To begin with I would like to thank you for answering this interrogation and giving us your time.
S > Thanks to you.
So, off to a beginning. Could you tell me who you are and how and why and where?
S > We are a musical entity based in France. We play autistic music for autistic people since 2006. Our music is based on extreme metal, that we mix with a lot of experimentations from ambient and electro to classical. My left knee is a dissasociate entity coming from different times, since 12035 years he's been composing music from all worlds. When he's got an interesting idea, he calls me and plays his melodies on his magic flutelette, which is my penis. He can play an infinity of different sounds with it.
Does your music have any major influences?
S > I would say you can find our roots in every progressive, experimental and dark stuff from every era. Metal, classical, electronic stuff, whatever, you can find good stuff in every different musical world men have created. But we don't have a main influence, as we developed our own style since our early recordings. That's why people rarely compare us to the same bands each time, they can talk about Ulver, King Crimson, Emperor, Ahab, Blut Aus Nord... So it's variable and it shows how multiple and different the sounds we share are.
Your latest album at the moment is "Resilience", right? How has it been received by the public?
S > Very well I have to say, listeners, reviewers... Nice self esteem trip. Because of all you guys I'm starting to think of myself as a misunderstood genius, and that's pathetic. Now I'll build my own religion. I've already got some precepts. I want people from 6 to 112 years old fucking trees, soil, and water all day long.
Knowing you take pride in the well composed nature of your music, I need to inquire if you have any formal schooling in music?
S > No I haven't, I learned to play and compose all by myself. I don't know anything about music theory or musicology. I started to compose and record even before I knew how to play for real. Back in the '90s, double tape recordings, layers by layers... Tape audio breaths were so loud, tracks after tracks... Why I'm telling that is to show how composition and production have always been the two main arcanes of my works. Not separately and one before the other, but at the same time as a dozen of successions...
A modification in production will make you record something specific, and different from what you would have recorded if you had separated these two steps. For my technique, composing has always helped me to push myself, but I'm still a bad guitar player. I've got a lot of gaps, I play it very dirty 'cause I focused on creativity, but this is one part of my style. I learn a lot playing with cult bands too, I mean, playing alone in a room with their tunes on my hifi or earphones... This has helped me so much, for both drums and guitars, and for improvisation as much as pure technique. Playing with other humans, or seeing other people playing in front of me opened a lot of gates for me too, of course.
Judging by the music you probably don't plan on playing live anytime soon, has this been a concious decision for Smohalla or am I just completely wrong?
S > Yep, I'm not in a this kind of mood with this project, at this point. Maybe later.
Do you care to crack the veil of mystery upon your composition and recording process?
S > No I don't care 'cause there is no mystery. I don't even have a constant methodology, I can start building a song on guitars riffs or drum improvisations or orchestral and synthetic parts... I discover and learn everytime I record something, real experimentations can't have the same process everytime. "I like to experiment, I love to suck dick." Ok this last sentence was a quote from a wonderful band, guess who.
The real mystery is, where does it all came from? I mean, real creativity, for every real creature creating, is it the fruits of our wounds, or does it just come from outer space? Ok, part of it can be outside forms you already know and appreciate, consciously or not, like other bands, or experiences you've lived. But this specific aura you can reach mixing melodic instruments, percussions, different external sounds, twisting all of it with your own brain and feelings, that's the real mystery. Is it something real?
What would be awesome would be to create a department of experimentation with animals. I said "with," and not "on." I'm sure some animals can create too, you don't need to be 100% conscient for it. You don't have to be 100% conscient even if you're a human. You have to reach this parrallel state, using your concrete hands, leaded by your soul. Ok, so, scientists: animals composing music, please try it. I think it will need time, but let's try it. Of course you'll have to shape specific new instruments that are adapted to animals different morphologies. I'd like to invite an orchestra of lugs for our next song.
On "Resilience" you used multiple guest appearences. How did these come about?
S > They're all people I was in contact with. I share other projects with some of these guys. I will be recording vocals on the next HKY album with Christian, who mastered our album, and Damien, who is Immemorial's main composer too. Very heavy and dark stuff, their past recordings are just awesome. Mathieu from Arms of Ra, who sang some words on "L' homme et la Brume" is the main singer of another project of mine called Modokian Crest, kind of funny stuff. We are in contact with all our feat. people since years, same with Nicolas S. or Oscar from As Light Dies. I will record some vocals for his other project, Garth Arum.
Is there anyone certain you would like to collaborate with in the future?
S > I'de like to collaborate with a lot of different people to be honest, as we've always done. To have Laurie from Ludicra on a song would be just awesome. She looks pretty ok, too, so I hope she will sing somewhere on our next album. I remember I contacted this italian guy in the past, he was composing some keyboard parts for this band called Evol. Not an official member and I can't remember his name now, but if you want to hear something from him, you can check the Evol song called "Ouverture," it's awesome. By the way I contacted him long time ago but he never answered, sad. Typically the kind of dark prog Italian stuff with only keyboards and electronic drums is what I like to hear, and stuff like what A.l composed for our split CD with Immemorial.
How do you see the evolution of Smohalla looking back to the beginning? Also regarding the future, where do you see Smohalla heading?
S > I think we will just keep on recording music we'd like to hear, this is a real salvation for me, a necessity. But we've got nothing to prove to anyone, and I will not spend all my time promoting our world. Smohalla already takes so much time from me, as it's a 100% DIY band. Happily we haven't released so many full-lenghts... A lot of people helped us in the past years, but I manage creation, recordings, productions, mix, artworks, websites etc, etc... And I will still be focused on the most interesting part of it, creation. That's why our website sucks and I don't care about it, that's why we haven't got t-shirts to sell and I don't care about it, that's why we don't have a real line-photo and I don't care about it, that's why we will never use make-up or bizarre imagery to make people focus on our fake eccentricity, etc, etc...
As you already know, this world is fake, hypocrisy and manipulation are everywhere, finding real friends or real love here in the occident is like searching for diamonds in the rectum of a dead mare. In this world the worst porn actress will still have more attention and money than the best experimental bands (It means: girls, I need hugs). Everyone is sick, but no one wants to heal.
And I would like to thank everyone supporting Smohalla and spreading the word about us, like you. Artistically speaking, I don't plan anything, I want to keep on exploring new landscapes, being surprised by my own ideas, and share it with a few of us. I hope in 107 years I'll be considered as a spiritual god, and that I'll be a lovely great grey frog on an another dimension.
Is there any last requests before I'm done with you?
S > I just have to say our next release will be a new split, coming soon this year I hope. We've got 4 new songs about how the world have been ruined by idiot pigs, since the weak ones are thinking they're just fools, and about how diluvial waves will drown our species soon. I think there's no madness here, but only weaknesses. But only few of us can admit it, live with it and try to heal instead of spreading the hate all around. I think it's sad.
Thanks you again for your kind time.
S > Thanks to you.