It may be that most of us know France because of itís excellent wine and good food, but one more reason should be because of the many impressive bands that have put their mark on what we call Modern Metal.
The latest representative of the City of Lights, is a Goth/Dark Metal outfit called Ad Vitam Aeternam. Celine de Kerliviou (vocals) took some time to answer a few of my questions regarding the bandís debut album "Abstract Senses" and their future plans.
Well, I have to admit that the only two things I know about this band is that youíre all French and that "Abstract Senses" is your debut album. Can you give us a short bio of the band that will explain how we can now talk about the release of your debut album?
Celine: The band was founded in 1999 by Cathy (keyboards) and Jean (rhythm guitar) but came to its current formation in September 2002, after several changes in our line-up. We gave up some instruments like violins to focus on a loud metal sound. There have been a few trials in various directions on the 8 titles of our album before achieving what you can hear today.
From the information provided by your official site, you mention that all the members of the band come from different music backgrounds. How did you all agree to play this specific style of music, and how important is it for the members of the band to have many different influences and apply them to their music?
Celine: We agreed on this kind of metal because we have some musical tastes in common: doom, death, dark, gothic! Moreover, the opening of mind of everyone leads to the mixture of ideas, which makes our music. But we do not want to be too much influenced by the artists we love, we prefer trying to remain ourselves, with our means, but constantly tending to perform with our own features and always as best as we can.
"Abstract Senses" is a self-produced album, still the quality of the recordings is quite professional. It must have been really difficult and also quite expensive to create such a demanding production. How did you manage to do that without having the support of a record label?
Celine: Fabien (lead guitar and death grunts) is the right person to speak to on this topic, as he is deeply involved in what regards all technical engineering aspects (but not only!). All was organised by both Fabien and Nicolas, our drummer! The recording at the well-known Studio Marcadet in Paris was achieved over 3 months last January, after a first recording attempt in another place one year before, whose result was not satisfactorily enough.
It seems that there is more than one person involved in the creation of the lyrics, which is normally the job of the singer in a band. How do you manage to put your personal touch to something that was composed by another person in the band?
Celine: I intervened in the lyrics written by Cathy and Taos (a former second female vocalist together with me), along with a song written by Patrick Eris (science-fiction writer), but in a limited way: I had to translate all lyrics into English, and write some parts that were missing according to the songsí structure that I had found. This was possible thanks to the trust that each of them put in me I must say! I also found the titles of the songs and the name of "Ad Vitam Aeternam" (AVA). However, my personal touch may be more sensible in the way I sing, as I try to be very close of what is written down, respecting the sacred atmosphere of devotion.
How about the eight compositions of the album - are they also the product of teamwork, or are Cathy and Fabien the main composers, based on the fact that theyíre the ones that founded the band?
Celine: Indeed, the compositions of "Abstract Senses" result of the brainstorming of the band but on the music constitution only. Each musician is free to find his own melody according to a general template giving back the atmosphere wanted by Cathy and Jean. But I must correct something here: the main composer is Cathy regarding the lyrics and music; Fabien is not a composer with Cathy, but only as far as his guitar is concerned (he finds his own tunes too). Also, as I previously said, the founders of AVA are Cathy and Jean - not Cathy and Fabien - even if the latter one is of the utmost importance in the band for many other things.
Your label is promoting you as a Goth/Dark Metal band. How would you describe your bandís sound to someone that has never heard of your work before? Do you accept the term that was given to you?
Celine: We accept the denomination of Goth-dark metal. It suits to how we consider our music. I would emphasise on the fact that it is also rather depressive and romantic at the same time!
What are you aiming at as a band at this specific moment in time? Is there a specific audience that youíre targeting?
Celine: We are aiming at doing gigs, so that we can share together the pleasure to play or sing the music we like. We have a view to let more and more people discover the feeling of Ad Vitam Aeternamís sound. By doing so, hopefully, it would be proved that, for a change, French metal do exists, as metal scene is well dominated by Scandinavian, Dutch, German, Anglo-Saxon bands!
How would you describe the bandís live performances? Which was the biggest concert that you made so far, and what are your future plans as far as touring is concerned?
Celine: We have never performed live until now, but this should be coming very soon. We are currently studying proposals in France and across Europe.
There is quite a big competition in the music world nowadays, especially in the style that youíre playing, and it seems like Nightwish are leading the race. They are a very well promoted outfit. What is it that Ad Vitam Aeternam has to offer in comparison to them?
Celine: There is absolutely no comparison between Nightwish and AVA, though we like them a lot. We do not want to copy any gothic heavy metal band, we prefer to remain ourselves, as authentic as possible, so that people appreciate us for what we are.
How did you guys manage to attract the interest of New Aeon Media in the first place? How did this collaboration occur?
Celine: We were initially willing to sign on a French label, distribution being secured through licenses. As we were searching for further licenses all over Europe, we met Karmageddon Aeon Media, who proposed to sign on them. It seemed to us they are a rather significant label, and the final argument was it would make things simple to have a unique contact in the distribution.
The first important step in any new bandís career is the creation of a personal style and sound. Would you say that there is such an element in your sound that makes you different from most bands, and if yes, what would that be?
Celine: Perhaps our difference consists in playing on contrasts between atmospheres through death vocals and two female vocals, nearly always singing together. Most of the time, in this kind of metal, there are death/black vocals and only one female singer. Furthermore, my vocals evolve halfway "classical" and "normal" way of singing, not in a specific opera field or heavy stylish oriented.
You, as a singer, are the first point of contact between the band and the crowd. Have you ever found it difficult to get through to a person whoís not from the same country as you? How do you normally deal with an audience that doesnít react to the sounds of your music?
Celine: I already faced the difficulty to make oneself understand when there are folks from various countries, because of opposite attitudes or conceptions. In this particular case, one have to remain open, available and above all one must communicate. I think I will experience this sooner or later during concerts, hope I will handle this as positively as I did in my private life!
Which are the feelings that you feel the need to pass on to your audience through your music?
Celine: We are filled with a nostalgic feeling, romanticism to a certain extent! Once this has been said, this is up to our fans to tell about what our music inspires them!
There is not a single musician in this world that has not applied his main influences to his music. Which are the bands or artists that have been your main source of inspiration?
Celine: Personally, nothing was done in reference to one of my favourite artists, or if so, this is without being aware of it!
The first thing that attracted me to the band was your voice. Have you studied classical singing? Is there a specific technique that you use in order to preserve and train your voice?
Celine: Thanks so much! I never studied any sort of classical singing course; I only sang for four years in another band and from time to time, I required some little choir technique weekends to gain some tips. Besides, I am trying to smoke as less as possible to protect my voice.
What are we to expect from the band in the near future?
Celine: Well, you can count on seeing us on stage (actually, we hope so!), and reading articles in magazines.
Whatís the main reason in your opinion that should make people invest in "Abstract Senses"?
Celine: Itís plain to see that several AVA Ďs lyrics tell about the natureís destruction by mankind: if we do not react against what keeps happening since long ago, and is going pretty faster and worse, it means the end of all of us! So this is a good reason enough to invest in our album because few people mention this threatening plague in order that governments make things better! but I hope there will be plenty of other reasons!!!
A message to your fans, and the subscribers of Get Ready to Rock?
Celine: Sure! Well, "get ready to rock" ad vitam aeternam: this Latin expression means till the end of times!
Interview © 2004