Tue 27th May 2014
Amenra are one of the leading lights of modern post-metal, and provided arguably the greatest set at the recent Temples festival. Mike chatted with them prior to their trip to the UK.
9hz: Mass V was one of the most intense releases we've had sent to us in recent years, do you ever forsee coming up against a brick wall in terms of creativity within the confines you play? Do you see other elements creeping into the music in the future?
Colin, Amenra: I think the key here is taking your time to write new things. We don't set a timeframe to anything. We do everything how we conceive it to be nescessary. The day we'd write an album for the sake of just 'writing one', would be us going against everything we ever stood for. We only write stuff that is relevant to our being at a certain time.
The weird thing is we don't alow a lot of crossover, we just start another project for Amenra, like the acoustic EP for example, or the ambient album we've got planned. Either that or we start another side project, solo project or band.
9hz: What are the immediate plans for the band?
Colin: We're re-releasing our first book next month, and are releasing a new one. 2010-2014 is pretty much us trying to look for answers. Why is Amenra here? What do we stand for? Accompanied by zillions of pictures by acclaimed photographer Stefaan Temmerman.
A lot of new split releases on vinyl are going to be seeing the light of day too, mostly with kindred spirits and bands based around the Ghent/Flandres area.
Like I said above, an ambient album is now mastered and will see the light of day after summer, accompanied by an art film directed by Jeroen Mylle and myself. I am quite thrilled about this.
9hz: Having seen you live in a few very different places, you always seem to take over and just create this feeling of danger in the room, do you guys prepare for shows at all immediately beforehand or does it switch on when the music starts?
Colin: It's more a sense of unease. An awareness of 'darkness' being near. We're so preoccupied in setting up everything, that we don't really have the time to sit around and 'prepare' ourselves. Once ready, we have a couple of seconds to switch to 'attack' mode. You pretty much switch off; and let go of it all.
9hz: What bands are you influenced by generally? There's something within your music I cannot place, be it darker electronic music or something industrial under the surface, do you all have common listening habits?
Colin: Yes, we do, but everything is so widespread, that it doesn't make that much sense anymore. Yet it drives us to create what we do; whatever takes us by the throat. Early triphop, industrial, folk/singer songwriter stuff. Whatever feels genuine, and true. Something from the heart. Something that hurts.
9hz: Your new video for A Mon Ame is pretty incredible, what was the artistic idea behind it? The ideas I can pick up on seem to be emotional connections and seeing things (literally) close up, how did the video come about?
Colin: Willy Vanderperre contacted us following a gig we played in Paris. We started talking about art, origin and it just clicked. There's this mutual understanding, a link in what we do.
He, from the start, let us take distance. And we allowed him to take us out of our comfort zones. As far as an artistic idea, instead of being hidden in shadows, or hiding behind harsh iconography, it was just us, and the light.
9hz: Have you enjoyed your shows over here so far? I've seen you play to massive audiences abroad, but then in tiny rooms over here, do you mind this?
Colin: We don't mind. The best shows are sometimes those which don't budge under the weight of expectations. The smaller the easier you go with the flow, and are able to enter that 'special' place.
But it is a fact that you guys have an interesting 'concert culture' here. It's mindblowingly different than on the mainland.
9hz: Do you see Amenra always being a singular entity? Do you ever see yourselves collaborating with others musically? Do you like the idea of remixes for example?
Colin: Yes, we've done that already and are pretty much constantly working together with different people. Musicians of different in styles and approach. But mostly as Amenra members, not as Amenra itself. Nobody touches Amenra but us.
9hz: You often play live with visuals projected or sparse lighting, do you see this as part of the theatre of your performances? Do you ever play without?
Colin: We're going to play one in the near future, but it has been ages since we attempted that. It is a big part of our live experience. We want the audience to drown in impulses. We want it to be an attack on all senses.
9hz: Someone once told me they saw you play in the middle of some woods at Ieperfest with no introduction, they just heard a guitar ringing out and everyone at the festival eventually turned up to where you were in a clearing for a full set, do you see yourself doing anything like that again?
Colin: Yes, why not? Some day, when the time is right.
9hz: Your artwork seems to follow a pattern now, is this set to continue? Do you see it as a reflection of your music?
Colin: Yes, we do. We see everything we do as a reflection of our morals, of our ways.
Aesthetically and visually we want it to stand on its own. Yet it needs to feed the collective whole to something that has a 'greater' outcome. That's the case for everything we do, video, art and exhibitions, the books, audio etc.
Thanks to Colin and Amenra for the interview. The above mentioned A Mon Ame video can be viewed here.