Amesoeurs (2007)

Amesoeurs are a reflection of our modern urban world. The endless grey shit stained concrete walked by the comatose masses, littered with needles, whores and bums. The useless working man trying to mask his tears with alcohol and television. Money and disease the duet that rule our world, infect our veins and corrupt our soul.

"Ruines Humaines" is the debut release from AMESOEURS, the reflective project of French master Neige (ALCEST, PESTE NOIRE) and Audrey Sylvain.

Neige was a central reason why the Mortifera album is such an amazing release and the skill he brought to that album is very present here. The music is a mixture of the melancholic 'black' metal found in Mortifera and Alcest mixed with strong inspiration from British bands Joy Division and The Cure.

Sad but contemplative, not offering any solutions or judgments, just a frustrated mirror held up to the sprawling city wasteland - but somehow, unintentionally, making it sound quite appealing...

Todestrieb extends our appreciation to Neige and Audrey for the chance to discover more about this exceptional band.

Interview with Neige & Audrey S.
Thanks to Noël Benoit for the translation
3 January 2007

Did the idea of Amesoeurs (musically / thematically) form before the band itself in 2004? Was it something that has been in your minds for a while, or did something specifically spark it that year?

AUDREY: As for me, the idea of this concept was already in my mind before I met Neige. I wasn't a musician at the beginning but a dancer. I was evolving around this concept with rock/coldwave/new wave choreographies I used to dance on, which were close to the style performed by Amesoeurs. Amesoeurs helps me complete my feelings through music.

NEIGE: By the same token, Amesoeurs was a concept in the beginning before it became a music. It was an idea born inside me during my childhood. I lived for many years in the countryside and I have never got used to the city. When I was going there, it felt like another planet, both because of the setting and the attitude of the people living in the city. It fascinates me as much as it disgusts me. I'm particularly attracted by the city at night, its atmosphere, its unpredictability, the cold lights from these huge futuristic buildings. For most people, this is totally insignificant but to my eyes, it conveys something romantic in the first sense of the term: an unbelievable setting suitable for delusions, stories and fantasies. The key element that made me transform all this into music was the discovery of new wave and post punk, the perfect soundtrack for this kind of universe.
However, Amesoeurs is not confined into its own concept, we don't want to become predictable. Thus, I hope we will have a few texts that will deal with other themes compared to those we are used to talk about.

What happened during your first gig, was it a success?

AUDREY: I won't say our first gig was successful. I only had a month of bass practice and I made a few mistakes here and there ahah. Moreover, we were both sick!

NEIGE: Indeed, this gig was quite mediocre, even if it stays a good moment. We played in front of 30 people and our setlist was really short, that's why we haven't enjoyed it properly. It took place in Laudun, a village near Avignon. There were two rock bands after us, nothing groundbreaking.

Do you have other members for playing live?

NEIGE: We are looking for a bassist to complete the line-up but we haven't received any positive answers for the time being.

Do you have any songs from that time (Summer 2004-April 2005) that have not been recorded (or released)?

AUDREY: Yes, we have a few songs from that time. Some of them have been discarded, we have to work more on the others, but they haven't been recorded yet.

NEIGE: For the forthcoming album, we will record "Les ruches malades". This is a song we played during our first gig. We will also record other songs written in 2004 and 2005, which are still uncomplete but we'll work on them quite soon.

Do you think the sound changed after Fursy left, was he a big aspect of the band?

NEIGE: Fursy is a good friend of mine, we grew up and discovered music together. He knows very well what is Amesoeurs and what it represents, that's why I regret his departure from the band. Had he lived closer and not been that busy with studies, he would certainly be our live bass player. However, he takes care of the visuals of the band with Isabelle Hanssen, which is by no means insignificant insofar as image is very important to us.

Audrey, have you been involved with any other bands previously or currently? What is special about Amesoeurs that it made you want to start recording?

AUDREY: Amesoeurs is my first band. When I've met Neige, I have discovered a sensitivity close to mine, that's why we've decided to work together and that is the reason why I want to keep working and recording with him. I sometimes sing a little for Alcest (on the forthcoming album) and for Valfunde, the solo project of Famine from Peste Noire.

Your photos seem to show you as ghosts among the urban landscape. Somehow in it, but not part of it. Do you feel this way? Do you feel outside the world while being wrapped up in it?

AUDREY: I won't be playing with Amesoeurs if I didn't feel outside of this world, but I can't criticize today's society in two or three lines. I am aware of the fact that this society enables me to create music and to have enough spare time to satisfy my hobbies. To spit and shit on society when you are well-off is a teenager reflex. However, I've always felt ill-at-ease in the city because of this urban landscape that brings to me some existential questions I don't have any answers to, like the sense of my life or about life in general.
To my eyes, the fact that we tend to make everything esthetic with our music helps us to see things more confidently. I won't be saying this and I would have a different sensitivity if I wasn't living in a urban area. In a few years, I will go away from the city and I will move in the North of France. I really prefer the North than the South of France with its landscapes and mentalities etc...

Do you ever think about making a video for the music? How do you imagine an Amesoeurs film would look if you had the freedom to make one?

