DATE OF INTERVIEW:
30th June 2017
Occasionally, a band will emerge with music primed to snap listeners out of a musical coma, with a refreshing burst of invigorating and sincerely conceived innovation that stands tall amongst a myriad of artists who succumb to banal pastiche and stylistically stagnant mimicry. Unfortunately, such bands are few and far between, so it was with utmost excitement and glee that I recently had the pleasure of discovering Igorrr via a Metal Blade promo of their latest album, 'Savage Sinusoid'. A full-on sensory assault that's as bewildering, frustrating and antagonising, as it is astonishing, exhilarating and sublime, French musician Gautier Serre gathered a collective of skilled musicians to bring his beautifully deranged musical vision to life. Metal Discovery quizzed the Igorrr mastermind about his latest exercise in challenging, confrontational and exquisite aural insanity...
METAL DISCOVERY: Congratulations on a phenomenal new album. Did ‘Savage Sinusoid’ live up to your own expectations of what you set out to create?
GAUTIER: Thank you :) Yes, kind of. When I was a teenager, I was obsessively searching for a band that mixes all what I love in music and that had no boundaries. I didn’t really find any band like that and, with 'Savage Sinusoid', I made the album like what I wanted to listen to back then as a teenager.
(Gautier Serre on how 'Savage Sinusoid' is best digested)
"‘Savage Sinusoid’ is more an emotional experience than a cognitive one.The listeners can interpret the album as they like and feel comfortable with, but I guess to get the full meaning of this music, it’s something you have to feel, more than think, and also you need a certain kind of second degree sometimes."
Igorrr - promo shot, 2016
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2016 - Uncredited
Igorrr Official Website:
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
Igorrr Official Facebook:
Igorrr Official Twitter:
MD: I think the album’s as frustrating, unsettling, bewildering and antagonising, as it is astonishing, sublime, exhilarating and entertaining. Do you like the way your music is perceived and digested with so many conflicting and mixed emotions, be they negative or positive?
GAUTIER: Absolutely, I like the contrast in music and don’t want my music to be reduced to only one feeling all the way long. In real life, you’re never always happy or always sad, always successful or always failing; it’s a mix of all, going from one to another feeling. The music I create tends to reflect all of this; maybe in a more extreme way to make things more clear and more intense, but it reflects at least all what I am and what I live. Also, putting together two opposite emotions at the same time is pretty fun, sometimes quite confusing - some people like it, some people hate it, I love it.
MD: When songs' more challenging passages of music become less aurally challenging, once familiarity sets in, more and more, with each new listen, I think the album starts to reveal its true poetic depths. Do you regard your music as sonic poetry?
GAUTIER: It has some connection with poetry indeed as, in poetry, every word is chosen for the way it sounds and the signification it has. I choose the instruments a bit in the same way, because of the sound and the colour it has. Music is also like somebody speaking; it makes sound and the sound acts on your feelings, like poetry. The only difference is that the real words in poetry speak to the intellect before speaking to the heart while, in my music, I avoid as much as possible the intellectual in order to get straight to the heart without passing through the brain. It makes the message more powerful, in my opinion.
MD: As art is supposed to be an outward manifestation and expression of one's emotions, is 'Savage Sinusoid' reflective of your various emotional states when working on the music?
GAUTIER: Yes, it reflects the emotional state I have been while I was writing the music. During writing the music or before, usually, when I come to write and record the music, it has already been created in my mind before.
MD: And like all great art, I think ‘Savage Sinusoid’ provides more of an emotional experience than a cognitive one. Although I guess some people feel the need to rationalise complexity in art through their own interpretations. Is it your hope that ‘Savage Sinusoid’ is experienced and felt, rather than cognised and interpreted?
GAUTIER: You got it, ‘Savage Sinusoid’ is more an emotional experience than a cognitive one. The listeners can interpret the album as they like and feel comfortable with, but I guess to get the full meaning of this music, it’s something you have to feel, more than think, and also you need a certain kind of second degree sometimes.
MD: Do you regard ‘Savage Sinusoid’ as a diverse metal album, or a diverse album of which metal is but one element?
GAUTIER: The project Igorrr has always been a place where I do all the music I love, without segregation. As I love metal, there is metal in it, but Igorrr has never been a metal act. However, once 'Savage Sinusoid' was done, I noticed maybe it’s the most metal album I’ve done until now. Still, I see it as a diverse album with metal as an element and not a metal album.
MD: Whether intended or not, the album could be regarded as a massive "fuck you" to all the lazy journos and people who have the irrepressible need to pigeon-hole (often misleadingly) all music they encounter into restrictive genre labels. Do you relish the fact your music defies categorisation?
GAUTIER: I didn’t feel I had to say “fuck you” with my music; I needed to get away from all the lazy standards of mainstream, boring music and make my own, just to have something I like to make and I like to listen to. It might seem like defying categorization - probably it does for some people – but, for me, it’s more like a natural music. The mainstream, boring bands I was mentioning above are the ones shut in only one feeling and confined in only one strict rule of writing music. In my opinion, these are the bands defying the categorization by reducing music to only one genre.
MD: What's the most ludicrous genre label you've read someone apply to your music?
GAUTIER: I’ve read some many cool genres, like “Baroque Core”, or “What the fuck music”, or “All music”, “Brain core”, “Chicken core”, “neoclassical death balkan baroquo-breakcore black metal noisy Indian country IDM”… I forgot many, but some of them are really cool.
MD: As far as you're aware, is the cultural demographic of your listening audience as diverse as your music, or is it primarily a metal crowd you attract?
