From Maelstrom E-Zine December 2006
Diable Amoreux's only member dresses up in hermitic robes and wears uncanny white masks. He resembles Mortiis and Arckanum's main man, Shamaatae. He writes his own peculiar songs; songs of love, death and the devil. He goes by the name of 7 and he's fascinated with gnomes and the mythologies that relate to them. His music is as detached from metal as could possibly be, yet in most cases, it is darker and more intriguing then most metal offerings of today. I wanted to ask this fascinating, multi-faceted hermit of Tasmania some questions about his sweet and sour creation, after listening and reviewing his new folk-ish album extraordinaire, Horns Used for Butting.
Maelstrom: This interview could have happened only due to the extremely intriguing acquaintance I've experienced with your last effort: Horns Used for Butting . The irony is I'm a metal music guy, first and foremost, however you are the one I wanted to interview on my maiden interviewing effort for Maelstrom magazine even though I don't like this form of “music journalism,” simply because most musicians are not interesting enough.
Now, having said that, please tell us what the whole Diable Amoreux concept is based upon, lyrically, visually, musically and/or ideology-wise?
7: Hmm, I'll have to think up something interesting to say, then. You're not above blatant untruths I hope?
The main theme in DA would be based on sympathy for the Devil. Even though he / she / it is a mythological character, one can't but help feeling emotionally connected to such a figure of human folly; and especially those who get associated with it. And as a Satanist, my outlook on the subject tends to be of the Anton LaVey type.
Then there is my interest in gnomes of course, in particular the garden gnome. Such an enigmatic figure, you never know what to think of them: What were they doing before they got frozen? What are they going to do when they unfreeze? What do they think of us? Are they a danger to us? The majority of my lyrics would be about these two subjects, but other than that, most of my songs have no particular theme. It's mostly a case of “that should have a song written about it.” Though having said that, lyrically I find it very difficult to stick to a subject. Right now I'm working on a track about the West Memphis Three , but the lyrics I've came up with are only vaguely about the subject.
There is no actual “concept” for the visual side of things; it just comes out the way it comes out. However, right from the start I wanted to separate myself as a person as far from the project as possible. This is why I wear masks and costume. For the listener, there should be no face to cloud the mind concentrated on the sounds. Ideally, I'd prefer to give no indication as to who does the music or where it comes from. But that is very hard to do these days; you have to fight to get noticed amongst the rabble. And unfortunately, the rabble sells well so they have more money to promote themselves.
Maelstrom: Your music is full of paradoxes: It is dark yet sometimes so sickly sweet, it becomes a vomitory almost. Also, sometimes there are tracks that almost announce your extreme repulsion towards the listener in your sonic assault, which involves indigestible vocals (one would have to hear those ultra high-pitched human screeches in order to fully comprehend. – Chaim) and general mega-peculiarity. To which extent are you familiar and acknowledge those sorts of turn-offs? Or does it, again, work paradoxically and instead of alienating you, make people internalize and relate better to your work, just because it is so strange and unfriendly?
7 (above): Yes, I'm quite aware that Diable Amoreux can be hard to listen to for a lot of people, though I'm not intentionally trying to turn people off — at least, I don't think so. To be honest, I find it very difficult to write “straight” songs, and I've tried. They simply come out the way they come out. On the positive side, I think it makes the people who do like it, and people who are open to something new, listen to it more closely. As you say, something that is so different can not simply be labeled off as such and such, it forces you (if you are actually prepared to listen, that is) to really relate your own experiences because it hasn't been tainted by mass associations that have really nothing to do with your individual life.
The music (in most cases) is relating another time and place, where things are “different” to what they are “here.” The music is what it is, and if you can't handle it then you can hardly blame the music. Necrophilic love exists in a certain sphere that few are able to cross into, the same goes for bestiality and pedophilia, yet it is there all the same, not as any representation or pastiche, but really there and alive, itself, for good or worse. So is Diable Amoreux.
Maelstrom: What is the role of the human vocals in your work? Why is it so important and if so, why is it absent on many of your tracks, when you mostly experiment with ambient and electronica? Why the change of vocal characteristics from other albums, where you apply your high-pitched infamous vocal abomination, whereas on your last effort you manifest a more deep — some clear and some more throaty — "singing" approach (as well as recitation)?
