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Antenna Records had the courage to release the debut album from 'O', titled 'Numero O'. Founder of Antenna Records, Stephen Lawrie is no stranger to experimental music. Lawrie is the creative force behind the massively influential group The Telescopes (as well as Unisex). A band who has experimented with noise and eccentric instrumentation, The Telescopes were categorized in the shoe gazer genre and shared comparisons with excellent bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain. Through Antenna Records, Stephen Lawrie has released bold music from his own band as well as Fuxa and Los Planetos del Agua. Stephen Lawrie comments about Yann's music, 'Yann from O insists O is not music - the listeners make it music.'
'O' is a brilliant reminder that true musical art still exists. Rules of music have been shattered, but music continues to live. 'O' have released split records with bands like Monitors and MooN. Besides Antenna Records, Burning Emptiness and Lona Records have also released music by 'O'. The mystery of 'O' will never be solved. The balance has been maintained. Like a circle, 'O' has ended where 'O' has begun.
TODD E. JONES: 'What goes on?'
YANN: 'I suppose that all is well, but winter is near, so fingers and lips can't do their best, and I need them a lot, ah, ah!'
TODD E. JONES: 'Tell us about the '« O '» album, 'Numero O' released on Antenna Records.'
YANN: 'This album was just released on Antenna Records one year ago. But, it has been recorded 2 years before its release on Antenna Records. Yeah! It took a long time to be released. It's something like a concept album, less abstract than what people imagine. And there are 13 instrumental songs.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What is the meaning behind the title, 'Numero O'?'
YANN: ''Numero 0' is the term used for the test issues of paper zines and magazines. This title meant that it was the real end for us, a sort of failure. After this album, 'O' was doomed to die. But now, it means the 'O' beginning. Many things have changed in our lives. This title also deals with various abstractions. And there's a mirror effect with our name 'O', a false symmetry between the two terms, ever forget than 'O' consists in imperfect symmetry.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Favorite song on the 'Numero O'?'
YANN: 'As you can imagine, I could say that all the songs are my faves. Each of them deal with a specific emotion. At the same time, some tracks are less interesting, if you listen to them out of their context. It's the only reason why I think there's a really better song. The most intense, the most achieved, 'La Trompette De L'ange, Et Si Peu Encore'. There's something really tragic in.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Which song took you the longest to do from conception to completion? Why?'
YANN: 'I must confess that I don't remember things like that. The album was composed like a long song. So, the album took us a long time.'
TODD E. JONES: 'How would you describe the music of < < O >>?'
YANN: 'In two words? Approximative music. Perhaps, it could be described as post-apocalypse music. Just imagine that you don't have a lot of instruments. Just some broken child instruments, your hands, and some things not usually used for music. Just sporadic electric power and a constant need to play music, to play music like a non-musician. In a world between its end and a new beginning.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Where did you meet Sylvain meet? How did you eventually form the group?'
YANN: 'We know us since secondary school. A really long time ago, we've play together in a lot of bands. But we were looking for something different at the same time, less conformist, and feed by our own esthetical values.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What do you argue about the most?'
YANN: 'Cervantes. Don Quichotte. Lespugues, a great place. Silex, not my own passion.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What inspired the song, 'Raped Circle'?'
YANN: 'I don't really like to explain metaphors. It's probably the best way to kill the bit of life that words can produce. Basically, the music of 'O' consists in a rape of some musical rules. As you can read, titles try to break with semantic rules. So you can imagine what inspired 'Raped Circle' and you can hear how a raped circle sounds. The track's structure means a lot.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Sebastien Hayez did the artwork for the album. How did you meet with him? Did you have input for the cover of 'Numero O'. What do you think of the cover?'
YANN: 'SÃ©bastien is one of my best friends since a long time. We used to work together for many projects. He realized more than one hundred different covers for JE, my electronica minimalist project. This guy used to work for the experimental scene, so I was sure he was the man for this album! He's able to produce really sweet atmospheres. I think that this cover is one of the best he's done. The best he's done is probably ''O' vs. Tin RP'. It was just transparent paper and black ink. I really like his work for 'Numero 0'.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What is the root or growing thing on the album cover for 'Numero O'?'
YANN: 'Something really simple, life. But life is never a simple thing. Life needs at least 13 songs to be said. Yeah, 13 is the best choice to explain it.'
TODD E. JONES: 'How are people responding to this album?'
