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Alcest
When it comes to Alcest, I’ve become a bit of a fan. Obviously when Shelter hit, I was anxious to go it the proper coverage. Especially when I was given the opportunity to send some interview questions out to follow-up the review. Drummer Winterhalter took the time to sit down and answer some questions for the site. Check out what he had to say below about the new album, musical direction, and touring in North America.


How is everything going on your end? I hope all is well in the Alcest camp.

Winterhalter:
The tour is over for few days now and I think that it was one of the best one we did so far. We recieved good responses from the crowd and it was interesting to see how many different kinds of people came. Also the tour package was very interesting with bands like The Fauns and Hexvessel, two really good bands with really nice people! We also did two gigs in Russia, it was amazing, a lot of people came and seemed to really enjoy the shows. We are playing in Japan and China in just a few weeks, I can’t wait to play there again and this time we have the chance to do some special acoustic shows in old Japanese temples and also to play in a big festival in China. We are really excited about this!

Alcest has always been an interesting group in the Black Metal world, but Shelter is easily the most dramatically different. What sparked taking on a much stronger Shoegaze and happier atmosphere compared to previous albums?

Winterhalter:
Neige and I both want to point out that Alcest has never been “black metal”. The first demo was a bit, but it was just a demo, not an album. It was during a period of time that the concept of Alcest was still uncertain. The idea of Alcest is quite the opposite of black metal if you are really listening to the music and the lyrics. We are playing Alcest music, sometimes we are using some “tools” like screaming vocals, blast beats, and then there are times we are just using brushes and strings, etc. Alcest can be seen as a stone and every side is different from the other one, and this also applies to all of our albums. Each one always maintains the same Alcest feeling, but perhaps the way we are presenting it is a little different. We don’t want to always play the same music again and again and to release the same album each time, we have no barriers, we want to try all kinds of different ways to express the music of Alcest.

No matter how many times I hear Shelter, it’s like looking back at my youth to that one perfect twenty-four hours in summer with my best friends. Was this sort of the goal for this release? To capture the fun spirited days of youth?

Winterhalter:
I think that this album is more bright, light, and positive than the other one, it also sounds more rock and natural. It’s speaking about the ocean, the summer, and holidays etc, there is a lot of different things to hear/see in this album. But yes, it was one of the goals we had for this album and personally I’m feeling the same as you. I’m glad that we managed for non-french speaker to feel that, just by the music.

“Opale” was released as the lead single off Shelter, and was pressed as seven-inch vinyl as well. Was this a decision by the band, and do you feel this track best represents the album as a whole, or would you have preferred another song push the release?

Winterhalter:
I personally think that “Opale” is by far the most “dreampop” song of the album and it’s not representative of the rest of the album. Neige wanted this song for the single, I was a bit uncertain of that. Personally, I would have chosen “L’Eveil des Muses” or “Voix Sereines”.

A music video was also shot for “Opale”, and it’s definitely got that artistic touch usually expected from Alcest. How much of the video did the band have creative input with though, and does the imagery in it have any direct representation of Shelter itself, or perhaps some personal meaning?

Winterhalter:
This is more of a question for Neige I think. He had a really precise idea for this video clip, a strong vision, so I wasn’t so involved in the writing of that., but for me, I see the video as representing the feeling of “Shelter” quite well. You have two people who meet, and they find something special together. The become closer and closer in their travels (maybe a lifetime?) and seem to become one entity by sharing these moments together. I think that is a very comforting feeling, a kind of shelter, so to speak.

Will there be any other music videos off of Shelter, or is Opale it? If so, what can we expect. If not, why?

Winterhalter:
We are still speaking about it, but for now we haven’t decided.

How has Shelter gone over with your fans, even the Black Metal community in general that Alcest has a strong foundation in? Were you afraid this album may turn some of those who have followed you in the past may think differently of you?

Winterhalter:
We knew when we were working on the Shelter songs that some metal fans who discovered Alcest with “Ecailles de Lune” or “Les Voyages de L’âme” would be disappointed, but by listening to the first album “Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde” you can hear that its actually closer to “Shelter” than any other album we’ve made; the new material is still the music of Alcest, it’s just played differently. But, we are satisfied so far, there are a lot of different reactions, but this has always happened for each album release of Alcest.

Is Shelter a sign of the direction Alcest will continue to move in, will your next recording be yet another radically different release entirelym or is it too early to tell already?

Winterhalter:
We are already speaking about the new direction and also working on new songs. “Shelter” is very bright, light, and positive, but maybe the next one will be different. The only thing I can tell you is that we already have new songs and that the new album will be more accessed on the rhythm and the percussion. I personally think that “Shelter” was a transition album.

How about the musical inspirations behind Shelter? Has Alcest been listening to any new bands or musicians that may have impacted the direction you took with this release?

Winterhalter:
Neige and I have different taste for some music, although we do share some bands in common. Our taste in music is constantly evolving. I’m still listening to a lot of bands that I’ve known for twenty years or so now, but there are also some that I’m not listening to at all anymore. And of course I’m listening to new music a lot too. Personally, I’m more into 70’s-90’s rock and hard rock, black metal, some indie rock, etc. Neige is more into shoegaze and indie rock, etc, but occasionally our musical tastes do overlap (“Dead Can Dance”). I think its the mix of our different influences that is a part of what shapes Alcest into the kind of music it is.

Changing gears a bit, Alcest came over to North America last year. How was your trip this way? Any memorable moments of the small run of shows you had?

Winterhalter:
We love to tour North America and we can’t wait to come back, the people are really nice and its always interessting to travel. American culture is more rock’n’roll than in France (that’s not difficult ahah) and we like it, it’s very different and I have the feeling that a lot of things are changing and evolving there. The trip was amazing, we love how different it is, the landscapes, the cities etc, and at the same time quite close. We had some really good memories there! For example, we had a day off between our Oregon and California shows, so we drove to the Redwood Forests and we were able to stay a bit in this incredible place. It was really impressive and peaceful, and these tree giants are very old and wise. One of the best shows for us was L.A. at the El Rey Theatre, this venue is amazing, it was packed with an amazing audience. We had a really good show with a strong connection to the audience, it was really great, such a nice experience!

I missed you when you come through near my neck of the woods, so please tell me a future North America tour is in the works, or at least possible again. If so, what can we expect?

Winterhalter:
We are working on it, we really want to play in the USA and in Canada, we are always enjoying it and we are curious about the reaction of the audience about the new songs. During the previous North American tour we played “Opale” and “Délivrance” on stage and we received really good feedback. I hope that we can return as soon as possible and play more new material!

Is there anything else I neglected to mention you want to touch upon?

Winterhalter:
I don’t think so, and thanks again.

Take care, and thank you.

Alcest: Shelter
Alcest
Interview conducted thanks to Howlin’ Wuelf Media.