Rock Impressions

Interview with Jean-christophe D'Arnell
(italian version)
by Giancarlo Bolther

Can you give us an introduction to your band with the history of your group?
Collection d’Arnell-Andrea ‘s history really starts in 1988…..reduced at this time to the founder nucleus (Chloé St Liphard and myself…Jean-Christophe d’Arnell), we recorded our first 12” “Autumn’s breath for Anton’s death” and got an agreement with an english label…
As soon as we began Collection d’Arnell-Andrea (1986), we tried to express a deep, and emotional atmosphere with our music; the main idea was to mix acoustic instruments (like the cello, piano or Chloé’s voice…) with electric ones (electric guitars) or electronic ones (synthetiseur, rythms boxes ,effects…..).The second important point, was the attention we paied to the visual: artwork, sleeve design, pictures, movies for our concerts…..
We also expected to gather various musicians coming from different musical areas, around this original concept…
We always had the chance to collaborate with independant labels, so we’ve always kept a real control on our own productions. That was also, something essential for us, regarding our music. Our first album “Un Automne à Loroy” came out in 1989, and the second “ Au Val des Roses” in 1990, “Les Marronniers”(1992), “Villers-Aux-Vents”(1994), “Cirses des Champs” (1996), « CollAGE/compil »(1998), « Tristesse des Mânes »(2002) and now our new album “The Bower of Despair”(2004)! ! !
The line-up now is the following one : Chloé (voices), Carine (Keyboards-voices), Franz (bass guitar – backing), Vincent (electric guitars), Xavier (cello), Thibault (viola) and me, Jean-Christophe (keyboards-rythms).

What was happened when you decided to break up?
We never broke up !!!! even if it took nearly eight years for us to compose a new electric album (between “Cirses des Champs”/1996 and “The Bower of Despair”/2004)….we never stopped to play and to compose!!
We spent all this time, preparing our compilation “CollAGE”, we gave some concerts, and we have been working hard on “Tristesse des Mânes”, our acoustic album, with néo-classical orchestrations….a sort of a chamber music, with compositions for voices, piano, viola and cello. This concept album required all our energy, and above all, most of our time ! !
At this time, we really desired to re-discover the acoustic sound of the instruments we used to play for a long time ago!so we decided to compose melodies, close to the spirit of the Melodies of Gabriel Fauré, or Henri Duparc….composers from the beginning of the 19th century…that has been a real challenge for us, to play, to record without guitars, effects and electronic keyboards….We tried to make a dark, and emotional music with this special album.

Why have you decided to come back and which emotions have you felt with it?
The preparation of “Tristesse des Mânes”, took so much time, that, at the end of this project we only had one desire : to come back to electric power! To come back to electronic rythms and effects! To come back to the guitars and keyboards ! ! ! that’s probably why, “The Bower of Despair” seems particulary dark and strong?!

How much time did it take to complete the new album?
Finally, it only took about three years to record this album ! ! we really started to work on it, in 2001, we even recorded 6 first tracks in summer 2003, and the followings in summer 2004. For the first time, we felt the need to play live some of the new tracks on scene, before even having recorded them! We were really impatient to present these new songs to our audience!!

Where did you find inspiration to write it?
Even if the form seems different, in a certain way, the content is very close to the main themes of our others albums. I’m always interested by the emotions, the feelings of the human beings, regard to the doubt, the memories and the death….I try to drawn a sort of relation between the Nature’s destiny and the Beings’s destiny!!!

Where would you place your new record in today's scene?
First of all, we consider “The Bower of Despair” as a new step in CDAA’s adventure ! !Of course, because of our own musical influences, we feel closer to the “Dark-Goth” culture ! ! but not in an exclusive way…..We also appreciate the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to file our band!! Apparently, people from different musical areas may appreciate our music…and that’s nice!!

Your new album is very strong and dark, which is the message that you want to say?
Yes, this album is particulary dark and deep!...”The Bower of Despair” calls to mind, the last moments of conscience, nostalgia, before dying…Of course this album talks about Death, but just as a pretext for an analysis of all the life, the memories,the feelings that we’ve got to leave, definitely, when the end is near…….So, I think that “The Bower of Despair” is our darkest, deepest and also our clearest album!!

How do you go about the process of composing songs?
We proceed always the same way!! I compose the first idea of the songs, and after each musician creates his own musical lines; the songs are orchestrated in a real collective work and the evolution of the tracks, keeps on all the studio session long: during the recording (we test new ideas..) and of course during the mix.

