Metal.hu had the opportunity to interview the composer/guitarist, Martin Hamiche and the vocalist/rhythm guitarist, Marion Bascoul of the French band Aephanemer. Read our conversation below about songwriting techniques, the birth of the lyrics and the situation of smaller bands, and the current news about this rising melodic death metal talent! Also read our review of their album Prokopton HERE!
When was the idea of Aephanemer born?
Martin: The first Aephanemer EP “Know Thyself” was released in January 2014 while Aephanemer was still a one-man-band. Just after that, I decided to form a full band and it happened between March 2014 and May 2014. So we can say that Aephanemer born in early 2014, but the idea of Aephanemer is something constantly evolving! Our lyrical themes and music elements in Prokopton are more precise and refined than in Memento Mori, at least from our point of view.
You have been long uploading guitar videos to YouTube before Aephanemer, was it a conscious building of a “brand” or the channel?
Martin: Not at all, I just loved to write songs and play them. I had no musical background at all, so the idea that I could build my brand and one day become a full-time musician was just unthinkable. At some point I needed to write songs to feel better and that is how the first Aephanemer songs were created.
Are you considering getting a fifth member?
Martin: Of course we think about it from time to time, but we have many reasons to not get a fifth member now. It would bring us more problems than solutions. It will maybe happen in the future though.
Does having girls in the band change the dynamic as opposed to if u had only guys, what do you think?
Martin: I don’t think so, personalities matter more than gender to me and we have a great match of personalities in the band! Hopefully having girls in the band doesn’t change the opinion that people have about us either, which is great. We are just four persons caring about creating the best music we can!
What are you the proudest of, as musicians or band, so far?
Martin: We regularly receive messages from people who really appreciate our music and tell us how it helped them in their life, to handle difficult moments and keep going forward. That is really why we are doing music in the first place, to have a positive impact on people, and it makes us incredibly proud.
How hard it is to actively seek for opportunities as a band of your size?
Martin: It is hard work but I love it. I spend hours daily looking for every little festival in Europe and sending applications, planning things and keeping record of everything. Same thing for booking agencies, webzines, and more. The success rate is low but it makes the challenge even more interesting! This activity actually allows me to relax between songwriting sessions.
However, this way of “seeking opportunities” may seem painful to do for many musicians. It’s really an introverted thinking activity for people who like to work alone, and the opposite of “networking” which means meeting people, drinking a beer with them, bartering for services… most musicians prefer to seek for opportunities this way but I hate it. I can’t fake friendship, it feels so lame. And being dependent of other people will is a no-go as well. There are probably some things that you can only get by networking, but until now I’m glad of the results we obtained.
How does the songwriting process look?
Martin: I usually try to find a lyrical theme first. Even though I don’t write lyrics, I write my songs like stories without words. I can’t write songs if I don’t know what it will be about. Then I usually spend a lot of time looking for the best melodies I can, which will be the “heart” of the song. Melodies are what matters the most to me and finding good ones is the most complicated task to me, but also the most satisfying. After that I build the “melodic progression” of the song which means putting the melodies in the best order, and fitting the holes with riffs or more melodies. And finally I write the other instruments: keyboards, bass, and drums.
I generally write songs more easily if I don’t work at it every day. I need a few days after each songwriting session to recover my creative potential, and during these few days I must not listen to what I wrote so far to avoid getting used to it and losing all my objectivity on it.
When the music part of the song is finished, I send it to the other members and Marion writes the lyrics for it.
Marion: Martin and I usually discuss the theme of the album while he’s composing the first songs. It emerges quite naturally, as we always talk much together of the topics that interest us, and we share the same vision of life and artistic activity.
Most of the time, Martin also give the songs a title related to the general feeling he expressed, even if he has not a precise idea of what about the lyrics will be. So I’m thinking about the theme we have chosen and search for a personal way to process it while sticking to the already named and finalized composition.
How did you get in touch with the designer of your album artwork?
Martin: Well we worked with Niklas Sundin for our first EP “Know Thyself” and at this moment we contacted him through his website. Last year we contacted him again for our new album Prokopton since we were very satisfied of our past collaborations.
Are you able to genuinely enjoy listening to music or do you hear the “producing” or the technical part too much?
Martin: Honestly I do not care about production, I only care about the music itself: melodies, riffs, vocals. I can listen to old MP3 compressed files, demo recordings or even MIDI files without any problem and with the same pleasure than if they were top-produced 2019 recordings. Now I know that most people don’t feel the same which is normal, so we always try to get the best production we can!
You are writing really complex lyrics in a language that is not native to you, is that ever difficult?
Marion: Thank you very much!! I really do my best at writing lyrics, but like you point out, it’s a hard task to write in a non-native language.
It’s difficult to convey ideas in a satisfying way, but also to find poetic ways of writing while being sure to keep the meaning.
I had a hard time especially when I wrote the lyrics for our first album Memento Mori. Since then, I kind of developed my own way of writing in a foreign language, basically consisting in spending a lot of time searching for the best word, rhyme, or sentence turn. I also immerse in the language by reading and listening to English as much as possible.
How much input do the other 3 members have into the final songs?
Martin: Marion writes all the lyrics and Mickaël usually improves the drums part, something like 10% to 20% changes. There are many bands who write all the songs together but it would not work in Aephanemer. We all have different set of skills and are unable to do what our bandmates do.
Several of your lyrics are connected to Philosophy – do you consciously search for topics to write about or the fact that you are Philosophy fans means that you already think about these things a lot?
Martin: Marion and I think about these things a lot, we are not philosophy experts at all but we are very interested into ancient philosophy and particularly stoicism. It is a school of philosophy which really helps to control negative emotions such as anger or anxiety and become a better person, with very practical guidelines. It is not something theoretical but something concrete. If you are interested to know more, just check “The Epictetus Handbook” on YouTube and listen to the first five minutes.
What is your most serious and least serious lyrics/song and why?
I don’t think any of our songs is more or less serious than the other ones! We wrote all of them with the same mindset.
How strong do you feel the band’s current lineup is?
Marion, Mickaël and I are really into the professional musician thing, and it creates a very strong relation between us. We share the same objectives and are ready to do anything necessary to allow the band to grow, including leaving our jobs to go on tour for two months or investing thousands of euros in the band. Lucie is still a student, she is not really interested into becoming a professional musician and values balance between her activities. This situation has been satisfying for all of us until now.
Have you considered shooting a music video that has some kind of story, do you have ideas for this?
Martin: Yes we did, but a music video with a story requires more budget for the additional scenes and the actors. Nowadays it is something we cannot afford but maybe next time!
Do you have anything to add?
Thank you for this very interesting interview and hopefully see you soon in Hungary! 🙂