Fearless sonic adventurers and boundary-pushing experimentalists, Paul Régimbeau, better known for his work as Mondkopf, and Frédéric D. Oberland, half of the Oiseaux-Tempête duo, share – in addition to their inextinguishable appetite for ever-changing musical horizons, a widescreen interdisciplinary vision that covers the whole spectrum of activity behind record-making: first rate visuals, alluring designs, silk-screened prints, patches, commissioned videos… the list goes on.
Longtime friends and collaborators, Paul and Frédéric eventually took the bull by the horns and went on to create their own structure, NAHAL Recordings – a mystique-imbued emanation of In Paradisum, bridging the gap between artistic practices and cross-pollinating creative processes. With just a couple days to go until the release of Mondkopf and Charbel Haber’s debut instalment as Good Luck In Death, ‘They promised Us A Bright Future, We Were Content With An Obscure Past‘, we caught up with the pair to find out more about the roots and shoots of their new baby. Get a taster with the haunting drone of ‘Mystery Malaise And Eternal Spleen‘ down below.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"It is interesting to jump into the world of music labels at a time when there is no more money to make in there. It is about passion, schedules fighting and love."
Hey Paul, Frederic – you just gave birth to a new label called NAHAL Recordings. Can you tell us more about the project and your aspirations for it? How did you first come into contact and what prompted you to start collaborating?
Paul: We met through our mutual friends Romain Barbot and Grégory Buffier from Saåad. Time has passed, a lot of music was made together in different projects and at some point we decided that it would be cool to start a label together. We actually had records done and ready that happened to be reflecting some of the music we aimed to release on NAHAL. We thought it was the right starting point.
NAHAL is said to aim at connecting the appreciators of a certain ‘underground’ music with craftsmen and makers of rare and essential objects. How do you intend to make it happen pragmatically speaking?
Frederic: By acting closely with all the different artists involved in the making of an album to try to give birth all together to something strong and special – the music, of course, and physical objects like vinyls, silkscreen prints, patches… This would reflect some perspectives and questions we can have Paul and I about how and why releasing music nowadays in 2018.
NAHAL Recordings is a small structure and will not publish that many albums a year, but we do hope we will be proud about every single release we will make. It is interesting to jump into the world of music labels at a time when there is no more money to make in there. It is about passion, schedules fighting and love.
Pragmatically, we’re working with talented craftsmen for the making of all of this, like Thibault Proux for the graphic design, Atelier Huit Mains in Toulouse for the silkscreen prints, Atelier du Grand Chic for the embroidered patch (NAHAL001), James Plotkin for the mastering and the Mer Noir studio for the recordings of NAHAL002 (Good Luck In Death – ‘They promised Us A Bright Future, We Were Content With An Obscure Past‘) and parts of NAHAL003 (the upcoming ‘Labyrinth‘ which will be released next Autumn). NAHAL is already a little family and this is nice to feel it.
What about the label’s name? First thing that pops up on google is the eponymous Israeli program Noar Halutzi Lohem (literally Fighting Pioneer Youth in Hebrew)…? How did you come up with it?
Frédéric: Ahahahahahahah! No, our NAHAL is not coming from the Fighting Pioneer Youth in Israel at all… Even though we are still young and have nothing against the ‘pioneer’ idea (in music!), we do not support colonisation in any form!!! The name NAHAL does come from a very old Malekulian mythological tale and our label logo is inspired by the symbol of it.
In this small archipelago not so far from the Solomon Islands, people from Vanuatu would not then believe in Heaven or Hell after death. They thought a spirit would reach the ‘Wies’ (home of the dead) by traveling to the North and then confronting Temes Savsaq, some female priest who sits before a rock, a sand-traced diagram called NAHAL, ‘The Path’, drawn in front of her. Temes Savsaq wipes away half of the lines of the diagram and the spirit traveller should complete the symbol to be able to enter to the new world.
So NAHAL means ‘The Path’, some ‘passage’ from our world to another, a metaphor about music itself through the desire to open the doors of perception. It is also a first name in Arabic and in Persian which means ‘young plant’. That’s what we are!
"It's really interesting that Charbel and I are connected, so we slide together from a mood to another without speaking to each other, just communicating through our gear and instruments."
Paul – the label is presented as a satellite of In Paradisum, the label you co-run alongside Guillaume Heuguet. How are the two structures connected?
Paul: I imagine NAHAL like the mystical little sister/brother of In Paradisum. It reflects my taste for further uncategorisable music even if it’s already the case with In Paradisum, which is more electronic music oriented.
