LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Steve: Scenius are myself (Steve Whitfield) and Fabrice Nau. I’ve been in many bands over the years, both guitar based and electronic. I also work as a producer/engineer in the studio, and I’ve worked with such acts as The Cure, The Mission, Jah Wobble and Jane Weaver. It’s in the studio I met Fabrice when I was recording his first band The Drift. We’ve stayed in touch ever since.
Fabrice: I’m from a small village in France where there wasn’t much to do. One of our favorite things to escape boredom as teenagers was to borrow post-punk and new-wave records from older guys. Very shortly we decided to form a band. A couple of years later we went to college in Angers, the bigger near city where it became easier to understand how to develop our band. About a year later we signed on a label and, searching for a producer for our debut album, we got in touch with Steve who had just worked with then one of Angers’s main band, Les Thugs.
LOMM: 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?
Steve: Since I live in the UK (Leeds) and Fabrice is in France (Angers), the album and all singles so far have been written, recorded and mixed remotely. So the restrictions and lockdowns haven’t really affected us too much. Although we were due to be playing an indoor festival in France this month (March) but as you’d expect it got cancelled.
I’m lucky I have got a studio at home so I’ve been able to mix a few albums for people, and of course keep writing and mix for Scenius.
Fabrice: Obviously it’s never been easier to compose, produce, release and promote your music from your home than it is today. Well, provided you own a good computer, a few pieces of gear and some clues about how to handle all these. So we don’t have to rely on a label or (as many independent bands do) money from gigs to record and produce our music. Still it would have definitely made a difference to be able to play gigs and get extra money for promotion purposes – or for minting vinyl’s as our album is only on CD and digital as of now.
LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
Steve: Yes it has given us more time to write and record. The debut album ‘Enough Fears’ has just come out but we’ve already got 17 new songs on the go, with 5 of them finished except the final vocal recording and mixing to do.
LOMM: Tell us about your genre, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?
Steve: We didn’t set out to be in a genre, the only thing we decided before we started was to use mainly analog synths and drum machines.
Fabrice: Yes, and we also knew we shared a lot in terms of musical tastes, so we’ve thought it was worth having a go at making music together. It could have failed though. Cause making music with people takes some kind of alchemy to happen. It’s never as simple as enjoying the same records. But it quickly turned out to work well between us.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Steve: Yeah we’re really happy with the final results, but of course with any recording, give it a couple of months and you’d do it differently. I think that recording is a snapshot of what you were doing/thinking at that time. We really wanted to get atmosphere into the recordings and I think we managed that. The aim was to keep it very analog sounding and warm. I also played a lot of the melodies to keep a human feel and warmth and not to over edit everything to perfect timing.
LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
Steve: We’ve both been on tours before with other bands, but since Scenius only released the first single last Feb we’ve not had the chance to do it with this band yet.
I’ve bought some new synths to take out on the road, as I don’t want to use my old ones as they are too valuable and fragile.
LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
Steve: The live set is pretty much ready to go now and we just need to be able to go out and gig/tour.Also it’s just about cracking on working on the songs for the next album.
We’re also going to be looking for a label, we set up our own label for the first one but we’d be interested to hear if any good labels would be interested.
LOMM: How do you compose the songs?
Fabrice: Steve composes the music. He sends me these instrumental tracks. Once I’ve come up with vocals that I’m happy with I send him a draft with provisional lyrics or sometimes even just gibberish. Most of the time I’ll have to shorten or lengthen some parts – or sometimes even swap them over – according to the vocals parts I’ve come up with. Once we’ve got something we’re both happy with Steve sends me back the new arrangement. Then I finish the lyrics, record the final vocals and send them to Steve for mixing. It usually takes just a couple of versions of the mix before we’re both happy with it – which, in my experience, is pretty quick J That’s due to the fact that the original instrumental tracks sound great from the start – and I try to not ruin that with vocals that would require a whole different mix to sit well in there.
LOMM: 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?
