Clair Cassis: ex-Velvet Cacoon

Clair Cassis est le nouveau projet des ex-membres de Velvet Cacoon, le groupe s'étant stoppé peu après la sortie de leur cinquième album Atropine en septembre 2009. Le premier album du duo américain sortira à nouveau sur Full Moon Productions et est classé sous l'étiquette black metal (Atropine, le dernier Velvet Cacoon, étant un album totalement ambient) avec des morceaux plus courts et plus "catchy" que Velvet Cacoon.

Clair Cassis


Une interview est disponible en anglais sur le site de Full Moon ou ci-dessous:

Nous nous permettons de reproduire cette interview, le site de Full Moon n'étant pas de navigation facile,  sans chemin direct vers les articles, et l'interview étant à visée promotionnelle.

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Interview de Josh de Clair Cassis, réalisée par Wilhelm du label Starlight Temple Society, en janvier 2010


-Good evening Mr. Josh. As you know, Jon "Thorns", the mouthy illegal alien who runs Full Moon Productions (and a midget escort business on the side) was going to send you an interview but I told him to fuck off because we both know his communication skills are about as dry as a loaf of fruitcake. What an idiot. Anyway, how are you? 

Josh: I'm good, sleepy, full on salmon and wine and stoned out of my mind. 

-Let's begin with the main subject: Clair Cassis. Can you give a brief synopsis? 

J: As brief as possible: we're a black metal band from Portland involving members who love to create really good songs. 

-Why exactly did you end Velvet Cacoon so abruptly to begin Clair Cassis? I think myself and others were quite shocked because the fabulous "P aa opal poere pr.33" was such a step up from "Genevieve" and it had an original style all of it's own which really seemed like it could be developed even further. So what happened? Why did CC supplant VC? 

J: Clair Cassis is essentially a "pop" version of Velvet Cacoon. Whereas VC consisted of longer, dense, production-heavy black metal wrapped in a haze of guitar distortions, Clair Cassis is a cleaner, more coherent and compacted version.. the songs are short and sweet, like empty calories. Saccharine metal. We wanted CC stuff to be catchy (by black metal standards) with a strong focus on quality songwriting. All the baggage attached to VC just wasn't fun anymore, so it made sense to go out with a bang (Atropine/33). 

-Before we go any further, what are thoughts on "P aa opal poere pr. 33"? Are you happy that this album closes out the tenure of Velvet Cacoon? 

J: It took five years to make sure every second of that album was perfect. It was the ultimate VC sound, there was nothing else we could've done with that whole nautical ambient black metal atmosphere. That album is so huge in so many ways, and seeing as Clair Cassis and Atropine are also out there, I think P aa opal will go by under the radar. I doubt I'll ever put that much time into an album again because being a perfectionist to such a degree is really, really, really exhausting, but I think that album in particular will be the one VC is remembered for. 

-So in other words you see "P aa opa...." as Velvet Cacoon's magnum opus?  

J: I honestly can't even fathom using that term for any VC releases, not because I don't love what I do but because to me there's really only two true Velvet Cacoon black metal full length albums, "Genevieve" and "33", and they are so different that each balances out the other. With that said, as a musician, you always feel closer to what you've most recently created, it's closer to you and what's going on in your mind. The most recent album, "33", was also more perfectly fleshed out. "Genevieve" had some shortcuts that now bother me such as the lack of bass guitar and the fact we never finished Laudanum like it should've been. 

-How about "Atropine"? You told me once that this was your favorite Velvet Cacoon material. Does this still hold true?  For what reasons? 

J: Yeah, "Atropine" is my favorite thing ever, even moreso than Clair Cassis. The music on it just completely soaks into my brain, it's my favorite stuff to have on in the background when I'm doing something. It's so dense and concentrated, it just feels like black vines growing around me when it's playing. I love how cozy and visual it is, especially when listened to under the covers with some quality headphones. I think it, combined with "Genevieve" and "33", create a very strong trilogy of releases. 

-Moving on.....Describe the debut of Clair Cassis track by track. How is this album similar or dissimilar to what you were doing with Velvet Cacoon?

J: Track by track, this is about the most accurate breakdown of the album I could give: 

Ambercandle: The purpose here was to create a song that absolutely decimated in a live setting. I think it's the perfect song to introduce people to Clair Cassis. 

The Feathered Fog: The first song written for the Clair Cassis album after the P aa opal Poere Pr 33 recording was finished. I think it's a really solid track and probably the best representation of our sound. 

Kir Royale: An experimental tune, a distorted Gretsch White Penguin guitar being gently tapped with velvet mallets, the tapping leads to hammering, then back to tapping. The first take of this was around 10 minutes, then we did it again and cut it down to a couple of minutes. It's got a good atmosphere. 

Our Overwintering in the Ivories: "The black metal song". The second half is an old Pumkiva song. 

Pearls & Pinesmoke: This one has a bit of groove to break up the faster parts before the second part kicks in. Angela's bass lines on this song are my favorite part of the album. 

Noctilucent Petrichor: We wanted to do a "Genevieve" kind of song for the album and this was it. 

Hazelhearted in the Seaparlour: At least once a summer I sail from Miami to the Bahamas. This is a tune about those trips. The refrain repeats "Under the sea is the sea is a lighthouse a lighthouse a lighthouse". It's the zone-out track. 

-Although you describe Clair Cassis as being "less atmospheric" than Velvet Cacoon, there's still a prevailing moody undercurrent that conjures the spirit of "Dextronaut" and even "P aa....". I think we can both agree on that? 

