“Douce Fange” is an album that encompasses many personal things, bizarre mixtures, and intense progressivism; but all within a creative environment and extensive metal movement, experimental and in many ways for Pensées Nocturnes. And if you don't want to believe it that way, then I just invite you to listen to "Fin Défunt", where rock and roll enter with keyboards, blacker rhythms are in the background and the story that unfolds near the end of the song has a well-known melody for all, even so, do not be immersed in the metal. Great album and great mixes! Rarities that are worth more than thousands of extreme, progressive, brutal records! That's why we interviewed Léon Harcore.
Para leer la entrevista en español: Entrevista a Pensées Nocturnes
Metallerium: Welcome to Metallerium website for Latin America. Léon Harcore. It is a pleasure for us to have this interview so we could talk about Pensées Nocturnes, the last record “Douce Fange” and other things related to the Metal Scene. First of all, how are you? How have you been in the last couple of years?
Pensées Nocturnes: Well, the last few weekends were pretty intense with the release of Douce Fange, many many parcels to send, rehearsals, gigs, and … interviews!
Metallerium: This is our first interview. Do you mind introducing the Pensées Nocturnes to people who have not yet discovered you? How can you describe your sound and influences?
Pensées Nocturnes: We can say that Pensées Nocturnes is kind of a UFO on the Black metal scene. It has been following a winding path since 2009, between circus, jazz, musette, tango, and classical music. After a very bad depressive start, PN kept its tortured and chaotic face and mixes it with more aerial and sometimes cheerful inspirations. The result is a most brutal and disconcerting cocktail.
In 2017, the band that had first started as a solo project takes shape on stage and treads on the biggest French rostrums (Hellfest, Motocultor, Tyrant Fest, among others), giving life to this grotesque theater.
Having released an album dedicated to the circus in 2019 (Grand Guignol Orchestra), PN delivers its 7th opus in 2022, “Douce Fange”, an invitation to go back to old France and its insalubrious halls, cut-throat narrow streets, ill-famed brothels, and degenerate pubs.
Metallerium: “Douce Fange”, your seventh studio album was released on January 21st. How are you feeling about the fans and media reaction to the album?
Pensées Nocturnes: Well, I guess the fans know what to expect, namely anything but what they have already been served, and I give it to them. So, no real surprise there, and still the same support. I even have to admit the number of direct orders to us has drastically increased since the last opus “Grand Guignol Ochestra’.
As for media reactions, they seem also to be more and more informed of what to expect and therefore more relevant in their analysis of PN’s music.
Metallerium: You have your own sound and this last album is not the exception. What is your process of composing and recording new songs? Did it change much with the last record because of the pandemic?
Pensées Nocturnes: I have to admit that the covid 19 crisis made it easier to spend a lot of time on “Douce Fange”. Two years ago, we were at a time where we had trod the planks a lot and needed new materials not to get bored and lose the audience. Covid 19 appeared at perfect timing for us as it forced us to stay inside, work, and work, and work again on each track to get it perfect.
That being said, producing an album is kind of a cycle that begins with resting from the production of the last one. One needs to clear his mind from what has been heard thousands of times before to be able to step forward and propose some new stuff. Moreover, trying to develop some new concepts, sounds, and mixes, requires more and more time with the number of albums growing since many things have already been tried and done.
Metallerium: The cover of the new album looks great! How do you pick the right cover for an album?
Pensées Nocturnes: Cäme Roy de Rat is responsible for the cover and the entire artwork of “Douce Fange” and it is actually the 4th album we work together. There is, therefore, a kind of routine that has become established in our way of working together, something really strange as some kind of natural connection. I usually give the first leads and it often rings something in his head that makes him create designs that almost always match the expectations. I am always pretty vague about the directions and it gives him the freedom to create something in his own style. For example, he sometimes adds some plays on words on the layout too, in addition to the ones included in the lyrics.
Metallerium: There are circus elements, along with lounge music, depressive atmospheres, and Black Metal in the sound of this new album. What is the key to making the mix of all these elements sound organic?
Pensées Nocturnes: I usually start from a concept, a thought, and I develop the music with the idea of what I would call a scenario. Sometimes this logical sequence is led by a text, sometimes it inspires one. There is no strict rule. I just let my imagination lead me when inspiration is here. I think it’s important to be led by emotions rather than the brain during composition (or more exactly both of them but separately) that’s why I don’t censor myself even if I have a text to follow. In a way, music expresses more precisely than words what you can feel and I don’t want to miss this particularity. So, no rule, just try and see.
Metallerium: What is the limit in your sound? Are there any elements that you think you will not use in your music?
Pensées Nocturnes: The rule is actually there is none. The only limit I impose on myself is to always get something listenable and not just put all things in the bowl only for the performance. The final result must be something worth it and make you think “damn how could I not have thought of that before”. It must be powerful and overwhelming, that’s the limit.
Metallerium: Also, it seems that you feel more comfortable singing in your native language. Have you ever thought about using English in order to reach more people?
Pensées Nocturnes: I feel more like singing in French because it’s quite simply my native language. I’m often asked this question but I find it so absurd! I mean why would I bother expressing myself in a language I don’t find natural? Promotional considerations would be the only answer that comes to mind but would it be worth it? Choosing French makes it possible to play with the language, to turn it over and over which is something more interesting than only expressing some ideas and impossible in a language you don’t master enough. For me, English is just a tool, French a playground.
Metallerium: I know the situation is still quite complicated but What are your plans? Are there chances to see you on the stage soon?
Pensées Nocturnes: We are currently working on a clip that should be released pretty soon. That would be our first and we are looking forward to the final result! At the same time, we have begun our shows to support the release of “Douce Fange”, the icing on the cake being our show at Brutal Assault in August.
Metallerium: By the way, how do you choose the musicians to work with when you have to go on a tour?
Pensées Nocturnes: Well, they are all friends of mine I have been used to playing with one day or another. I wanted to keep a real feeling when adapting PN's song for life and for that purpose cohesion of the group is primordial. I wasn't looking for machines able to perfectly repeat the set but humans, with their weaknesses, able to reinvent the songs each time. That's also the reason why there are only a few samples during the show, most instruments being played live.
The line-up is pretty stable now and doesn’t change much.
Metallerium: Talking about the Metal scene in your country, France. I had the chance to listen to some great bands. How do you see the Metal scene in your country? Which bands can you recommend?
Pensées Nocturnes: I don’t really see it that way since I put music before side issues (country, musicians, artwork...), and generally speaking, I prefer to judge bands on a case-by-case basis and try to avoid cataloging as far as possible. I think with the development of the Internet this notion of nationality has less significance (in music) and I’m not particularly proud of being French even if indeed it seems we have a strong Black Metal scene. I don’t really try to fit into a style and what I’m used to listening to follows the same rules; I’m not led by any kind of chauvinism, only the way I feel the music. Best French bands I got in the BM scene: Diapsiquir, Peste Noire, Reverence, Arkhon Infaustus….
Metallerium: Before we finish. Is there anything you want to say to your fans in this part of the world and Metallerium readers Leon?
Pensées Nocturnes: Well thanks for your time! Viva México cabrones!