I discovered the French darkwave duo Hanging Gardens with their first-ever release ‘Corpus 2.0.’ back in 2016 and I instantly became one of their most dedicated fans. It is their whole motion in music that keeps me tight to their artistic and sonic microcosm and their albums that are constantly unveiling a band so unique to me. WL//WH has honoured them a few times with articles by both Cat Gillette and Fab Lusso, and it was my turn to pay my tribute to this peculiar outfit with a review on their latest ‘Materia Prima 3.0.’ album last September. In order to learn more about them, I reached Nadia and Loic for an interview which turned out to be an amazing chat. Let’s see what Hanging Gardens said to me about all things darkwave, their music and lyrics, and many more things!
Hello HG and welcome to WL//WH, please introduce us to your latest work ‘Materia Prima 3.0’.What does this record mean to you and where it addresses?
Loic and Nadia: Hello Mike!! Hello to WL//WH!! Thank you very much for your work and your invitation!!! It is a series of chapters which marks a constant evolution of our creations. We perpetually continue to compose with our vision of this world and in order to share it. A more refined work and study in terms of sounds and texts. Hence this need for exploration time to be as close as possible to what we wanted to express. The pleasure, too, of shaping the atmosphere for the live shows to come because we love the stage! We have never tried to find a musical genre and yet we are certainly part of a mixture of existing movements.
Nadia : “Materia Prima 3.0” is an ode to who we are. But, do we really know who we are? Apart from a constantly evolving raw material. Where is the madness of normality? What are our standards, where do they come from…
What really inspired the music of ‘Materia Prima 3.0’?
Loic and Nadia: Our inspiration for this EP was/is the stage. Work in terms of sounds, rhythms, shorter and more intense texts, and with the desire to pierce our scenic emotional atmosphere even more. We try through our universe to share and provoke emotions, even if sometimes it can mean unease or melancholy. But our creations are not detached from real life, they are a poetic approach which speaks of love, of melancholy, of society also with the eyes of a “vivid skinned” who feels the harshness of what makes him surrounded.
Nadia, please say something to all of us who don’t speak French about your lyrics and the poems that you write for the band.
First, the music. Then, the writing arrives or is already existing. The creation of this union does this. The guitar responds and accompanies me. Words take on even more meaning. And the French language is one of the richest languages in terms of words. My texts are the addition of alchemy and mystery …a vibration until a sort of trance feels like a vagabond of words.. among the limbo.
… and where do you get inspiration for your writings?
I am inspired by my expirations: life! Our lives… Death, love, between us, transformations, ideologies, how far can we explore ourselves? Life is words, words that make us who we are. Life is a vibration, words are vibrations and I like this!
…I see, and you mostly narrate them as spoken-word over the music…do you see yourself seemingly as one of the ‘daughters’ of Anne Clark and other similar artists, and what leads you as the frontwoman of a darkwave band to handle your words with such an impressive result?
I have been immersed in theatre for a long time as a director, actress, and speaker art. I have worked my voice as a singer and the work is all the more technical. I found my artistic balance by being myself, without artifice; I found my voice and my music and the liberty of my expression. Other inspirations exist and each will defend its movement. Music makes the interpreter and vice versa. Anne Clark is in balance, others bring nuances, others a rehearsal. I admire the artists who when they are there, are there! Make one with the band!
Loic, may I ask, what comes first in the procedure; a ready song which needs its lyrics, or a ready piece by Nadia that needs suitable music?
The process is almost always the same. The starting point is musical, I search a lot, I throw a lot too …before proposing it to Nadia. Sometimes the process begins with just an ambient sound or a rhythm that will resonate with the words of Nadia. It’s a special feeling but we both know intuitively when it does, this is where the piece is built and takes place as evidence. In parallel, she always has her loan books, and the vibration as she says is done! But my favorite creative part is the guitar, my favorite instrument which brings the final touch to the songs. I am in a perpetual quest for the holy grail of delay or reverb … the GAS crisis, the geeks will certainly understand what I’m talking about.
When do we expect another Hanging Gardens release? Is it still early to ask about any hints on that?
Loic and Nadia: Our music follows the movement of what surrounds us. Our next EP is planned for the end of 2020. It is still early to give it a direction. Certainly more refined and more electric.
Where will you navigate HG in the future?
Loic: I take advantage of this confinement to listen to a lot of music, old and new, and to have a new technical configuration which will certainly impact the new sounds of the next EP.
