In April last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Louis Lambert, guitarist of Paris’ instrumental post-metallers DDENT. During our long, insightful interview we talked about their origins and influences, the French music scene and their 2017 masterpiece آتكئاب.
Jack: Good morning, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Louis Lambert (Guitar): Hello, good evening. I’m good thank you, yourself?
Jack: I’m well, thank you. How did you all meet?
Louis: DDENT had quite a lot of members, so I’m going to talk about the current members. Marc (drums and former member) and I met in the neighborhood I live in, in Paris 11th, in a bar/pub where I used to go often. We talked about music, I was in my ex band, he had some projects going on with his other bands, we agreed to start a duo (just guitar/drums) to play heavier stuff than our existing projects. Then Nico (bass): after few bass players on and off , I needed a new bass player during the composition of » آتكئاب », and because I knew we’d tour soon after the recording, and at the moment we were missing a bass player. I knew Nico from his other bands Fiend and Les Tigres Du Futur, and I really liked the way he was playing and his attitude on stage. I contacted him through a friend of mine who knew him, he accepted to have a drink and listened to the demos; after a little jam, he accepted to join the band. I was really happy, cause I knew he already had bands going on and I really wanted him. Then Vinz (2nd guitar). DDENT was always a trio. But after recording the album, I realized that album would need a second guitarist to be well played on stage, with that heavy rhythmic / lead duality . I knew Vinz as a promoter and booking agent who works with our booking agent (Dead Pig Ent.), and Vinz actually booked us in Nantes once, long before he join the band. We got along very well, I knew he was playing guitar, so it was easy to ask him if he wanted to join the band, and I was really happy he said yes!
Jack: When you decided to form a band, is the sound you have now the one you wanted when you formed the band?
Louis: I think that the sound we have and had is the one I want and wanted, it just evolves naturally. But as we grow , I think that expression becomes clearer, less messy, and so does the sound, I think it gets more precise, and combined to a process of maturation, I feel more capable of precisely put my ideas into music. I mean that it become easier for me to sit and compose when i feel it coming. So I would answer yes to that question now and also back at the beginning of DDENT, even if now I wouldn’t be satisfied at all to sound like we used to, that would be regressive. I think my music is a perpetual evolution, so is and will be the sound. Next one should sound different and I’ll be as satisfied.
Jack: Has being from Paris influenced you at all?
Louis: I’m actually not from Paris, but Im sure living here for about 15 years now has unconsciously influenced me. But I don’t think any parisian bands or the Parisian scene influenced me . I’m not very aware, nor fan, of anything music wise in Paris to be honest. But obviously, being in one place gives a color to anything you do artistic wise without knowing it.
Jack: What bands have influenced you?
Louis: So many, mostly in my young years… nowadays, nothing (for years) has really made me feel crazy like I used to when I discovered albums that really literally changed my life, albums that shocked me because they were so amazing. Now I don’t listen to as much music as I used to. But I couldn’t name every band that influence me . When I was very young, in my early teens year, I was really into 70’s music, going crazy with Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bowie, also The Doors, etc… These bands are a huge influence on my musical life, I was learning all the riffs, listening again and again to all these albums, it was a whole new universe to me. I think you know how it feels like when you discover all that . I also had a quite big blues moment, maybe more guitar-driven, I was listening to a lot of blues from Muddy Waters to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck, etc. Then, around my 16-17, I was really more into last 80’s-90’s music, that period is I think the biggest influence I had so far When I discovered Ministry for example (the Mind- that album ….), Al Jorgensen has definitely been a huge influence. Nine Inch Nails was a shock to me (Pretty Hate/ The Downward Spiral/ The Fragile) so that’s a huge influence. I can’t explain how I felt when I first listened to The Downward spiral … The concept, the « one track » album feeling, the diversity of sounds, the deepness of that album, the hate and rage that you feel thats into it but that also gave such a beautiful album, I was just amazed. In that period , also Alice in Chains, Marilyn Manson, Screaming Trees, Tool a lot, even System of a down, all the big names we all know that I don’t listen to at all now but that influenced my early years as a musician … I was young and discovering all that 90’s universe was a big influence on my music too, even if some are very commercial, that musical period is just HUGE. Because it was new.
