Senem (aka Lady Obscure): When I got the first e-mail about your band I got very excited as progressive music is very popular among LOMM authors and readers. And you did not dissapoint when I checked out your music 🙂 So can you give us a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Aurélien: Esthesis was born in Paris in 2013, when I was a student. I started to write a lot of music alone in my bedroom, on keyboard and guitar. Some years later, I moved to Toulouse in 2018 and released an EP with the previous line up in 2019. Then I met Marc, Florian and Baptiste and decided to record the first album with them. We didn’t know each other before.
Marc: I was on some websites for a while, looking for a serious progressive rock band, and I came across Aurélien’s message, looking for a bass player. I immediately wrote to him.
Florian: I was looking for a band with a long term project, so Esthesis convinced me.
Senem: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?
Aurélien: Well, the album is selling very well which is very important for me, and this is good news for the rest of the band. We all have regular jobs, although my ambition is clearly to only make music someday. I would even say I am happy that I am not just earning money with music at the moment, due to the economic crisis. I sympathize with professional musicians who have been impacted for one year.
Senem: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
Aurélien: Yes we can say it! We took advantage of the whole last year to record and release the first album, and there are many great things to come in the two next years.
Senem: Progressive rock seems to be our mutual interest 😊, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?
Aurélien: I discovered progressive music at 14, with “The Dark Side Of The Moon” by Pink Floyd. What attracted me directly in this band was the feeling of traveling with sounds, and that’s what interests me most about progressive music when I write a new song for Esthesis. I want listeners to have the feeling of traveling with the music, and to imagine the stories they want. I think my lyrics are quite meaningful and emotional. Some people told me our songs are like movies, and that’s the best compliment we can get. I have never been too interested in very technical progressive rock and metal bands, with too frequent changes of atmosphere. I feel much more close to Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Marillion than Yes or Genesis in our sound.
Marc: Progressive music allows to mix different genres and this is what I like. As a bassist, I always play and listen to a lot of different kind of music, from rock to funk, metal to pop. In Esthesis, I can create bass lines with all those influences.
Baptiste: I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd for a very long time. I’ve always liked progressive music a lot.
Florian: I didn’t know progressive music before Esthesis. This is a new challenge that allows me to explore new facets of my drumming.
Senem: Oh I wasn’t expecting this Florian as the ‘proggy’ drums is an integral part of the progressive music. The outcome is pretty impressive though 😊
Speaking of which “No Soul to Sell” was my immediate favourite.
Senem: So, are you guys happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Aurélien: I think we are all very satisfied with “The Awakening”. The album has been out for almost 6 months now and I’m still very proud of it. It would be very hard for me to say which is my favorite track.
Marc: Yes, I am very happy with the final product. I succeeded in withdrawing myself to play few notes when it was necessary, and conversely to have been able to play more notes at some moments (Downstream’s groove part for instance, the bass solo part on Chameleon, or Still Far To Go chorus). Regarding what could have been improved, I would say my bass sound, which can be sometimes too round and muffled, but I will work on this point for the next records. I would also say that I was surprised by the intensity of the studio and that it caught me a bit off guard on some parts.
Florian: Yes indeed, I’m very satisfied too. The drums sounds live and open, against current productions with over-compressed and digital drum sounds.
Baptiste: Yes! I’m pretty happy with the record. Of course, there are several things I would change about my guitar sound and playing, but I will slightly change these parts for the live.
Senem: How has the overall reception been?
Aurélien: Honestly, I knew the songs were good and would be appreciated, but I am still very pleasantly surprised with all the positive reviews we have had around the world. It’s really amazing how much people thank us from so many different countries. Thank you so much for that.
Marc: The reception is very good, with great reviews from all over the world: magazines, webzines, and Esthesis fans of course.
Senem: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
Aurélien: There were some Esthesis concerts in 2017, with different musicians, but I really want to play gigs with the new line-up. We are currently working hard on finding live dates.
Marc: Not yet. All our shows were cancelled because of the pandemic. It’s sad because we are highly motivated to meet our fans and play live. We already arranged the songs from the album in this way.
Senem: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
Marc: The future looks good and I hope we can play some concerts later this year.
Aurélien: I’m currently working on the two next Esthesis records. The first one will be released in 2022.