J: Yeah there's definitely a little atmosphere to add in some color.. it's not a bone dry and raw black metal sound. We wanted to keep the album short and to the point, like the older pop records from the 60's. With VC we tried to make the albums flow together so much that it was one big hazy blur. With Clair Cassis there is more of an emphasis on each song being it's own little thing, each song has its own personality, each one its own atmospheric style. 

-Some of the tracks on the CC debut are quite puzzling. "Hazelhearted in the Seaparlour", "Our Overwintering in the Ivories" and "The Feathered Fog" for instance seem to make little sense to us, but maybe they mean something to you? 

J: I think it's silly to try to convey any deep message via lyrics in black metal, so I prefer to make everything really pretty. I call it wordpainting, drugs taught me this. I think these colorful wordplays do a good job at describing the music we create, moreso than some bland title like "The Dark Mountain" that's too ambiguous to mean anything at all. 

-What so far is your favorite aspect of the album, and Clair Cassis in general? 

J: Starting from a clean slate is nice, really refreshing. My favorite thing about the album is probably how enjoyable it is to listen to. VC material took a lot of patience and concentration, you really had to give yourself over to the music to enjoy it. With Clair Cassis, you can sit down, hit play and 3 seconds in you're already into the song; short attention spans, short verses, short bridges, short refrains - repetition and minimalism don't really live here anymore, no more room for noodling around with aimless drones. 

-Does LVG, your French dream pop muse, continue to work with you through Clair Cassis? If so, how is she adjusting to the change over to Clair Cassis from Velvet Cacoon? 

J: She does, and she is. She writes all the bass lines herself and wrote all of Our Overwintering in the Ivories. I am a control freak and had a tight leash on the VC material, but with Clair Cassis I hold back and let Daniel and Angela write a fair amount and it always sounds good. The three of us have been talking and making music together for almost 10 years now, we are all perfectly aligned when it comes to the sound we've created over the years. 

-What other musicians are you working with or plan to work with in the future? Is D.Marvin still keen on contributing his talents? 

J: Daniel and I have been more productive musically in the last year than the previous 9 combined. We've got most of the 2nd Clair Cassis album already written, which will likely be out in autumn 2010. I'm not sure if any collaborations will happen with Clair Cassis.. I'm really happy with just the three of us. 

-We covered the aesthetic (dis)similarities between CC and VC- now how about the creative and artistic side of this? Is anything different between composing and writing music for Clair Cassis and Velvet Cacoon? 

J: It's more of a group effort, and it's not so overthought. With VC there was a tendency to write a song, then practice it over and over, slowly changing parts here and there until it eventually formed an entirely new song, and this would go on and on and on until we recorded it. Wherever the song was at when it was time to record, that's how it was recorded. With Clair Cassis, it's the complete opposite. I just want to make these songs a bunch of little three and four minute morsels of black metal, coherent and really enjoyable to listen to. For us it's all about quality tunes. Obviously we're not trying to impress anyone with trueness or whatever, or being overly serious/silly and pretending we're vampires living in some frostbitten dungeon. The only interest we have is in letting our music do the talking. 

-Would you say then that Clair Cassis is easier to create for than Velvet Cacoon? 

J: Much easier, and more enjoyable too. It's so simple, we don't overanalyze it so much anymore, the flow is more evident. We smoke pot, dress ourselves silly, douse ourselves in perfume and go to our practice hall.. everything comes out so perfectly now. 

-The douchebag who runs Full Moon Productions asked me if the name "Clair Cassis" has something to do with Harry Potter. So I slapped him, told him to shut the fuck up and ignored his question. But that does beg an answer because googling the name provides little to no help in uncovering what a Clair Cassis is or what a Clair Cassis does. If Josh's mighty brain were googleable then what would I discover about this name that I don't already suspect? 

J: More wordpainting. Clair is French for 'clear' and Cassis is 'black currant', an ingredient in antique perfumery that I adore. The name Clair Cassis had a unique ring to it so that's what we started calling ourselves. There was no real thought put into it, and the name holds no significance whatsoever. 

- There seems to be a ton of rumbling out there in the blogosphere about the arrival of CC. What kinds of comments are you noticing from fans and detractors alike? Have you been surprised by this reaction? 

J: I really have no idea. In the first few years of Velvet Cacoon I used to spend time reading everyone's opinion but these days I don't even care. People's opinions are pretty much always going to be the same no matter what it is you're doing. If anything, I kind of hope to avoid some of the fanaticism that hit VC. Eventually people got so into our sound that anything we did that deviated from what was expected was met with really harsh criticism and bewilderment, plus people began wanting information about me personally which I'm not into. I'm a silly, pointless human.. even doing this interview makes me feel silly because nothing I say has any importance.  

-This debut Clair Cassis album won't be a one-off thing, I hope? If not, where do we go from here? 

J: We're entering the studio again in late Feb and will have our 2nd album out later this year. 

-No two Velvet Cacoon albums have ever sounded alike. Will the Clair Cassis follow up be any different? 

J: Yeah, the new Clair Cassis stuff is very different.. more structured, not much fast material, lots of hypnotic midpaced stuff with really nice production. The new tunes are real catchy. 

-Well, we're done! :-) Feel free to scold me if anything was missed. In the meantime, good night. 

J: Sleep tight, don't let the Euronymous-bugs bite!

Black metal USA Clair Cassis Velvet Cacoon Full Moon Productions

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