Smohalla interview (11/2011)

With: Slo
Conducted by: Doc G. (e-mail)
Published: 25.11.2011

Doc: So, to start off, for those who haven't checked out Smohalla yet, how would you describe the sound?

Slo: Something sinuous, psychedelic, and twisted. Kind of oneiric avantgarde metal.

Doc: Before we continue, I'll get the dumbest question out of the way - what does Smohalla mean?

Slo: He was a dreamer-prophet in the XIXth century. He's famous for some of the ways of living he shared with his tribe; no hunting, no fishing, not even ploughing. He was lead by the visions he dreamed, after the first part of his life of restless wandering. I choose this name for all it can symbolize: integrate the unconscious and dreams in your life, paying attention to all the voices inside. Face what you really are, what you can hide, in yourself, and around you. Search your help inside yourself, and in the hands of other entities, real or not, outside. It's all about finding your concrete place here, especially when you're one of us, the hazy brains.

Doc: I know a lot of artists hate categorizing or putting their music into genres, but after ongoing discussions with different people there hasn't been a solid consensus as to what you guys play. So if you had to put your music into a genre, what would you consider yourselves as?

Slo: We consider ourselves as creatures creating, in search for something, recording some mix of layers to chafe or fondle our ethereal bodies. Every part of it is like a potion with its own ingredients, and its own effects. We started in 2006 and still have the same motivations about this project, trying to be free and below everything for some minutes of our lives. Genre? Hard to say, since as a lot of bands nowadays, we mix a lot of different influences and experimentation. From black metal to psych and 70's music, ambient, classic music, doom...

Doc: What are some things outside the realm of music that inspired the writing of Resilience?

Slo: Every scene from reality which force me to pay attention, recalculate and transform subconsciously. A word and its tone can influence the music of a whole song. The same for the expression of a specific face you can meet in a crowd, and the interpretation you make with it in your thoughts. What you can guess, easily, trying to find how life can do that to a human face. Experiences, what our senses have to catch when our brains decide to. Of course fiction can influence the shapes of our works; movies, painters, but hard to detail. It's impossible to tell you, between what I like, what can influence our music, this is not the same affair; so... Sometimes 3 or 4 guys meet in a garage then starts to talk about music, deciding to play like this new amazing band called Nefasticorinus, but here I just play and record the music that makes me travel further.

Doc: Considering how much ground your music covers between the prog moments and the ambient, would you consider your writing style to be precise and calculated, or is it more of a natural, emotional expression?

Slo: Well nothing is written in Smohalla. I always started to play with an instrument, it can be guitar, drums, keyboards...Then a shape rises from somewhere and I record it, then all the shapes succeed, one by one. Most of the time this process goes fast, it's like crude creation. Then everything's building around it, step to step, and these steps can take so much time. Instruments don't have the same place and the same objective according to the different parts of a song. So, long step but really interesting, cause this exploration trip can lead you everywhere. This is another state of introspection, very stimulating. It's quite nice feeling yourself lost in these different places. So, creation and exploration, coming from now or other periods, sometimes music comes naturally, sometimes you got this sound in your head. What's coming from your head is calculated. What's coming from your heart is natural. What's coming from my cock is a benediction.

Doc: All your lyrics are written in french, and even for our french Metal Storm readers, the vocals are very deep in the mix, making them difficult to decipher. What type of things do you write about (lyrically) to match the music?

Slo: You can consider our lyrics like paintings of some scenes, action and evolution of these scenes... Most of the time lyrics were written while the vocals were recording, it was very intuitive. Even in french, it's not easy to perfectly understand what is all about, I wanted something muddy, not clear, for the readers can participate with their imagination. Syntax, continuity of words... I'm sure if you use a translator to get in english, result would be almost the same. I don't even know if I can say I use 'sentences' or if it's just words and gathering of words succeeding one another in turn...

Doc:Resilience is a very spooky, depressing sounding album, but the word "resilience" itself is generally thought of as a positive, empowering type of word. Were you trying to be ironic when you decided that it would be the title of your album, or is there some uplifting aspect hidden somewhere in there?

Slo: No irony, and you're right, resilience is everything but a negative process. I'm trying to use it, in a personal adapted form, for more than 3 years now. This is not a way of life, but a state of mind you have to reach to overcome the problems and failures of your life. First, the will to set off your heart while the shock attack, then search in objectivity the correct way to react. Then admit but forget the trauma. The last step: create something. For me it's music, but it can be sport, communication with a tree, masturbation, to write a poem for your mom, creation can be everywhere.

