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Gautier Serre (Igorrr)

Interview with Gautier Serre from Igorrr
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 27 March 2020, 1:00 AM

Unique Metal band IGORRR recently released their latest album, "Spirituality and Distortion." Metal Temple Editor-In-Chief Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell recently caught up with composer Gautier Serre to talk about the new album and the band in general. Here is what Gautier had to say!

Hello, Gautier, and thank you for the opportunity to interview you! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself…where you are from and perhaps how you got started in the music industry? How did you come to name the band Igorrr?

Hello, yes sure, my name is Gautier Serre, I’m french, and I do the musical project Igorrr, I write the music, record, mix, and do all artistic content concerning Igorrr with the help of my musicians. As a teenager, I was fed up of what the radio, TV and CD industry was proposing, they were kind of forcing us to listen to what they wanted to and not the music that I wanted to hear, a very specific music, kind of my perfect personal ideal in music, which I have never found, that’s why I created the project Igorrr, to create this music which I wanted to listen. I started to create it this way, escaping the commercial musical rules to step higher in my vision of what the music could be. Commercial rules brings the music down, Igorrr is the escape of it, I got free of those rules and do whatever make sense to me, sometimes people like it, sometimes they don’t, but at least, this music is 100% honest and is made by pure passion and love. When I started to create tracks by my own, they were made in a very DIY way, I had like hundreds tracks laying around, at some point I started to need a name for those, and at the same period, I had a pet gerbil, a black gerbil that look like the Igor from the movie Frankenstein, I don’t know if you ever saw a gerbil in your life, but it’s standing on the 2 back feet and it has a folded back, a bit like the Igor of Frankenstein again. When this gerbil died, I was so sad that I took her name like a kind of homage, a tribute to her, thinking that it is provisory and I’ll change it after. I just added 3r just to make it more difficult to pronounce.

Did a certain band or album ever have a big “ah-ha” moment for you where you were inspired to start creating yourself? If so, can you tell me about that?

I had many moments in my life when I was amazed by bands and their work, still today I’m amazed every time I’m listening to Chopin and Bach, but I don’t think I had a precise moment when I discovered a band that made me create music, for me it happened in a different way, making music is more a vital need more than something I discovered, it has always been in me, and I create music very naturally, to be more specific, I’m not creating music but my mind is creating music by itself, even sometimes I don’t want to. Some bands inspired me on my journey of developing my music, some noticeable bands that bring me very much that I have in mind right now are Meshuggah, Mr. Bungle, Apex Twin, Taraf de Haidouks or Sepultura.

How did the band come to form in the early years, and what was your vision for your sound?

At the beginning there were no "band," Igorrr was just my personal musical project and I was doing everything by myself, totally DIY with my computer. With the years, and by doing this music, I happened to meet many different musicians, I made music with some of them, including Laure Le Prunenec, Laurent Lunoir, Sylvain Bouvier, Nils Cheville, Antony Miranda etc… and I had some wonderful surprises, since then, I kept doing music with some of them, and they became step by step what is the Igorrr sound today. Those were studio performers at the beginning, and some of them became as well live performer with me on stage. They actually helped me to reach the vision of the sound I had. Instead of taking a sample of a lyric voice, I ask Laure Le Prunenec to sing it, it becomes even more original. I think I have the same vision of the sound than before, the only difference now is that I’m not alone on my computer to create it, I have the luck to be joined with people crazy enough to follow me on my music.

How has the band evolved since those early years, to the band that I heard on “Spirituality and Distortion.”

I think the project has followed a natural evolution, starting from myself messing around with baroque samples and death metal computer music as a experimental background, until today, being able to record a real harpsichord myself in amazing studios, and to be able to record real drums, guitars and bass, but having the same idea on mind.

As the music I want to do is very specific, I cannot find samples for everything I need, at some point there is no existing samples of what I want so today, having this incredible possibility to record a oud, a kanoun, a cello, strings, piano, an harpsichord, an accordion and all sort of crazy stuff, it gives me the possibility to have a more original sound, because I choose the instrument, the player, the place to record, the microphones etc… and I mix it by myself, it gives me the possibility to push my music much further. Today with Spirituality and Distortion, I could finally archived a piece of music which was in my heart for a long, long time and which one very challenging to do, meaning that with the possibility I had before I could never have done this album.

