Constantly feeding on myriads of Extreme Metal albums, I recently got an album that I in turn got something very decisive out of. Purification. Just like with the latest Leviathan album, Decline Of The I´s second album “Rebellion” has the ability to shutdown the reality portrayed and take you to places nethermost and come back blasting out of a genuine catharsis. The joining of stark Black Metal atmospherics and a prominent lust for experiments and progressive structures, creates a debauched playground for founder A.K. where he exercises his ideas and builds them into the wretched yet fiery works of Extreme Metal art. I naturally had to shoot some questions at the guy to find out a bit more about the project, which turns to to be a three part philosophical setup. Study this interview with great composure dear reader.
Hi A.K. and thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions. How are you doing on this Sunday?
A.K.: I’m alright, thanks. A bit hangovered from yesterday but still alive.
Aha! Wine or beer? Hard booze? All together?
A.K.: Don’t go beer anymore. But vodka, then wine with some friends… I’ve the chance (or the curse) to leave in front of one of the few metal bars in Paris…
Haha ok then. We´re obviously here to talk about the new album of Decline Of The I. How has it been received since it was released?
A.K.: I’m a bit amazed by the reviews so far and people who had the opportunity to listen to it. I think I “touched” something with this one. Hard to tell what but I guess I can say that this album is not a failure! I made a “right” album, I would say.
It definitely did something to myself, so congrats on a great album!. I´m curious to know though, how much do you read into reviews nowadays?
A.K.: Thank you! People who will tell you that they don’t read reviews are liars! Aha! So, I don’t try to read each of them, but yes, I’ve read some. It’s sometimes very interesting to have a distance with your own work, specially with a solo project. I even read some bad reviews that were interesting. Some people who missed my point, or that felt that I was too confusing, something like that… Actually, yes, this album is confusing : so these bad reviews are not that bad at all aha.
These “negative” reviews, can you take something constructive from them, or just read them and that´s it?
A.K.: I don’t want to modify my future work regarding them, but when it’s constructive it can help you with perspectives. A bit more than someone who just says “man, this is awesome” haha. But anyway, I did this project mainly to spit out what lies inside me and I don’t want to mess so long. It’s therapeuthic, I could say… So that’s the main principle that moves me. If I feel better after composing then listening to my work, so I succeed the main goal.
The album itself, it covers a wide range of atmospheres. Can you tell a bit about your method regarding the songwriting and how you fit everything together into a somewhat cohesive work?
A.K.: I don’t have boundaries in terms of composing. And I don’t have pre-existing rules. So if I feel right putting electronic stuff, then more black metal ingredients, then post hardcore rhythms, so be it. I don’t say to myself “I have to be “avant garde” or something like this”. I play music first. Music that speaks to my soul, I could say in a romantic way… and if music has to speak with an hardcore beat, so let’s go.
Since the music is so intense, I was wondering how you prepare yourself for the songwriting endeavor? I mean, is it like an ongoing process, again, I´m imagining it must be an intense experience to create this provoking pulse?
A.K.: Hmm, I don’t have to do an important ritual to compose. I’m not the master of it. I just grab my instruments and sometimes something is emerging from it, sometimes it’s just soulless noise… I guess I’ve to be prepared to receive then expulse but I don’t know how to really do it. So, no I don’t burn candles and wait for the fullmoon to compose haha. My neurosis is here everyday, so potentially, I can deal with them through music, at any time.
A lot of spoken word samples are used throughout the album? Can you tell a bit more about these and their purpose? Asking because my French is nonexistent hehe.
A.K.: It’s not a problem that you don’t understand french. There a several level of approaching these spoken words, and the main one is not to listen with your reason, but just hearing the music of it , the texture of the voice, rhythm of the words etc. I use them in french because it feels more theatrical than in english, I don’t know. We just felt it right that way.
Yes, the samples add a lot of urgency to the overall atmosphere, very effective. Was more wondering if these are some significant personas?
A.K.: Yes. Most of them are philosophers. Cioran, Deleuze, Rosset… You have also a sample from Laborit himself.
Going back to the band itself. Can you tell a bit about the band´s origin and the purpose of it? I read about a trilogy of albums…?
A.K.: I started Decline after releasing the 5th album of my previous solo project Love Lies Bleeding. I came to a conclusion with LLB and wanted to explore different forms. But you still have some LLB vibes in Decline.
