Monday, 8 December 2014

Interview and New Release from French Gothic Metallers Unseelie

Earlier this year we featured the crowdfunding campaign of Unseelie, a gothic metal band from Paris, France who were hoping to record and release their debut concept album - Urban Fantasy. Six months later and the album has become a reality and has this month been released.

Unseelie are currently made up of Anne-Emmanuelle Fournier on vocals and Marc Chevallereau on guitars and programming.

The album features 9 tracks, plus a bonus track:

  1. Strangers
  2. Quantify Your Soul
  3. The City Feeds On You
  4. Frontier
  5. Hunters' Game
  6. The White Passenger
  7. Of Water and Dreams
  8. Prometheus' Pain
  9. Beauty Is Our Only Saviour
  10. Closer to apotheosis [Bonus Track]
The album is a wonderful experience to listen to.  There is an almost industrial feel to the music, with elements of gothic metal expertly evident throughout.  There are a number of incredibly catchy riffs and the album art is a wonderful depiction of the overall concept.

Urban Fantasy follows on from the release of their debut EP Unholy Light in 2012 and is, in their own words, an ambitious project.  Anne-Emmanuelle, vocalist in the band, describes the concept further in our recent interview with the band, along with what motivates them to produce their music, how the indiegogo campaign went, what the band hope to do in the future and lots more.

Hi Anna Emmanuelle, can you introduce us to Unseelie?

UNSEELIE were formed at the end of 2010 by Marc who put an ad on a music website to look for musicians. Back then, I was already singing in another band, but when I saw his ad I remember thinking: “Great, finally someone who puts the emphasis on the emotional profoundness of the music!”. And I was right with that feeling that we would be on the same wave length: not only did Unseelie soon become my main musical project, but Marc and I ended up living together. ;-)

In the beginning of the band, there were 5 members, but the line-up changed many times in 3 years for personal and musical reasons. Marc and I are now the only permanent members, and we did this album together, but we are currently recruiting new musicians for the gigs.

How did you decide on the name Unseelie?

I came up with this name, which is a word that comes from Gaelic and described the malevolent fairies in the Scottish folklore. The word itself is supposed to mean « the unblessed » but I as far as I know, there is no certainty about that. Our music has actually nothing to do with Celtic folklore or culture, but we like the idea of the mix between enchantment and darkness. That would be a good description of our aesthetics.

Besides, this name is a reference to one of our favourite authors: Lea Silhol, a wonderful Fantasy French writer with a unique style, who has been a great inspiration to Marc and me. I first discovered the word in her books, and the 4th track on the album, “Frontier”, is dedicated to her.

If you had to describe your sound in five words, what words would you use?

Modern, intense, haunting, groovy, varied.

Some of these words might seem to be in contradiction with each other, but in fact this is perfectly logical, as we want to offer a music which is full of contrasts. We lay great emphasis on achieving a balance between lively, catchy rhythms and more solemn, melancholic moments for instance. Life is also made of contrasts, very often you have to deal with opposite feelings simultaneously, without being able to really untangle them, therefore I think it would be almost a caricature to make music that's only sad or only joyful. Anyway, the common thread in all that is always the emotional intensity: we want our music to speak to people's sensitivity, we have a very poetic approach of our songs.

Urban Fantasy is your debut album and one you have called an ambitious concept. Can you tell us about what this concept involves?

The album uses a journey into urban fantasy, which is originally a literary and film genre, to explore the more philosophical question of the disenchantment of the modern world, and the possibility of its re-enchantment. From there, each song develops a specific sub-theme : the loss of all ties binding humans to the universe (“Strangers”), the attempt to impose a culture of calculability on all living things (“Quantify your soul”), the pursuit of beauty as a form of redemption (“Beauty is our only saviour”), to name a few of them. The central part of the album is more obviously marked by fantasy and conjures up mythical or literary archetypes (Ophelia in “Of Water and dreams”) as well as popular beliefs (the vanishing hitchhiker in ‘The White Passenger’). All are breaches undermining technical rationality, opening the way to a renewed sense of mystery.