I saw your list of influences, and it ranges quite widely, from classical musicians to Death Metal bands. Please explain how they have helped shape the music you have made over the years.

I have a deep metal influence in my music, as a young boy and teenager, I have been listening a lot of metal, all sort of metal, this thing is that it’s the same with baroque and classical music, I have been listening to a lot of classical and baroque music, it’s in my musical background since I’m a child, I have a huge preference to minor pieces tho, and my biggest influences would be like Domenico Scarlatti, Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Rameau etc… It’s also the same about electronic music, where I got pretty much into as a teenager as well starting with Apex Twin, Sqaurepusher and a lot of Warp Records releases from 90’s or 20’s, plus some crazy dudes like Bogdan Raczynski and all the Reflex Record artists, also Venetian Snares etc… I’ve been listening also very different stuff like Romanian music and Balkan music, I’m not sure how to explain that but I feel bored in only one genre, only one colour of life, only one emotion, life is a range of emotions, I need many music experiences to express it. I think all of this shaped who I am today and shaped the music that I create. There are geniuses in every genre of music, they all have different vision of music and life, different codes, different languages, if you learn how to understand and appreciate them, it’s a full universe opening to you.

What are some challenges you have faced in the music industry, and what have been some good things that have come out of it for you?

You know, I’m not so much into music industry, I’m fully focus on the music itself and how to make it the best way possible, there are some people managing this industrial aspect for me, meanwhile I do the music. The only thing I see from here is that more and more people are enjoying the music I do, despite that we are not a Metal band or a Rock or Pop band, I mean an « usual » band, easy to sell and having a existing place in the music industry, more and more people start to open up to this music, and that’s awesome.

“Spirituality and Distortion” sounds like it contains more instruments than I can count, and has a wide variety of sounds. Can you tell me all the various instruments that went into making the album, and how you incorporated them together so well?

In Spirituality and Distortion, there are the usual instruments like Drums, electric Guitars, Bass and voices, many different voices, but there are also a Syrian Oud from 50’s, an harpsichord, old amazing Neapolitan harpsichord, there is also a baroque violin, 3 middle east violins, a classical guitar, synthesisers, a Cello, a Portuguese guitar, a Kanoun, a gas cylinder, percussions, an accordion, a piano, a clarinet, a sitar and a goat. I hope I don’t forget anything. Combining all those elements is pretty natural to me, but it’s a real hell in terms of organisation.

In studio, first of all we had to manage the sessions with the instrumentalists, on Spirituality and Distortion, I invited new persons, like George Fisher, Timba Harris, Mike Leon, Mehdi Haddab or Matt Lebofsky, but I knew most of the others already, and connecting with all those people is quite a challenge.

First, after you have composed the tracks, you have to find the right person, the right instrument with the right sound, the right microphones and technical gear, the person has to exercise the track that I send them, they have to practice and to be ready for the day of the recording, which was mostly never the case, and on the top of that, we had to fix the planning matter with the musician, the studio, the photographer (Svarta Photography, who was shooting and documenting all the recording process of the album) and myself, all for the same day and for each musician.

It might look quite Ok at first, but we are speaking here about a music which is qualified as « extreme » by most of people and when you have to record different traditional instruments, coming from a very different culture, it’s difficult to communicate and to make them understand what I need.

In my albums I used many colours, many different instrumentalists, and each of them has a very different vibe, a very different culture, a very different sound, and a very different language, to record them is difficult, but on the top of that, more than having a precise and detailed vision of what I needed to for every instrumentalist, I have to keep the global point of view of the complete work, complete track and complete album, which makes the communication sometimes messy.

I am fascinated at some of the songs on the album. The diverse sounds that you create…what are some of your favourite tracks, and why?

It really depends of the days, but Camel Dancefloor is pretty much coming back to my mind almost everyday, I’m very obsessed with this track, I don’t know why, but it had and still has a deep impact in my mind, but beside that, it’s actually very hard to answer this question as this album has been precisely a very, very strict sum up of what musics are the best to me, so choosing one of them would be like cutting the whole piece. Anyway, Massive Himalaya Ritual is also a highlight to me, with Hollow Tree, Downgrade Desert, Nervous Waltz, Very Noise, Parpaing and actually, all the rest of the album.

What have been some stand-out moments from past tours? Can you share any fun or interesting stories from the road with me?

