ALCEST – An Ocean of Dreams

ALCEST – An Ocean of Dreams

Obviously, I love my heavy metal.  Sometimes, the heavier, the better.  However, I equally have a deep affinity for melodic, atmospheric and ambient music, which is about the polar opposite to a lot of metal music.

There are many bands that do this well, and the variety is staggering.  One of the most proficient proponents of this music is Alcest, more specifically founder and main man Neige.  His very unique outlook on music and the usage of his own personal visions and experiences have made this band one that stands out itself as one of the most interesting and powerful in all of music.  Listen to any Alcest album – hell, any song – and it’ll run the gamut of emotions and atmospheres.

I got the opportunity to speak with Neige at a stop on their current North American tour with the mighty Anathema, and we spoke about how Alcest has grown, his affinity with the sea, and the new upcoming album’s evolution.

I hope you find our chat as informative and interesting as I did.  And catch them live if you can, as it’s an out of this universe experience.


First off, how has this tour treated you so far?

"Actually, so far, it has been really great.  If it keeps on this way, it will probably be our best tour ever.  Good crowds, good shows, great people in the tour.  The fans are lovely!  We love to meet them after the shows and to speak about whatever in their lives.  It’s so important for us.  It makes the whole thing a bit more human.  It’s a very good tour."

How did the recording process for "Shelter" go?

"We just decided to go to Iceland because of the aura of the country, which is so awesome.  This country changed our lives because we had such an experience over there – meeting the people, going to visit some places.  The landscapes were amazing.  The studio itself was amazing.  It was so great for us."

What musical direction should we expect?

"Pretty much like a shoegaze post rock record, but still very Alcest.  It still has epic melodies and other worldly feeling.  It’s not shoegaze like A Place to Bury Strangers, or bands like that, who are a bit more dirty.  It’s a very romantic shoegaze, in a way."

Is there a specific lyrical theme?

"Yes, all the lyrics are about the sea.  I have a special relationship with the sea, because I grew up very close to the Mediterranean Sea, in the south of France.  I’ve always had a special link with the water and the waves, and all this feeling I was getting during holidays.  I wanted to pay tribute to this, because it’s like a cure to me – to go close to the water."


What was it like working with Bille Lindahl (Promise and the Monster) for a song?

"It was great!  I discovered her stuff a year and a half ago.  It was during a U.S. tour.  I felt that her voice could fit very well with Alcest’s music.  So, I contacted her and asked her if she was interested, and yes, she was.  So we made it into the studio.  It brings a lot of freshness to the whole thing, because it’s female vocals, so it’s always interesting.  If it’s done in a good way, you know?  Not like the cheesy Nightwish stuff.  But if it’s done in the right way, it can be very nice."

Is there a specific creative process that you like to follow?

"Just being at home, in my bedroom.  I don’t do any rituals.  I’m just bored, you know?  *laughs* Anything!  In the morning, in the night.  Whenever.  It just comes.  I grab my guitar and sometimes it is coming, sometimes it’s not!"

I read that there were going to be no metal elements on the new record at all.  Was that intentional or a natural progression?

"Yeah, it’s at the same time natural, and at the same time intentional.  I haven’t listened to that metal in a long time.  So, I didn’t feel like doing a metal record.  Even during the "Les Voyages de L’ame" composition process and recording, I was already tired of playing metal.  So for this one, I really wanted to not have a double kick or whatever.  It’s all about atmospheres.  Even the distorted passages are not heavy – it’s more like a dirty wall of sound, but not like the clean metal sound, which I don’t really like.  It’s a bit more dirty.  I’m really curious to read the first reviews and to know what people will think about it.  It’s a bit different.  I’m not sure we’ll keep all our fans, but we cannot do music for other people.  It’s not possible.  That’s not the way it works for us."


Did you ever fathom Alcest getting to the level that it is today?

"No, man!  It was like yesterday; I remember when I was living at my parents’ house.  I was 13, 14 years old, starting to play guitar.  If somebody would have told me that I was doing tours in the US?  It’s so good.  I have a lot of luck to be here, and I would not have expected this kind of feedback.  It’s good!"

What are some of your biggest inspirations?

"Alcest is a concept band.  It’s a real experience I had when I was five or six years old.  Remembering the places I was before being here.  I know it sounds strange.  I really feel that these visions are coming from another place.  That’s my main inspiration.  Even when I’m not speaking about that precisely, this experience was so powerful and so important for me that it left a mark in my sensibilities.  I can do anything – it will always have the same dreamy feeling.  It’s a part of me, this experience.  It really changed my being.  Otherwise, for the last album, I was really inspired by Slowdive (a U.K. shoegaze band – good stuff)!"

Is there anything interesting you’ve been listening to lately?

"Yeah!  Two bands I discovered quite recently – the first band is Grimes, from Montreal.  She’s an electro singer.  I really like her stuff because it’s very new to me and very fresh.  It’s a bit crazy!  It’s like a mix of Cocteau Twins and electro-r&b.  Very strange music, but I love it.  I discovered Hammock – it’s like an ambient band.  Maybe you know them?"

Yes, absolutely.  Very good atmospheric stuff.

"Yes!  So good, man!  So good."


Any kind of hobbies outside of music, or does Alcest take up all of your time?

"Since a few years ago, it’s pretty much only Alcest!  A bit of friends here and there, parties, movies, exhibitions, stuff like that.  It’s mainly composing music, recording, going on tour.  It’s a lot of work.  People sometimes, they say, "Oh, you have a band.  You’re so cool!  You go on tour, and it’s like 40 days."  It’s not like 40 days!  That’s the thing.  Someone who has a regular job – they wake up in the morning, come home at night, and it’s done.  They can do something very different.  In my case, it’s like 24 hours.  Alcest is everywhere, all the time.  It makes me a bit crazy! *laughs*"

What are your plans for after this tour is done?

"We are preparing the release of the new album.  It’s coming in January.  So more interviews, press something, and touring again!"

Is there anything you’d like to add?

"I hope you like the show and I hope your readers will like the interview.  Thank you so much, man!"

Many thanks for Neige for his time, and be sure to check out the new album, "Shelter", when it comes out in January.  I certainly will!