Pierre Laplace played in different bands before he set up Beyond The Ghost. The French solo-project got rapidly signed to Cryo Chamber and released five albums plus a collaborative album in between 2019 and 2022. The newest work “Sundown” is the final chapter of the “Europe Series” trilogy. The concept is all about a futuristic and dystopian vision happening in Berlin, London and Rome. Beyond The Ghost released great pieces of Dark-Ambient and Cinematic music, but “Sundown” appears to be the magnum opus. The French artist created an ominous atmosphere by the use of analogue sound treatments and real instruments. Beyond The Ghost is definitely one of the most talented projects in its genre from the past few years. Time for a chat with Pierre Laplace.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: I think it’s interesting starting this interview to ask about your music background. You’ve been involved with music and bands/projects which are totally different from Beyond The Ghost. Tell us a bit more about your artistic odyssey and how do you see yourself as musician?
Pierre: I think I’m pretty open-minded as a musician (and music fan as well). I’ve always liked exploring different genres and styles. I started playing New-Wave music when I was 17, I was heavily influenced by The Cure and Joy Division. A few years later, I got into songwriting, playing nylon or folk guitar. I sang and played guitar in a band called Vera Clouzot for 10 years. We started out as a three-piece, with one of my friends playing the cello, which wasn’t very common at the time. We released 2 mostly acoustic albums sung in English, then 2 friends joined us on drums and on bass guitar, and our sound evolved into a mix of atmospheric Ballads and Experimental-Rock music. We released 2 albums sung in French with that line-up. I also released 2 albums of Folk songwriting as Kenyon.
Then I took a break from writing music, started setting up a home studio with no clear idea of what I wanted to do musically. Luckily, I found out that my 15-year-old niece Léonie had a beautiful voice when she played guitar and sang at a family dinner party. We worked together as The Sandman’s Orchestra. I wrote and produced the songs, and Léonie was the lead singer. We released 3 albums of original songs, mostly Atmospheric-Folk, with a touch of Electronic music, and our last album was a cover of “The Ninth Wave”, the B-side to Kate Bush’s classic “Hounds Of Love”-album. It was a huge undertaking and I spent countless hours working on sounds, textures and arrangements.
Q: How did you get in touch with Dark-Ambient and related music genres? What was the main idea and purposes when setting up Beyond The Ghost?
Pierre: Around the time I was working on “The Ninth Wave”. I started listening to Ambient music, as well as Post-Rock stuff and Dark-Jazz. When I started working as Beyond The Ghost, the main idea was to write Cinematic music that would mix organic and electronic sounds, to operate within the realm of Dark-Ambient while being open to the influence of other genres.
Q: Beyond The Ghost clearly is a prolific project as you released five full length albums plus one collaborative album together with Dead Melodies in 3-4 years of time. How do you explain this productivity and how do you go on motivating yourself and getting the inspiration to release new works in such a short lapse of time?
Pierre: Signing to Cryo Chamber was such a great opportunity, it boosted my creativity. I get bored easily, so I like having artistic projects that keep me busy and creative. As soon as an album is finished, I take a couple of weeks to think about what I want to do next, and then I start working on a new album. I find inspiration in different ways, it can be personal stuff I’ve been through, feelings of loneliness and anxiety, or the loss of a loved one for example. Sometimes I’m inspired by some work of art. Most of the time, I play a real or virtual instrument, start improvising and if I find an idea I like, I start building a track around it.
Q: You recently released the “Sundown”-album which is the final chapter of the “Europe Series”-trilogy. Tell us a bit more about this futuristic, dystopian, conceptual work where you invite the listener to visit Berlin, London and Rome in further times? What have been the main sources of inspiration and how did you transpose the concept into sound?
Pierre: After 2 albums that were deeply personal and the fantasy world we explored with Dead Melodies, I wanted to try something different, and I got this idea of working on a trilogy that would evoke the possible decline of Europe in a few decades. Honestly, I don’t know how the concept came to me, it just happened. I liked the idea of the 3 albums taking place in a specific time and place, and it gave me the opportunity to explore different genres, since I wanted each album to have its own sonic identity. Roughly speaking, “The Last Resort” is a noir album influenced by Dark-Jazz with “Twin Peaks” vibes, The “Desolation Age” is a mostly Electronic album that can be labelled as Cyber-Punk, I guess, and “Sundown” is my attempt at mixing Dark-Ambient and Cinematic music in the style of Ennio Morricone.
Q: I consider “Sundown” as your absolute master piece. It reveals a great evolution in the global production process, but also a noticeable symbiosis between electronic sound treatments and authentic instruments. Do you always consider the last album as being the best one? When do you know a track/album is finished?
Pierre:Thank you for the kind words on “Sundown”. It was the album I spent the most time working, and I think it’s my best work yet. My friend Tom of Dead Melodies called it Dark-Ambient spaghetti Western music, which is a great way to describe the album! Besides “Sundown”, I don’t consider my last album as being the best one. I don’t usually think that way. I consider each album as a new sonic venture. I don’t know if I’ve succeeded, but I would like to have a sound and style that people can recognize, and at the same time create albums that have their own identity and are different from one another. I feel that an album is finished when I’m happy with the track sequence, the overall sound and atmosphere.
Q: What are you actually working on and how do you expect Beyond The Ghost evolving throughout the coming years?
Pierre: After “Sundown” was completed, I started working on a new project, but it’s taking me longer than usual, notably because I had to move out, and other stuff got in the way. Now that my home studio is set up in my new house, I’ve resumed working on this new album. The music could go in various directions, but for now it’s a mix of early Electronic sounds, Dark-Ambient and Dark-Jazz.
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