There are a lot memorable stuff happening on tour, I have one in mind right now, which was not funny at all when it actually happened but today we are laughing about it. During out first American tour, we were playing in Philadelphia, on the north east of America, it was in February and it was horribly cold at that time, we arrived in the club and went to the backstage, we had the surprise to notice that the backstage had heaters but they were all turned off, the promoters didn’t want to turn them on for economical reasons, you know as a alternative music band, we don’t have the same comfort as Madonna or Metallica, it was actually negative temperatures in there, and we had to set up our stuff for the stage, changing t-shirts and all. We noticed that beside our club was a building with apartments, and a pipe of hot water was passing through it on the first floor, so basically what we did was to escape the club and those backstage before playing and we were waiting for the show time, sitting on that warm pipe passing on the floor.

Funny story as well when during the first European Savage Sinusoid Tour, at some point, we had 4 gigs from one day to another in a raw, very far from each other, and without a day off. We did basically Hannover in Germany, the day after, we were playing in Athen, Greece, then Sofia, in Bulgaria, and Antwerp, in Belgium, those gigs were all happening late at night, and the planes were departing very early morning, so basically we got off the stage to go to the airport right after the show and we didn’t sleep at all for 4 days. Another embarrassing / funny story happened during the Savage Sinusoid Tour, at the very beginning, we actually started the tour by playing in Istanbul and Tel Aviv before playing the first European show of the tour, in Nîmes (France).

In Tel Aviv, the promoters brought us to the restaurant and we all ate the same, a local humous. We all got very sick, I mean pretty seriously, even the technical crew, everybody was dying, and it was just at the beginning of our tour, so in fact, when we arrived in Europe, the couple of first gigs were quite an intensive experience as we were very destroyed and have been sick for many days after that. We all managed to deliver proper live shows anyway, and we had surprisingly a lot of fun playing like that in this very inappropriate conditions.

What do you do when you are not writing or touring? Any interesting hobbies?

I’m a nature man, when I don’t do music or touring, either interviews and managing Igorrr stuff, I’m out in the mediterranean nature, this is my thing. I’m also spending a great amount of time cooking, I’ve been working as a chef for a short time in my life, and I really love cooking, it has lots of connections with the Igorrr music as well, you choose the right ingredients, mix them up as it should and try to use each of them to bring the best of it.

Metal Blade picked you up in 2017, right? What effect has that had on you and the band/your career as a musician?

When we started talking with Mike Faley from Metal Blade, it had something very unreal: me, composer from France doing extreme music with no impact on the music scene at all, just having fun by developing my own musical journey, speaking with Metal Blade, first label signing Metallica, with also Slayer in their roaster, even I’m not a Slayer fan, this is still a huge metal band, it really felt unreal. Metal Blade is also the label of Cannibal Corpse, which had a deep musical influence to me, I was really expecting Metal Blade to ask anything to change on my music for Igorrr to be a part of the label, Savage Sinusoid was already done when we started speaking with them, so I was already ready to answer them: no way, I’m not removing accordion, I’m not changing anything too electronic or too bizarre, the music is to be taken as it is with no changes at all. But instead, they loved it all, and they never asked me to change a single note of the music, so I was really happy, despite their major impact on the music scene, those are still cool guys working with passion and love for the music.

What is your take on the music industry of today? How has it changed since you released your first EP?

Well, since my first demo Poisson Soluble and Moisissure, there is nothing which really changed in my way of doing music, I’m still doing the music I want to do, without asking myself if people gonna like it or not. The difference is that today, I have the luck to be able to record my own instruments when back then, I had to use samples to do it. Today, after some years of work to make it real, I can push my ideas much further than before as I’m not limited by the audio gear and possibilities to record any instrument I need.

What are your touring plans for the album? I have a friend who lives in Brazil who is hoping she can catch you there…will you be visiting Brazil or South America at all? Or has the Covid-19 virus put a halt on touring?

Covid-19 has hold our tour, right now when I’m answering this interview, I should be on tour already. This virus is a big blow for musician like me as all the concerts has been postponed. Well, when this shit gonna be over, we’ll try to make an south American tour, that would be awesome, we have played in Mexico city and in Guadalajara, but we’ve never been below that point in the American continent.

Thank you very much for the chance to talk to you!

You’re welcome :)


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Edited 08 February 2023

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