Leiden interview (01/2004)

With: Berangere (vocals)
Conducted by: Jeff
Published: 20.01.2004

- Seeing that Metalstorm.ee is more popular worldwide than in France especially, can you introduce your band, Leiden, with a few words?

We are a band that plays Nü-Dark Metal, coming from the South of France. Leiden was founded in 2000. As we speak, we have recorded one demo and two albums.

- Tell us more about your new album "Empty"?

"Empty" is our last realization. We recorded it in January 2003 and then we spent a few months to get a label. Finally, it's Adipocere that allow us to release our album in December. This album is at the same time dark and powerful, both heavy and melancholic, playing with several feelings, several thoughts.

- Which were your sources of inspiration for the composition of the album?

There was no particular source. Every band member find in himself his own source of inspiration. Personally, the melodies and lyrics I write come from deep within me. The lyrics are reflections of life experiences, sometimes painful, often intimate but they always make sense for most human beings. But it's a personal task to wonder whether if one's able to relate to the lyrics.

- "Empty" is available since the end of December. What kind of feedback did you get so far? What are the first reactions to the music both from the public and the press? What do you make of it?

So far we got very positive feedback both from the press and the fans. Of course, we are delighted that this album, in which we invest 100% of ourselves, is able to connect with so many people and that hence they are sharing our universe.

- The lyrics from "Empty" are written in French, in English but also in German. Is that a way to connect with a larger fan base? If it's not the case, what is the purpose of it?

Not at all, but if it is so, well that's good! That was a pure artistic choice to use several languages. I love foreign languages and their different sonorities and I think that each feeling would have to have its own language. Of course, some of our fans don't necessarily understand German, but the sonorities of it are beyond the lyrics, which are only a fixed trace of emotion. On the other hand, the sound is not marked by a notion of time and is universal.
By the way, who is able to understand what Lisa Gerrard sing and who feels the need to understand what she sing? In my opinion, the sonorities talk more than the text itself and they are sufficient to tell a story. I am fascinated by Norwegian, unfortunately, I don't speak it. Who knows, maybe for one of our next songs…

- I think there is now a slight change in comparison with your first album "L'Aube Spirituelle". The Black/Death vocals are less present on "Empty", this album is less aggressive than your previous one, and Bérengère's voice is more emphasized. Was it a deliberate choice to make Leiden more accessible?

Indeed, there are changes since "L'Aube Spirituelle" and I want to say: "Of course!" Isn't it part of being a band to evolve? As you clearly said it, the Black/Death vocals are less present but I wouldn't say that this album is less aggressive, not at all! I think that the guitar riffs are well more Death and heavy than before. It is however true that the melodic vocals are largely dominant unlike before. It's not a choice to make our music easy of access, it came naturally that way because the compositions were calling for it that way. When we recorded "L'Aube Spirituelle", I was a novice singer, my vocals were logically bound to be background vocals and choir instead of lead vocals. Today, I feel I am more able to assume this position, but nothing is definitely defined. By the way, on some songs such as "Vibration" or "Spirale", my vocals are less emphasized. Clearly, nothing is carved in stone, we just try to do what we think is right for the good of the song. So it is true that the fact to emphasize melodic vocals perhaps make the whole thing more accessible. But if we intended to reach a larger audience, we wouldn't have played Dark Metal in the first place! [Lol!]

- Leiden was at first a band using a beat box. Was the arrival of a drummer planned from the beginning? What are in your opinion the advantages of having Matt as a drummer?

In the beginning, we used to play with a beat box because we weren't able to find a drummer. Then time after time, we got used to play with it. It has multiple advantages: saving time while doing the balance session, saving space on stage… And moreover we enjoyed the dark and mechanic aspect that it gave to our music. We stopped looking for a drummer and then Matt walked in. He wanted to try to play with us and we were a little bit skeptic at first but at the first rehearsal there were no questions anymore: the drums added a warmth spirit and an incredible groove feeling to our songs. Hence they became "humanized" by the drums. Since then, we couldn't play without.

- A drummer is a good thing, so, why not a keyboard player like a lot of other Dark Metal and Gothic bands? Did you ever consider it?

Personally, I didn't. For now, we are very pleased with our machines that Wilfried compose on his computer. And we also got a certain chemistry the five of us. Therefore a new member in Leiden is not in our immediate projects. If it has to happen one day, it would be a natural thing, like it happened for our bass player [who never played bass before entering the band!] and our drummer.

- Having seen Leiden very often on stage [I have to say that it's better every time], the scenic aspect is more and more important with background images and so forth. How do you do, is that like a more spontaneous thing or everything has to be planned before the concert? [I'm not talking about the backgrounds of course]

Thank you for your compliment! Playing live is something very special. That's something I enjoy because it's most of all a reach out to the fans, a sharing, a trade of energies and feelings. Every concert is unique. You're not able to know how it's going to be, how you're going to feel or even the reaction of the audience. Thus, it's impossible to plan anything ahead of time since playing on stage is a pure interaction between the band and the audience. And seeing that the factors change every single time, every gig is different. When we watch video footages of ourselves on stage, it happens that we are able to see our mistakes and to learn from them. But on stage, it's truly your pure soul that emerges. Trying to tell me how to move on stage, that is something I'm not able to do. Playing live is a part of the big unknown and that is what makes the beauty of it.

- What are the immediate plans for Leiden right now? Is there a tour in preparation, maybe out of France even?

We will start the first part of our "Empty" tour at the end of the month: Bordeaux, Auch, Toulouse, Paris, Limoges and so on [all venues on www.leiden.fr.st]. We planned to continue the tour next September. Right now, we are preparing the upcoming concerts and we are already composing for the next album.

- What kind of music do you like, the bands you are listening most of the time?

Tricky question since we're all listening very different musical styles. I'm going to list with no particular order: Rammstein, Korn, Lacuna Coil, Cannibal Corpse, Paradise Lost, Opeth, Dead Can Dance, Marillion, Gojira, Depeche Mode, Tori Amos, Dimmu Borgir, Mass Hysteria, Lofofora, My Dying Bride…. and many more!

- What is your opinion on nowadays Metal scene, especially in France?

The French Metal scene is in big expansion. There is a lot of new "extreme" bands that manage to reach out to people and medias such as Gojira and ETHS. I think we owe a lot to bands like Lofofora and Loudblast that were able to first impose their style and able Metal to find a place in the musical picture of nowadays.

- A last word for your fans and also for those who read this interview around the world [I hope ].

Thank to you all for supporting us so much and thank you for letting us express ourselves!


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