In my diskography i have got Un Automne A Loroy, Villier-Aux-Vents and the new one, all of them sounds very different, there is an interesting evolution, in your opinion which are the main differences between your records?
I’m not sure, that there are many important differences between these 3 albums….
Maybe, the sound of “Un Automne à Loroy” is more “impressionist”…the voice of Chloé is mixed like any other instrument, we can’t really speak of a “lead” voice because of its place in the final mix..
“Villers-Aux-Vents” represents the arrival of more electric guitars….the theme is very strong and very dark: it’s a concept album, based on the first world war (1914-1918).There are, many chorus voices,too!!
We find again, a special atmosphere, with the mix of acoustic instruments and electronic or electric ones!!
“The Bower of Despair” presents a real lead voice, more direct, even if there are a lot of male backings!! The sound is maybe, more “clear” and more “dirty” at the same time…the electric guitars are stronger.

In my opinion nowadays there are a lot of bands in the goth scene, but very few are good as the artists of the eighties, i believe that dark wave bands (Bauhaus, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Christian Death, Virgin Prunes...) were much more experimental and searched than today bands, what is your point of view?
Yes, I agree with you….Bauhaus, Joy Division, Killing Joke or The Virgin Prunes were…and are still great references for me!!! I will remember all my life long, a concert of The Virgin Prunes (in the beginning of 80’s)…they are probably the main “founders” of all the Dark or Goth culture….

In my opinion you sound like an eighties band, in the meaning that you have the same vibe and the same wonderful approach to the music, do you feel the same?
thank you!! I consider your point of view as a compliment….it’s true that we feel very free regarding our music, and we don’t try to follow any fashion! We always compose with our own, old, and eighties keyboards and not to belong to any sort of “revival”!!

Gothic (or Dark Wave) music have always had a double character, the aestetic one and the spiritual one; which is the most important in your music?
I consider Dark Wave, or Gothic as a real culture mixing esthetic, music, poetry, cinema, philosophy and so on…..that’s its wealth and its strength !! that’s in a way what we’ve been trying to experiment since the beginning of our band…and that’s why, even if our music isn’t specially “gothic”, we really belong to this culture…

Which are the artists that have inspired you most?
There are too many bands ! ! ! we like” old bands” like Bauhaus,Kraftwerk, Virgin Prunes, Joy Division, Cure, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance…..and also more recent like The Young Gods, Placebo, Radiohead, Deus, PJ Harvey, Sigur Ros…..
We also listen to a lot of classical music: Fauré, Duparc, Arvo Pärt, Schubert, Mahler, Purcell, Janacek…..

Gothic music is very popular nowadays, how do you feel about the new artists?
The situation is always the same!! .some of the actual artists keep on innovating in their own style, and their use of all the new musical technology is very interesting and others, elaborate a sound too close to their own influences …and it is less interesting!!!

How did you get in touch with the label Prikosnovenie?
In fact , I’ve been in touch with Prikosnovenie for a long time…I had a radio program and of course I had contact with many independent labels….But CDAA had an agreement with another independent label in France, so we had no reason, at this time to collaborate.
We met, for the first time in 2000, and I talked to Fred (Prikosnovenie) of our project of an acoustic album…”Tristesse des Mânes” . At this time we didn’t want to propose this album to our label (LAST CALL) because this, album was closer to classical music, as to “rock”; Prikosnovenie, seemed interested, and when the recording of “Tristesse des Mânes” was finished, we signed a agreement with Prikosnovenie!!

Have you been satisfied with the promotion and the distribution of your albums?
Yes, that’s why we signed agreements with Prikosnovenie, for the re-editions of all our discography with them!
When you sign with a little independent label, you must know the “limits” of the distribution and of the promotion…so there are no surprise, no disappointment!!!
We are really satisfied with Prikosnovenie!!

Do you have a philosophy? Your vision of the world is...
Of course we feel very close to the independent way of living, and of thinking too!! We also try to leave in a certain harmony with the nature….and with people!!

How do you live the day-to-day reality outside the band? What kind of person are you as men and as artists?
Collection d’Arnell-Andrea takes a big place in our lifes! so there is always a big part of CDAA in our minds , and, in our way of thinking in the “real” life! Just like there is a big part of us in our band!
Thank you very much for all your attention to our music! Ciao!

Reviews (in italian):
Villier-Aux-Vents; Un Automne à Loroy; The Bower of Despair
Au Val Des Roses; Exposition; Vernes-Monde

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