I think Marc managed wonderfully to express our concept on the visual level through the album artwork. There would be a lot to say about that too, especially about the cover art, but I'm afraid the readers are going to get bored if my answers are too long, so let's keep this topic for a later interview! ;-)

To produce Urban Fantasy you used the Indiegogo platform to great success.  How did you find the crowdfunding process and how has it benefited you in creating your album?

This campaign has been a wonderful experience for us. We didn't expect at all that it would be such a success, because we didn't have much visibility. Yet we did everything to maximise our chances: we worked very hard on our pitch video (which you can still watch here, with the demo sound: ), on all our perks, and on the promotion and interaction with our backers. In the end, the campaign has not only covered all album's main costs, it has also enabled us to build much stronger ties with our followers. It wouldn't have been possible to produce an album of such quality without their support, so we'll never thank them enough for their generosity!

How do you feel you have progressed from your first release, Unholy Light EP?

Oh, a lot! I feel we have improved our song-writing significantly. For this album, we focused on writing more concise songs with real catchy melodies. We didn't want to eliminate all complexity, but we were very mindful of the readability of the tracks. Besides, I worked very hard to expand my vocals abilities: in addition to the classical and scream parts that I did on Unholy light, you’ll hear a lot of clean vocals on the album that are not operatic, but rely on various modern vocal techniques like belting. We also enhanced the electronic elements in the arrangements, in accordance with the concept of the album. And, of course, there is a considerable progress in the production: the guitar sound is definitely one of the strength of URBAN FANTASY in comparison to the EP. All in all, I believe that we have achieved a much more personal and professional work, without disowning our original direction.

What motivates and inspires you to create your music?

Lots of things, from great music to inspiring books or movies, paintings, photographs or even video games (for Marc). Art in all its forms, but also life experiences, feelings, situations, personal thoughts... For both of us, music is a medium for expression among others, like writing, taking or creating pictures, animation films and so on. What we love most is to use different means to create atmospheres, tell stories and convey emotions.

In 2013, you released a live video for Closer to Apotheosis.  What do you enjoy about performing live and do you have a favourite song to perform?

Performing live is always something special, because you feel the energy of the music flowing directly through your body (especially as a singer I guess! ;-)) and the connexion to the audience ... Everything becomes real. Yet when you're not a famous band and you're playing in small venues, you're very likely to get a bad sound that sometimes ruins your performance as well as the pleasure of the crowd. It's a very stressful thing, because you can't control it, unless you can afford paying your own sound engineer.

We haven't played any of the new tracks live yet, but as far as the former compositions are concerned, I’d say my favourites to perform are The Age of Kâlî and Ounen-Nefer. The interesting thing is that they’re not my favourite UNSEELIE songs to listen to, but on stage they just have some kind of mystic power, it feels ecstatic!

If you could perform anywhere in the world, is there a venue or particular city you would like to play?

We'd like to perform everywhere, as we love to travel and discover other cultures. And combining that with music, it would be the dream! However, if we have to choose right now, I'd say the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany. I’ve been there several times and it’s a wonderful festival. I love the fact that there are as well Metal bands as bands from all Gothic sub genres playing there. I think this audience might be receptive to the poetic & emotional side of UNSEELIE, not only to the heavy riffs! ;-)

Now the album is ready to release, what’s next for Unseelie?

Currently, we have to focus on the promotion: it would be too bad to have worked a whole year so hard on our album for nobody to notice the release, right?;-)Then, of course, we want to be back on stage as soon as possible, and we are recruiting new members to be able to rehearse again in January. At the same time, we'll have to do a couple of unplugged versions and performances with guests that we promised to our IGG backers. So as you can see, 2015's gonna be a busy year too!

A huge thanks to Femetalism and all the readers for this interview and your interest in our project! Kind regards from France! :-)

Thanks to Anne-Emmanuelle for taking the time out to speak to Femetalism at such a busy time for the band. It has been a pleasure supporting the album making process and we are thrilled with the album. We are looking forward to seeing more from Unseelie in the future.

Follow the band on:


Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.