Released at the end of last year a little quietly through the French independent label Choléra Cosmique on very limited CD, immediately sold-out, certainly the debut album, “Maraudé”, from the young Zurich‘s producer, actually a collection of singles from the last 2 years, hits the most attentive listeners straight to the heart, so much so that it couldn’t escape the always up-to-date Detriti Records ready to drop a remastered, even if reduced, cassette edition.
Nurtured the gloomy and decadent fascinations by the post-punk and new wave from the 80s, she creates bass and drum-machine driven dreamlike and melancholy spellbinding synth-wave-pop realms, pervaded by ecstatic refractions of light and shadow, amidst eerie celestial visions, heady somber synthetic dizziness, misty shoegazing raptures. Recently relocated to the sprawling English capital, we wish her all our best in her newfound endeavour.
Thanks so much for the interview. Can you start off by telling us a bit about where you grew up, your early artistic and musical experiences, influences and inspirations?
I’m from Munich originally but moved to Zurich when I was young. I started playing piano as a child and moved on to guitar, singing and drums in my teenage years. When I was around 18 I played drums in a shoegaze/post-punk band called “drowsed” for a while. My parents introduced me to a lot of music in my childhood and basically gave me a good starting point to where I could, later on, find my own favourites.
How did your attraction for synthesizers originate?
It was pretty random, I just started playing around first on synthesizers of friends and then tried stuff on my midi at home. I felt a connection to the instrument and liked how easy I can create a diverse range of sounds. I’m still in the discovery phase of synthesizers and basically just having fun with it.
What triggered you to start your bedroom project? Did you already have a sound in mind or was it a process of self-discovery?
After not having time to practice with my band but still have the urge to create music I just started producing for fun. I uploaded my first two single as part of an application for art school and just continued from thereon.
Did the ’80s past Swiss wave artists such as Yello, Mittageisen, Liliput, Grauzone, etc. influence you in some way?
I definitely enjoy listening to their music but except Grauzone, none of those acts have influenced me. At least consciously.
How cerebral and how instinctive is your creative process? What kind of equipment is integral to your work?
My process is as instinctive as it gets. I start with some root notes, add random melodies on the keyboard or with the guitar. The singing always comes last. Sometimes I look for lyrics in my notes that fit or I improvise on the spot. Since I do everything through my laptop, that would be the most integral equipment.
Do you write your lyrics based on personal experiences or by observing what is happening around you? Do the process of writing lyrics and composing music go hand in hand, or are they two completely separate processes?
Both. Sometimes I get inspired by events of my life or lectures at school or just by watching a movie. That’s when I get the sudden urge to write something down. Sometimes it also comes out of nowhere. My lyrics are a mix of personal experience and fictional storytelling.
What other artistic interests in visual art, cinema, etc. do you have and how do those things inform your music?
I’m very into cinema, especially into the scores or soundtracks in films. The first music I ever recorded was actually a cover of Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” when I was 15, which is famously featured in “Drive”. Also, the soundtracks of video games are very underrated and are definitely also an inspiration for me.
Please, take us through the creation process of your album, its title, its inspirations, influences, and the ups and downs that have brought you to the final result? Is there a particular narrative/theme that links the tracks together?
The whole album is a compilation of songs I’ve written over the past two, except “Follow Me”, I wrote that song when I was around 17 or 18. Topics such as love, sadness, heartbreak, loss and feeling out of place stretch through the whole album. I have had a huge down, like two weeks before I sent the album to get mastered. I thought the whole album was shit, and everything I do is shit. I cut two songs from the album two days before mastering and wrote “Remembrance” instead and put that on the album.
Haunted, ghostly vocals combine with poignant organic instrumentation to draw an evocative landscape of dreamy reality. Is this an intentional conflict/balancing mechanism?
That always happens naturally since I have a soft voice and just do what I can with it. Sometimes it blends really well with the instrumentals, sometimes it almost clashes. I like both outcomes equally.
You can tell us about the choice of your cover versions (The Virgin Tongues) and the collaboration with Carlo Onda, curiously with the cover of an Italian pop song (I Santo California ) from the past, in a stentorian but alluring Italian, as it happened in the 60s/70s when any foreign group/artist, from the Stones, The Beatles to Bowie, were used to add the ‘Italian version’ of their single. Apparently, it’s the first collaboration of others to come …
Well, I basically cover songs that are all-time favourites of mine, like The Virgin Tongues‘ “Six feet underground” and just wait till next year. With the I Santo California cover, Carlo approached me and sent the instrumentals. Before this, I have never heard “Tornerò” before. There will be more collaborations coming from me and Karl Kave/Carlo Onda. Shoutout to my mentor!
I notice you’re fresh from your early live performances, with the support from another musician, could you talk about it?
It’s still kind of difficult to translate my music from the bedroom to the stage. Also, I was kind of getting comfortable with my producer role and really have to get used to standing on stage again and performing. Pippo, my bass player, really helps me with that too. Apart from being an amazing musician he also has this calming presence and it’s all around just fun to play and rehearse with him. Most gigs didn’t go the way we wanted them to but we just see it as an exercise.
What are you currently listening to and really digging at the moment?
Perverse State’s “Endurance”; This Cold Night’s “Are We Not Immortal Yet”
Thanks for being our welcome guest, your last words and future projects.
Thanks for having me! There are no future projects planned, I just know I’ll keep on making music ☺
Keep up with Blanche Biau: