…actually, when people ask me what type of music I’m doing, I’m always in trouble…
Dat’ : After your 4 last albums, which were totally fuckedup and quite experimental, where did this idea of making a Thom Yorke cover come from ?
Raoul Sinier : Everything began because of this new record label Oeuvre, who contacted me to make a disc. Because I didn’t have any new music to give them, I asked if I could remix some of their tracks. But it was very jazzy hiphop stuff, which was not really what I wanted to do. So we were searching for a solution, cause when a label comes and asks me to release something, I’m always happy, even if I keep my new LPs for Ad Noiseam. These days, I’m singing a lot in my tracks, and I do shitloads of covers, to try something new. Some of them are quite ok, but this Thom Yorke cover is, I think, one of the best I made. So I chose this one, with new unreleased tracks too.
After, its not like “I absolutely wanted to release a cover”, but I found this exercise pretty interesting. There are very few covers in electronic music. Remixes all the time, but few covers. Even the label was talking about doing a remix at the beginning, I had to specifically tell them it was a real cover, no elements from the original tracks, everything was composed and played again. And this is the most interesting point.
- Dat’ : When we listen to Tremens Industry, and this Ep (+the covers you put on the interweb), your voice seems to becoming more and more important in your music. Where did this love of singing come from? Because we basically know you for your noisy electronic stuff…
Raoul Sinier : Well, it comes from the track “The Hole” from Tremens Industry, where I began to sing something really high-pitched, to do like Thom Yorke and so on. But quickly, I realized I was not good at it (laughs). So yeah, for “The Hole”, I used shitloads of Vocoder and effects, which sounds pretty neat, but I thought it was a pity not to push things forward. And I’ve already done 4 LPs, 8 records in total, I don’t like to do always the same thing, I want to make my music evolve, of course. So I began to take singing lessons ! Its hard to find a vocal personality, but at least, with those lessons, I can do what I want with my voice, and it brings something different to my tracks. I will not sing on every track of course, but just sometimes, its cool.
– Dat’ : You’re not scared to lose your audience ? Lots of people who like electronic music think that singing on electronic tracks is a crime
Raoul Sinier : Well, I don’t see my music as “electronic” in the strict sense of it. Actually, “Electronic” doesn’t mean so much in fact, as a music genre. My music is “electronic” because my gears and hardware are computers, and because I’m used to working alone. And I’m not a good instrumentalist either (laughs). I’m just always on my computer, even for my painting and my videos, its my tool, which makes music, so of course it’s electronic. That’s all.
Also, it’s a little bit cliché, but the concept of a “musical genre” doesn’t exist for me. Or at least doesn’t interest me. For me, music is not genre, types, but states, thoughts, feelings… There is cheerful music, sad music, complicated or simple tunes, childish or depressed songs. I categorize all my mp3s like that, in my iTunes. You can find everything, any kind of stuff. Hey, even a Gerard Depardieu album, who I sampled in my first Lp (laughs) Well ok, I’m not a huge fan of him uh, its just for the example (laughs)
- And for the “lose your Audience” problem?
Erf, anyway, after every Lp I lose some of my audience, so it will not be a big change this time (laughs) When I released Brain Kitchen, lots of people didn’t like it, too raw, too violent, too complex. And when I came back to more quiet stuff with Tremens Industry, lots of people were disappointed, because they wanted violence and chaotic tracks. So if you try to anticipate the expectations of your audience, you’ll go crazy (laughs)
“…even for my videos, which can be quite disturbing, I hope we see the dark humor side of it too…”
- Actually, even with the maelstrom of your music, amazingly noisy, there is always something epic, with shitloads of melody and beautiful stuff. It’s important for you to work with both aspects?
Well, what I like as a listener, is music that strikes directly to my guts, and grabs my throat. Emotion, things like that. So as I said, which kind of music I listen to, I don’t care, as long as it kicks me hard. Later, I work a lot on the production too, but its always to serve the melody, the feelings, not just to impress.
To illustrate this, we can take Autechre. Just for example, I’m not comparing myself to Autechre here! So, Autechre, they have amazing production techniques, and when they use those for beautiful tracks, its really powerful and amazing. But sometimes its just studio stuff and production tricks, and I find that super boring. Lots of people, when they talk about Autechre, they just talk about computer programs, studio stuff, MaxMsp… but shit, hey, who cares? I’m not a sound engineer (laughs) I just want to listen to something with emotions, which strikes me.
Doesn’t piss you off, this redundant comparison between Autechre and you, like “the French autechre” and so on?
No thats cool. And its just because of those destroyed rhythms… And the Gantz Graf cover I did too, I guess… Autechre are amazing musicians. The only boring thing is that they can release anything, even crap, and everyone will think its genius. //Have you seen them live? So powerful It crushes you to the ground// No, I haven’’t seen them, but I’ve heard ‘bout it, and it seems really cool. At least they give something real, something different. Because electronic music gigs, they’re mostly kinda dull. Maybe because you don’t have freedom to improvise, I don’t know.
