Interview conducted September 29 2017
Interview published November 7 2017
"I'm sure it has been done before, but I was just
stupid enough to release it."
Metal Covenant got on the phone
with Zeal & Ardor's Manuel Gagneux to
talk about the creation Devil Is Fine. A record that mixes old slave influenced
rhythms with black metal parts is definitely something out of the ordinary
and normally not most people's first choice and it's just one of those
records that you've got to hear to even slightly understand what's on
Tobbe: Devil Is Fine certainly merges different
types of music and tell me how you're able to put together those styles
in order to become one piece of music?
Manuel: Trial and error, man. There were so many
songs that I wrote that sounded like absolute horseshit and eventually
it got better. So patience, I guess, is the way.
Then what's most important to you when it comes to mixing really different
styles of music together?
Manuel: I think just that it sounds good, because
you can be, you know, philosophical about it or have a theme or whatever,
but in the end music is only good when it sounds good. It's pretty simple,
in a weird way.
Tobbe: You mentioned trial and error and
I guess you put a lot of the stuff in the trash and was there a time where
you thought about quitting this idea and do something different?
Manuel: Well, yeah. A lot of times. There was
so many shitty songs, but eventually I just came back to it because
there was always, like, a good element in every try. So that's why I
kept on going.
Tobbe: And the album's lyrical content.
Tell me a little bit about it.
Manuel: Well, it's kind of like an alternate
fiction, basically where, you know, slaves didn't accept Christianity,
but actually turned to Satanism as a rebellion. And a lot of it I took
from an old grimoire, like a magic spell book, and from other books
like The Key Of Solomon. Just stolen, basically. [Laughs]
Tobbe: If there is a story, then it's kind
of a short story, because the album is only 25 minutes long, even though
there are 9 tracks on it. So why did the album turn out so short, really?
Manuel: You know, I didn't really think about
it as a release. I just kind of made that music for myself and I uploaded
it to Bandcamp. And then this huge, you know, echo came and then I'm
left thinking "Fuck! I kind of fucked up. It's super short.".
Well, the next album will certainly be longer. Let's put it that way.
Do you think that the lyrics always are more important to the artist himself
than what they in fact are to the listener in the end?
Manuel: I don't know. I don't really listen to
lyrics that much. But I know that certain people do, so I put a lot
of effort into them, but if someone says they don't care about the words
I'm absolutely fine with that.
Tobbe: The black metal music parts of the
record aren't so loud in the final mixing and how come it didn't become
a more prominent element in the end, if you know what I mean?
Manuel: Well, it's actually kind of simple. I
recorded it with my cell phone and I suck at mixing. [Laughs] Yeah,
it's just me not being able to mix properly.
Tobbe: How were you able to get that kind
of old, desperate vocal style, like, so authentic and precise over the
Manuel: I have bad equipment and it's just one
of the rare occasions where that's actually a good thing. I ran it also
through, like, a gramophone simulator and that's just pretty much it.
That's the magic.
Tobbe: This type of music is really unique
and not many artists come out with something unique today, but would you
personally say that you have created something now that has never been
Manuel: No, no. I'm sure it has been done before,
but I was just stupid enough to release it. [Laughs] Because there's
so many artists out there that, you know, have other projects, like
passion projects, and they never really release it, because they think,
you know, that's not what the people want. And that's a huge shame.
I think there'd be so much more interesting and awesome music out there
if people were willing to share it, yeah.
Does someone need a specific type of musical ear to be able to embrace
Manuel: Um, I don't know. You know, because when
I look at our audiences it's very mixed. You know, old people, young
people, metalheads, like hipsters and true black metal people. I don't
think there's a formula and the people like it or they don't and then
they don't listen to it.
Tobbe: Is doing some kind of crossover music
necessary today if you don't want to repeat what people have made before?
Manuel: Maybe. I don't think that something
new can be created, per se. So the only way to innovate it is to combine,
or to change, so. Well, maybe I'm totally wrong and maybe we'll be listening
to space jazz tomorrow or something. But until then
Tobbe: If someone told you that the music
on Devil Is Fine is just so weird, would you take that as a compliment
or would you say that that someone just doesn't get it?
Manuel: I'd take that as a total compliment;
I like weird stuff, yeah. I'm always drawn to weird things, so if someone
wants to call what I do weird it's basically calling it something strange
or something they haven't heard before and to me that's pretty much
what I'm trying to do.
Tobbe: Out of sheer curiosity, if you make
a second album, how could you ever possibly take this specific type of
Manuel: That's a question I'm trying to figure
out myself. I don't know; all I can do is try. I'll probably, you know,
piss some people off and disappoint other people, but yes, all I can
do is try and we'll see.
But do you think that the next album will be kind of similar to this one
and you will try to keep those two specific styles for the next album
Manuel: I think there's still a lot to be discovered
with those two elements and they'll certainly gonna be incorporated
in the next album. But as soon as I figure out that I'm just cashing
it in, then I have to stop, 'cause no one wants boring music.
Tobbe: But in the long run, do you have
to cross other barriers too to keep your creativity flowing?
Manuel: Maybe in the long run, yeah. And I mean,
it's something I enjoy doing, so I wouldn't be afraid and I'd enjoy
it, I think.
Tobbe: So what other elements are you willing
to bring in to your music?
Manuel: I don't know yet, man. I have to experiment
a lot. So we'll see how that goes. Maybe it's gonna be techno, or trance,
or something else that's awful; I don't know [Laughs] Yeah, if I knew
that I would be doing that already, I think.
Tobbe: And what about some kind of touring
activity? What's in the pipeline right now?
Manuel: We're looking at next year because I
have to do, like, a civil service for the rest of the year. So I'll
only be able to gig on the weekends. But next year will be pretty crazy
and I think we'll be everywhere on this weird earth.