Neige, the founder of French shoegazing and post-rock band Alcest, talks to Nicky Jatin Sharma on creating a new era in post-metal with their ethereal, cinematic and nostalgic sounds.
From a studio project to a full-fledged band, how did the turnaround happen?
Alcest started as a solo project in 2000. The very first demo ‘Lo-Fi’ was in the black metal genre, soon after which our music style changed. The was around 2002 when I recorded the first EP — Le Secret that released in 2005, which marked the formal beginning of Alcest.
It band has a ethereal and nostalgic sound, inspired by a spiritual experience that I had as a child. All the songs in this project dealt with this experience, as it had left a mark on me and life in general. It’s an endless source of inspiration for me.
Then my friend Winterhalter, a drummer, joined the band in 2009 and we started doing concerts as a full band with live members from 2010. We also started working with a booking agent, which was a great decision.
I think that’s the biggest turning point in the band’s history because a studio project transformed into a live band after a span of 10 years. Doing live shows helped us in making more people aware of our music. We are now going to release our fourth album soon, followed by a tour again.
How would you describe your music?
I can hardly describe the genre of music we play; its better when you just listen to it. It is a mix of so many different genres — shoegazing, soundtrack scores, metal, folk and a bit of post-rock as well. Our sound is very dreamy, emotional and can make you travel far. Our music can usher in a sense of nostalgia and remind you of your life’s experiences.
What are your musical influences?
I am usually taking inspiration from very different things, be it a movie, picture, person, season, a specific mood or state of mind. I try to avoid as much as I can to be directly influenced by other bands but I listen to a lot of music so I guess my favourite bands have left a mark on me.
When I made ‘Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde’ I was very inspired by Yann Tiersen, Smashing Pumpkins, and more recently Slowdive, M83, Dead Can Dance and a lot of 1980s post-punk as well. My last discovery was Grimes, I love her sound; it’s very fresh and unique.
We’ve toured pretty much everywhere and non-stop in the last two years. I think the best experiences we had were in Japan, China, Australia and the U.S. One of the very first important tours we did was with Agalloch; we were so nervous! Other great experiences include a festival in Lithuania, shows in NYC and Los Angeles. We were pleasantly surprised that people seemed to really know and like our music there.
Our achievements are in the albums we made, the tours all around the world and the people we’ve met. It is very inspiring when we receive appreciation from fans all across the world.
Tell us about your upcoming album.
It will be out at the end of the year or early next year. This is an album of changes in terms of music style, and the start of a new sound for Alcest. Our music is not metal anymore but more cinematic and ethereal.
We recorded it in Iceland, in the studio of Sigur Ros and with their producer. We got a lot of inspiration from the whole Icelandic trip. We also have Neil Halstead of Slowdive singing a song for our upcoming record. That was a dream come true since Slowdive is one of my favourite bands. I went crazy like a kid. Neil’s voice fits great on Alcest's music.
Listen to Alcest @ unseenunderground.com /alcest-france/
Genre: Experimental/ Shoegazing/ Post Rock / Folk Metal