The first Metallica albums were a huge influence aswell. Ride the lightning and & Justice for all, also Master of Puppets, these three albums really influence my guitar playing, I learned all the riffs as a kid! In that period too, lot’s of industrial, as I said Ministry, but also Die Krupps, KMFDM, Laibach, Front 242, all these bands.. more recent, I love Godflesh, Jesu big influence too… Also stuff like Gary Newman, Eno… I also listened a bit of the post-rock instrumental scene, but to be honest, appart from Godspeed You Black Emperor, I never really like post rock, like Explosions in the Sky/God is an Astronaut/Pelican/Mogwai/ etc …. even if I do instrumental music, because I couldn’t put any words nor lyrics on the feeling I get when I compose, I don’t listen to a lot of instrumental music. I never heard something that really amazed me . appart from Godspeed, always amazing concerts. Also in non instrumental post rock, loved bands like Polvo, Slint. In an other register, I always loved classical too. Brahms, Strauss, Wagner, even Bach have been huge influences… For some more recent stuff, I like quite a lot post black metal. Bands like Liturgy, Oranssi Pazuzu, Altar of Plagues. I love these three bands, because they are perfectly different to each other, they haven’t got much in commun, appart the fact that they are black metal influenced, but what they came up with is brilliant, it’s so clever and beautiful. Mostly Altar’s album Mammal is amazing. The last Liturgy aswell is so clever, all the black metal guys are like “this is shit”, but no, it’s clever, it’s new, its brilliant. Playing by the rules makes music proper shit; if you wanna do something exactly like when it was created without realizing that when it was created 20 years ago, it was amazing because it was new, and you criticize bands bringing new influences on that style, you’re just stupid . I love these bands for that, they bring something really new to me, and they put the modern influences that surrounds ‘em into their records. Last Vitriol from Liturgy, the singer ends up rapping… it doesn’t shock me! So yeah, it’s really difficult to make a lit of what and who influenced me, all that’s above is like the big background , mostly of my early years. Nowadays, I don’t listen to a lot of music honestly, but I compose more so I don’t know…
Jack: Have you been influenced by any films, books or works of art etc?
Louis: Yes, so many too… I love films that you carry for a long times in your soul. Gaspard Noe would be my favorite director (Into the void/ Seul Contre Tous/Ireeversible). Stanley Kubrick I love, his work on details and his philosophy, he made the most clever movies (2001, Clockwork Orange). Huge David Lynch fan … From Eraser head to Twin Peaks, Lost Highway. Love David Cronenberg too . When I think about it, the list is too long. [Laughs]. I’d rather not make a list. But some movies are definitely a huge influence. You go out of the cinema with a deep feeling, you feel lost, you don’t know where you are, you walk home wandering “what the fuck was that?” That makes me create .. and it also gives a color to what I’m going to compose next. Same with books, I read quite a lot of philosophy (they were my studies), it really sometimes does influence my work, especially when I study how some writers describe arts, it’s really interesting . I also like American authors like Fante, Bukowski , Ellis, Toole , Banks.. really trip, makes you want to create. and many French writers too.. I love Boris Vian, big artistic influence too… well it’s a long list sorry I could go hours!
Jack: What’s the stoner/sludge/doom scene like in Paris?
Louis: Well, first of all, even if we are often linked to doom/sludge etc and that we play in that scene, I don’t feel close to that music at all. I never really liked doom to be honest, I listened to a bit of stoner but not so much. So I don’t know! I know that thanks to our booker Dead Pig (Stoned Gatherings), there are very good heavy shows in Paris, including doom/stoner/sludge, which are their main styles. But I don’t know about the Parisian scene, I don’t follow it at all, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t really care. I’d love Paris to have a deeper and a more diverse musical scene, with more modern stuff, not just bands doing the same doom/stoner all the time. I don’t think it’s interesting. There is a band, friends of mine, Chaos E.T. Sexual, who are really good. It’s like electronic beats and layers with huge guitars, a kind of more tri-hop/dub Godflesh. Heavy as fuck. So yeah I don’t know, i’m not interested in that scene. I follow more foreigner bands, I don’t feel like parisian bands explore new stuff, they mostly follow I guess….