GAUTIER: I see lots of metal heads in our concerts, but there are also lots of different people. I see classical listeners, electronic music listeners or just curious people without any strict musical background. It’s a mix of people very pleasant to see meeting together in the shows. There are lots of musical geniuses in every style of music; I think any scene has to learn from each other.
MD: For me, it feels as if you're pushing the parameters of people's expectations of what's possible in how disparate genre elements can be amalgamated, rather than pushing actual genre parameters. Is this how you perceive it?
GAUTIER: It’s true that I’m not trying to push further the limit of one specific style. Some bands are doing it very well already; I feel more like trying to extend the music itself by making it more wide and various. Again, there are geniuses in every style of music, but are mostly closed in their own style, not aware of very different genres as good as theirs. In Igorrr, I like to make those people/styles meet and play together.
MD: I gather that one of your influences is Mr Bungle, but do you think it’s too dismissive to label you “a French Mike Patton”, in that it compromises your artistic individuality?
GAUTIER: Indeed, I love Mr Bungle, especially the track ‘Ars Moriendi’. That’s a good example of an open minded guy/band brave and talented enough to express his musical ideas honestly and brilliantly. The comparison with Mike Patton is very flattering, thank you very much; however, I don’t really sing myself so there is a major difference with him.
MD: On the technical side of things, it must have been a mammoth undertaking in mixing everything into a coherent whole... both the production and mix are fantastic. Was it a challange to preserve the emotions you're expressing through the compositions when recording and producing the music?
GAUTIER: Absolutely, this has been very challenging and keeping the emotion as “pure” as possible during the recording was a primary thing. On the technical side of things also, we had to face some difficulties. For example, with the harpsichord on the tracks ‘ieuD’, ‘Opus Brain’, ‘Va te Foutre’ and ‘Apopathodiaphulatophobie’, to record it, we had to rent a truck to bring the instrument from CZ Republic to the deep countryside of France where my studio is. Then, we had to wait some time for the instrument to get the temperature of the recording room for the instrumentalist, Katerina Chrobokova to be able to tune it. Speaking about tuning, the recording with the sitar was quite tricky, as well, because of the way a sitar is tuned, that was not corresponding at all with the track at first, despite the fact that the sitar part on ‘Opus Brain’ is very short, we had to retune it completely. And, to make things more complicated, the names of the notes on this Indian instrument are not the same as the notes I knew. For the whole album, it was a research of detail and quality for every instrument.
MD: I gather the album’s entirely sample-free, so was it difficult to maintain this approach? It must've been tempting to embellish songs here and there with some samples?
GAUTIER: It has made the process very long and challenging indeed, but I kept it until the end without sample. This record took me a bit more than four years to set up in the right way. I wanted to work without any sample, while keeping a complete variety of all the styles I love. I also wanted to reach the “live feeling” of this music. As there are many musical universes I love, and wanted to include everything on this album, I had to find the perfect instrumentalist per style and per instrument, in order to make it as good as I could. I didn’t want to play all the instruments myself as I think a guy spending all his life playing a specific instrument in a specific style would sound way better than me playing just a bit of each.
MD: You’ve collaborated with a greater number of people for the album than on previous works, but were you prescriptive in how you wanted each musician to contribute, or did you allow them some freedom, to take songs in directions that would make your music more stylistically expansive in scope?
GAUTIER: The songs are written by myself before the recordings. Then, when I give the scores or the ideas to the guests, they sometimes adapt in their way to try making sounds better, so it becomes a kind of co-composition. That was the case with Nils Cheville on the guitar introduction of ‘Spaghetti Forever’, or the track ‘Cheval’ with Pierre Mussi - I kept their ideas of adaptation as they were making the track sound better at the end.
MD: Who surprised you the most with what they brought to the music through their contribution?
GAUTIER: Both those ones I cited above were the ones that surprised me the most as they really got the mood and the colour of the track before proposing me their ideas and they were perfectly in tune with the track. Also, Laure (Laure Le Prunenec) amazed me with her stunning performance on ‘Problème d’émotion’; her voice is just perfect. This is the great point to work with such amazing musicians - they all know very well their instruments and how to use them; it brings so much richness to the music.
MD: Cattle Decapitation’s frontman, Travis Ryan, provides his voice to three of the tracks, so how did he become involved? Was that a Metal Blade link? Was he a fan of Igorrr already?
GAUTIER: Travis and I were in touch for some time already, before we recorded the tracks - he happened to be very much into Igorrr, and that is why we got in touch. When I got in touch with Metal Blade for the first time, the album was already finished, so Travis and Metal Blade were two different things happening in two different moments.
MD: I gather you generally tour as a quartet, but will you be aiming to do any special shows, featuring more collaborators from ‘Savage Sinusoid’, if logistics and funds allow?
GAUTIER: That’s what I would like to do indeed but, for now, Igorrr is a very underground project and the funds don’t allow us to bring anybody else on the road with us at all. A guitarist and some other instrumentalists would be awesome.
MD: Finally, there are some interesting anagrams of ‘Savage Sinusoid’… Gonad Visa Issue; Sinus Video Saga; Avian Dogs Issue; Unsaid Oasis Veg; Audio Ass Givens; Avoid Aegis Suns; Gives Anus Adios and Envious Sags Aid. Future song title ideas, may I be so bold to suggest?
GAUTIER: That’s awesome, ahahah. I think “Audio Ass Givens” is the best. I’ll suggest those titles to the guys in the band without mentioning the anagram thing, just to see how they react.
MD: Thanks for the interview and best of luck for the rest of the year with touring etc.
GAUTIER: You’re welcome!