[News] Exclusive Interview with Clément Darrieu (Altesia)

Greetings to all of you readers, today we are pleased to speak with the French multi-instrumentalist Clément Darrieu, creator of the Altesia project.

> Let’s talk a little about you, where did your passion for Progressive music and the creation of the Altesia project come from?

Clément: I’ve always loved music and I’ve always listened to music. When I was a teenager, as most kids, I listened to the typical big bands you can’t miss once you start to listen to metal, bands like Rammstein, Slipknot, Marylin Manson, System Of A Down… And then, later, when I was 18 or something, I wanted to dig further and I wanted to discover new bands. I bought a few albums like King Crimson’s “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, Beardfish’s “Mammoth”, Porcupine Tree’s “Deadwing”. I didn’t know what “progressive music” meant, until I randomly came across the progressive genre’s page on Wikipedia one day, and realised I loved many bands that were listed there ! That’s how the adventure started for me.

Regarding the beginning of Altesia, well, I had always written music and I had the dream of releasing an album some day. In 2017, I decided to fulfil that dream, and instead of writing songs and keeping them on a notebook, I decided to record demos and look for musicians to play them!

> Let’s talk about the album, six tracks that speak of man-self destruction, a very current issue. Where does the inspiration come from and how have you developed the topic?

Clément: I think mankind is a huge source of inspiration. It’s so complex and intricate. It’s a very interesting subject, at least for me. So I thought : “Why not writing an album about that ?”. The story presents some of the biggest issues we have to deal with on this planet : competition between humans, people blinded by the power of money, unhappiness, alienation by work, incessant wars, wealth inequalities… “Paragon Circus” means we’ve created this world as an example to follow, but this model doesn’t work anymore. In a way, we’ve built a trap that is closing on ourselves. So every song talks about one particular aspect : ‘The Prison Child’ for example is about taking the wrong path in your life, a path that makes you forget who you are. ‘Amidst The Smoke’ talks about money that is linked to slavery : everyone wants to be rich and is sort of hypnotised by it because getting money means being powerful today. ‘Cassandra’s Prophecy’ is about those people who think they are superior to the others and who blame you if you don’t think the same thing as them. Every song has its own topic.

> The album has different styles and genres that blend together, which one do you feel most yours?

Clément: Well I’d say that the song I prefer in terms of genres would be ‘Reminiscence’. Every genre is in that song ! Progressive metal, but also dark pop music on the first verse, whereas the second verse has a very djenty approach. There’s funk with a saxophone solo, there’s everything in here. I love the fickleness of this song, it changes all the time and it’s very unpredictable. I wanted to get people confused with that song, because you never know what you can expect when you listen to it the first time. That’s Altesia’s trademark I guess. If you know what’s going to pop up in 30 seconds, you’ll rest on your laurels and you won’t be very focused while listening to the music. I want to avoid that and I always try to arouse interest.

> The Altesia project involves thick musicians, how was the phase of the construction of the lineup and the search for artists so prepared?

Clément: Once the demos were recorded, I started to look for musicians in my hometown. I’ve printed offers, I’ve contacted many musicians via Facebook, and I think I had a full team in about 3 months ! I didn’t think it would have been that easy to be honest. I can even say I feared this moment, because there was a risk nobody would ever be interested by the project, even if I live in a big city. One year later, everyone is very implicated so I think I was very lucky to find some brilliant musicians like them, because yeah, they are awesome! 

> Six tracks have been selected from the written ones, will the other songs not present be developed and recorded in the future?

Clément : I have many offcuts of the first album that are ready to become songs for the second record. I’d say one third of the ideas are ready for the next record. Some are pretty advanced, whereas some are quite basic for now, but I do have great things yet to come. Some ideas have been stuck in my head for a while now, but I’m waiting for the right moment to put them together. There’s a long song almost ready for example, and that one was quite done one or two years ago already, but it didn’t fit on “Paragon Circus”, because I thought there were enough long songs on this one, so I preferred to save it for album #2. This second record will be an occasion to play something a bit different and to experiment in some new directions!

> Given the good album produced, many will wonder if there will be live dates in 2020, do you have anything planned?

Clément: We’ll try to play as much as we can to promote the record of course ! But we all have a job aside, and it takes a lot of time to find shows. So there won’t be a proper tour like a one-month European tour in fifteen countries if that’s what you mean, but we’ll definitely try to play in our hometown and in France ! And if we have an opportunity abroad, we’d love to take it too ! We sometimes get messages from fans around the world who say : “Come to the USA ! Please come to Finland !”. That’s very, very cool to read and encouraging, too. But for now you know, we’re just a local French band, so there’s no plan to come and tour that far, except if we get the opportunity! That would be great.

> The debut arrived in 2019 with “Paragon Circus”, how difficult it is, if it is, nowadays to offer more refined music in a commercial and homologate market?

Clément: Well first of all thank you if you consider our music as refined ! It’s evident that today, making progressive music is the worst thing you could to if you want to earn money with your music ! The era of concept records is over, people don’t buy music anymore, and if you don’t come up with a super catchy chorus within the first ten seconds of the song, the listener has already pressed the skip button ! That’s sad, at least according to me, but that’s the truth ! But I think there’s still room for our music, and for every music by the way. The trendy music today is the music that you can remember after only one listen, so it has to be very basic and easy-listening, as we say. But it doesn’t mean this kind of music appeals to everyone ! Some music lovers still want to buy records, unfold the album, read the booklet and the lyrics, dive in the record, analyse the songs structures, connect with the instruments, etc. When you write progressive music, as long as you’re not in a hurry to be a well-established band, if you are ready to struggle for an undefined period of time before starting to earn money, if you want to be true to yourself, then it’s not that hard to write that music. I don’t do that for money, even if, of course, I hope someday the success will arrive, even a small success ! We hope all of this will come one day, but we want to take good time altogether, and I think that’s the most important.

> Given the choice of a genre sought after and elaborated, how do you see the modern music scene in your country and in the world?

Clément: Metal is quite an underground style of music in France. It exists of course, but it’s not famous here. We have the chance to have one of the biggest metal bands of all time with Gojira, but they don’t play here a lot. They are way more popular in the USA for example, and that’s a shame. But fortunately, we have some very good bands, at least in the rock/metal genre in France. It’s simply not in fashion in France. If you turn on the radio, you’ll get some insipid electro stuff. The only rock music you’ll find on the radio is from the 70’s or from the 80’s ! Some people say everything was better before, but I do think that we have amazing bands all over the world today. With Internet, it’s very easy to find them and to listen to them, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to use these tools. So as long as we have that, that’s cool!

> Given the great work behind “Paragon Circus”, released recently, are there any plans for the future regarding other albums, or is it early to talk about it?

Clément: For now, I’m rather looking for concerts, webzines, festivals, bands who’d like to play with us… We don’t want to miss the promotion phase. But of course, I have many ideas in my head, and if I work well, I could get another album ready by the end of the year, but I don’t want to rush. We’re not in a hurry, and I’m a very big control freak and a perfectionist when it comes to writing songs ! So I want to put out the best songs I can and take my time to do so ! I don’t want to lower the quality of the next compositions, so I think it’s important to write the best songs as possible and to polish the whole thing, especially in the prog scene where the listeners are demanding, which is a good thing for composers and bands, because it’s very challenging and it gives you the will to go ahead and move on all the time !

Thank you for this nice interview, keep on the good work !

We thank Clément for his availability wishing the best to him and the Altesia.

You can find my review on their excellent debut album in the webzine: [Review] Altesia – Paragon Circus

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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