I read that each release will feature the work of a different visual artist – photograph, illustrator… etc. How do you choose them? Can the wish of collaborating with an artist in particular be the starting point to a record, or is it always music first – artwork later?
Frédéric: Everything – music and visual – is interconnected. With NAHAL, we are thinking straight away about artwork and design when listening to the music we may come to release. This is not about packaging but about carefully building a total piece of work and art, and try to make sense with it all together.
When Paul made me listen to Good Luck In Death’s first demo album, I thought of a 35mm colour photograph I had shot a few months ago in Indonesia: the blurry shadow of this man who was in trance and walking on red ashes and fire, with his arms spread like the wings of some chimeric figure, angel or whatever. Charbel and Paul loved it, and it took Thibault Proux a few months of work to find, along with Paul and myself, the right graphic guidelines for the first releases on the label, and so on.
At the moment we are working with French artist Fanny Béguély to create some special chemigram (an experimental piece of art where an image is created by painting with chemicals on light-sensitive photographic paper) for an upcoming Christine Ott album (scheduled for 2019).
We are also teaming up with video artists like Charles-André Coderre (half of the Montreal-based duo Jerusalem In My Heart) who is currently finishing a 12-minute 16mm film for Good Luck In Death, and Grégoire Orio (aka As Human Pattern) who is working on something special around ‘Labyrinth’ (NAHAL 003).
Paul – as mentioned above, the second release due out shortly on NAHAL – ‘They Promised Us A Bright Future, We Were Content With An Obscure Past’ – comes courtesy of Good Luck In Death, the side project you set up alongside Lebanese artist and performer Charbel Haber, part of The Bunny Tylers and various other endeavours including Johnny Kafta’s Anti-Vegetarian Orchestra and Scrambled Eggs. How was the record conceived?
Paul: I met Charbel during the Oiseaux-Tempête’s AL-‘AN! tour in Europe last year, where we played together in the band, and sometimes we killed time jamming together, just the two of us. We connected really simply, with no big talk or references. Then we decided to head to a studio in Paris to give birth to a new entity.
Where did you draw your inspiration for this record?
Paul: From certain moods we want to have in a song. Sometimes the mood slides and we end up in a different place… I try to start with an emotion I want to reproduce but I also allow the music to take its own path. And it’s really interesting that Charbel and I are connected, so we slide together from a mood to another without speaking to each other, just communicating through our gear and instruments.
"It is the relationship in between the music, your listening attitude and your own intimate feelings at a given moment which are building the complete experience of time passing and reacting."
The press release speaks of the record as an “anti-futuristic and dreamlike manifesto”. Do you understand that under a ’no future’ angle or through a more ‘romantic’ prism?
Paul: More from a romantic prism, because we want a future but with the nostalgia of living a moment that will pass, be aware of the ephemerality… stopping the so called “progress” in rethinking the human status.
Frédéric: Future is now, definitely! This is what I particularly feel and love in this first Good Luck In Death manifesto: like in the first ambient experimentations of Brian Eno, it is the relationship in between the music, your listening attitude and your own intimate feelings at a given moment which are building the complete experience of time passing and reacting.
What gear did you most put to use on this record?
Paul: For me a moog synth and a 80’s Japanese Koto midi synth. Charbel used a Jagwar guitar and a lot of pedals effects! We didn’t record any overdubs or arrangements. It was just the recording of a moment, of a night actually…
You put a lot of attention in picking the titles of your tracks, which conjure up very evocative poetic images and elegiac landscapes. Do you think of them before entering the studio or do they emerge afterwards?
Paul: All titles came from Charbel’s mind. He reads a lot and have the gift to find beautiful words for abstract musical landscapes. So all of these came after the recordings.
What will you be up to in the coming months?
Paul: Doing some gigs with Good Luck In Death, recording Christine Ott’s first Ondes Martenot-only album, which will be released next year on NAHAL. Preparing a reissue of a Saåad album for NAHAL004.
Frédéric: NAHAL003 is some sonic piece I composed last year for an art installation around the works of Georges Bataille and Dante Aliegheri. I’m kind of excited as it is the most radical album I’ve ever made. This will be released next Autumn alongside the Saåad reissue.
Since NAHAL is currently mainly working through commissioning people we love to compose something special for us, some secret releases are already in the making… More news soon. Also this Summer Paul and I are invited for a residency in Corsica at Providences festival, to perform as a duo – it’s the first time we will get to play only the two of us!
1. Mystery Malaise And Eternal Spleen
2. Fire Dreams And Reveries
3. Fortune Telling Breeze
4. Unforgettable Cabaret Nights