an extremely simple message conveyed by the lyrics of this song: I hate people. It’s an antisocial anthem.
When I mentioned the meaning of the songs… in the booklets of both “Mélancolie urbaine” and “Sørbyen”, there are only small fragments of the lyrics and I couldn’t find them anywhere else as well. Are the lyrics available anywhere? If not, do you plan to publish them?
I intend to keep the lyrics unreleased until further notice. I don’t really feel like sharing the whole message, there is a part of my music that I need to keep to myself.
As far as I know, Netra released two demos in the years before the first full-length record “Mélancolie urbaine”, is that right? I noticed that some songs from the demos appeared on the following albums… do you plan to use (in reworked versions?) some other tracks from the old era of the band?
I have not given it much thoughts yet but that is possible, yes.
Anyway, when we mention the demos… is there any posibility to get them anyhow (at least as a download)? Do they exist in any physical format?
There is nothing interesting on these demos, you are not missing much.
The second demo and the first album share the same title “Mélancolie urbaine” but the names of the songs are different except of “Blasé”. Does it mean that the full-length album contain songs from the demo but in reworked versions and with different names? If not so, why are the titles of both records the same?
Yes indeed, the album contained re-arranged versions of the songs from the demo.
Let’s talk about “Dreading Consciousness” a little bit now… the record is a collaboration between you and We’rewolves. For a start, could you introduce us your colleagues from the EP? I hope I am right but… it should be a hip-hop project from California, is that right? How did you get in touch with them and why did you decide to cooperate with them?
They were actually the ones who made the first step. I liked their music and suggested this collaboration, everything went pretty well and we are all very enthusiastic about the result!
“Dreading Consciousness” feels to me like you took care about the music and We’rewolves about the rap vocals… was it like that?
I was asking above if there is a concept on “Sørbyen” but I guess it is quite apparent that “Dreading Consciousness” contains concept… the record has its developement and it slowly grows to the impressive finale in the last part of “Enter the Void”. Also the parts of the lyrics I was able to catch up and the woman screaming indicates there could be some story behind “Dreading Consciousness”. Can you tell us what is the EP about?
The title is actually self-explanatory. It is all about refusing to open oneself to this world that leaves us with so much frustration. Getting high represents a very good alternative in times of despair.
As of now, “Dreading Consciousness” is a digital release only. Do you think it is possible that it will be released also in physical form one day?
It is not planned for the moment, but I am open to suggestions from labels.
Which instrument is, let’s say, the “main” for you? Since you play everything in Netra, it might be interesting to know if you consider yourself to be mainly a vocalist, guitarist, bassguitarist or anything else… When you compose the music, which instrument do you start with? Anyway, how many instrument are you able to play?
Initially, I am a bass player. This is my instrument. Now, when it comes to composing music, I use alternatively my electric guitar, but also my voice, when a melody pops up in my mind for example. As for the instruments that I can play besides bass and electric guitar, I did a little bit of drums in the past, also some keyboards, but I don’t really practice anymore.
Your music contains a great scale of different influences and styles… black metal, jazz, electronics and many more. It suggets itself to ask – what kind music do you like as a fan? Do you listen to all the genres whose influences are notable in Netra’s music? Could you name a few of your favourite interprets of all time? Are there any interesting albums you’ve listened to recently?
I can appreciate basically any kind of music. Some of my very favourite artists in different genres: Joy Division, Rob Dougan, Burzum, Charles Mingus, VNV Nation, Mobb Deep. But I can spend months without listening to any of them, it’s just that they produced some of the most touching pieces of music that I ever heard. No particular recent discovery.
I guess that this question might be meaningless in a way but… do you think it is possible that netra will ever perform live?
I honestly don’t think so.
I know that “Sørbyen” is out for about a year and “Dreading Consciousness” was just released but have you already started thinking about another album? I guess the new EP was just an experiment so you will continue the path taken with “Sørbyen”? Or you don’t plan anything and just wait where the inspiration brings you?
I don’t plan anything and just wait, like you say!
One very simple question for the end… what does the word “netra” mean? Thank you very much for the interview and for your time!
Usually that is the very first question of the interview, not the last! It actually means “nothing” in breton. Díky moc za tvůj čas a zájem!