Interview by Miriam Cadoni
Despite their recent inception, French post metal quintet O V T R E N O I R counts already a partecipation to the Roadburn Festival. But let’s do a step back in time, originally O V T R E N O I R was born as an acoustic post-rock trio in Paris. Now, with an updated line-up, the band has released back in October their debut “Field of Fire” via Belgium’s Consouling Sound. Let’s discover more together about their debut and the band with the bassist and backing vocalist, Angéline Seguelas. Enjoy!
Hi Angéline, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how this precarious and strange period is treating you?
Thanks a lot for this interview! I must say that I have nothing to complain about, I have been working from home for years now, so my daily life is not deeply impacted.
Of course, there is a lot of frustration in regard to music, not attending any concerts since the beginning of this year, and not being able to play this first full length record we have just released.
First of all, for who’s not familiar with OVTRENOIR would you like to tell us how the band got together?
William Lacalmontie started the band in 2013 and asked Julien Taubregeas (drummer) and myself to join him. His idea was to start a postmetal/sludge band, with as main influences some bands such as Cult of Luna, Isis or Breach. So, we started as a trio, but quite soon, we felt the need to add an additional member, to add more contrasts and ambiences into our music. We could not have hoped for a better fit as William’s friend, Dehn Sora (Treha Sektori, Throane, etc), accepted to be part of this project.
Every band dreams of being signed, being promoted and having the opportunity to play on great scenes, but honestly we had no pretentious plans when we started. All we wanted was to play the music we loved, and soon enough we were eager to record these songs we had composed. We recorded and released our first EP “Eroded” in 2016, and we sent it straight away to Counsoling Sound. This label is very solid in the European scene, and we were just very excited to work with them. They offered us to be signed within a few days, which was an unexpected but exciting news.
Thanks to this collaboration and how much they promoted us, we had the chance to play “Eroded” numerous times in the past 3 years (including the additional song “Inherit the Dust” released in 2018). Based on this scene experience, William felt the need to focus more on his singing, so he handed over his guitar parts to an additional musician, Olivier Dubuc (The Last Embrace, Throane, Maudits) who also was a close friend of the band.
On October 23rd, you have released your debut “Fields of Fire” via Counsouling Sounds Records. What can you share about its general album production?
The composition process has been quite consistent since we started this band. William is the main composer. Depending on the songs, he may already have a quite precise idea of a full piece, or he may have several riffs that we would all try to put together. Based on these riffs, Julien proposes his drums parts, which we discuss all together. Similarly to guitars or bass, drums are crucial in our music, they may give an organic or mechanical direction to a song, depending on the playing style Julien would go for.
Bass is already well defined in William’s mind when composing his riffs, but this is also something we work on together during rehearsals. William and Dehn Sora work together on the second guitar’s riffs, Dehn Sora shares his ideas in terms of additional notes, ambiances and background noises. Overall, this is a very collaborative process, we pay attention to each one’s opinion and suggestions.
The main theme behind this album appears to be the fire. But how is it possible to link the fire as an element to a dark and massive universe which composes OVTRENOIR’s music?
Actually both the band’s name and fire are well connected to our music. Our name comes from the artist Pierre Soulage’s work. Part of his work was on the black color, with monochrome paintings, and the technique he used aimed at showing that light could be revealed from pure black paint. The music we have composed and the lyrics written by William go in this direction.
Pain and darkness are not only destructive but can also be used to create. Similarly, the fire seemed to be a perfect representation of this duality. Fire represents the pain and darkness that consume us, but it is also a purifying element that washes us from our destructive emotions and allows us go on.
In order to promote your new album, two singles were published which are “Phantom Pain” and “I Made My Heart a Field of Fire” released back in August. What insights can you share about the songs?
These 2 songs imposed themselves as the first ones we wanted to release. Overall, they are representative of the whole record and of the musical direction we have followed for this album. From a personal point of view, I feel quite involved in these 2 songs as I also recorded backing vocals (with Dehn Sora). Screaming has been a very long and challenging exercise for me.