AUDREY: I would include of lot of dancing, be it pictures or little videos. I would take advantage of the fact that Amesoeurs feels "dancing" to me. We could think about urban landscapes, characters and so on.
We could include pictures of the city at night that we would take from a good distance to display the bluish lights... or lost places, squats, bars, clubs and other filthy and fascinating places. A few portraits too. To put things in a nutshell, I would try to blend beauty and purity with sadness, dirt and violence.

NEIGE: The idea of an Amesoeurs video attracts me a lot. We would take the opportunity to present our visual universe that go hand in hand with our music in an indirect way to materialize and give life to this universe.

The front cover photo by Isabelle Hanssen is of the London underground, have you ever visited here to experience the human rats being herded through the corridors, crowding into trains...?

NEIGE: Not in London, no, but the subway in Paris or Lyon is really a strange experience to me. To each his life, his goal, a place to go and nobody cares about each other. Then, the noise, the never-ending motion, the heat, the stench... It feels horrible to me, it's a real agression to our senses. To my eyes, the subway is a relevant metaphor of the dehumanization, the anxiety, the stress and the sadness that stem from modern life. There's a lot of people in the subway packed in a relative intimacy. You are forced to be close to them, to listen to what they say, to feel their smell though we have no connection with them , they go out and you never see them again.

From the outside it seems you play the largest part in the band - vocals, guitar, bass - do you think that's true? Do you take control over the song writing and lyrics?

NEIGE: I write 90% of the music. However, Audrey sometimes shows up with a riff, like for "Faiblesse des sens" for instance. This song originates from a riff that Audrey wrote, to which I've added others to create a whole song. As for the drums, I usually have them in my head but if Winterhalter comes up with a more efficient drum pattern than mine, I don't mind using his for the song.
The writing process in Amesoeurs is different from my other projects. I sometimes find a bass line first and then complete it with the guitar. The guitar doesn't necessarily come first. About the texts, Audrey will write most of them on the forthcoming album, I will maybe write just one or two.

Neige, your guitar has a unique and recognizable quality. Which guitarists influenced you as you've created this sound?

NEIGE: No band or guitarist have influenced me on a melodic point of view, be it in Alcest or Amesoeurs. With Amesoeurs, it's more about the way we stage the instruments and rhythms that I've been influenced. Joy Division for example, the sound, the atmosphere and the drum patterns that this band uses have left a mark on me.

Where was Ruines Humaines recorded? Are you happy with how everything sounds? How long did it take to complete? Do you think the Summer season had any impact on the sound/emotion?

NEIGE: I've recorded this MCD at home, with a 24-track digital recording device. I'm not by any means a sound engineer but the production of this MCD is quite satisfying to me, I'm quite pleased with what I've achieved for once!
As usual, I've used a lot of time to complete the recording process, 5 or 6 months I guess. Summertime? I rather like it, this season means holidays and spare time to record some material without the anxiety of the studies.

Out of all the projects you've been involved with, is this most personal to you? Alcest is your solo work, but Amesoeurs seems more Human, or is that misunderstanding and Alcest is actually a much more personal/deeper work?

NEIGE: Both are profound but I think Alcest is my most personal project, I can't clearly explain it, it's really hard to talk about it. The concept of Amesoeurs is more comprehensible and human, it concerns all of us.

What are the current plans with Alcest - still to re-record the EP and work on a new LP?

NEIGE: The Alcest album is almost done. It will be released in 2007 and will be entitled "Souvenirs d'un autre monde", in English it means "Memories of another world". This title is to be understood literally and it sums up the whole Alcest concept.

Can you find any redeeming qualities in the Modern world?

NEIGE: The easy access to arts and culture, the comfort of life in the good sense (not the new useless technology toys).

Where are some of your favourite places to be (in the world or just in your city)?

AUDREY: The Frigolet abbey, Bagnols les Bains, the Lozere forests, Brittany...

NEIGE: Quiet at home, or lots of other locations such as Brittany, the Perigord and Auvergne regions in France or Norway, a marvellous country I've had the chance to visit.

Do you feel nostalgia for a certain time in history? Do you feel humanity was of a higher quality in previous decades / generations?

NEIGE: I've always sucked about historical facts and I don't feel attracted by another time than mine. Hum... maybe the 19th century. As for mankind's evolution, I think you've always been able to find both great and lousy men, more or less kindly ones. The only difference is that our society, on a technologic level , offers means of destruction that are more efficient than in past times. For example: at war, now you can endanger the whole planet and its inhabitants and not only a handful of men, which is rather frightening.

You say the future album will develop your sound towards something more powerful, electronic, depressive. Will it sound very different to the MCD? Will you be using more/different instruments or changing vocal style?

NEIGE: Yes, the album will be quite different compared to the MCD, but still cold and desperate. Anyway, both black metal tracks of the MCD should have been used for Mortifera. The "real" Amesoeurs has always been rock but since these two songs were on a conceptual and emotional level quite close to Amesoeurs, I've decided to use them for the project.
The instruments will stay the same: guitars, bass, drums but we're going to add a few rhythmic and electronic elements, probably from a drum machine or a sampler that we will mix with real drums. We want to give a genuine new wave touch to the album and create songs that are at the same time sad, violent and dancing.

AUDREY: Amesoeurs will be the soundtrack of deranged and smoky dancefloors.