Everyone's doing it. But most of us are doing it the wrong way. Sufferings or boredom we absorb, we spit it on the wrong person... Negativity is like electricity, it circulates from form to form while contacts, and it never stops. But this negativity must be ingested then transformed before it can be thrown away. Everyone can do that but most of the time we choose the more easy, fast and silly path. With Resilience, a lot of troubles and deceptions have been spitted and idealize, transformed, for I admit what life can be made of. Some of the shit has been integrated then thrown into nonexistence. Music is a trace of it. That's why the album doesn't sound so positive. I wouldn't say negative, it just sounds strange, coloured, not black or grey, coloured with a veil of mist, but coloured.

Doc: On the cover of the album, there's the cube with the eye and the two feathers, does this symbol mean anything specific?

Slo: Yes, a very basic symbolism: celest cube with the eye is like construction, conscience, among waves of chaotic primitive forms you can see behind. Circles are both time and non-time, both always running (in circles...), like a fragmentation of this horizontal 8, the symbol of the eternity. The triangle in the centre represents the 3 steps of an existence, human or not, birth, life, death, and the feathers symbolize a will for ascension, coming from this cube, which is nothing much than a conscious spirit.

Doc: Resilience is very eclectic & quirky. Do you ever have the desire to play something a little more accessible and straightforward? Do either of you have any other bands you play in that are drastically different from Smohalla?

Slo: New songs are on the way, it's more compact, more extreme. For the most of the new songs, songwritting is based on guitar creation, in the past, a lot of parts were built on drum improvisations. After the long trip Resilience was for me, I was kind of lost between joy and sadness during this period, I started to be angry, I still want to float upon here but looks like violence helps me stronger now. I collected too much hate in the last months. I needed to write something solid and aggressive for this next trip. But I can't say it will be more accessible, or less epic. It just sounds more modern and powerful for now.

Doc: If there was one song off of Resilience that you feel truly represents what Smohalla is all about, which song would it be? Why that song?

Slo: Maybe 'Au sol les toges vides'. This is a long and epic track, and a lot of our different facets are on this song.

Doc: So now that you've got the debut album out, what's next for you guys? What type of direction do you see the music going in with your next album?

Slo: A split CD coming next year, and I started to work on our next album some months ago. We've got some unreleased stuff too, let's see in the future what we can deal with labels.

Doc: Thanks for doing this, do you have any last words you'd like to send out to the MetalStorm readers?

Slo: Hi man. You're the only guy who read the whole interview. If you just read the last answer, be cursed. If not, something nice will happen in the next 24 years. Thanks to you Luke!


Posted on 25.11.2011 by Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.


Comments: 8   Visited by: 246 users
25.11.2011 - 08:38
Troy Killjoy
What the fuck did I just read? :/

And now I'm cursed? What... O_o
Prettier than BloodTears.
25.11.2011 - 16:21
Mr. Doctor
Written by Troy Killjoy on 25.11.2011 at 08:38
And now I'm cursed? What... O_o

That part was fucking brilliant tbh. I'm surprised no one has ever done something like this in all the interviews I've read.
Great stuff Godin.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
28.11.2011 - 02:49
How awesome. I JUST heard this album for the first time yesterday and am hooked. It was great to match the music to Slo's very florid and ornamented way of speaking/thinking. LOL he said some seriously awesome things.

"recording some mix of layers to chafe or fondle our ethereal bodies"

"What's coming from your heart is natural. What's coming from my cock is a benediction."

And of course his going from "masturbation," to "write a poem for your mom" in one sentence. Curious attitudes toward sex indeed. Gives the album a whole new layer
"A life all mine
Is what I choose
At the end of my days"
--The Gathering "A Life All Mine" from Souvenirs
28.11.2011 - 02:51
Troy Killjoy
Written by Susan on 28.11.2011 at 02:49
Gives the album a whole new layer

Oh I see what you did there. And I like it.
Prettier than BloodTears.
03.12.2011 - 03:09
Ag Fox
Angel No More
Lol wut? I might have to wait 24 years without knowing what that nice thing is XD
loves 小巫
03.12.2011 - 03:59
Don't know this band, but sure gonna check it out. Looks interesting the way they work, but the philosphical parts sounds.....hmmm...... yeah
16.12.2011 - 18:22
Resilience is very, very good. I needed something like this, been needing something different for a long time.
05.01.2012 - 17:11
I've listened to Resilience just once, so I guess I shouldn't form an opinion yet... But I'm not really sure it's my kinda thing... And yep, looks like I'm cursed too xD

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