Interview: Djiel

I’d like to introduce them somehow, but they’ve been pretty exhaustive as it is. A duo project, which teamed up with three live musicians, creating Djiel as you can listen to (and watch them) now. Listen to their EP ‘Midnight Odyssey’ via MySpace and get to know them better below- alongside with a pretty massive list of influences. J.L. and Vincent for When the Music is Over.

How long have Djiel been together?

J.L : Bonjour Electra. Vincent and I’ve been together for 6 years now. We are with Pascal, Damien and Nico for 5.

Vincent : The story of Djiel started in early 2005. From that moment, we really began to work together even if we still knew each other since few years. JL was working alone on that project and I joined him at that moment. From the end of 2006, we started to play in live with new musicians (Pascal Drums, Damien Bass and guitar, Nico Machines).

You describe yourself as rock, industrial, pop,new wave, metal, trip-hop among others. Can you pick three words to describe Djiel’s sound?

J.L : Atmospheric, unique, delicate.
Vincent : I’d say dark, atmospheric and hypnotic

Can you name some of the bands you grew up with? How much did they influence your music?

J.L : The Doors , Jacques Brel, Faith no More, Depeche mode, Edith Piaf, Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Alice in chains (with Layne Stanley), Nine inch Nails, Pearl jam, The Cure, RHCP, Pink floyd, Soundgarden…
They all influenced me a lot in many different ways: musically, visually, technically and spiritually.

Vincent : We have common influences such as lots of bands from the nineties. For instance the grungy wave from Seatle with Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden… We started to play guitar because of them! By my side, I also listened to some very metal band during my teenage, a little less now even if some bands such as Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot or Gojira are very interesting. I can listen to many different type of musics or styles but my favorite artists are Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Deftones or Bjork.

Writing the lyrics, where do you draw these from, life experiences or the portrait of a generation?

J.L : Writing the lyrics, I open and listen to my heart and soul. I try not to censore myself, but to simply dive in memories, feelings, visions, sensations from the past or present. So I draw everything from life experiences, mine or somebody else’s.
I think everyone can easily recognize her/himself through my words : hope, melancoly, love, mystical feelings, sadness, serenity, anger, similar existence experiences….so many things that made you and I these human beings we are, so many feelings that gather us, wherever you live or come from.

Your lyrics are in English, is there any particular reason? Do you reckon it’s more catchy as a language?

 J.L : First of all, I love many english or american authors : JRR Tolkien, Jack Kerouac, Jim Morrison, JE Alan Poe, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Weiss, HP Lovecraft, ….

Yes, I reckon it’s more catchy. Because it’ s an universal language, lyrics can be understood everywhere. Finally, I love the way vocals sound in English. It’s a very musical language.

Can you tell us something more about your latest EP ‘Midnight Odyssey’?

J.L : As our first EP, Midnight Odyssey has been written, arranged, recorded and mixed in my appartment too. It’s a lot of work doing all this by ourselves, because it takes us time to reach the same sound quality than the other bands actually get in professional music studios. But this way, we can lead our creation exactly the way we want.

With our debut EP, Silly pressure, we worked on down tempi and a very atmospheric ambiance, shaped our identity through different kind of sounds. I like to work with a lot of instruments. That’s what I also wanted for this latest Ep, but with faster grooves. When I start a creation process, I love to draw a global universe with very different lyrics, sounds and songs. For example, “Absence” is a dark song with synths, gloomy and some kind of heavy atmosphere. I wrote it for my soul brother André, who died during the recording process, so it’s a very sad song to me. Instead, “7” is a basic melody with nothing more than soft guitars, slow bass and groovy intimate drums. This song is a simple message, about universal love and mutual understanding.

Vincent : This EP is quite different than the first one, the tempi are higher, it’s more groovy like on “Get over” and “You make me sick”. We tried to enlarge a little bit more our universe while keeping our identity.

Are the videos an important element to your music? How can they convey the message of your songs?

J.L : I’m a huge fan of movies and videos. I hope we’ll shot a lot of DJIEL music videos in the next coming years, and also, that we could work again with BlackTwin agency, which directed our first one. Images and music videos are very important to our musical universe and artistic development.

Vincent : Yes, definitely. We attached a big importance to the visual universe around DJIEL. For instance we do ourself the photos and the sleeves of the albums since the beginning. Our first video (7) was made by a French agency and we spent lots of time working together on the project and on every detail of the video. It was very important for us to participate but with The Blacktwin team we were very confident.

We wanted something simple : an esthetic video, refined but different, even disturbing, with different levels of lecture. Something like our music! We loved immediately the idea of the octopus reminding us the sleeve of “Midnight Odyssey”, something very visual and symbolic. Besides a new videoclip is coming soon in fall. As we are both of us big fans of movies we are very interested about that.

You are on Reverbnation, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and so on. How important is the concept of social media for you and your music?

Vincent : The social medias are very important for bands like us. Without social network, we would have 100 times less visibility on the web therefore less links with people who follow us. If today Djiel is known in South America, USA or Denmark it’s thanks to these social networks. It’s a wonderful communication tool but it takes time to deal with it daily.

Do you see yourselves playing live? What would you enjoy the most of that experience?

Vincent : We already did concerts with Djiel but we choosed to stop in order to compose. However in the end of the year we would start again live music with great happiness. Before Djiel we, both of us, made live concert in other musical projects, so we know what it’s like to be on stage and do you feel about it. The ideal would be to go on a tour abroad, we talk about that often and we hope to do it quickly as we can.

Who would be your dream person to collaborate with?

J.L : (laughs) My dreams are limitless, I guess. I would love to sing live with Dave Gahan, write a song with PJ harvey, record it with Trent Reznor, mix with Terry Date and get the whole thing mastered by Rick Rubin!!

Vincent : Sharing the stage with of the bands we talked about earlier would be awesome.
For working in a studio we are fans of the work of Nigel Godrich, Rick Rubin, David Campbell, Terry Date or Steve Albini… We could tell you many more, they produced mythical albums and they are all very good in creating a coherence between the artists and their sound.
And talking about the video clip, a french director named Michel Gondry it would be cool…

Thank you so much guys for your time, and good luck with your music.

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