Ι have clearly understood, for many years now, that in the whole darkwave constellation the French bands and artists are so peculiar and unique. If I may say so, the French darkwave style appears like some precious old Absinthe. Can you tell us why and how all of you are always ready to create such an extraordinaire and utterly addictive trademark French darkwave music?
Loic: yes I have heard this remark in Germany several times too. Perhaps a reminiscence of education, we all read the romantic poets or Camus at the College, reading “L’Etranger” gives a certain vision of life … Robert Smith talks about it pretty well!
Nadia: French are Romantic 😉
Where do you see the darkwave/ post-punk genre heading in the next years? I am pretty sure it won’t remain as it is now and I’d like your perspective on that…
Loic: A lot of groups break free from the Dark “codes” by looking for new sounds, new looks … to get out of the cliché: rhythm machine, reverb, cavernous voice. For me, Boy Harsher is a perfect example of this evolution. The future will belong to those who know how to feed on other influences”. The Cold or the Dark have infiltrated everywhere even outside of music, in series, films … The world is more and more cynical and hard to live for many people. You have to look for warmth and beauty in the gray, the dead trees, the mist, and the crows; it may darken the soul a little, but it poeticizes the darkness. So I think this musical movement will increase by feeding on society but also by enriching itself with all the new influences of the people it will touch. Everything continues and transforms!
After all this Corona-Attack will you start performing live again, and what are your thoughts on the next day for the whole dark alternative music scene?
Loic: The stage is the place where we fully experience our music. We are always looking forward to these moments! And if conditions have to change, why not consider live streaming, but that will never replace proximity to the public and the sound of a guitar vibrating and filling the reverb and delay space.
Nadia: After the coronavirus, we will enter a new era. If we have to distance ourselves, we will play in huge spaces, if not, with huge plexiglass( hahaha). Otherwise, I believe in underground places as it should be 😉
What are you currently listening to at home? Please, share with us the top-5 records that you are stuck with now…
Loic: Quarantine has at least one advantage: it gives us time … lots of time to listen to music. so I take the opportunity to walk on Youtube, Soundcloud, an infinity of incredible groups on Soundcloud! At the top of my top 5 containment, KOMPROMAT discovered a month ago, but a big slap. You listen to “Das Grab” and you say to yourself … wow this is my favorite and then you listen to “Le Gout des cendres” and you say to yourself .. ah no this is my favorite, etc … and you listen to the album again. Powerful, bewitching, and addictive. Ideal to let off steam during the confinement period. The other band that follows me everywhere, BOY HARSHER with “Pain” or “Electric” of course but above all “Fate and his synthetic refrain, with each new listening, there is always an element that surprises, a sound … brief favourite. I have just finished reading a French book which describes the creative process of THE CURE albums as therapy by Robert Smith. Therefore I rediscovered the ‘Seventeen Seconds’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Pornography’ trilogy and in particular all the sound work, the noises, the atmospheres everything that I did not hear before … a real rediscovery. The album I listened to the most this year, looped from start to finish, already a classic: ACTORS – ‘It will come to you’ LP. To finish my top 5, the album that touched me the most recently, in a completely different genre, a French band that comes from Metz (relocated to Paris now): GRAND BLANC. To listen urgently to the sessions at Studio Kerwax in 2016 (search on Youtube), a group that deserves to be in the light. And with my 15-year-old daughter, that discover the 80’s with the Netflix series, I listen to bands like Talking Heads, New Order, The Smiths, U2 … candies for ears!!!! 40 years already, that does not rejuvenate me!
Nadia: Chrystal Pite‘s Body and Soul Ballet, for its anatomical choreographies and musical composition. List of spiritual tunes by Johann Sebastian Bach. At the origin of the oldest music publishing house in the world (Breitkopf & Härtel) – published in Leipzig, in 1736, a Musicalisches Gesang-Buch. This collection, by Georg Christian Schemelli, contains 954 lieder and spiritual tunes for soprano and continuo. Bach collaborated to a degree not established precisely for 69 of these melodies!!! Kat Onoma: ‘La Chambre’, often looped…The energy of Shaka Ponk…..is already enough 😉
Nadia, Loic, thank you very much for your time, last words on you…
Loic: Thanks so much Mike for your (eternal) support and the platform you offer us to share our passion.
Nadia: Looking for a Label!!! Take care of yourself and a long way to WL//WH!!
Keep Up With Hanging Gardens:
Interview by Loud Cities Mike