Fabrice: I have no plans when it comes to lyrics. And I wouldn’t like to have some. When I’m looking for vocal lines for a track I do it with my voice not with another instrument and often some actual bits of lyrics will come out of the gibberish along with the melody. I kind of like the idea that these bits of lyrics were truly influenced by the music itself so I tend to preserve them as much as possible and I develop the rest of the lyrics around them.
LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Steve: I couldn’t pick one over the other. I love the attention to detail in the studio and the excitement of not quite knowing what’s going to happen next at gigs .
LOMM: What first got you into music?
Steve: Punk and Kraftwerk
Fabrice: The need for having something fun to do on the week-ends. And records by The Clash, Joy Division, The Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen and many others.
LOMM: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?
Steve: I’d still be a producer/engineer but if you took that away from me as well, a chef.
Fabrice: Anything that would require hiking across the woods.
LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Steve: Change the music streaming companies. Is it right that a band can get a couple of million listens and only get paid a couple of hundred pounds? How are the next wave of young small bands going to break through when they can’t earn enough to spend on their career (equipment, recording, touring), never mind just making a living from their music.
Fabrice: Well first there’s other industries I’d like to change before that one, like food, energy, education, transports. The music industry isn’t perfect for sure but, hey, it’s only rock’n’roll. Still to pick up on what Steve has just said, I’d like to see streaming platforms change their payment system for what’s called a “user centric” one. That’s a system where the money that’s paid by every user goes to the bands that they actually listen to. Whereas the current system based on the overall number of plays implies that most of the money you pay goes to bands that you don’t even listen to. Deezer were about to switch to a user centric system in 2020. Sadly the pandemic seems for some reason to have stopped – or hopefully just delayed – this from happening.
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Steve: I’ve always written music for myself and then hope that other people like it to. Personally I couldn’t write for an audience, I think I’d lose my way.
Fabrice: I think they’re both valid reasons to make music. The own sake of music is to be listened to, so in a way there’s probably always an audience you more or less consciously address your music to.
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Steve: Keeping going! Probably the last 2 albums I’ve had released, ‘Enough Fears’ with Scenius and ‘You Have Been Processed’ by my other band Klammer (I’m the guitarist). Also having been the engineer on The Cure’s Wish album.
Fabrice: This album we’ve made
LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Steve: Robert Smith
Fabrice : Brian Eno
LOMM: Who would you like to go on a tour with?
Steve: LCD Sound System
Fabrice: Scenius for a start 🙂
LOMM: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.
Steve: Fuji Rock Festival as I love Japan, the most amazing place I’ve ever been to
Fabrice: Now any pre-pandemic festival !
LOMM: Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
Steve: Revolver – The Beatles
Man Machine – Kraftwerk
Heroes – Bowie
Closer – Joy Division
Pornography – The Cure
Post Pop Depression – Iggy Pop (my favourite more recent album)
Fabrice: Low Life – New Order
Seventeen Seconds – The Cure
Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
The Cello Suites – Bach
The Four Seasons – Vivaldi
LOMM: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
Steve: A bit of everything but in alphabetical order!
Fabrice: I love vinyl but I’m also happy to have access in the blink of an eye to almost any record I can think of on digital.
LOMM: What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Steve: Leeds – Not so much metal but there’s a good rock scene in Leeds/West Yorkshire, but you’re probably asking the wrong person. My taste in guitar music is much more The Pixies, Nirvana, Radiohead.
Fabrice: I live in Angers (France). We’ve got three of the finest French metal bands here : Arcania, Lyzanxia and Misanthrope. I often meet them as part of my job is to run rehearsing studios. They’re all really nice chaps. I’m kind of disappointed to have never been able to get into their music.
LOMM: 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?
Steve: Ian Curtis, Ralf Hutter, Robert Smith, Brian Eno and Humphrey Bogart. It would be interesting to see if they all got on!
Fabrice: Ulysses, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, David Bowie and Serge Gainsbourg
LOMM: What is your weirdest memory in your music career?
Steve: I could tell you many great stories about bands I’ve worked with but my lips are sealed.
Fabrice: Smashing The Fall’s singer’s limousine because he demanded that everyone got cleared off of the backstage area so that he could go on stage without meeting anyone.
Bandcamp : https://scenius.bandcamp.com/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sceniusband