Senem: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
Aurélien: I wrote all the lyrics. “The Awakening” deals with the notion of identity : awakening, quest and lost of identity… These are universal issues and it was important for me to write about it. The record invites people to ask questions about themselves and their own vision of society.
Senem: Who is composing the songs?
Aurélien: This is also me. The music was already written when I developed the lyric concept. Some songs of the record were already written in 2013 or 2014, but Baptiste, Marc and Florian helped me a lot to finalize the arrangements of the six tracks. The album should have included a seventh track, but I finally decided to put it aside two months before recording. This untitled track will be on Esthesis’ third album because it will be more electro and industrial. it will better suit the style of this third record.
Senem: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Aurélien: Many bands influenced me, even if I hope we have succeeded in creating our own identity. Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree of course, but also many artists like Kate Bush (mainly “Aerial” and “50 Words For Snow”), minimalist and movie music composers like Philip Glass, Ludovico Einaudi, Ennio Morricone, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Angelo Badalamenti… Goldfrapp also influenced me a lot and I really love her music. I guess The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Crosby, Stills and Nash influenced me for some vocal harmonies of the record. Esthesis is characterized by many influences and I wanted silences to be very important in the record: without them, there is no dynamics at all in a song. I wanted each song of “The Awakening” to be like a movie, with very different ambiences. The piano is very important on the record.
Senem: That’s a great list of bands! Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Marc: I like both!
Baptiste: Being in a studio is more exciting. I think it’s the best way to improve skills on an instrument!
Florian: These are two different exercises, but I prefer being in a studio, which for me is the starting point of a project. However, with the pandemic, I am really looking forward to playing again on stage.
Aurélien: I think I also prefer the studio. I have always loved writing songs at home, in a quiet place, and working the arrangements. It is a whole different exercise from playing a live gig. As I’m a control freak, I can do things more as I want, especially regarding the sound. But of course, I can’t wait to play the songs live, and meet some of our fans for the first time! And I still work a lot on the light show.
Senem: Wow.. you all chose the studio! Well almost. You know, I asked this question million times and this must be a first 😊 So, what first got you into music?
Aurélien: I have always listened to music a lot. When I was 6, I was already listening to the Beatles, Sting, Supertramp, Toto… I started to play keyboards when I was 11 or 12.
Marc: My parents registered me in piano lessons when I was 6. Then I started to play bass when I was 14 to join a rock band (nobody wanted to play bass!).
Florian: When I was about 10 years old, I first heard drums and it brought tears to my eyes. Since then I have hardly played anything but this instrument!
Senem: What do you like the best about being a musician? And what is it that you do not like much?
Aurélien: That’s a very interesting question… The best thing I love is creating something from scratch, feeling I can do whatever I want. If I have a first verse on the piano, I can decide to create a chorus in the same atmosphere, but also decide to develop a completely different one. Writing a song is always a feeling of freedom for me. I love to feel it, to play with it, and I like to challenge myself. On the other hand, everyone knows how tough the world of music is, with too many bands to listen to. It becomes more and more difficult for young artists to be heard. I think we’re very lucky, for a non-commercial progressive rock debut album, to already have so many people listening to us.
Marc: I love to compose and play songs live. I don’t like the insecure employment of this job.
Florian: Most certainly the songwriting and playing gigs to see the reaction of the audience.
Senem: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?
Aurélien: I think I would have made movies or written books. This is something that I still want to do someday. When I was a child and a teenager, I wrote short stories all the time. I miss it a bit.
Marc: I’m already an architect, so that would be my current job!
Florian: I would do more sport.
Senem: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Marc: I would change mainstream medias (radios, TV, magazines) that always broadcast the same kind of music and arrangements.
Senem: This is one of the popular answers Marc, I hear you 😊
Aurélien: I agree with Marc. There are also many issues with streaming royalties.
Florian: I would ban machine drums!
Senem: Oh I second that Florian! What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Marc: Music for its own sake of course. You will always have an audience for each kind of music you play. For instance, artists like David Bowie took many risks over the years with different styles of music. Some people stopped to listen to him but there were also new listeners…
Baptiste & Aurélien: All the same here!
Senem: Now, that I expected 😊 Who would you like to collaborate with?