I have always wanted to participate to backing vocals but I simply did not dare to, until 2 or 3 years ago. I started it as a joke during a rehearsal session, being sure that nothing useful or esthetically pleasant would come out of it. But the rest of the band positively reacted, and pushed me to practice and to do it on stage as well. I guess I was ready to make it official with this full length record! Anyway, I am happy I overcame this fear, being able to launch the end of “I Made My Heart a Field of Fire”.
Also, the album was entirely recorded, mixed and mastered by Regarde Les Hommes Tomber producer Francis Caste. How did you end up collaborating with him? And what is the main lesson that you have learned as an artist during this experience?
We have actually also recorded our first EP “Eroded” and our single “Inherit the Dust” with Francis Caste. This choice was obvious, he is the most experienced and recognized producer from the metal scene in France. He likes this kind of music, he has been involved personally in bands from this scene, he knows exactly how this should sound, and he has the skills and experience to make it.
This choice was also based on his personality. Francis Caste is deeply involved in the production of every recording he handles. He gives his opinion on the sound and the composition, he always pushes us to give the better of ourselves, whether it comes to the structure of the songs, their sound, or the way we play them (intention and precision).
For sure, the artwork by Japan’s visual artist Ishibashi Hideyuki deserves a special mention. In your opinion, what does it represent and how it does connect with “Field of Fire”’s lyrics?
William is a professional photographer, Dehn Sora is a graphist, so obviously artwork is an essential piece for us. To be honest, I don’t know what it is exactly supposed to represent for the author of this photograph, or how the rest of the band interprets it.
It was just an evidence that it perfectly matches our music and the theme of this record. In my opinion, it echoes the definition of fire I gave earlier. This man walks next to this gigantic fire which reflects his emotions and fears. But he does not seem to be scared, he is dealing with it to move forward.
Considering your short but successful career, the participation at Roadburn 2019 was surely a highlight. Which are the memories that you cherish the most from that event?
It was definitely a highlight, a wish coming true, from my perspective. The Roadburn festival is an emblem, it systematically gathers bands I am a huge fan of, the organizers are very thoughtful about the kind of music they want to be represented during this event. So It was a huge honor to be invited. Different things will remain in my memory.
First, this is a very practical comment, but it was so well organized. The infrastructure is just amazing, 2 entire buildings dedicated to this festival, with such high quality gear, and nice people to take care of you! Then, the audience was more receptive than what we had expected.
Participating was already a success itself for us, so we tried not to have high expectations “ok, let’s remain positive, maybe there will be no one attending our show, maybe people will not like our music, but we will give the best of ourserlves”. So the surprise was huge when we realized that the room was packed with more people outside trying to get in. Also when some people started to sing during sound check. This concert will remain one of our best memories!
What the future holds for OVTRENOIR and how the pandemic impacted your original plan?
We extensively discussed the release date of this album. Many bands have postponed any releases, and a valid argument is the impossibility to fully promote music in this environment. However we decided to stick to this date, and I think this makes sense. We cannot play, but this period may also be seen as an opportunity. People are stuck at home, they get less distracted. So they may have more time to listen to new bands without any being in a constant rush.
The major impact is of course the cancellation of the shows that were planned to promote this record. We are truly saddened as we were looking forward to finally play these songs on stage and see how people would welcome them in a live condition.
But I also think that confinement forces bands to consider other ways to promote themselves, to head for a more visual image of the band and its music, and in general to be more present on social networks. So right now, we focus on promoting this record, and we also have time to think about the future shows, to ensure they reflect how much passion and energy we have put into this album.
So, Angéline, we’re at the end of the interview. Please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Merci beaucoup.
Thanks a lot to everyone who reads this interview. I hope that you have enjoyed listening to “Fields of Fire”, I can’t wait to be on stage and share this album in a more personal way!