ALTESIA: "For us, being "progressive" means we are free in the way we compose"
Having followed French proggers ALTESIA for a while now, the recent release of their second album "Embryo" offered the perfect opportunity for a chat with multi-instrumentalist and composer Clément Darrieu about the band's development, their mystic name, and the beautiful artwork.
Welcome to read my review for "Embryo" here, and learn more about their amazing work below:
Hi Clément, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?
Hey Katha, we're doing great! Currently, we're on tour for the first time with the band which is pretty exciting after the long covid break. It's good to be back on stage and meet our audience every night :-)
Could you please introduce ALTESIA to our readers?
ALTESIA is a progressive metal band from France. For us, being "progressive" means we are free in the way we compose and don't try to fit within a particular genre, as we love to experiment different approaches and various styles, whether it is jazz or pop, djent, funk or whatever. Our music is influenced by Haken, Leprous, Caligula's Horse, Opeth, Between The Buried And Me and Wilderun.
Let’s start with a little time trip: When and how did you guys get together?
I created ALTESIA as a solo project in 2017, when I started to work on some new material that would eventually end up on our first record. Late 2018, as most of the album was written, I started to search for musicians to play my songs, and we became a proper band early 2019. After a year of work, we released our debut "Paragon Circus" in December 2019 - And that was the real beginning of the adventure!
How did you come up with your band name, and is there a deeper meaning or story behind it?
"Altesia" doesn't mean anything if you search for it in the dictionnary haha! To me, it sounded like the name of a tree. As the themes behind our songs are about how we can evolve as individuals and how we can grow, I thought it would be interesting to create an imaginary tree called an "Altesia" that would never stop growing, just like man does.
That's beautiful :-) Since your amazing debut, you indeed further developed as musicians and composers in an impressive way, and now just released your second album “Embryo”. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?
The reception has been great so far. Most people tend to acknowledge it is one step above our previous album, which is cool as we tried to raise the bar for this one. It's only been out for 10 days so it's still pretty recent, but very encouraging!
What can you tell us about the origins of Embryo’s stunning cover artwork, and how does it reflect the album thematically?
The concept of the record is about the self-evolution of a character. Throughout his different lives, he learns more and more about himself, and fulfils his quest for wisdom. He once was in the wrong direction and got help by some ascended souls we can see on the cover, to find his way. Now that he has become some kind of a god in the end, the boat we can see on the main artwork allows him to ascend in the skies. Now he's wise, he can be someone else's guide.
Each song talks about one different topic : forgiveness, love, the power of speech, the need to stay true to yourself…
“Embryo” is heavier and even more varied than "Paragon Circus", but still sounds unmistakably like ALTESIA. Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process please, and did it change over the years?
Thanks a lot! I started to write the new album when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Then we spent a lot of time working on the songs as a band to rearrange them. This time, it was a real team effort, and I believe you can feel it when listening to "Embryo".
We all like different kinds of music, so when we write a song, combining different genres feels very natural. And yes, the new record is definitely heavier, we tried to improve the production on this one with a more modern and powerful sound.
The rest hasn't changed a lot though, especially the recording process. Everyone recorded their own parts at home. Our drummer mixed the album, and a friend of ours did the mastering. It was interesting to get some external feedback on our work, and in the end, it really served the album.
You did a successful crowdfunding campaign for “Embryo”. What kind of experience was this for you (also regarding of being an independent artist)?
We needed 4500€ to finance the whole album. As we are still a young band, we didn't think the crowdfunding campaign would allow us to fund it all, but luckily it did. We got a lot of support from our faithful fanbase, and we are really thankful for that!
Do you have a favorite ALTESIA song to listen? And which one is your favorite to play as band?
Each one of us probably has a different answer, but I think "Exit Initia" is my favourite song in both terms. This is a very challenging track, and it's the last one we wrote, so we're always very excited to play. There are very nice vibes within the song.
Absolutely :-) Let’s talk about ALTESIA live: What was your most memorable show so far?
Last week, we played at "Ready for Prog? Festival" in France. It's a very nice progressive metal festival. We played alongside Leprous, Kadinja and other great bands. It gave us a privileged visibility as well awesome conditions with a big stage and a spot on sound system.
Would have loved to be there, what a fantastic line-up! Let's stay a bit in France: how would you describe your local rock/metal scene, and is there something special about it? Did you notice changes over the past years?
We have lots of bands, but rock and metal are really underground here. So it seems easier to build a worlwide fanbase. Also, I think there are more touring perspectives abroad. Still, there are some great bands in France, but most of them don't get the recognition they deserve, unfortunately.
What can you tell us about your future plans?
For an independent band, the most difficult aspect is to get visibility. So we'll try to play gigs anywhere we can in France, release videos, and so on, to try to get new fans!
Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
Thanks a lot for your support, and hopefully, this interview will make people discover our music!
Looking forward to spread the word :-) Thanks again for your time, and all the best for you and your musical plans!