And yes, for the first time of my “career” I decided to work with a concept. The work of the biologist Laborit and his experiment with how we react to aggression. For him, we have three main reactions, so one of each is a Decline album. Next one will be “escape”…then I don´t know…
I think it´s a very interesting concept. Can you remember how you stumbled upon it? What was the trigger?
A.K.: I was at a point in my life where I was clearly in a inhibition of action without the capacity of naming it. A friend told me about Laborit’s work and it was like a revelation. His “grid” worked perfectly with my vision of the world, social interaction, perception of the self etc. It didn’t happened that often to have quite a revelation like this. It happened before with Cioran, and later on with Spinoza.
Interesting. I´m sure you´re familiar with the “I think, therefore I am” quote of Descartes? Is the shallowness of the individual perhaps why you´ve chosen Decline Of The I as moniker for this work?
A.K.: It’s a bit more complicated than this. But you can have this lecture, yes. But you can also have something opposite: the individuality melting in a whole giving strength to the whole and receiving back the strenght of this whole. And there is also another very personal meaning of this band’s name. I just could say that I had this project inside me without knowing it. There are not many things I could relate to “fate” but precisely this, Decline of the I, was meant to emerge
“Rebellion” was released by Agonia Records. Wanted to ask how the working relationship is going with them?
A.K.: It works well. I felt they pushed this album. I had more interviews than for the previous one, etc. And they were interested in releasing a vinyl version, which is a good thing.
Are they releasing the entire trilogy?
A.K.: That’s the plan, yes.
How does Decline Of The I work live? Is it even a live oriented band?
A.K.: It hasn’t been built for live appearances. But who knows in the future…
Maybe be when the trilogy is done hehe.
A.K.: Haha maybe, yes!
Now you´ve been in different bands for a long time? Can we speak about the French Black Metal scene? I mean, to me, it definitely is one of the more exciting ones even if not the most visible. What´s your view on it?
A.K.: Yes, it’s still interesting after all these years. I guess it’s because people here never had the idea of a career or doing a business with their music. People here just started to make it because they needed it. It comes from the guts. Then, maybe will come the glory…. As you know, no guts, no glory!
Any bands you want to highlight, that have caught your attention lately, old or new?
A.K.: The first album of Anus Mundi is killer. Too bad the band is about to stop. I’m still fan of Diapsiquir’s album and mighty Arkhon Infaustus too.
Alright. on a more personal note – what kind of music do you usually listen to? I´m guessing there are no boundaries?
A.K.: True. I’m still listening to a lot of metal, but of course other things too… French music, Hardtek, more moody stuff like Blonde Redhead, stuff like that.
I almost forgot… I´d like to get your opinion on the current state of the music industry with social media madness, everyone is putting music out etc, is this something you like to say something about?
A.K.: It’s a “pharmakon”, as Plato would have put it… It’s the same term that stands for poison or remedy. It depends on the dose, the way you use something that make it poison or remedy. So all this numeric thing is definetely a pharmakon.
I try to get musicians to weigh in on this topic, think it´s important and your answer is interesting.
A.K.: It’s obvious that the fact there are 4394309 bands now and that nobody buys any more records changes the face of the whole “industry”… but you know, I’m not a “career” guy. So I’d say that I’m pretty honored to be downloaded. I really don’t care. If my work reaches someone just with an mp3, so be it. I make music, not records. Records are just the media.
The only thing to remember is that there will always be artists. No matter how. So if people don’t earn money with their music and that makes them stop, so maybe it wasn’t that important for them. So long, guys
That´s a good point.
A.K.: On the other hand, of course it’s hard to handle the fact that a musician like me (not big at all on the market) not just don’t earn any money but loses some… but anyway, I’m not here to complain that I don’t make money to feed my small ego. Artists are narcissistic freaks, you know. Maybe it’s a good thing to pay to make music, now. It’s exactly like to give the money to a shrink haha.
I´m gonna wrap this interview. One last question though. What does the future hold for yourself and Decline Of The I?
A.K.: First, not declining that fast. Then putting an end to the trilogy, thinking about putting the project on stage, maybe… Wait and see!
Ok, Thanks A.K. again for taking the time. You have the very last words to the readers out there.
A.K.: La vie ne suffit pas!
For more info about the band, check out their Facebook page here
“Rebellion” is out now through Agonia Records
Extreme Metal Voyager review here