Jack: You’ve just released your excelletn debut album, آتكئاب (ektiheb: or melancholy, depression), are you happy with the response?
Louis: I am really happy, I didn’t expect that interest , so I couldn’t be happier. It’s my first album so it’s the best thing in the world, to hear and read that it touches some people . it’s amazing. And all the reviews are so different, and they all point different things, different aspects of it, so it’s even better.
Jack: The album is different to Chien Noir because it features “more massive and industrial sounding post-metal, providing the listener striking, otherworldly sensations, and an invitation to introspection.” What was behind this direction?
Louis: We split for a few months (eight or ten months) with DDENT, right after Chien Noir (that’s why it took two years before releasing the new one). It was a very weird period for me, personnel issues. During that time, I started my solo project NNRA ( it’s a one track 40mins album that will be released around June 2017). And I didn’t want to work with other musicians on that project, so i started to learn a lot about machines and softwares, to make big drums without drummers. I’ve always been a huge fan of industrial music, but I never thought i’d put electronics instruments in my music, I thought it was too complicated. but for months , actually almost a year, I recorded that album and learned a lot with machines, and I was so happy I could do industrial based music too! To add industrial and electronic to my instrumental music, it was like a dream coming true, really. I never heard industrial instrumental post-metal, post whatever, and I was now able to make it! when I re formed DDENT, I was still composing everything (DDENT is a solo project in terms of composition, I also compose the drums) and I wanted to include that new industrial vibe. So that I could just record the tracks (I record everything like demos before we do the real rec) and send the tracks to Marc so that he could learn the drums, and add his stuff and his groove, and I keep the machines during the recording and put his drums on top! It really works perfectly, on this album, there are both big drums machines I programmed and Marc playing on top. On stage, he uses a pad to add all those industrial beats. So yeah, that’s what s behind that direction: loving industrial music and trying to work without a drummer and then realize it’s better with both machines and real! I love to have the cold mechanical martial thing with the machines and the warmth organic real drums
Jack: “The eight tracks follow an instrumental thread, guided by enigmatic words: “Habouz”, “Arzel”, “Houri”. Coming from Arab psalms, each one of these words and tracks depicts the melancholy and depression of a horseman, a poet.” Did any particular event inspire this?
Louis: At first, the artwork came to me from a winter in Turkey, I was there a couple of weeks and i was stunned by the arabic arts there. I’ve always been found of Islamic arts, and there I was surrounded by beauty. A thing that inspired me the most were the graveyards. The tomb stones were like beautiful white marble, with amazing gold calligraphy engraved on it. It struck me, I wanted to do that as the artwork of the album, and write melancholy . The album reflects that melancholy, and I felt it even more there.
Then, the psalms thing came from a discussion with my best friend Sebastien Mathieu, french artist. I asked him for help to find titles for the tracks, I was having a hard time doing that (I don’t like to put names on tracks, I really want the music to rely on itself; giving a title to a track already gives a direction and a color before you hear it. thats why I wanted all titles to link between each other and to link to the main theme, melancholy, depicted in eight tracks). He was really interested in the whole melancholy and islamic arts thing, he asked me to describe each one of my tracks with words of my own, like what the reflect of me or of the moment I made it, and it really drew a story. He spent two days searching for psalms and came out with these extracts of them. I was so surprised. Then I read all the psalms those words came from, it’s just beautiful and amazing how it sticks to the tracks. it’s a beautiful story…
Jack: Do you think being an instrumental project offers more freedom with the band?
