How do you separate the debut and Ariettes Oubliées... as musical entities?Fursy Teyssier: I'd say that Ariettes Oubliées... is a much more dense and solid album than Septembre... as the concept of Les Discrets became more precise in my head, so I knew exactly which atmospheres I wanted to create and what the album needed to say. SESDP was composed in 7 years when Ariettes was composed in 2. Ariettes is more spontaneous in term of composition, but meanwhile it's more finished and polished on every aspect. I think the vocals improved a lot and this is also a very important step.
Did you have a clear path laid out for Ariettes Oubliées... or was it more the product of spontaneity? Fursy Teyssier: Both, actually. I actually composed the eponym song first and it defined the tone of the album. So, all the songs' creation was very fluent and came naturally, spontaneously, because this first song fitted exactly to the mood I wanted the album to have. What I like in this album is its consistency. But I'm not saying I prefer it to the first album. I'm proud and happy with both, the last one just fits more my current state of mind, despite it's now changing and I'm composing music in a very other genre.
The press release states, “Teyssier's artistic vision is clearer than ever”. What is meant by that statement? I felt Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées was of clear artistic vision. Nothing felt incomplete as far as a debut is concerned. Fursy Teyssier: Yeah, absolutely. It's a press text written by a journalist, so it's his own point of view---which I agree indeed---but to me the first one has something very strong and was consistent as well. The only thing I regret is my overall performance and the lack of sound research. I did everything with the same guitar, etc., and I could have developed sound more than what I did.
Are those ebows on “La Traversée”? I think the ‘singing’ quality of the recurring lead/melody line is otherworldly. Fursy Teyssier: Thank you! [Smiles] Glad you like. I was so excited when I found this ebow lin, yes. Ebow is a very nice tool for guitarists, but it's very hard not to use it always. It's good to use it sometimes but not on all the songs, because it's a very characteristic sound, often used by bands, and it can lose some personality to your music.
I hear a bit of doom metal—maybe even funeral doom on “Le Mouvement Perpétuel” and the end of “La Nuit Muette”—on Ariettes Oubliées... Was this an unintended occurrence or something that was inspired by a specific sub-genre of music? Fursy Teyssier: Not at all. I don't listen to any doom or funeral doom. It's just that it's slow with inverted chords that make it sound dark. Most of all, this album was inspired by John Barry's music, and especially this song, which is some kind of a tribute to his music, especially the “Persuaders Theme”. By the way, I did a cover of that theme, available on the split Les Discrets/Arctic Plateau, it's also on the Ariettes Oubliées artbook deluxe edition.
Actually, what I adore about Ariettes Oubliées... is the details. There are critics who state, for example, your vocals could be a little more confident, but the magic of this album is between the lines. Like the swells at the end of “La Nuit Muette”, the chord bends hidden in “Au Creux De L'hiver”, the unexpected blast beats in “La Traversée”, or Winterhalter’s remarkable drum work. Was Ariettes Oubliées... composed with details in mind or did those emerge after the main song structures were completed? Fursy Teyssier: Exactly. Detail. This is what I wanted to do. Some soft arrangements, melodies that you can barely notice, etc. To me, the vocals are very confident on most songs. I'm just not a good singer with a 'nice' voice, I just sing to tell things. It's why it's not mixed loud, but blurred into the music instead. I'm very happy with the vocal work on that album. Winterhalter did a very fantastic job, but I have regrets on how we mixed the drums in the album. I was tired and we did mistakes when tracking drums, so we had to deal with them, and we'd have liked the sound to be even more natural. Anyway, for each album there are regrets. That's the rule. But those details are post-production work indeed. The songs' composition and structure is the most important thing, arrangements come last. Above all, a good song is a good melody and structure. All the rest is sparkles, and sparkles is detail. [Smiles]
Would you say Les Discrets is distinctively French? Apart from the language, I mean. Fursy Teyssier: Yeah, many people say that. I think my culture slides into my music, consciously or not! But I can't say what makes it French though.