YANN: 'The first listeners really hated our music. They were too glad to find a music easy to hate. My favorite hateful review is Fakejazz's one. But later, people began to understand what we wanted to do and began to feel something in our music, with our music. Finally, harsh reviewers, the best example is Franz de Waard from Vital Weekly, wrote really good things about this album.'
TODD E. JONES: 'You have been quoted as saying, 'O is not music. The listeners make it music.' Can you expand on that statement?'
YANN: 'Of course! One of our first aims was to show that music can stay music, if you broke some rules. This idea was fed by primitive music. If you break these rules, you'll just need more cooperative listeners. Mainstream music abuses the rules. But music is not cooking, isn't it?'
TODD E. JONES: 'Many people automatically think 'Numero O' is an album by drug users for drug users. What is your response to this statement?'
YANN: 'I don't use any drugs. I hate drugs, alcohol, even if I think that drug experiments were really great ways for creation. Just remember Charles Baudelaire, William Burroughs, Henri Michaux, and so many more. We don't need drugs for dying. We don't need drugs to see death. That's probably why this album sounds like that. I think our album needs concentration from the listeners. But, at the same time, it's also a freedom's space.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What else helped you during the making of 'Numero O'?'
YANN: 'Water. Sherman Filter Bank. Irony. What else? Very much water. Oh, I'm the worse liar you've ever meet. Caffeine. Also, Jean-Luc Parant's poetry.'
TODD E. JONES: 'The music of '« O '» and the album has been described in various ways, ranging from ambient, noise, and even difficult listening. What do you think of these descriptions?'
YANN: 'First at all, I must say that it's a good description of our influences. We listen to various stuff like experimental, jazz, electronica, glitch, ambient, drone, doom, grind, pop, psychedelic, primitive music, contemporary classical, and no wave. When we started 'O', we did not want to belong to one specific scene. So, we were very glad to read these various descriptions. We've conceived our music like a freedom's space. That means there are a lot of ways to describe it. I think none are false, even Fakejazz. Subjectivity before all!'
TODD E. JONES: 'What is the meaning behind the name '« O '»?'
YANN: 'Everybody seems to be intrigued by our name. 'O' is a polysemic name. I hope that word exists! 'O' is an ugly phoneme, isn't it? 0 is a number out of negative and positive values. The circle is the place where we'd like to stay. We were also looking for a minimalist name, which could be a good representation of our music. So, this name is, at the same time, archaic & complex. Serious, as we reject Manichean conceptions & values. Also, ironic.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What is the correct way to write the name of the band?'
YANN: 'Ah, ah! Feel free to call us as you want! 'O' must stay a monomorphic, polysemic or polyphonic name. It could be said like a number, a letter, or it can be drawn like a circle. But the most important thing, and I'm angry when I see just O, is the quote parts. So, write 'O' or '0', but not O nor 0.'
TODD E. JONES: 'When creating a track, do you have a set process or idea? Walk us through the creative process.'
YANN: 'I think that a track must be, at the beginning, an emotion, or a specific sensation. The best is when words lack. Then, we search for some cripple rhythmic patterns, detuned chords, or ugly open tunings. We look for specific vibrations and approximate melodies.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Although the music sounds improvised, how much of the music is planned?'
YANN: 'Before a track? An emotion. This emotion will reveal a structure and a way of playing. In 'Numero 0', all was planned like song structures, album structure, melodies, mistakes, noises, crippled rhythms, and dynamic between each tracks. It must sound like a cripple improvisation.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Musically, what else have you been working on?'
YANN: 'A lot of bands in various styles like minimalist electronica, cartoon-esque music, experimental grindcore, drum & bass, doom core. But, I don't really want to speak about them here.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What are some of your favorite instruments?'
YANN: 'Guitars, electrical guitars, acoustic guitars, children guitars, Austrian zither, and flutes. But, also various non-musical objects, which are a great source of noises. And of course, analog filters and various software. The best instruments are those you don't know how to play.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Do you think that success and credibility are mutually exclusive?'
YANN: 'Success just depends on money and good marketing. That's why there are some majors. Success is concrete. That just means money plus groupies. Credibility is totally subjective. Hopefully, sometimes, I imagine that credibility is underground success. But credibility doesn't mean anything. I just do the music I need to do. It's enough. Who could imagine success for 'O'? Oh, of course, it could be a great joke, a private joke.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What song are you most proud of?'