Louis: I think it does, artistic wise. You don’t have to talk about something, you don’t have to have something to say, or put a chorus, and then a verse, or whatever. you don’t have to calibrate your composition with these verses etc. it’s pure music. It’s its own expression, just music for itself, there no length limit, the guitar don’t have to be quieter sometimes to let voice be lead, it’s just pure expression from my mind I would never put any words on it, it would just reduce it to try to force it into words , to concepts. It’s not concepts, I don’t talk about anything, it’s just putting a shape on my feelings, thats pure freedom for me . But that works for me and my conception of it. It doesn’t work for a singer/band leader if you ask him if he’d be more free going instrumental! But my point is, doing music and trying to not play by rules, be as free as I could when I compose, led me to instrumental. I really think that putting concepts on music reduces it’s strength as an expression. Music, to me, has to be self sufficient (same thing I was saying about the titles…..), words will compromise and reduce the deepness of a pure musical message. Really going opposite the direction of music as accompaniment. Still DDENT is easier to put a label on, I don’t think I went completely free on that one , but that’s purposely. I like it like that. I really let my self go even more free with NNRA, which is absolutely rule free, just notes and notes as I felt them, 40 minutes. NNRA is pure freedom to mee. I like both just as much, it’s two different perceptions.
Jack: What was it like recording with Chris Fielding in Skyhammer Studio?
Louis: Chris is the best. Honestly, I did quite a few recording studios, I never worked with someone like Chris. He is so open minded, most producers I worked with were more close minded, relying on what they think they know, and never allowing like new stuff. Chris is always motivated to push a direction, for exemple most producers I worked with before would really say like “OK, two layers of guitars is enough, that’s too much distortion I know it for fact blablabla.” Chris is honestly OK to put like 20 layers of the same guitar to make it sound fat, it just feels great thats you don’t feel any limits with him. You can try whatever you want to do, he’s always keen to try new stuff, he never says like we CAN’T do that. I was a bit scared of his reaction with the drums things, both electro and acoustic, and he just said “awesome” and yeah, he also is a great guy, really funny, kind and hard working.”
Jack: Did you approach the recording differently to that of Chien Noir?
Louis: Yes, Chien Noir was a very short recording (three days) in a small studio with not so much production, I wanted to have an EP to have something to give to people to get gigs. Chien Noir was honestly more made to lead to something. I never really liked EP’s, I really believe in albums, in stories, and at that time all we could do was an EP, it was the very beginning of the band. We just needed something to promote the band, but I still like its sound! It’s just not as deep, in composition and in production. And once again, Chris helped a lot making that sound, whereas for Chien Noir, we had less help and time.
Jack: How did your recent tour with The Lumberjack Feedback go?
Louis: It was great, it was my first tour and I loved it. All the other members of DDENT and TLF already have toured a lot, but it was my first. It’s just the best thing! Playing every night, it couldn’t be better and I feel we really got better on stage since that tour, we really took a new level, that feels great . And TLF are really cool guys, lot’s of fun and great ban . We really had a great time!
Jack: What are your upcoming plans, will you be visiting the UK soon?
Louis: I’m actually going back there on Monday, April 3rd! As I write this it’s Saturday April 1st, so after tomorrow ! I recorded آتكئاب a year ago, in April, and with all the postprod and promo and everything, it has just been released. But in the meantime I finished doing the next album a few months ago . So we’ve been playing everyday Marc and I since then so that he learns it, and we’ll record it at Skyhammer from April 3rd – April 17th ! it will also have lot’s of post prod and promo, so it will be released next year and NNRA just before that.
Jack: Finally, what is the best instrumental album of all time?
Louis: Very hard question… as I told you, I never actually really loved any instrumental band, which is weird. None album really made me feel like crazy, maybe a Godspeed album. Lift you skinny fists maybe? Or Yanqui U.X.O? I don’t know [Laughs]. If Godspeed, Al Jorgensen & Trent Reznor had done an instrumental album back in their good days, I think it would be it! Some kind of heavy indus Godspeed. But if you have some recommandations, please send over! Once again, I don’t listen to a lot of music and I don’t keep myself aware of anything that’s new, so I must be missing a LOT.
Jack: Thank you for your time and I hope to see you in the UK soon!
Louis: Thank you for your support and concern, I wish we’ll play in UK soon! If you’re close to Skyhammer come say hi!