Peste Noire (France)
Amazing album. La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénérescence. 2006.
"1° Pure filth. 2° The love of that filth, expressed in beauty, in musical flavour, in refinement."
1. The black metal of Peste Noire is a bewildering sort, full of so many contrasts: rawly recorded, yet played with an extreme level of technical finesse and, especially, emotion; filthy and ugly and intimidating in that (textural) rawness, yet shot through with a certain beauty or least melancholy within those textures; staunchly (BM)traditional on the surface, yet so defiant of the artform's norms beneath that surface; grim and hateful, yet communicating infinitely more in less tangible words/manners. So, are you aware of these contrasts, and are they something you've consciously explored and developed from the beginning?
An excerpt from the interview featured in the album's booklet reads: " Searching for a divine ray of light in a cesspool, under faeces and refuses, such is PESTE NOIRE's musical mission. " To the Sublime by way of the Putrid, to the Spiritual by way of the Squalid ", such is the band's motto. As a kid, I was only fascinated by punks and Jehovah's Witnesses. Today, PN is still a straddle between scatology and eschatology. " Only in filth can I find beauty and luminosity. For us, perfection, the Absolute Truth and the highest elevation, id est God, are only accessible through Evil — I wish to make it clear that we like filth AS filth, we like sin IN REGARD OF morals: we are conscious of Good but we only like to rape it. That rape is divine. We are immoral, not amoral — spiritual men, not animals. PN's filth can be equated to human torture, that is refined. That is why one can feel PN is simultaneously grubby and classy. 1° Pure filth. 2° The love of that filth, expressed in beauty, in musical flavour, in refinement. As far as the traditional/non-traditional contrast is concerned, I would say Beauty, Grandeur, Nobleness emanate when PN evoke the European PAST (which explains that melancholy, which is nostalgia) with a Black Metal in accordance with our forefathers's tradition (BURZUM, MÜTIILATION, VLAD TEPES). Hatred, terror, DISORDER, madness break out when we conjure up the CURRENT democratic world. Naturally that disorder is expressed in forms which are less conventional.
2. What, then, would be your conception of "black metal"? Like, what does it mean to you?
Black Metal is the musical memory of our bloodthirsty ancestors of blood, it is the marriage of Tradition, of old racial patrimony with fanaticism, with the rage and the rashness of a youth now lost. It is a CHTONIAN religion: a cult of the EARTH and a return to it, therefore a nationalism; a cult of what is BELOW the earth: Hell — the adjective "chtonian " applies to the Infernal gods as well. BM is a fundamentalism, a music with integrity (from latin integer, complete) which helps me to remain complete in a dying world, amidst a people in decay, unworthy of its blood. It is the apology of the dark european past. It is a psychosis which helps us to flee a reality we cannot tolerate anymore.
3. Is Peste Noire your ideal form of BM, or is PN simply an extension of your inner self?
Our ideal form of BM ? We try... I have a precise IDEA of what PN MUST be as regards its sound, its universe and its instrumentation. We would wish to add violin, bombard and accordion but we have not reached this point yet. PN is still a project. It is indeed an extension of my inner self but not only. Above all else, PN is an extension of the Devil, its representation BY me. BECAUSE Satan enters into me, or BECAUSE He touches me from the outside, because in both cases I am brimful of Him. I feel the need to exteriorize my possession or my love for Him (I conceive the Devil in different ways: He is a lanscape, an era, an instant, a dream, a pulsion...). But the love, the emotion for Him — which are REACTIONS — are fully mine in PN. The rest is His direct language filtered by my aptitudes and the technical means at my disposal. Inversely, when the emptiness of my life makes me suffer I summon the Devil through my music, to bring Him back, to be reminded of Him, with nostalgia. Satan is the cause of my music, I am His means (He is also mine), my listeners a goal to reach, an audience to convert. Thus, PN is as much possessed and inspired as individual and subjective. Not only is my role to stand for something (the Devil, France d'Oïl (Northern mediaeval France), the Past, my environment etc.) but it is also to stand for myself (actual experience, personal emotions).
4. Thus, what can you reveal about your personal life and how it relates to Peste Noire's music?
I come from the North of France but I grew up with the hatred of a region of latin culture, the extreme South-West of France where I was born by mistake. As far as my life is concerned, I am a deserter, living as far away as I can from the " world ". Calm hermit in libraries or in the psychiatric hospital I was brought to in 2005, loud hooligan in the streets. Shunning or beating one's fellow human being, it is always severing contact. That is why my music is distant. It sings of the Elsewhere (the North or Darkness), of the Other and of the Old. It is the symphony of the aged, of the homeless, of the Barbarian, of the sick, of demons, of the lunatics, the symphony of those who are far, far away from here. I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time and I do everything I can to escape.
5. To that end, *should* one's music be a direct reflection of one's personality and inner self? or, can a certain "mask" or artifice - a *facade*, even - in musical/lyrical form still be potent art?
Music is always the reflection of one's inner self as it expresses a particular taste or personal feelings. But BM is ALSO a mask, it goes without saying... Why do most of the bands use corpsepaint ? I AM MY PSEUDONYM, out of spite for my social being. La sale Famine de Valfunde is less a person than a character. Through PN I created an IDEAL and LESS FRAGILE Ego. 1° IDEAL because I AESTHETIZE the being I am and I do not expose it as a whole or in its bare truth. In a way I CHOSE myself (if not my music and my lyrics would be as gross and ugly as the reality I loathe). 2° A LESS FRAGILE Ego because thanks to PN I break free from my little and ephemeral body to become incarnate somewhere else, LONGER and MORE GREATLY; in a record, in a piece of paper, in a photo, prepared, studied and selected as were Mussolini's — For instance he was always very careful to conceal his baldness. However the transference from my person to my character has become permanent and irreversible. As the saying goes, I " sold my soul to the devil " to become powerful, a statue, a monument... Art is by definition a RE-presentation, a NEW made-up presentation of oneself. Only through PN can I conceive a noble existence.
