By the end of 2020 Transmission unleashed the debut album “Cosmos” on Wave Records. The French solo-project is driven by Sandrine Deville. She’s dealing with a rather Minimal-Electro/Wave style with some violin tunes on top. It’s a fascinating- and accomplished experiment revealing an artist with a very own and creative approach. Here’s what Sandrine has to say about Transmission.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: How did you get contaminated by the music virus and finally come to set up your own music project?
Sandrine: I began to learn how to play violin at the Ferney-Voltaire regional conservatorium of music, in France, when I was ten years old, during four years. And, this was the time I listened to bands like A-Ha, Alphaville, U2, Pink Floyd, The Cure at the junior high school of my city, and, maybe one of the most influent band that led me to practice guitar, Dire Straits and the song “Money For Nothing”, for which I recorded a tape with this same only track, that I listened to for hours, showing me the power of music to immerse myself in a very special universe, at a high noise levels of my headphones.
I could define for Dire Straits a word that I will use to define my own music project: ‘soundscape’, when you discover landscapes from beautiful sounds. There also was Depeche Mode with the track “Never Let Me Down Again”, and, of course, Joy Division with the incredible bassline of “She’s Lost Control” were offering beautiful soundscapes to my ears when I was a teenager. Today I feel the same, but with other bands like Massive Attack, Bauhaus, Bowie, Linea Aspera, The Soft Moon, Kraftwerk, PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails, Kas Product.
On one hand, I wanted to play guitar in a band when I was teenager, but on the other hand, there were a lot of excellent guitarists and I was not, so, I decided to learn playing bass guitar. First, I was a bass player in a Funk/Folk /Psyche band called Hopupu and later on in between 2011 and 2016 in a Cold-Wave duo called Rive Droite Rive Gauche.
Then, I wanted to create my own music project and, after a few years of involvement with various bands, from Post-Punk to Punk, I decided to create the Electro/Dark-Wave solo-project called Transmission, recording first the track “Cosmos”.
Q: The name of your project is clearly reminding one of Joy Division’s legendary songs. Is it just a coincidence or clearly a link with some of your main sources of inspiration? What kind of sound did you’ve in mind when setting up Transmission?
Sandrine: Joy Division is one of my favorite bands. I adore all their songs and the atmosphere of “Shadowplay” gives me goosebumps each time I listen to this track. As I passed my bachelor in design in Toulouse (France) in 2018, I presented “Transmission”, the all white 3D printed Electro-Acoustic violin I created, inspired by pulsars shape, those mysterious white lines that we can see on the artwork of the LP “Unknown Pleasures” from Joy Division, and designed by Peter Saville. So, in this way, I could say that the name of my project is inspired by Joy Division, but mainly the white lines of the artwork of “Unknown Pleasures”. We can discover more about my violin called ‘Transmission’ on my own artist website here:
And we can discover more about my violin too, from pages 277 to 286 of the book of Pedro Peñas y Robles called “Joy Division, Paroles De Fans”, Editions Camion Blanc, 2018, here:
Regarding the sound of my project, the effects are allusion to any effects used by the brilliant Martin Hanett for the soundscape of Joy Division, but, the kind of sound, the essence of the sound, come from a lot of references, as Kraftwerk, Nitzer Ebb, Covenant, Nine Inch Nails, Massive Attack, Linea Aspera, Boy Harsher, Buzz Kull, Minuit Machine, Years Of Denial, Kas Product.
Q: You last year released your debut album “Cosmos”. Tell us a bit more about the writing- and production process of this opus and what did you try to express lyrical wise?
Sandrine:The process of the composition was the same for all the tracks; I switched on my Korg Minilogue, synchronized with the little Korg Volca Sampler for the drums, and I tried to play live with this set up, recording a bass line using the Minilogue when I thought I could have something interesting. Then, recording this on my PC using Ableton software, I began to look for a structure, and sing the violin line, and the melody, or writing the words for the future track. Many times, I wasn’t able to record the exact bassline I wanted on the synth, and then, I tried to do my best with this new sound. Tracks like “Cosmos” and “Désuétude” both are like soflty spoken words; tracks like “De Stijl” or “Echouées” both are using punchy spoken words. As a reference, I could say that “Désuétude” is inspired by the way Anne Clark is ‘screaming’; “Cloud 9” and “Illusion” are both mixing spoken words, and a melodic chorus. I was very happy, too, in the way I used different languages: French, English, German, and Spanish too. For the lyrics, sometimes, first, I wrote them, and sometimes, they came after the soundscape, it depended of the feeling I had at the moment of the creation phase.
