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FRACTAL GATES: INTERVIEW WITH STEPH AND SEB


Radio Metal: Hi, can you introduce in a few words Fractal Gates to the listeners of Radio Metal?

Steph (guitar) : Fractal Gates is a Parisian band doing melodic death metal and influenced by all extraterrestrial activities. Here I think I said it all! We are fascinated by melodic death-metal and by all that’s esoteric, sci-fi, paranormal activities etc. Fractal Gates was born from the ashes of our previous band of melodic death metal rock called « Mislead ». We have reviewed the themes and the music to get us in a direction that was more important for us. Sebastien Pierre as myself, we had in mind to create a band a little more death, faster and groovier than our other doom band: Inborn Suffering. We thus created this « duet » band in August 2007, with a single goal: to compose as many titles as we wanted and to compose what thrilled us. We quickly saw that we were really inspired and motivated by this project and our works seemed to be of high quality from what we heard around. We then recruited a guitar player, a bass player and a drummer to prepare ourselves for future concerts and to create our first album Altered State of Consciousness.

Altered State Of Consciousness is the name of your first album that will be released in June 2009. How were the song and music writings done on this album?

Steph : The song and music writings went really well, as I already stated, we were all really inspired at that time. All those riffs were in our heads for some times already. We worked at the rhythm of two or three compositions a day. We are mainly two composers (Sebastien and I) and lucky us we have almost the same view on music from where springs our velocity in creating music.

Can you enlighten us on the hidden meaning and the symbolism of the title Altered State Of Consciousness?

Seb (singer) : The altered states of consciousness correspond to several situations, such as hypnosis, trance, lucid dream, decorporation … In our case, we use it in connection with Near Death Experiences. Having done the 3D graphics for a documentary on the NDE and for a related scientific experience, I found this term interesting to introduce open-mindedness in the broad sense of that word, overture linked to the issues of our band. Though this title keeps a suggestive side that we’re seeking, it is ideal to arouse the curiosity in some human beings, and interest for others. We broach subjects like old civilizations (Atlantis for Immersion), abductions (The Encounter), altered states of consciousness (ASC), gates to other dimensions (Gates To Nebula, Departure), as well as more metaphoric subjects leaving the listener free to understand them (The Eclipse, Illusional Dementia).



(Steph – guitar) : « Actually we didn’t go there; we only sent the rough versions to Jacob Hansen and all that through Internet. Why Jacob Hansen? Actually we really like the « groovy » touch he adds to the sound as well as the really round and powerful sound that marks his productions. Hansen it’s actually Aborted, Volbeat, Deadlock etc. And you also have to say that he is in the top 10 of the best metal sound engineers in Europe…  »

You play a melodic death that sounds really catchy. The title « Immersion » that you can listen to on your MySpace can be singled out as the hit of this album. If you had to describe it, do you think that « Immersion » would be a good symbol? If yes, why?

Seb : « Immersion » really has a chorus that keeps ringing in your head with a classic: the title being a repetition line. Furthermore it is the track with the most mid-tempo, the catchiest pace. But it is being completed by the other tracks (musically speaking as well as with the texts), each track offering a special atmosphere in relation with the topic addressed.

When listening to Altered State Of Consciousness, the influence of Amorphis can be really felt. Do you consider the Finnish band as the main reference for all melodic death bands around?

Seb : No one can pretend to know the influence on a band apart from the said band, there’s so much styles mixing in…As for us, we were above all inspired by the Insomnium, At The Gates, Rapture, Ajattara and indeed Amorphis. In a broader way, as for the next Inborn Suffering, we naturally give a Finnish-ier touch to our musical world, these musicians being our biggest inspiration.

The melodic death is not the metal genre the most played in France. When you listen to Altered State Of Consciousness, you are quite surprised by the clarity in the production that really sounds Scandinavian. Do you think it is a state of mind since we’re all impacted by the recurrent listening of Dark Tranquility, In Flames etc. or do you see similarities in your approach?

Steph : I see that in France there are a lot of fans for the melodic death but we have few French bands (or I don’t know of them). We play what thrills us, and yes you can say it all comes from Sweden (At The Gates, Edge Of Sanity…) or Finland (Rapture, Amorphis, Ajattara) but also Greece with Septic Flesh whom I see as geniuses on compositions. Actually Fractal Gates is a mix of styles that we so like. If for us there’s a good sound, we keep the riff. As for the sound matters, it is clear that the Scandinavian are way ahead of us (and on materials as well) and then as they are references for us, so it is obvious that we looked for a special sound that just slaps, small budget like (thanks to Andrew Guillotin and Jacob Hansen). As for me I am a huge fan of the 90’s metal, I sometimes quite long for it, it is thus quite clear that these times have had their influence on me.

On production precisely, the major works have been done in the Hybreed studio in August 2008. Can you describe the way things went there (meetings with Andrew Guillotin, work atmosphere, recording time etc.)?

