Les Discrets signed to Prophecy Productions three-years ago, releasing their debut full-length with the German label in 2010. Since then they’ve had a split EP with label-mates Arctic Plateau and featured on neofolk compilation ‘Whom The Moon A Nightsong Sings’. Their latest attempt ‘Ariettes Oubliees…’ is a reflection of just how far the French act have come in such a little time. Calum Robson has a chat with founding member Fursy Teyssier about mortal fears, musical boundaries and leaving band members behind on tour.
Fursy Teyssier is a man of many talents. Not only has the Frenchman worked prolifically to produce beautiful cover artwork for an impressive clientèle of bands including Morbid Angel, Woods Of Ypres and The Oath but he’s now released two audio masterpieces of his own with Les Discrets. Teyssier sees album number two as a thematic continuation from stunning début ‘Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées’, but that doesn’t mean it’s a carbon copy.
“The first one had a down-to-earth point of view technically and artistically,” he explains. “I think there is a big improvement for the vocals, for the composition and for the structures. From an artistic point of view it really makes what was said in the last album – it goes forward and continues everything that I told in the lyrics and concept.”
‘Ariettes oubliées…’ is a mature transition too. If we’re to attribute any possible stylistic traits to it, we’d come close with such terms as post-metal, shoegaze and post-rock. But in truth, Les Discrets have no loyalty to a particular sound – it’s music that simply never fails to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
“No, no no,” Fursy calmly responds when asked if he subscribes to any music scene. “I think I’m playing metal but it could be anything else. What I like in the metal and rock music is that it’s very powerful, it really fits to the things I want to say. I think I will adapt the music to what I want to say and to the atmospheres that I want to create.”
And those atmospheres are certainly not restricted. Throughout the discussion Fursy refuses to rule anything out, even lightly mentioning hip-hop as a musical possibility for the future (“if tomorrow I want to make a hip-hop album, I can do”). But what’s more interesting is the vague idea the multi-instrumentalist has on what comes next. The only absolute is that all avenues are open.
“I’m really not sure the next one will be like this,” he says. “I’m really thinking of making something a bit different. I’m thinking of something in the style of Portishead, still with a little bit of distorted guitars but a little bit more ambient.”
It all depends on what creative fruits are squeezed at the time. Judging by his dynamic rushes of inspiration in music, illustration and animation, we can only guess what experiences will come to shape the 26-year-old. But at the moment, it’s his own lifestyle that remains an uncertainty.
“It’s a big question in my life at the moment,” he says. “I’ve been in cities for 10 years, but I grew up in the countryside so I really need to always go there when I’m in the city and can’t stand any more – the noise, the people and the fact that we all live in boxes. This really makes me upset, but when I try to figure how it could be living fully in the countryside, I’d miss many things from the city. When you’re in a bad mood – at least for me – I just have to open the window and see some people and I don’t feel lonely. Even if I don’t speak with the people, it’s the fact that I’m not alone.”
With the release of ‘Ariettes oubliées…’ the band have produced a début video for the title track. Filmed in the centre of Lyon and directed by Fursy’s partner and fellow band-mate Audrey Hadorn, the video is said to be about losing someone. The story that plays out is very much open to interpretation to the viewer though, says Fursy.
“It’s the story of a couple which – at the beginning – was not supposed to be us. The story to us is about the mourning of a couple and this diner is a flashback of the moment she left. I don’t know what happened to her, but it’s some kind of flashback of good memories. It’s based on fears that many people have – the loss of the one you love.”
It’s these fears that play a significant role in Les Discrets’ sorrowful music. But is Fursy alleviating his own fears through this artistic means or aggravating them?
“In the end it somehow helps me a little bit, but not so much to be honest,” he reflects. “I think it’s like when you are very angry you scream and you beat on a punching ball and you get rid of a lot of tension in you. I think it’s a little bit the same with the art and the music and the paintings. The more you share your fears, the more they go away.”
Whether it helps or not, it’s a pure process that – when put into song – is one of many channels that he uses to express himself. The lines between his artwork and music are blurred. It can be in song, animated in video (like his recent work for Drudkh/Alcest side-project Old Silver Key) or painted onto canvass – they’re all forms of expression that are related. Fursy’s portfolio is rich with respective pieces that can be appreciated individually and without excessive analysis. Sometimes the most beautiful of things can be described with the simplest of terms. It’s something that Fursy stresses when appreciating other people’s work.
“It’s like describing a picture,” he explains. “It’s blue and melancholic – that’s it. Instead of saying ‘it’s an art of romanticism’ or ‘I think it is more classicism’ – I think it’s just a ‘beautiful, blue melancholic picture’ and if you want to have more details just watch it and you will see. I don’t like that my music is tagged, because to me basically, the only tags you can have is jazz, rock, metal and hip-hop. When we’re going too much in to detail – post-something, avant-garde something – I think it really breaks the magic of the music.”
Detail or no detail, Les Discrets’ recent tour with Alcest gave them the chance to dazzle us with the magic that he speaks of. Teyssier says in the past he’s enjoyed shows in England and Italy particularly, but the trip hasn’t been without its hiccups this time round.
“We lost the bassist of (support act) Soror Dolorosa on the highway because he went to pee,” Fursy confesses. “The bus left and he had to call the police! We were sleeping – we’d driven 80 kilometres – when a police car pulled in front of the bus and they said ‘I think you forgot someone 80 kilometres away’! We had to make a u-turn and go back.”