What were you trying to communicate in the “Ariettes Oubliées” video? It has an everyday life quality to it. Life happens, so to speak. Fursy Teyssier: I didn't directed it, so I'm not able to speak on Audrey Hadorn's behalf (from Les Discrets, who writes all the lyrics and directed this video). But as far as I get it, she wanted a French/Italian feeling, to feel close to the characters of the video and their story/life. The film tells above mourning, so indeed it's something everybody has to deal with in life.
Les Discrets has always had a strong visual identity. Sort of a Maurice Sendak meets Tim Burton with Art Nouveau flourishes. Was it important for Les Discrets to stand out as visual artists as well as musical artists? Fursy Teyssier: Yes, because Les Discrets is not only music, it's also visual (illustration, animation, photo, etc.). Both work together and they all respond to each other respectively. Without the music, pictures don't tell that much and it works the other way. Les Discrets is a platform which gathers all my artistic endeavors. If tomorrow, I start sculpture, you'll see sculpture one day. Music conveys pictures and pictures convey music, this is my motto!
The LP and CD have different art. Are the different formats meant to communicate a connected visual story or are they merely different because the formats—big vs. small—allow for alternating expressions? Fursy Teyssier: Not really. What happens is that I didn't know which one to use as the actual Ariettes cover art. I chosen the 'mourner' picture and decided to use “Dance of Deads” for the LP as well. Then, both were on a cover. And it also means Ariettes Oubliées... is not the album of one vision, there is so many pictures that fits and tell what the album tells.
You said the following about the Ariettes Oubliées... cover art: “This cover art is for me the most fitting, deep and meaningfull [sic] cover art I've ever done”. You’ve done a lot of music-related art. Why’s this piece so important to you? Fursy Teyssier: Because this guy could be me and the album tells about my fears and my vision of life and death and also because I adore the technique used (charcoal) and the drawing in itself. So many of my friends told me I've drawn myself, but I wasn't conscious of that at the time. I know it's not an eye-catching cover, or a drawing that helps to sell. It's too dark, but not dark like vampires or occult stuff. Nothing is shown, but you you this guy holds the shroud of somebody who's close to him, like his wife or so. And that makes it terribly realistic, sad and truly dark. Many people don't like that cover art unconsciously for that reason, but I do things how I feel them and depending of their meaning, not because it will help the promotion and sales to grow up.
The 7” and remix cover pieces for Morbid Angel were outstanding. Sort of Ralph Bakshi-esque. They were co-works with Valnoir Metastazis, but the only reason one should own those recordings is for the art work. Lipstick, rouge, and eyeliner on pigs, really. What do you remember about those pieces? Fursy Teyssier: Thank you. Yeah, I don't like Morbid Angel that much. But I'm glad to work for genres I don't necessary understand. Working with Valnoir is something I love. Because we're very complementary. He's a boss in graphic design, but don't know about drawing. So, we complete very well. This is a style I'd like to develop more and I'd love to work with him more often.
And finally, what’s the next step for Les Discrets? Go on the road or write/record the follow-up? Fursy Teyssier: We just announced we'll play at Roadburn Festival 2013 as the artist in residence is Neige (who plays in Les Discrets), so it'll be a very interesting experience to headline such a fantastic and great event. Also, I'm composing new music, in a very other genre (trip hop, electro, rock indie) for a new project. I also have a bunch of new songs for Les Discrets' next album, but I do have to admit that I need to take my time for the third one to know what I want to do and how. Because I don't want to make another album like the two first ones, I need a change, I need to move on and not repeat myself and so also want Winterhalter and Audrey. [Smiles]
** Les Discrets' new album, Ariettes Oubliées..., is out now on Prophecy Productions. It's available HERE in a multitude of formats. Get it and feel the sorrow or the hope. Your choice depends on you.