Since 2000, Alcest has quietly become one of the most influential bands both within the realm of heavy music and beyond. Over the course of thirteen years, the musical project begun by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Neige has evolved its sound into that transcendent sonic balance between the ethereal and the palpable. I had the opportunity to ask Neige a few questions regarding his own journey and process as a musician.
What was it initially about music that drew you in and fostered the desire to create?
I always loved music, as far as I can remember. For me it is the form of expression that provides the most intense emotions. I can totally relate to it, in an almost instinctive way. As opposed to some other forms of art that need tons of explanations and indistinct ideas around it to be appreciated and justified. As opposed, music goes beyond words and languages, it portrays the emotions in a more subtile way with no barriers. It’s like a primal expression, so vivid and immediate, and the most transcendental form of art for me because of the intensity of emotions it can give to the listener. I was not conscious about all that when I started composing, but I guess I had a special interest in music for these reasons. I took some piano lessons with my grand mother when I was a kid, and then at the age of thirteen I started playing electric guitar and making my first songs. It’s funny because I never did band covers, I learned guitar while playing my own stuff from the start.
From the moment you first began creating music to where you are now, what’s that journey been like and how have you seen yourself evolve as an artist and musician?
Lots of things changed indeed.At the beginning, until the release of Alcest’s Souvenirs d’un autre monde, I was quite inexperienced, not knowing anything about composition “rules” or theory, doing everything just by instinct. I am not saying that I am now an expert in theory because I am bad at it still, but now I can think a lot more about what I am doing. In terms of structure, sounds, arrangements, intentions. In general I can have a better control on what I am doing while some years ago it was totally different. For example at the beginning I didn’t care about the sound at all, I had no effect pedals, just an amp with clean and distortion channel. And I composed everything just by playing with these two sounds.
Now I got a lot more into all this, looking for specific sounds, etc… Both ways of creating have interesting aspects, and I am not going to say I am a better composer now because I am aware about what I do when I take the guitar. To have equipment limitations can be really good sometimes because you have to focus on the essence of a song and explore the few sounds you have to the maximum. I love raw creativity and first albums always have something really fresh and unique. I guess that’s a balance to find, between the raw and naive (but so powerful) creativity and the more cerebral side of creativity that comes later with experience.
Heavy Weight Show (Music) with Steve Hill – Heavy Weight Show 07/16/2013 08:30PM to 10:00PM
The Barry Gray Orchestra “Joe 90 (Main Theme)” from No Strings Attached
Akercocke “LEVIATHAN” from Choronzon
The End “The Moth And I” from Elementary
Shroud Eater “The Star and the Serpent” from Dead ends
Agalloch “Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires” from Marrow Of The Spirit
Tombs “Black Heaven” from Path of Totality
Tool “The Patient” from Lateralus
Subrosa “The Inheritance” from No Help For The Mighty Ones
Pantera “Cemetary Gates” from Cowboys from Hell
Crowbar “(Can’t) Turn Away from Dying” from Broken Glass
Neurosis “Bleeding the Pigs” from Honor Found In Decay
VHÖL “Arising” from Vhöl
Orange Goblin “Graviton” from Coup De Grace
Opeth “The Grand Conjuration” from Ghost Reveries