What is the ultimate goal of P.H.O.B.O.S. (if any)?
How close do you feel 'Tectonics' has come to achieving what you want the band to communicate?
There is no ultimate goal but above all the strong desire to create the most intense sounds to please myself. Whatever the genre is, I find the mass music pretty boring, and particularly metal, when the same patterns or clichés are repeated in an unique style. Thus the process for P.H.O.B.O.S. is not to 'do this' but to 'avoid the obvious', in order to get lost in new strange territories. If the atmosphere calls me out, then I consider I'm at the right place. With 'Tectonics' I want to demonstrate that evil and insanity is not the privilege of BM, blackened doom or harsh electronica, but can rise out of a subtle and calculated combination of all.
How would you yourself describe P.H.O.B.O.S. musically?
After being pissed off with nowadays metal, though I've been a great fan since the early 80's, I've always thought it was high time to go beyond the idea of metal as the only medium of darkness and aggression. I'm into other styles too, particularly in the electronic field (darkwave, EBM, industrial, ambient, etc), and it was natural for me to bring these roots in my music. I often introduce P.H.O.B.O.S. as 'industrial doom' because these are the main ingredients to offer to people who need their references, but I hate to reduce music in categories. True music is a matter of frequencies and rhythms, not of image, attitude, religious or fucking political message. I don't feel confined to attract such or such audience.
Is there an overall theme or mood specifically on 'Tectonics' that you wish to communicate, separate from the themes and mood of the band's general sound?
I retrospectively think that I've composed 'Tectonics' for a while with the unconscious premonition that something natural but tremendous is waiting below, to sweep through everything on the surface of this planet. Should it be the self-destruction of Mother Earth, an ultimate revenge against men's arrogance and uselessness sleeps in my mind. Subjects differ from one track to another, but without further anaIysis, the profound mood is nihilist. There is no special concept besides, but I'm keen on geological phenomena and an important part of my work was to sonically re-create the massive powers of earthquakes, eruptions, subductions, etc. There's a wide range of cracks and drones to explore and to mix with more conventional sounds like screams, distorsions or percussions.
Do you find being the sole member has helped P.H.O.B.O.S. maintain a strong direction?
Trying in vain to find the right partners made me lose my time by moving away from my path, until I had to admit that when you're into this and do not want to be compromised, you're better served by yourself. If you're out of the landmarks, most of musicians, even technically talented, are lost if they miss the vision. Mine is set since day one, although I know nothing about musical theory. Needless to add that the band format, with the live, visual and physical points of view, is an inseparable 'part of the fun' the so-called musicians are looking for. I've never needed to imagine Bathory, Scorn or Tricky as bands or humans to feel the intrinsic force of their works, which are amongst the most visionary examples.
In the mixture of metal and industrial elements on 'Tectonics', there's a real sense that the parts in turn complement and mimic each other, with neither being dominant, which makes it all feel very unified. Was this your intention, or were the different parts composed separately then added together?
In the way industrial music is designed, It was a very premeditated creation, not 'plug your axe and play rock'n'roll' instinct. One by one, each track was thought in its entirety, as far as the structures and moods are concerned, before being played and programmed. Domination or submission of parts between them is not the purpose, but each part should be distinctive in its proper field, be it pure ambient or riff-driven. The uniformity you are feeling mostly comes from the underlying and droning layers, which consolidate the continuum of parts that are a priori incompatible.
How did the deal come together with Appease Me, and do you have an opinion on the other acts on the label?
I know a member of Blut Aus Nord for a while, having briefly played together. We also share the same open-mindedness in extreme music. When 'Tectonics' was almost finished, I made him listen to a pre-mastered version at my studio. Two hours later I had a phone call from him to invite me to sign to Appease Me. I think the label was one of the few that carefully listened to P.H.O.B.O.S. and understood my music in terms of arts instead of commercial potential. All my other attempts to interest metal, hardcore or industrial rosters have been fruitless. Moreover, Appease Me was opening its collaboration with Candlelight/PHD, and that was the only and most interesting proposal for me. I do not really know the other Appease Me artists, but P.H.O.B.O.S. is strongly connected with a future labelmate. We're talking sickening doom here... be prepared.
What are your future plans for the band?
P.H.O.B.O.S. is definitely not a band but my solo project, with no touring duty. I consider my musical and conceptual evolution totally free from any boundaries. New material is on its way, still to extend my journey into dark and destabilizing soundscapes.