YANN: ''La Trompette de l'ange Et Si Peu Encore.'. Never done a better song before. Never done a better song after. Perhaps it was our swan song.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?'
YANN: 'We plan to release some splits LPs with MooN, a French ambient drone band, with the Monitors, who are a great art rock math no wave band. I could describe their music as a mix between Ex Models and The Flying Luttenbachers. Another one with DAT, a sludge post-hardcore experimental band from Paris. Also, a split with S/T, a solo project from T of Green Milk from the Planet Orange. I'd like to do something, and not especially splits, with other artists I respect like IHAN. He was a Mille Plateaux artist. Also, The Telescopes, Ultra Milkmaids, Orthodox.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Stephen Lawrie of Telescopes owns Antenna Records, the label that released the 'Numero O' LP. How did you meet Stephen and get the deal with Antenna Records?'
YANN: 'At the beginning, some labels seemed to be interested in our music, but nothing really concrete, except with Burning Emptiness, of course. We thought that it was the best album we've ever done. And it's still my opinion. So, we really wanted to see this album released. A good friend of mine, DDN from MooN, who is also the man behind Burning Emptiness Records, was a great fan of The Telescopes. He was in touch with Stephen. He's sent our album to Stephen. At this time, we didn't know Stephen at all. Stephen liked what he heard, nothing more.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What was it like to work with Stephen?'
YANN: 'Stephen is exactly what French people can imagine about English people. He is polite and kind. I think he's really sincere in his way of doing music. He doesn't care about commercial standards. He doesn't care about trends. More than a decade ago, The Telescopes were a really good band. Now they're unique and they're great! I think that the deal with 'O' is just another proof of the Stephen's integrity. You probably know that he's really interested in underground music.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Will you be playing any live shows? Have you in the past?'
YANN: 'Live was a great problem. And it's still the problem. Now, I'm alone in 'O' and I know that I could play with some machines, or be helped by some musicians. But I'd like that an 'O' show looks more theatrical than musical. I hope that a little tour will be planed for the next year.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What LPs have you been listening to in the last couple of days?'
YANN: 'Good question! So many! Blurt, James and the Contortions, Aids Wolf, Olivier Messiaen's 'Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps', one my favorite contemporary compositors. Pansonic's 'Kesto', Voodoo Muzak's 'Cartilage', really original post rock from France. East West Blast Test's 'Popular Music For Unpopular People'. It is pseudo experimental music. But, I like it. Khanate ' 'It's Cold When Birds Fall From The Sky', really impressive live. So loud! I really like the track's structures. Grand Ulena's 'Neosho', at last but not least. Their music is totally out of description. Improvised, perhaps a bit math noise. Can't top to listen to this! Hunting Lodge, Ex Models, Oren Ambarchi, Zoviet France, Pan American, Boris, Lightning Bolt, Derek Bailey. Also, many CDs from Ultra Milkmaids. I've bought some days ago. They're amazing.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Abortion. Pro-choice or pro-life?'
YANN: 'I'm not a biologist, nor Catholic. I don't have any science, but a lot of doubts. I'm full of doubts. So what could I say about life? Just that sometimes, I feel totally anti-life? No, it would be stupid. Of course, I'm pro-choice because it can be an important right. I can't imagine a world without this right.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Euthanasia. For or against?'
YANN: 'Today, against. But tomorrow? I'm just too young for this answer. I hope.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What is your opinion on MySpace?'
YANN: 'Waste of time and infested by opportunists. We receive too many requests from fashion hardcore bands, nu metal bands and other commercial stuff. Oh, and the advertisements on MySpace are really aggressive. I hate this band called Kean. I hate these stupid smilleys. But, MySpace is also a good way to discover great musicians. We've discovered Monitors, S/T, DAT, Orthodox, Spectra, and many more through MySpace.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Word association. When I say a name, you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said, 'The Beatles', you may say 'Revolution' or 'John Lennon'. Okay?'
TODD E. JONES: 'My Bloody Valentine.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Television Personalities.'
YANN: 'Not so famous.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Morrissey.'
YANN: 'I need a new hair cup.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Happy Mondays.'
YANN: 'Dirty Fonzy.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Kool Keith.'
YANN: 'Sexual Intruder?'
TODD E. JONES: 'Felt.'
YANN: 'Primitive painters.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Momus.'
TODD E. JONES: 'The Telescopes.'