Well, to talk about comparison, the one which always pops out when reviewers talk about my music, its Prefuse73. And this pisses me off a little bit. You just make music with chopped voices, and tada!, you’re making some Pefuse73. They don’t even talk about all those bands who were doing that before, like Digital Underground.
The only thing you can be sure with Prefuse73, is that his lastest album is the same as the last one, but worse. And the first ones were good… I guess Prefuse73 is a very handy reference point for journalists, like Aphex Twin or Autechre. Like “tools”, to talk about electronic music. Like sometimes I saw in review of my CD “we have our French Aphex Twin”, its really cool, but firstly my music and his are totally different, and second, you see this sentence every three articles talking about French electronic, so you don’t know anymore how to take it.
With my first CD, it was an avalanche of comparisons with Prefuse. This guy is maybe the most referenced guy in the electronic music press. Maybe they talk more about him in comparison with someone else, than about his own music. Should be depressing. And if you really want to listen to some good stuff like that, why not listen to all those tracks produced by Machinedrum? //thanks, you make a good link with the Grems interview (laughs)// Yeah they did pretty cool stuff together.
- To talk a little more about your music, where does your love of noisy stuff come from?
I really don’t know. I think its just about sensibility and attraction. I love the feeling of having ultra violent music which serves a fragile and beautiful melody. It enhances the power of the melody. And I really love the sound of distortion, its nearly physical. Like the last Tremens Industry Track, which has a really physical sound. So yeah, I can’t explain, I didn’t really listen to noise music, or massive Shoegaze stuff.
I actually don’t have the profile of a music expert. When I was young, I was listening to lots of shit, or “normal” mainstream stuff, like Dire Straits or U2. Well I was not a huge fan either, I just liked that. Later, when I began to study art, I met lots of people who were listening to lots of Hiphop. I didn’t know any hiphop before, so when those guys made me listen to Public Enemy, I went totally nuts. It was in the beginning of the 90’s, because, well… I’m old (laughs) And I discovered New Jack Swing too, Teddy Riley, all this stuff, I loved that. But, when I think about it, this new jack thing is super awkward (laughs) I still listen to this, but just to remember my old times, or to piss off my friend (laughs) And well, I really like A Tribe Called Quest too, or Lord Finess, Digital Underground…
- I have the feeling that under all the noise of your tracks, there is always a kind of humour, something funny, with samples (like the Julie Pietri one), video or your painting. Its important for you not to sound too serious?
Yes really, very important. My music is dark and somber, but me, i’m not. I don’t wanna be dark just for the sake of being dark. Even in my darkest tracks, I like to put something stupid. For the Julie Pietri sample, it was because it sounded cool. But for the rest, I like crazy tracknames, funny references or samples from South Park and co…. Even for my videos, which can be quite disturbing, I hope we see the dark humor side of it too. I love to create dreadful situtations and turn them into something funny. For the Huge Radish Samurai video, if we put humans in it, it would be horrible. So I put cute radishes in place of humans. Or me, running with that ridiculous landing net…
- To see your videos on Nolife or Canal+ (big french tv channel) what did it change for you ?
Well for Canal+, it was just a little bit, but it was great. Its mostly NoLife which helped me a lot. It was incredible, lots of people are mailing me and telling me they discovered me because of NoLife. And this is cool, ‘cause this channel is definitely not my core target, because they mostly put Japanese stuff, Jpop and so on… But even in the middle of that Jpop stuff, people loved my music. Its reassuring, people are open minded, they are not scared to listen to something a little bit different, or fucked up. Lots of people who contacted me never listened to electronic music, or know nothing about it, but they are super fond of my music. Its one of the best rewards you can have !.
“…the day I’ll be able to, and know how to make, a video with giants robots which fight in the streets like Transformers, I’ll do it. But for the moment, I can’t, so I do movies about animated meat… !”
- I asked Grems this question at his last interview : How’s the work in design and art these days? How do you stay active in it?
Well, I am doing a little of art exhibition, but its not huge. Its kinda slow for me. People try to insert me into contemporary art, and why not, but I’ve a big problem : My art is digital. Everything that I do comes from my computer. And using computers in art is still not legitimate, you don’t have credibility.
To get people’s attention, I think Grems is doing the right thing : He’s making exhibits, books, lots of stuff, always in parallel with music. But most importantly, he’s doing everything by himself. Contemporary art, Fiac, all of this, it’s not a world for me. Grems is doing lots of Tie-in products, Shirts, Swatch and co. It helps a lot to keep the visibility on your work. Me, I try to do shirts, but its with an “on-demand system”, anyone can do this. Anyway, this system is cool, could be huge someday. Don’t know if it’s the best thing to do, but it can help.
- Where do all those ideas of creatures and monsters come from ?