Q: I’m always wondered why there’re no more female artists composing Electronic underground music? Do you’ve an explanation and what have been your experiences as female artist in this scene so far?
Sandrine: I really don’t know why there are no more female artists composing Electronic underground music. Well, one of the most iconic is Anne Clarke, but today, we have the excellent solo-project of Alison Lewis called Zanias who’s also involved with the excellent duo Linea Aspera and Keluar. In France we have the excellent female duo from Paris, called Oktober Lieber. And there is also the excellent female solo-project called Hante from Hélène De Thoury who’s also member of the female duo Minuit Machine. In the USA, even if it is a mixed duo, there is the excellent Boy Harsher. And I recently discovered the solo-undergound artist from New-York called Ani Klang. I also think to the excellent first LP “Push” from the L.A based Iranian producer and DJ Maral. In Germany there is in a dark, clubby style Ellen Allien.
So even if there are less female artists involved, I think that there will be more and more female Electronic underground artists. As I am beginning in this scene, I don’t have yet a lot of experience, the only thing I could write, is that I think that maybe women have to forget their shyness (if they are), and to prove by themselves that they can make Electronic underground music as well as male artists.
Q: Transmission has been introduced as a solo-project although you got some help to achieve “Cosmos”. Tell us a bit more about this collaboration and what has been the impact and bonus on the final result?
Sandrine: At the beginning of the year of 2019, I had a first demo of the track “Cosmos”, and I was wondering how to go on with this project. Thanks to my duo Rive Droite Rive Gauche I met a lot of people of the Gothic scene of Bordeaux who became good friends. In January, I went with two friends to the Nitzer Ebb gig in Bordeaux, and, then, we met a lot of friends of the Gothic scene of the city like Jean-Philippe Torres who has his Drone Studio. He is also one of the musicians of the excellent duo Dark Line Spectrum; Speaking with him, it became to me an evidence that he could be the most appropriate friend to achieve “Cosmos”. I sent him the demo of “Cosmos”, “Désuétude” and “Echouées” in order to know if this project could have an interest for him, and, as he was enthusiastic about this, then, we began a very friendly and productive collaboration.
The process was for each track the same; I sent to Jean-Philippe the ‘pre-mixed tracks’ by wetransfer, and then, he added his additional synths and old-school rhythm box, made the sound design and the arrangements, and the mix and mastering. It was perfect! I am used to comparing him to Martin Hanett. Martin Hanett defined the special soundscape of Joy Division, and Jean-Philippe defined the special soundscape of “Cosmos” and I think that he made my dream come true: having my debut LP realized on a good label.
Q: It’s probably a bit risky and also a true challenge to release a debut album during the ongoing pandemic. How do you –and Wave Records, manage this aspect and how do you expect things evolving considering live performances, further releases and plans?
Sandrine: I really thanks so much Alex from Wave Records. I know that, in this special context of this long pandemic, the action of releasing albums for new artists, is a very risky business for the labels, moreover, for independents labels, as they don’t know how they can sell the albums and if people will buy or not a debut work. Alex is doing his best for the promotion of the album with a large number of contacts, with an effective sharing on the social network, on Youtube too for the videoclips of various tracks I realized myself.
I gave my first gig on the 2nd of July, thanks to the association Distopia Mutante of San Sebastian in Spain, and it was an unbelievable good moment as there was a good interaction between the public and me. It is since January that Distopia Mutante tried to organize a gig for my project. But finally we did it, at the beginning of July, and we hope that there will be others. I hope I will be able to perform at other places and in other countries, even if we don’t know what the future will be.
Thinking about the second album of Transmission, I will not change the way I am using to create the sounds, and I am thinking about around ten tracks that could explain a lot of feelings that we are facing to in a whole life, using various BPM’s.