7: Having or not having vocals in a song can make a huge difference to the feel of that song, and I like to experiment with both. Sometimes I like a piece of music better without vocals, so you can really concentrate on the instrumental aspect. I also dislike writing lyrics, as I'm never really satisfied with what I come up with. So I guess in many ways I am more of a lyricist than a composer of music, if that makes sense to anybody?
I change vocal styles because I hate repeating myself; if I've done something on one album then I like to try something else on another one. Ringstone Round was my first real “vocal album,” so I just went for it with the high voice to see what I could do with it. I wanted to just blast the listener from beginning to end. For the latest album, Horns Used for Butting , I had a lot of other vocal ideas I wanted to try out. I also wanted to experiment with what people would think of the music without the high vox. It doesn't seem to have made much of a difference, however. For the next two albums, I have two more main styles I want to experiment with.
Maelstrom: You self-proclaim your style as being “ambient apocalyptic folk.” I get much of the “ambient” in the recording, but is the “apocalyptic” side in reference to the dark aspects of your work, both musically and lyrically? In what manner does the apocalypse manifest itself? And as for the folk-ish aspect: What is folk-related in Diable Amoreux's music? Is it by any chance related to your ancestors and their legacy (in which case, some British roots I guess, unless you're an Aboriginal Australian native who pays homage to his roots?), or that your music simply resembles or echoes other folk artists, hence you decided to tag it as such?
7: The “apocalyptic” side of thing you will have to take up with David Tibet, as I believe he was the one to come up with the phrase “Apocalyptic Folk.” Since my fourth album, I Am but One , this has been the style that has most influenced Diable Amoreux. The fact that, possibly until the most recent album, Diable Amoreux has sounded almost nothing like an apocalyptic folk band is again indicative of the fact that the music comes out of me as it will, whether I intend it to sound a certain way or not.
I do have an interest in my pagan roots, these being Scottish, English, and Irish (a bit of an unfortunate mix historically). I enjoy the old Celtic folk tales, art, and a lot of the aspects of that way of life, though I am no great authority on the subject. Likewise I like some of the old Australian Aboriginal Dream Time myths, but as far as I am aware there is no Aboriginal blood in my family.
Then, on another level, of course, what does it matter what I label my music? Someone else is bound to call it something else anyway. Perhaps I should name it after the music I aspire to rather than the music it is? Whatever it is. Perhaps I also like confusing people?
Maelstrom: I'll honor Maelstrom's editor by asking you what he wanted to know: why don't you spell your band's name Diable AmOUreux. That's correct French. Your spelling sounds like a typo, doesn't it?
7: Very good. Now whenever anyone asks me that bloody question again I can refer them to this interview. I first came across the title (which I believe was referring to the 1883 novel by the French author Jaques Cazotte) in a book on Aleister Crowley. I believe it was Do What Thou Wilt: a Life of Aleister Crowley by Lawrence Sutin. However, I have been unable to locate the reference again, so possibly it was some other book on the subject. Anyway, this book stated that the spelling was actually Latin, not French. Although I have not been able to verify this, “Amoreux” is a legitimate spelling (possibly it is also an archaic form of French) and is spelt like that for the above-mentioned novel, and also for a ballet by Roland Petit.
Strangely the only time it has been spelt “Amoureux” by mistake is on the boxes that come from the CD pressing company I use. Besides, I think I can take some artistic license; Mortiis doesn't spell his name correctly.
Maelstrom: You seem like a multi-talented artist; I understand almost all aspects revolving your work are exclusively done by you: the artwork, the music, lyrics et cetera. Is that correct? Where do you draw ideas from? Especially when being so eclectic in sound and style, what inspires you? What makes you go to these extremes; once tranquil, then chaotic, then tranquil again, changing pitch, changing and using different musical approaches; once purely acoustic, then exclusively electronic, then the music verges on pure white noise?