YANN: 'And see more stars.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Unisex.'
YANN: 'The Telescopes.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Close Lobsters.'
TODD E. JONES: 'The Beautiful South.'
YANN: 'Sony BMG.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Radiohead.'
TODD E. JONES: 'The Brian Jonestown Massacre.'
YANN: 'Axel Rose!'
TODD E. JONES: 'De La Soul.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Jimi Hendrix.'
YANN: 'Pre-Sonic Youth!'
TODD E. JONES: 'Spank Rock.'
YANN: 'Kraut rock? Hum. I don't know.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Curtis Mayfield.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Billy Holiday.'
YANN: 'Solitude. The Billy Holliday story.'
TODD E. JONES: 'The Dandy Warhols.'
YANN: 'Portland is a good place.'
TODD E. JONES: 'The Fall.'
YANN: 'Grotesque! I like this one!'
TODD E. JONES: 'Denim.'
TODD E. JONES: 'The Boredoms.'
YANN: 'Super You. Super. Super. Great!'
TODD E. JONES: 'Trisomie 21.'
YANN: 'Gogol I.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Gil-Scott Heron.'
YANN: 'Aigrette garde-bÅuf.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Serge Gainsbourrg.'
YANN: 'Les feuilles mortes.'
TODD E. JONES: 'George Bush.'
YANN: 'Georges Bitch Jr. It was a French HXC band.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Who are your biggest influences?'
YANN: 'If you mean Musical influences, probably Pierre Henry and other Musique Concrete compositors. Giacinto Scelsi, Labradford, Earth. Pan(a)sonic, Merzbow, Arab on Radar, and a lot of so-called primitive music. But also, poetry like Henri Michaux, Gherasim Luca. And, Action Painting.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?'
YANN: 'It was an archeology's lesson. About the Magdalenian Venuses or something like that. I'm more than serious. It's really far now, but it was a revelation about subjectivity of esthetical values. So, it's not a lesson I've learned in my musical career, ah, ha!. Never believe that beauty is true. Build your eyes to see new beauties. Find new words.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What are some of your favorite films?'
YANN: 'All Jacques Tati's movies, Old peplums, Swedish movies. Nothing special.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What is a typical day like for you?'
YANN: 'I'd like it's an endless day. And I'd never feel asleep.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What are some major misconceptions do you think people have of < < O >>?'
YANN: 'I've read that 'O' was a joke. 'O' is not a joke at all, even if there's humor in our music. Some people think that we're homeless, seriously. But I just remember the funniest thing I ever read about 'O' and 'Numero 0'. Just after the end of the studio session, I've sent it to an experimental label. They were a lot into drone and ambient. The guy has sent me this answer, 'Your music is really cool! It reminds me a lot Metallica. Old Metallica, of course!'. I was sure that it was a joke. But it wasn't.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Are you in a romantic relationship these days? How have touring, recording, and the music lifestyle affected relationships?'
YANN: 'I don't have the permission to answer to that.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What do you look for in a lover?'
YANN: 'Nothing. All. In reality I don't know. Patience. Tolerance. Curiosity. Independence.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Did you get along with your parents? What do they think about your music?'
YANN: 'My father's dead since many years. And I don't really appreciate to share music with people who know me since my first days.'
TODD E. JONES: 'When you pass away, would you like to be buried or cremated?'
TODD E. JONES: 'What would you want on your epitaph (your gravestone)?'
YANN: 'There are no longer people who write epitaphs.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Are there any collaborations fans should look out for?'
YANN: 'Hum. This question is an interesting answer to one of my questions. But are you really sure that we have some fans? One of my favorite 'O' release is 'O vs. Tin RP'. Unfortunately, this split album is sold out. 'Moon'O'phonique' I & II, two splits EP with MooN, will be out soon, November on Burning Emptiness and Lona Records, a dynamic and open minded label from Hong-Kong.'
TODD E. JONES: 'What's next?'
YANN: 'The split LP with The Monitors. These guys are scarified. And their music is scarifying. Can't stop listening to them. http://www.myspace.com/monitors.'
TODD E. JONES: 'Any final words?'
YANN: ''A tout le monde, Ã tous mes amis, je vous aime, mais je dois partir.' Ah, ah!. These French words come from an awful Dave Mustang's song. My final words? Thank you, Todd, for this really long interview! Hope you're not too tired now!'
Interview by Todd E. Jones
NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.