Interview with Jerry by Pavel Kovalančík
On the occasion of the fifth full-length album ‘Le Tyran et l’esthète’ (LT&LE), we caught up with Jerry, the vocalist and lead guitarist of LES CHANTS DE NIHIL (LCDN), and we discussed the new album, amongst other things.
Hi Jerry, thanks for the opportunity to exchange some words and thoughts. There are definitely our readers who have not heard anything from and about LCDN. Can you briefly introduce us to your project, which led you to the implementation?
Hi Fobia! LCDN was initially the “solo“ project I had with my friend Mist from another old band. In the beginning we just wanted to improve our recording techniques and have fun with more atmospheric black metal music. Then I met the guy who ran the underground label Dernier Bastion. He offered to produce our first release on tape, and we said yes. Then a second and a third release followed. In 2009 our main band split, so I decided to turn LCDN into a serious project: I recruited a drummer and a bassist for our first live and for the recording of the first real album, “La Liberté guidant le Fer“.
Can you introduce yourself a little? What do you enjoy and is your main source of inspiration? I’ve seen you paint and take care of the booklets and graphics of your albums. What else? Favorite bands that have influenced you and have an impact on the creation of LCDN?
I would say I’m usually discrete and I like silence. I don’t go often to concerts nor listen to metal. I deal with my internal violence by composing and playing black metal. My inspirations come from my teenage years when I discovered black metal with the classic Norwegian bands. I also enjoyed a lot of French bands like Crystalium, Anorexia Nervosa, Blus aus Nord… I studied classical music for eight years, played the trombone in an orchestra for four years. Then I learned the classical guitar, electric guitar and the drums on my own. I would say the orchestral works I love influenced LCDN a lot in albums such as “Propagande Erogène“ and “Le tyran et l’esthète”.
What are you doing in your non musical life? What do you do for your living? I guess it is not only the music, right?
I’m a teacher in a primary school. My pupils are from 7 to 10 years old. In France, we teach every subject at this level, even music, arts, sports, English…
If I understand that, from one known source, it looks like you only had one project before LCDN, or do you keep that information in secrecy? The quality of your work is great right from the debut, although more rawness and straight approach is felt there. How do you explain that? Did you have any musical background at school, for example?
You’re right. I already mentioned my old band Légion Mortifère. With it I entered the black metal scene through my first gigs. I also trained myself in composition. Our first demo was in 2007, some true black metal, not really serious. But the second one in 2008 gave us some recognition within the “milieu“. Actually I never left this raw and violent touch. But I like complexity in emotions, so LCDN developed many other aspects, especially in the lyrics. That’s why the music became more quiet. However in the last album LT&LE the story is about war and conflict, so it’s completely in the vein of Légion Mortifère.
How are the roles of you and Mist in the LCDN? Who comes up with musical compositions and lyrics? You, Mist, both? After 2015, you added two more members. Is it an active part like you, or do they not interfere in the creative musical and lyrical process and is it due to live performances?
On the first tape album Mist gave me some guitar riffs and recorded some vocals. Then I took charge of composing, writing the lyrics, drawing the covers. Mist is involved in the recording and mixing process on our albums. On stage, I play the lead guitar and vocals, Mist plays the rythmic guitar. The first members we added in LCDN were Marc on drums in 2009, then Pierre-Louis on the bass guitar in 2010. Mist moved to the east of France (we are from the northwest) so I enrolled Yohann in 2010. It was the first LCDN crew at that point. Those members split away in 2015. Then Mist came back, we found our new drummer Sistre and later on Oberkommander for the bass guitar. This is the current lineup, the one which recorded LT&LE. I’ve always been the only composer, for all the instruments. But the members are allowed to improve or modify their parts for the recording.
How do you collect inspiration for albums? Each seems to be thematically different, but in general I dare to evaluate it only according to the covers.
I would separate my works in two categories. The standard albums : “La Liberté guidant le fer” and “Armor” which are a collection of various tracks, not really linked together thematically. And the conceptual dyptic “Propagande Erogène” and “Le tyran et l’esthète”. For those I created a whole story with a background, characters, chronology. Their lyrics are built like an opera, with dialogues between various characters. I used different way of singing to represent this diversity. Or I invited guests like on “Propagande..” On these concept albums the cover depicts the climax of the story.
I’ve tried to go through some of your lyrics, but I don’t speak French, and google translate gives me inconsistent results when it translates something. It seems to me that it is quite difficult to know and understand your lyrics overall. Is it an intention and do you enjoy the great use of metaphors and try to hide the content a bit?
Actually not really, I tried to avoid too many metaphors. My wish was to propose something strong in meaning and in line with the rules of poetry. Google cannot translate poetry. I didn’t want to hide the content, it’s a narrative story with monologues and dialogues. Sometimes the vocabulary is quite formal to fit the personality of a character.