7: The music and lyrics are written almost exclusively by myself. The exception to the music is the second track on Horns Used for Butting , which was written by a good friend of mine from a little idea I had. A lot of the cover art has been done by the Tasmanian artist Bill Dean, who has done, amongst other things, the first two Psycroptic album covers. I've used my own limited drawing and painting skills from time to time. There has also been some photographic work taken by myself and others. The bottom line is that if you want to get anything done, you invariably have to do it all yourself. That's why I gave up trying to get bands started and began Diable Amoreux.
As to ideas, I have no real answer for you; things just pop into my head. I suppose most of my inspiration comes to me when I'm reading — books about religion, the occult, novels, people's lives etc.
If there's an answer as to why I keep moving from one extreme to another it would be, first of all that I get board easy, but mainly because things take so long to get recorded. I might write a song and decide to have clean, real “folk-y” vocals, and thus record the music accordingly. But by the time I've arranged some recording time to do those vocals, I might be in a real black metal mood, so I do BM vocals over the top. Obviously it gets more complicated than that, but there is just so much stuff I want to do with the music, and as I might drop dead at any moment — which I wouldn't really be opposed to — I have to cram it all in together.
Maelstrom: You seem almost obsessed with written texts. They seem extremely important to you; you recite them, your songs are heavy on words? What are you mostly writing about and why do you find texts so important (sometimes to the point of overshadowing the music itself) when you realize many listeners pass the textual substance and want to focus on the melodies alone?
7: I used to do a lot of writing before I began doing Diable Amoreux full time, so coming from more of a “word background,” I naturally focus on the lyrics a lot. Also, as many of my earlier albums had hardly any vocals at all, I thought I'd like to go in a different direction and see where that would lead me. Text is also the simplest way of getting a story across. In my experience, most people listen to the words (at least the vocal lines) before the music melodies.
Maelstrom: Horns Used for Butting may be your most “musical” or “conventional” album to date. Am I correct? What made you record your most “sane” album? Are you showing any craving for being signed by a label, hence recording something that could be digested more easily? Would you at all be interested in working with a label? Be promoted better? Let other people invest money in you? Or are all those things completely alien to you and your music (which sounds definitely like something you create for your own sake)?
7: In many ways it is the most straight album to date. I did it this way because I thought I'd have a go at doing a more “sane” album, as you put it. I can't say it's made any difference; I've had even less response from labels for this one than I did the last. Also, a lot of the material on that album is the sort of stuff I have wanted to write for a long time, things just always got in the way or wondered off in another direction when I was trying to write before. As I said before, it's my most “folk-y” so far.
I have no great desire to be signed at the moment, as I enjoy having control over everything (though if a decent deal came along I'd probably take it), but I would love someone to help with distribution. And if someone wants to invest money that's fine by me, but all I really want is to be able to sell enough CDs to pay for printing the next one, and possibly a bit left over to get more recording gear. Getting money to press the discs is my only real problem at the moment. There are very few, if any, concessions I would make with Diable Amoreux, though, if that's what being signed would mean.
Maelstrom: What is your relation to the metal underground? To the Australian metal scene in particular? And why the hell have you incorporated a black metal track as the closing track of Horns Used for Butting?
7: Most of the shows I go out to see are of metal bands, though I don't go out very much. Death / grind I think is the most popular stuff down here, which I'm not a great fan of. I also know a few of the bands as well, Psycroptic, Ruins and Striborg probably being the most famous. There's rather a difference in the mentalities of the bands from Tasmania and those on mainland Australia, but it's rather too complicated to explain here. Plus there are people far more up on what's going on than I. As I said, I don't get out much.
I did the Black Metal track on the end because I really like BM and wanted to do a BM song. Also, that whole album was rather BM-influenced... though I'm not sure how obvious it is to other people. The next two albums I plan to release will be BM, so it's kind of the bridge between Horns… and the next.
Maelstrom: Any additional info or insight you wish to share with the readers of Maelstrom?
7: Fenriz once said that he is afraid of squirrels. This has got my worried. I'm not afraid of them myself, but then I've never met one. So maybe Fenriz knows something I don't…..
Feel free to come have a look at the website: myspace.com/diableamoreux and buy lots of my cheap merchandise, a Christmas present for your mum, etc.
Thanx for the interesting interview and may the gnomes be with you!