Steph : Andrew Guillotin (Hybreed Studio) is above all a friend as well as an excellent sound engineer. With what we made him go through, he deserves the medal of the Zen-iest sound engineer! We had recorded the first album of Inborn Suffering there, and it went really well, relaxed atmosphere, fun but all the while being serious. So we actually wondered why not record and mix the Fractal Gates with. To make it short, we recorded the guitars and the bass at my home and all the others in the Hybreed Studio. It was tough and lasted a while, especially for the drums as our drummer at the time was Hugo and he had troubles concentrating. Apart from that, all went well; Andrew understood exactly what we wanted.

You then went to Denmark to work at the famous Jacob Hansen’s studio. Why chose Jacob Hansen’s studio and what are your feedbacks?

Steph : Actually we didn’t go there; we only sent the rough versions to Jacob Hansen and all that through Internet. Why Jacob Hansen? Actually we really like the « groovy » touch he adds to the sound as well as the really round and powerful sound that marks his productions. Hansen it’s actually Aborted, Volbeat, Deadlock etc. And you also have to say that he is in the top 10 of the best metal sound engineers in Europe…Jacob seems to be an honest guy, real serious… but fully booked.

Highlight on your history now. Mislead was the name of your first band, Stephan’s and yours. The project was closed after two years. What were the reasons and what are the main differences in goals between Mislead and Fractal Gates?

Seb : Mislead was created because we wanted a more rock band than Inborn. But after facing so many successive line-up problems, and having found a more precise universe to explore, it seems like the clever thing to do to start again from a solid base. Hence the change of name, of style, of inspiration.

From a musical point of view, how can you separate the two bands?

Seb : Mislead didn’t have any precise concept, and sounded more like a mix of Paradise Lost, Ajattara, and Opeth. The piano keys were more present and the structures were more doom/rock. Fractal Gates illustrates a detailed universe, some interludes are scattered throughout the album to make it more immersive. The sound fluctuates between melodic death, doom/death and rock. The first track written for FG, « Revival », who finally didn’t make it into the album, was like a transition in between the two bands.

In August 2007, you create Fractal Gates and you release your album in June 2009. Your path has been quite fast. What are the main difficulties you met along the way?

Seb : The musical alchemy in between musicians is a real precious thing; it’s what allows a fast work of composition, the quality being suggestive. The weekends being cut by long weeks, obviously the writing is being slowed down, since you need to work as well. Apart from that, we had problems of line-ups, as we did in Mislead. The money issue wasn’t so much an issue no more, for we knew since Inborn the necessity to invest enough money to have the suitable production. You have to pay the price for an album, personal and monetary. But in general the creative thinking is the major factor and the longest in terms of creating and laying out the album, well that’s what I think. You always need to reappraise what was recorded the day before to feel what could be improved without being distorted.

Your first demo, released at the end of 2007, was quite a success. On the communication, how did it work? You sent it to all the medias and / or you looked immediately to sell?

Steph : Actually what I call our demo are the four titles we loaded on our MySpace and were free to download, so you could say that it was a rough of our compositions. And there we had excellent feedbacks, we really didn’t expect it regards to the bad sound we had. Actually we had already all prepared, the cover for the demo, the 40 demos that we wanted to send there and there. But it was not really possible since we really had a « home-made » sound. We decided to deal with all that by doing a real studio album. We might in a near future release this demo on a CD, why not, since some people seem to really want it.

Can we say that this time acted like a trigger? Did you find even more motivation from the positive feedbacks you received after the demo?

Seb : Yes sure. It’s always nice to see other people liking your music. It certainly had some impacts on our inspiration. It’s also at that time that we went into some subjects in depth that we wanted to use after that in the album.

You just signed a contract with the Dutch label RUSTY CAGE RECORDS. Can you describe step by step for us the way you found a label? Why didn’t you sign with a French label?

Steph : Actually we only had two positive answers over a hundred dispatches we made lovely crisis!!). I quite liked some of the bands that were under the label of Rusty Cage Records, we still didn’t receive any answer from them, and then I decided to go for it, full bluff: I pestered them and then boom the guy from the label liked it. Great label, the guys are really into it and we keep all the rights on our music which is really important for us. French labels? Well let’s see… Holy Records never answer and Season of Mist only want bands that are more or less famous. The French labels seldom help the French bands, except an auto production type label like Thundering. We also knew that from Inborn Suffering.

A second album is already on the stove. Where do you find all that energy?!

Steph : Yes the second album is already stewing. We are deeply passionate about our music and our band. We still have huge amount of ideas for compositions, it never ends. The compositions improve as well as our will to write titles that will thrill us and you.

Last question: the concerts are part of the major steps for a band looking for fame. Where do you stand? Have you set some dates and is your goal national or international?

Seb : We don’t have any set dates, only close opportunities for the moment; we try to bring under control the album live. With some luck we’ll have the chance to play everywhere in France and in Europe as with IS. Only time will tell! Thanks to you for this interview!

Interview conducted April 2009 by email
MySpace Fractal Gates : myspace.com/fractalgates



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