(ponders for a long time) I really don’t kow how to explain that, really. The idea always comes suddenly. //Like, you’re cooking a piece of meat, and hop, you decide to make it live and do a movie about it? (laughs) // No well, for this, I’ve got to create what I can create. Limit myself to stuff I can do. The day I’ll be able to, and know how to make, a video with giants robots which fight in the streets like Transformers, I’ll do it. But for the moment, I can’t, so I do movies about animated meat (laughs)
To explain a little bit, a piece of meat, it’s a character with no arms, no legs, no face. So for me, this is easy to do. Like the Radish actually ! And I’ve learned all of this by myself, in front of my computer. I realize 5 years later that the hard stuff I do in 5 hours can be made in three minutes, it drives me crazy (laughs) ! but I learn all of this by myself, so its cool. This process limits what I can do. I don’t wanna do something I haven’t mastered. When I’ll know how to do an animated 3d face which actually looks cool, mate, believe me everyone will see it. But for the moment, it would look like crap, so I don’t.
As well, for all those monsters, I love the idea of those tiny creatures running everywhere. The radish with his two legs is funny, and I put it in a dark situation. Same for the meat steack in fact; for the Tremens Industry video. Its one of the videos I’m the most proud of, because you can say lots of things about it, about schizophrenia, alienation, mental illness and so on (and thats why I made it), but you can also say “Hey look this funny video with the guy who went dog-walking with an escalope !”. People can take my videos seriously or like that, I don’t mind, both approaches are cool !
Raoul Sinier – Tremens Industry (and its animated meat)
- If I remember, you want to Japan, no? how was it?
When I went there, I went crazy. It was during a school trip, so I was young, I stayed 15 days there. Mainly free to go where I wanted, so I loved it. And I was a real geek before, and Japan had all the games 1 year in advance and for cheap, it was great. In France, I had to buy Street fighter II for 700 euros. Actually I don’t know how I was buying them because I was too young to have money (laughs)
And anyway, Tokyo is the town of all the paradoxes, all those crazy buildings with a tiny old house in middle of them, its amazing for inspiration, like you couldn’t stop discovering things in Japan. And th folklore is still powerful there, but inside a big mess of modernity, like cute girls in Kimono with an amazingly cool phone hanging off it. This is way cooler than our french traditional costumes (laughs)
- Between your torture devices and all those monsters which live in your flat, how are your neighbors ?
Well, in fact, my neighbors don’t know what’s happening in my flat, I’m a normal neighbor (laughs). And I’m mostly working during the day so no problem. I know its tempting to say “Raoul Sinier’s flat may be a dump” or something like that, but no, despite my videos, my flat is pretty normal (laughs). It reminds me of a guy, one day, who told me “hey its cool, in fact you’re a very nice and cheerful guy”, so I had to answer “of course, a comedian doesn’t have to make everyone laugh when you go in a restaurant !” (laughs)
It’s a pity, but everytime you do something dark, inside people’s head, you have to be a skinny depressed emo guy. In fact, I think that if I was like that, I’d do cheerful music. Well everyone can be sad sometimes, and for exemple sometimes I’m very anxious about everything, but in that case, I cant compose music. Its when I’m happy that I can do tracks which will kill you.
- You’re doing covers all the time. What about a Flight Of The Conchords cover?
Ah, I love this tv show. It’s a pity that there will be no more than 2 seasons. But music covers, I don’t know, its not my core target music. Except maybe the track Inner City Pressure, which is totally amazing (laughs). So musically, I don’t know. But the second season of this tv show, I know the songs by heart, there’s even some sentences from it I use for fun in daily life (laughs)
- Last question which pisses off everyone, but I’ve got to ask… //what are your influences?// No… // How did you met? // No… // Is this the definitive album?// No, but this one, I should try asking it one day (laughs) ! So well, recommend us three CDs, CDs you really like, old or new, but without being too corporate.
Arg, for me, this is really hard to answer. So without thinking a lot, I’d say the 2nd album of Redman, and the first Wu Tang. Don’t know how they could fall to the level they have these days, but before, it was amazing.
(long hesitation) … After… well, the Lp Gumbo Millenium of 24.7 Spyz. It’s a rock fusion album, but from the big era of Fusion, like Fishbone. Hey I should have said Fishbone too ! (laughs) So yeah, this album goes from Hard Rock to reggae, with some noise metal and r’n’b without sounding pretentious one bit. Well, after this Lp, the band was not so great anymore, because the singer left, and they began to make normal metal music. Actually, I was close to making a cover of this band, but the singer is way too skilled to be covered, so I forgot the idea (laughs) And to finish, Radiohead of course. Not everything, but when they began to be fucked up and weird.
- Its strange, you didn’t mention an electronic album !
Well yeah, because Electronic music doesn’t speak to me too much. I mean, it’s the name “electronic music” which doesn’t speak to me. The big thing with electronic music, is that this name doesn’t define a genre, but just a technique of production. Electronic music is everywhere and nowhere at the same time in fact. Like, you could do Reggae music with just computers, it would still sound like Reggae. But “electronic music” just means a way of producing your stuff. For me, it’s the only musical genre which said “we can’t define you, we’re just telling you its done with computers”. But for me, its not the computer that’s the most important thing, but the music which comes from from it.
So actually, when people ask me what type of music I’m doing, I’m always in trouble… (laughs)
Raoul Sinier – Strange Teeth & Black Nails
Raoul Sinier – The Hole
Raoul Sinier interviewed by Dat’ / Chroniques Automatiques
English saviour is Darren_w
Pics by Dat’
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