According to previous question, would you say that mentality of French artist is different, both musicwise but also lyrically and contextually?
I don’t think so. Of course each country has a specific history that could serve as inspiration for its artists. The music played on the mainstream radios are the same hip-hop r’n’b autotuned shit you can hear all around the world. I can’t stand that people agree to listen to it.
Initially, I see in the lineup from the beginning Mist, who disconnected after some time and maybe is not there at all at the time of the release of the album ARMOR. Now it is again in the LCDN. What was the difference without him?
Two things: without him my sound was pitiful, and he’s one of my best friends so I feel far more confident when he’s besides me.
You’ve been with Dernier Bastion label for a long time. How do you perceive the change and transition to Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions, which consist names like ARKHON INFAUSTUS or MONOLITHE?
It’s like day and night. With LADLO we communicate almost every day, even about details. The promotion and all the team are really serious and efficient. My last album needed a label like that to compete the propagandesque message and heavy production I wanted.
How has the situation with the current epidemic affected your work? (What do you think about today’s situation?)
The covid situation had no impact on the recording or the production of LT&LE. I can only talk about the situation in France. We are governed by liars and corrupt people who waste the time, the energy and the money of the people. A lot of country around the world use well-known treatment or coordinate some research. Even in France, specialists found many treatments but they were all restricted by the government… because they’d bring no money back. Instead of that, we’re in lockdown and the European Union will force people to get injected with the shitty vaccine they arranged with big pharma lobbies.
Now to the current board. If I count correctly, it’s been a long six years since the release of the last really new LP. Why did it take you so long?
Actually it was the moment of my life when I changed location each year… until I bought my own house. I also had a new post at my job, and of course the line-up completely changed after Armor so it took a little time before we launched LCDN’s engine again.
How different is LT&LE compared to other albums? Personally, I find that album the softest from your discography, thanks to calm, slow guitar beats and solos, but also the most brutal in the rest of that disc. It is certainly the richest in composition. Am I wrong?
You’re right. Musically and textually it’s the most complex, rich, epic and brutal.
Sound-wise, the current act also comes to me with its fullest sound and is closest to your remastered compilation of the first demos for the band’s anniversary compared to previous records. Has the method of recording and post-processing changed a lot? I know that the mix, master and recording at LT&LE were taken care of by Mist. Wasn’t that the case with previous records?
Mist was in charge of the recording of all LCDN’s releases, except “De la Gloire”, “Ma plus douce vermine” and “Propagande Erogène”. We always did the mixing and mastering together. You can feel all along the years that he increased his capacities and knowledge in sound-engineering. You guessed our 2017’s compilation was recorded the same way than LT&LE. Notice that Sistre our new drummer played on these two releases.
On the current record, but also in the past, I can hear fretless bass, why is that? At BM, it’s quite unconventional. What other peculiarities are typical for your work?
Our former bassist Pierre-Louis recorded the fretless bass on Propagande and Armor. I always wanted to adapt my compositions to the varying competences of my musicians and Pierre-Louis had this jazz-funk culture. On our latest album, the bass is not fretless but standard. Another particularity on LT&LE is that I wanted to reduce the use of samples to a minimum. So I recorded essentially choir voices to touch on the emotions.
What and why is the topic (Louis XIV.?) On the LT&LE album?
The topic on the latest album is not at all medieval or nationalist, but rather universalist. Of course the revolutionary tone can hearken back to France at the end of the 18th century and the dictatorial imagery may bring to mind the Napoleonic period. Nevertheless the themes are very contemporary. It is a confrontation between two visions of the world: the protagonist against globalism. I do not go into further detail on the ideology of the protagonist but he represents a culture of unity against individualism. The question remains unanswered because it is also the position between totalitarianism and democracy. There are also more secondary topics in the album, like the question of surrogate motherhood, ageing, and self-determination.
How would you see the greatest progress and difference in the latest album compared to the previous works?
The sound production is in my opinion the most obvious difference compared to the rest of our discography. The composition is unequalled. The way I see it, the lyrics have never been so well developed, but of course you would need to be Francophone to make note of this. All the material aspects (merch, booklet, LP design etc) were given to us by LADLO in a way that only a true label could.
What do you want to achieve with the project in the future?
I think that the next thing LCDN does will be a conventional album, like Armor was, with lighter themes and without such a complicated story, with fewer musical constraints than a concept album like LT&LE imposes.
Thanks for your time and this interview. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
I hope that this interview will allow LCDN to become known in your beautiful country, which I had the pleasure of visiting four times. Thank you and hopefully we will be able to visit the Czech Republic soon!