“We reinforced the elements that constitute our style and identity but we also reintegrate new elements”

After receiving well deserved recognition and a record deal from 2019 release Prokopton, Symphonic Melodic Death Metal troupe AEPHANEMER are back and they are due to release their upcoming album A Dream Of Wilderness. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Marion Bascoul about the album, training her vocals for the choral parts and mental health. Here’s what happened.

So you are due to release A Dream Of Wilderness soon, brilliant work by the way. On this album I noticed there are a few more symphonic elements than your previous album, was this the original plan or was it something that happened during the recording process?

First of all, thank you so much. I am really glad you like the new album. About the symphonic elements, you are right because that was the original plan. The symphonic parts have been present since the beginning of the band, since our EP Know Thyself. For us, they are an integral part of our compositions. We consider them to be an important part of our identity so for this album we wanted to reinforce this aspect, to strengthen the musical identity of the band.

What’s your personal favourite song on the record?

It’s a really hard question because there is something that I particularly love in each of the songs and as well things I would have liked to improved in everyone of them. If I had to answer only one song, I’d say I really love Roots And Leaves. 

Roots And Leaves is a great one, in my notes I wrote down that bands such as Fleshgod Apocalypse and Dimmu Borgir come to mind. Did they influence this particular track?

I don’t hear much influence on this particular track but what I can say is that Dimmu Borgir is a big influence to Martin [Hamiche] in terms of compositions. Regarding the symphonic elements Dimmu Borgir is a really big influence so it’s great if you hear them in our songs.

Which songs proved to be the biggest challenge to record or write?

In terms of recording, I would say the French version of Le Radeau de La Méduse because firstly it contains classical singing, that was really hard to record. Secondly it was hard to record lyrics in French, it was my first time writing, recording and singing in French. It’s so different from English. I didn’t know if I should of kept my accent or not, that sort of stuff. I’m really glad I did it, it was awesome.

When it came to clean vocals, how did you decide which tracks contained clean vocals?

I decided which vocal arrangements would fit with Martin’s compositions. My basic singing style is growling and I only changed that if I feel the music lends itself to it, whatever feels artistically appropriate. If I feel there should be clean singing on certain parts, even I am not super trained on the clean singing, I will put as much effort in as I can to perform them. 

There’s some choral vocals as well, was that your vocals or was someone else doing those?

Yes, I did all the vocals on the album. So when you hear two sets of vocals on the single Panta Rhei, it’s me doubling the voice. I did the clean and harsh vocals, I doubled them myself.

Which out of growls and clean vocals do you find the most challenging?

Definitely the clean vocals. You see I had difficulties singing with a clean voice and I have up to this point as I never really trained my head voice, only my chest voice. Last year during the pandemic, I decided to address that by taking classical singing lessons in order to train my high cleans. It worked well, it helped me a lot and in the process I decided to include classical singing in some parts of the albums. I felt it was very consistent with our symphonic elements, so it was really difficult and I trained really hard but it’s OK to learn and move on. Things don’t have to be perfect.

Since you mentioned your classical singing during the pandemic, what else did you do during lockdown when the restrictions were really strict?

I worked a lot on the new album along with Martin; I was writing the lyrics and Martin composed the songs. As I said, I trained a lot at singing and I was taking lessons whenever was possible according to the restrictions. I was training at home for the most part. Basically these were the two main things I did during the lockdown. 

What were Covid restrictions like in France?

To summarise, there was a first lockdown in March 2020 and a second in October 2020. There was also a curfew for the entire first half of 2021 and of course public places like music venues, theatres, restaurants etc. were closed since the beginning. They only re-opened this summer when vaccinations were accessible to everyone and in France, you have to be vaccinated or a negative covid test to access these public places.

Was this the intended release date for your album or were you hoping to release it earlier?

In fact it was due to be released earlier as we finished the album at the end of the first half of 2021. It was initially would be released in September but there were problems due to the pandemic, it was regarding CDs and vinyl’s as there were delays to press CDs and vinyl’s. There were also delays regarding the post services to send to material around the world so because of that, we had to delay the release of the album.

What is mental health awareness like in France?

I don’t think we are particularly aware of that subject in France, I don’t know how it is other countries. For example, people who are seeing a therapist here usually won’t mention it as they think it’s something to be ashamed of and to the contrary I think it’s very important that you take care of your mental health as much as you take care of your physical health. So, it’s really very important to talk about it and tell people what you’re doing to take care of your mental health. It’s not something we particularly talk about in France I think.

What do you think we could do more of so people feel comfortable talking about their mental health?

I don’t really know but I think addressing that subject as much as possible and talking about it is helping. I know you do it on your website and that’s awesome because the more people talk about it the more it appears normal to talk about and to address. I saw your posts about different therapy as well which I think is important to talk about as well. Those techniques help a lot of people address their emotions.

What do you like to do to calm down and relax if you’re having a stressful time?

I’m stressed very often [laughs]. To relax; I like to read or going for a walk and also when it’s not winter, I like to go in my garden and taking care of my vegetables. That relaxes me the most I think.

When you say you like reading, do you have any favourite books?

Generally I love to read classical novels, fantasy novels and I love to read essays. I’m into philosophy as you know, you interviewed me around the time Prokopton was released and that was around stoicism. Stoicism is something that resembles Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (C.B.T). Those are the types of books I read.

Which guitarists would you like to duet with or have a guitar battle with?

I honestly don’t know how to answer that as me and the rest of the band play our music and that’s it. If I have to mention one guitarist that we all love in the band who has now passed is Alexi Laiho. Children Of Bodom are so important to us in the band, it’s the first name that comes to mind when it comes to great guitarists.

Do you have a message for your fans and our readers?

To all our fans who have been following us for a long time or less, I’d say we pushed our music further along the way we want to follow as a band. We reinforced the elements the constitute our style and identity but we also reintegrate new elements such as melodic black metal and classical singing in this recording. We feel we are creating music that fulfils our wishes as musicians and we really hope that our fans will like the new album. 

Thank you so much Marion for talking with Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with the album release.

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