Interview with Cepheide – Atmospheric French Black Metal

I am a little late in the game picking up on French Black Metal band Cepheide. I actually bought their 2015 release Respire on a recommendation from the guys at 20 buck spin. I soon found myself playing their album daily – so you know the score I had to find out more about these guys. So I talked to Gaetan ( Vocals & Guitars ) and Hugo ( Bass) to find out more about them

* During the glory days of Death metal – you had world class bands coming out of all of the Uk and Europe except for France – they never really got Death metal fully at the time (thats not to say you didn’t have many fans there then) however in my opinion French Black metal you guys, Deathspell Omega, Alcest, etc are all world class – why do you think the French embraced black metal more than Death metal?

G: It might be more about culture than ability. Unlike Death Metal, that strives for efficiency, be it on a technical level or in the universe around it (cover art, band names…), the Black Metal themes often have a romantic touch, in the lyrics and in the way it sounds. In its history, France has had a lot of great authors, poets, which has been an inspiration for many bands (using poems as lyrics, as track titles…). It might cause a higher natural sensibility to Black Metal than it would be for Death Metal. That being said, I find it difficult to speak about an entire musical genre in a general way, but I think our culture has a lot to do here.

* You guys are a 3 piece – I find many 3 piece bands to be more “tight” than bands that have 4 or more members, was this a conscious decision ? or do you plan to add more guitarists? keyboards later?

G: There is no definite state regarding the line-up. During the demo, we didn’t think bass was required because we were looking for a specific sound. While we work on our new album and for lives, we replaced a guitar with a bass, because it gives our sound more amplitude, and it fits our new tracks better. We might decide to bring in another guitar if necessary, however keyboards are not part of my musical culture nor my writing process.

* How did you discover Black Metal? What are your favorite Black metal bands?

G: I discovered black metal rather late, around 18 years old. It first was a way of expressing myself on a musical level, then it somehow turned into a way of life. Being more sensitive to long pieces, I’m mostly into Atmospheric BM (Yellow Eyes, FellVoices, Ars Diavoli, Sun Worship, Ash borer … )

H: I discovered black metal through the post-rock/shoegaze side of Alcest, but it took me a while to actually dive more into that scene. It’s quite recently that I really started to listen and enjoy it. I’m quite a fan of the Atmospheric/Post BM bands that combine the beauty and melancholy of Post-Rock/Shoegaze and combine it with the rawness of Black Metal.

* Can you tell me much about the Paris Black metal scene? Are there other cities in France known for good black metal scenes?

G: To be honest,I don’t know if there really a Black Metal scene in Paris, or anywhere else in France. To me, there are great bands, but not as a collective.

* You guys play Paris a fair bit – what has been your favorite Cepheide show so far?

G: Each concert has it specificities. For instance, our live wit Scattered Purgatory and Heimatlos was very intense because we were playing new tracks, and really wanted to do something new. Our last show was heavily symbolic for me because we were playing with Hexis, a band I’ve been following for many years and that I went to see live a few years ago. I think each concert is different, and we chose not to play too often, so that we can offer something new at each show. This makes all concerts unique.

H: The concert with Scattered Purgatory and Heimatloss was my first with Cepheide, so I guess it’s special for me. But also, as a band, it was the beginning of something new for us.

* Have you played other countries yet? If not what countries are you looking forward to playing?

G: At the moment, we only played in France, but have some opportunities abroad for the year to come, mostly in central Europe. Since we don’t want to play too often, we select our dates with care.

H: I’d love to play in Estonia because I lived then for a couple years.

* I know you guys are working on a new album – what is the recording process like for Cepheide? Do you record in the traditional way like a recording studio , like a rock n roll band or do you use computers ? please explain

G: We do the recording ourselves. First we do a rough recording to be able to take a step back, then we record one instrument at a time in our rehearsal studio. We mostly try not to denature the sounds during the recording, so that it’s as similar as what was intended during the writing.

* When can we expect a release of the new album?

G: It should be out next Summer (2017)

* And what can we expect to hear musically on the new songs?

G: There’s a real evolution compared to the EP, both on the format and in the sound. It will be a full album of 5 or 6 tracks, of 7 to 15 minutes each. A bit less minimalistic in the structures, a bit more aggressive. We’re trying for each tracks to have its own identity, and are taking risks to challenge our way of playing and writing.

* Your Respire Ep release painted dark moods to me – what is your inspiration in writing songs? Do you have a process? Do you start with say a guitar riff or drum pattern or something else?

G: There’s no clear source of inspiration per-se. We wanted to do a 2 tracks piece, that would be a whole both in the music and the lyrics. The rest came itself. The writing often comes from a guitar melody, that evolves as we play it together.

* Any final words to your fans?

G: We’re really impressed to see the support and interest people have in Cepheide everyday, and we truly appreciate it. We’re putting a lot of efforts into our next release, and are really eager to release it to you! We do hope that you’ll still enjoy our take on Black Metal! And as a small extra info, the album is called “Saudade”