Aurélien: Trent Reznor, Kate Bush, Goldfrapp, Giancarlo Erra, Tim Bowness… and many others.
Marc: Jamiroquai, to mix progressive and funky music, my two big influences.
Florian: Why not with Anneke Van Giesbergen, for her voice and her smile!
Baptiste: Thom Yorke.
Senem: Who would you like to go on a tour with?
Aurélien: Well, I would love to tour with bands like Nosound, Gazpacho, Marillion or Leprous.
Marc: Steven Wilson, to make jokes with Nick Beggs (his bassist) 🙂
Senem: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.
Aurélien: Without any hesitation, it would be the Loreley festival in Germany.
Senem: Oh, Night of the Prog. Yes I definitely understand 😊
Marc: It would be Sziget Festival (Hungary), because I’ve been there two times, in 2006 and 2008. There are 10 stages with different kind of music and people. It’s great to discover a lot of different bands.
Senem: Now, this should be interesting. Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
Aurélien: What a tough one! There are really a lot of great records, but OK, here are some of my favorites in my collection : “Felt Mountain” (Goldfrapp), “The Fragile” (Nine Inch Nails), The Virgin Suicides OST (Air), “Disintegration” (The Cure), “Mezzanine” (Massive Attack), “Abbey Road” (The Beatles), “Insurgentes” (Steven Wilson), “Toto” (Toto) and “Dark Side Of The Moon” (Pink Floyd). And a couple of lesser known records that I love : “Let It Glow” (Rover), “Quiet Letters” (Bliss), “Shangri-La” (Mark Knopfler), “The Book Of Secrets” (Loreena McKennitt)… and I forget a lot!
Marc: 1/ “Images and Words” (Dream Theater) : that was the first time I listened to prog music. I love the ambiences, the arrangements, the virtuosity on it. After Kevin Moore left the band, it was never the same again.2/ “Travelling Without Moving” (Jamiroquai) : As a bassist, I love the groove on this record.3/ “In Absentia” (Porcupine Tree) : the perfect mix between rock, progressive music and metal.
Baptiste: Some of my current favorites : “La Llorona” (Lhasa De Sela) ; “La Planète Inexplorée” (Slift) ; and “Sing To God” (Cardiacs).
Florian: I think my all-time favorite album is “New Jersey” by Bon Jovi.
Senem: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
Aurélien: Mainly CDs, but I also listen to a lot of records on Itunes, Spotify and Deezer.
Marc: A bit of everything, but most of my music is on my iPhone (shame on me!).
Florian: Vinyl and CDs.
Senem: What region of France are you from and what is the rock&metal scene like there?
Marc: We’re in Toulouse and there’s a good metal and rock scene here. Ok… nothing to do with such a big city like Paris, but there are really a lot of great bands and good places for live music (“La Cave à Rock” for instance). There’s also in Toulouse the first progressive metal festival in France, which is called “Ready For Prog?”.
Senem: Oh I should check out that one. I come to your country every year for Hellfest, well until the pandemic anyway.
So here is another one: You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, a movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?
Aurélien: Marc, Baptiste and Florian! It’s so hard to see them because of the pandemic! And in an imaginary world, maybe Mark Knopfler, David Lynch, David Gilmour, Bill Murray, Kate Bush…
Marc: I would invite Steven Wilson to speak about music, Peter Zumthor about architecture, Zinedine Zidane about football, Alain Chabat (a French comic actor) to make jokes… and a translator!
Senem: Ahahah, cool. If you had one message to your fans, what would it be?
Marc: Don’t forget that the bassist is the most intelligent, brilliant, beautiful, gifted, talented people in a band 🙂
Senem: Haha love that one Marc 😀
Aurélien: Haha, and of course a huge thank you to our listeners for their support!
Senem: Anything else you think your fans should know?
Marc: Every Esthesis fan must know that Aurelien Goude is a fan of Shakira and Madonna!
Aurélien: Well… I think you have spoken enough Marc! OK this is partly true, I love “Ray Of Light” and two or three other Madonna records! I also like “Laundry Service” by Shakira, that’s right!
Senem: Hehe cool. Thank you for taking the time guys. It’s been fun!
Esthesis: Thank you very much Lady Obscure!