6. All that said, is one goal of Peste Noire's to have the music reflect back upon the listener - meaning, seeing/hearing themselves within the contrasts you present? or, ultimately, is Peste Noire entirely selfish and for yourself only?
"Art's external aim is not the work created but the work received by the world " (Bernhild Boie). We are little toads who sing they are Kings. And if we sing, it is because we want to get heard. We want to stir our soul brothers — only them — to the point when they acknowledge us as elects, as messengers from the Netherworld, as angels (from greek aggelos, messenger).
7. From the beginning, you've kept Peste Noire a fairly clandestine affair, but are at last finally granting a few interviews. Is some degree of secrecy necessary to give the music the proper mystique and, more so, allow it to communicate on broader, myriad levels? Or, is sometimes dictating to listeners/readers that "This is this and that is that" necessary to keep things defined and not allow motivations/intentions to be confused or distorted?
First and foremost, PN is stimulation of the flesh, passion, pathos. It is music and wordless mysticism. Beyond that, it is also a SECT which communicates an ideology, a rational Word, giving a new meaning, a direction to our unknown Brethrens. Still, we do not speak a lot and with everybody. I have decided to speak once and in depth to the suitable audience. LA MESNIE HERLEQUIN, the literary review I created with L'atrabilaire Maldoror (who translated this interview into English) will allow me to do so. However, it cannot be denied total secrecy in order to keep the appropriate mystique is often a ruse used by non-mystical bands that want to appear mystical. Such bands have nothing to say and they feign mystery. To come back to question 5, there is a good and a wrong " mask ". 1° Real possession, transference, the Id which manages to become real (mechanics of psychosis), transference which becomes real in the work of art. 2° Charlatanism which consists in pretending one owns a secret, that one is someone else, without believing it oneself. That is the case for some 90 % of BM bands. The cause for my BM: becoming MY desire, being my desire. The cause for theirs: being YOUR desire, pretending.
8. Speaking of which, Peste Noire was once construed as NS, mostly down to the 'Aryan Supremacy' and 'Macabre Transcendence' demos...care to clear this up? Are you in fact anti-NS, or are some NS tenets plausible?
I am a nationalist, not a socialist... My two nations are : France d'Oïl and Hell. BM is a double nationalism, temporal and spiritual, horizontal and vertical. 1° TEMPORAL as it is always the heritage of a BLOOD and of a material EARTH it has to worship. 2° SPIRITUAL (vertical) in that it is metaphorically a nationalism from Hell and from Darkness, an ethical and aesthetic allegiance to the Kingdom Of Evil. Of course I share (I say " I " because it is not necessarily the case for the other members) some principles of National-socialism but I reject some too. To my mind, without being necessarily NS, real BM is always extreme right-wing music — be it from Asia or Latin America as extreme-right politics are not the appanage of the white race — and it is always Satanic.
9. Another thing I've often wondered and am imploring your 'definition' of - what's the meaning behind the logo? I absolutely love it, but find a certain degree of twisted humor behind it, too...
The death's-head is smiling. So, in spite of all, it lives. We are walking corpses, I have written it in the introduction to the interview featured in the album. But its smile is cynical, malicious and sardonic. It expresses an aristocratic sneer, haughty towards mankind, and an amused disgust. The death's-head is as we say it " une tête brûlée " (French expression, literally " a burnt head " translated as " daredevil " in English). It is one-eyed to show the blindness of our fanaticism.
10. And if I'm to ask for yet more clearly defined terms, what are the lyrical subjects on 'La Sanie des siecles - Panegyrique de la degenerescence'? I'm guessing there's an overall theme or themes, yes?
A parallel between mediaeval and modern apocalypse; the decline of the current world and the desire to see it die out since it cannot be saved; vengeance and the fantasized return of our Own (our Own: a fallen nobility humiliated socially, psychically and physiologically) are the leading themes of the album. Annihilating the world which has annihilated us. It invites people to do so.
11. With this album, it appears (and sounds) like Peste Noire is a full 'band' now whereas, obviously, you were solo before. Is this (perceived) collaboration invigorating, as far as getting new input into the PN sound? Or can it be frustrating in that it's not solely a extension/representation of yourself anymore, but of a few additional members?
I keep control of the composition, i.e guitar riffs which are the leading soul. Winterhalter (drums) and Indria (bass) set these riffs in motion, propel them, enrich them and build over them giving them the most perfect colour. They refine and expand PN. If I had to lose these two individuals, PN would not disappear but would get much poorer given the absence of similar musicians in BM. The same applies to Neige who will compose some titles — his musical sensitiveness is very close to mine. Therefore, the two new members — Neige has always been a member, except in 2005 — gave a great energy to PN, which has now become an undefeatable commando. The only things I will never share are the concept and the surrounding universe (musical, aesthetic and textual), which have grown and matured in my brain only. That is why I am the one who answers to your interview. I am the Word and the Miry Spirit of PN. They are PN's body and armour. Far from being frustrated, I am stronger and better armed.