The electronic producer has something of a storied journey, from a widely celebrated post–rock act to remixing a track from Grimes’ ‘Miss Anthropocene‘. Transforming what for many was a ‘down year’ into a busy year in the studio developing the record, ‘Melancholia‘ marks the ending of his techno DJ sets as his main form of solo performance.
The music video for ‘Melancholia‘ is a suitably brooding and cinematic affair. From the first scene of blood seeping into snow, melting it with the heat of the ichor, to foreboding views of a burning crimson planet and fingers caressing the blade of a katana, vibrant reds stylishly carry the narrative, which leaves many questions unanswered.
The video’s visual language, striking in moments as it is, remains serene, with drawn-out shots of a snowy wilderness balancing the intimate moments daubed in red. It balances nicely with the music, which also carries this duality: a dark exterior remains beautiful at the core. The very definition of melancholia.
Interview by Freddie Hudson
Hi Julien, thanks for answering our questions. Can we ask what the meaning is behind the title of your album?
Thank you so much for your support on my first single. It was a pleasure to answer these questions. Let’s start a bit philosophically.
NOW – We live in times of an almost absolute absence of social life today. An absolute lockdown of our planet and society weakens our mentality by the minute. Now is the time to entirely reflect and wake up.
FOREVER – This is the time to take action and create a change. We should get rid of our bad habits and become the version we have always dreamed of being. The version of yourself that can achieve all the goals, that can go through all depths and rely on itself and we have to help the weaker ones and empower them. The actions of the next 10 years will change the planet and humanity forever.
ONE – We are all connected, we are just a huge quantum field. So let’s be ONE and help each other, rather than fighting against each other and other species on this planet. If we don’t act as a team now, it’s gonna be too late.
What would you say was the most important lesson you put into practice whilst making the album?
I think the most important step in my musical career as a producer was to let go all the walls of genres. When I started to make music for my own again, after a while producing only songs for my band project ‘Lea Porcelain’, I didn’t know what it would sound like or which niche would it fit into. I just started searching for sounds on my synths and got emotions out, that has been inside my brain. I think this total freedom gave me a lot of inspiration.
Can you talk to us a little about the music video for ‘Melancholia’? Were you involved in the creative process personally, or did you entrust it to an artist you knew?
This time I gave it to an artist/directors hand, as I wanted to see what they feel ‚Melancholia‘ is for them and how they would interpret it. Here are some words of the director: “It’s hard to figure out who to trust or who to obey – what impact do the entities we look up to have on us? What actions do they trigger? In no man’s land, who defines the consequences of our behaviour? Dreamers will be dreamers, I hope someday you’ll join us.”
I also wanted to have another interpretation of a good friend, Ricardo Domeneck, who is an awesome Brazilian poet. Here are his words about the video:
To flee. To escape. Or just to move. Keep moving, she thought, just keep moving. Like a shark, that sleeps in movement. As long as you keep standing, she thought. Like a horse, that stands to sleep. Go north, she thought. Go south. Away from the centre. Away from the equator. The number of people will go down. The number of types of trees and types of animals that survive will go down. Just drive, alone at last. Away from him. What is the line between the tropics? She wants to know the lines between the Tropic of Melancholia and the Tropic of Indignation, and then cross them. The red moon, the blood moon painting the snow red. But she knows the heaviest baggage she carries in her escape is memory. The memory of him, of them. The impossibility of tabula rasa. She wants to wash her hands, wash her memory. In cold arctic waters. In cold Antarctic waters. While ice and snow still exist. She doesn’t know if she wants to extinguish him or preserve him forever in ice. Ice that can also burn our living skin.
The beautiful thing about art is the freedom of interpretation.
There’s a strong sense of optimism behind the dark exterior on the album. What’s in the works for the other side of lockdown?
It’s really important to me, that at the end you see light in my music, although it’s good to play with controversies. I always talk about light and shadow in my music which ends in hope and optimism.
I think the last year was really important for my life. I reflected a lot and learned a lot in this break. I will use this time to concentrate on creating more music and I’m finally learning how to play the piano, which I had in mind for 6 years almost. Until now, I played all notes completely free without knowing what I’m doing, which also has advantages.
Lastly — we have to ask — was it a lot of pressure being asked to remix Grimes’ track, ‘My Name Is Dark’?
To be honest, I was just really happy. But of course, I have a lot of respect for her music, so yes, there is a certain pressure, that you could fail. The funny thing was, she just gave us one vocal stem, which I loved, to be honest. So you didn’t have the chance to use any instrumentals of her music. That’s why I went for a complete re-interpretation of the song and made my rave version out of it. I always love how tracks and vocal melodies can completely change their mood, depending on the instrumental. When I finished my version and sent it to her, I didn’t know if she would completely hate it or love it. But it seems that she liked it.
Thank you so much for these lovely questions.
‘Now Forever One’ is scheduled for release 11 June via System Records. Order a copy from Bandcamp.
3. Breaking The Waves
4. Sorbet #1
7. Dreams Of Euphoria
8. Sorbet #2
12. Dancer In The Dark