French artist Franck Vigroux defines himself ‘a multifaceted artist’. He started playing the guitar and later on started experimenting with electronics. From electro-acoustic and experimental electronic music to modern composition, improvisation, radio works and avant-rock his compositions are diversified. He also likes working with other artist, but his latest album “Totem” is a solo full length on which this visionary artist covers ambient-noise, minimal-electronics, pure experimental exposures and a few more influences for the ride. It’s a complex piece of work, but still a fascinating experience. The work has been released on Aesthetical, which is a subdivision of the dark-ambient label Cyclic Law.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: I think you were playing the guitar before getting fascinated by electronic equipment. How did this evolution happened and what inspired and incited you to enlarge your artistic horizon?
Franck:Yes, and I’m still playing guitar, not so often and not live, but I think I’ll do it again one of these days… I started working with computers, tape machines, turntables because I thought it was the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to create a very wide variety of sounds compared to the possibilities offered by a guitar, even if it’s a great instrument. Also I think I had enough about playing guitar and I was looking for a more ‘orchestral sound’ that I could do by myself. And of course the main reason was my discovery of electroacoustic music and experimental music of all sorts.
Q: It’s really hard and often impossible to define your sound! I rather experience your work as a mix of multiple influences, which makes you a bit ‘atypical’, but still ‘visionary’ in your global approach. Can you tell us a bit more about this approach and the process of conceiving sounds/noises and writing songs?
Franck: Thanks to say that! Among the important things for me there’s that idea of ‘taste for sound’, it’s very subjective… I like both the ‘beautiful sound’ as well as super saturated fuzzy sounds… and I try to make a combination. Then the rest is silence, rhythm and harmony… the basics of music.
My way to create sounds is super simple, I use some electronic devices to generate sounds an then I sculpt them…
Q: I know it’s a bit weird to say, but listening to your new album “Totem” I got a similar sensation as watching the work of Marcel Duchamp; creating new stuff by using ideas and styles that already exist! Are you a sonic ‘dadaist’, but more seriously, how do we have to understand your creation and concept of music?
Franck:HAHA why not I didn’t think about sonic Dadaism, but I accept it as a compliment. I remember Igor Stravinsky said ‘I would love to compose tonal music but it’s too complicated’ of course he was referring to history of music and 20th Century context. For me tonal or atonal, tribal music or super sophisticated composition etc.. are possible elements of a whole structure, I‘m interested in the combination of all those.
There’s a comment about my album on Youtube a woman doesn’t like it an she says: ‘this is not music, just samples put all together’ Absolutely Duchamp!
Q: Let’s talk about “Totem”, which is driven by a kind of conceptual idea, ‘reflecting on ancient culture’s use and reverence for emblematic monuments which most often represent myths and stories’. Can you explain a bit more and especially how you transpose such a theme into sounds and noises?
Franck: I don’t want to be disappointing, but when I create music (not when I work with visuals) I don’t think about any cultural, philosophical or any non musical concept. It’s only when the music is acheived, when I have to find visuals for the cover, tracks names and album titles that I start thinking to a possible and coherent signification or identification related to the music and of courses my non musical concerns that time.
Q: “Totem” is the first album released on “Aesthetical”, which is a sub-division of the dark-ambient label Cyclic Law. I can imagine it’s something special to be the first artist featured on a new label, but it probably also is a bit tricky as more and more labels are closing their doors. How did this collaboration happened and what do you expect?
Franck: Indeed these last years I mostly received requests for the release of EP’s and LP’s on new labels…, Aesthetical, Jezgro, Cosmo Rhythmatic… I realize it’s not an easy thing to set up a new label today and all these labels don’t spare any effort to release this kind of music. They did it well and I’m very grateful to them. It’s so important to release non-mainstream music even if it’s a real jungle, because it can still slowly reach new audiences… emancipation and culture must be more important than economy.
Q: You like working with other artists and also visual artists, which is an opportunity to bring different arts together. What fascinates you in these collaborative efforts and are there new performances in the pipeline you might already reveal?
Franck:Since some years I have worked intensively with visuals artists Antoine Schmitt from Paris and Kurt d’Haeseleer from Brussels. Their work is aesthetically distant, but my music fits very well with both. Within the past I did some experimental films myself so questioning my music with motion pictures has always been part of my work. I ‘m quiet proud of the work we did together, “Tempest”, “Chronostasis”, “Centaure” or “H”… I think these are real hypnotic experiences. The idea of a 40’ audiovisual performance is a challenge, it requires to be ready to real collaboration in terms of writing.
I also occasionally work with other visual artists, but more for my stage performances which are a combination of dance, machinery, video and music. These days I’m working with Kurt d’Haeseleer on a new AV live “The Island” and there’s also an idea of a new project “A_Total” with Antoine, but probably later.