Candélabre: A Shoegaze light from the south of France
"Candélabre construit de petites chapelles soniques dans lesquelles langueur et tension sont la clef de voute. "
Candelabre are a French band from Toulouse. Toulouse is the 3rd biggest country in France, a southern town where food is king, the sun always shines and the music is reggae, hip-hop, funk etc...
So why do Candelabre are serving us a delicious cocktail of shoegaze and post-punk?
Maybe because underneath this mainstream music current there was always some bands closer to the indie side. Foot example in the 90’s, Shoegaze bands like Diabologum, the Sigh or the Smiling Marianne tried to create a sonic resistance. Candelabre are doing the same, a few years later.
- Anthony Hérigny - guitares, basse, percussions
- Cindy Sanchez - voix, guitares
- Michaël De Almeida - basse, claviers, percussions
What is your music about?
Somehow we like to explore paradoxes with our music: it can be soft, sensual, aerial, warm and at the same time tense, heavy and cold. We play on those contrasts but we never preset or conceptualized it at the beginning of the band, we just do it naturally.
The themes and atmospheres are not very joyful but our music is not miserablist. It’s rather melancholic and a little bit sweet, almost dancing sometimes. It’s the music that suits us as a band, the kind of music we want to play and the one we want to hear when we play the three of us together. And it’s always a tremendous pleasure to get goosebumps when we play certain songs: when it happens, we know we’re on the right way.
What are your goals as a band, artist, record label owner, artistically/ commercially?
Just compose strong and good songs, play good shows, discover new cities, possibly new countries. That the music we make has the ability to touch people. To go beyond ourselves and go further.
Who would you want as a dream producer and why?
There’s so many… Maybe Robin Guthrie for all the sound aspects he has managed to create with the Cocteau Twins records. When you listen to records like Treasure, Heaven or Las Vegas, Victorialand or the first EP’s of the band everything is so perfect it’s just like lace or silver.
As soon as you put on one those records you have the feeling like you’re on another planet, just by the sound they carry. The production work manages to sublimate their songs which are basically perfect. He brings an additional dimension to them. At this level, it’s magic or alchemy.
What are you trying to avoid as a band?
Getting nowhere, stagnation or repetition in composing, live or the artwork aspects.
Explain your songwriting process, who starts? How does it evolve, is it organic? Is it discussed?
In general, we begin with something in embryo, we play it during our rehearsals, like a sketch, then Cindy lays her voice on it. If it works we usually feel it quickly. Otherwise, we drop it and move on to something else. After that we refine and put the finishing touches to it, we define a structure altogether, sometimes we fit some details if necessary (cut a part, speed up a tempo, insert a bridge, an ending, a break…).
We regularly question ourselves on the pertinence of what we’re producing and the opinion of the other members is always important in moments of doubt. But we’re usually on the same wavelength with the aspects concerning the composition of the songs. Cindy writes and takes care of the themes she wants to broach and she composes her singing parts and the harmonies. All of this happens quite naturally and in a “democratic” way.
In 2018 there is no new or old music to a 17-year-old with internet access. Discuss.
Yeah, we clearly didn’t have that relate to the discovering and listening to music when we were teenagers. Maybe it sounds a little bit old-fashioned but we grew up with different media format (tape, CD), the beginning of downloading, the streaming and now the return of physical medium like tapes (our EP first came out on tape on BLWBCK before we put out a CD version with Solange Endormie records) and vinyl.
When I was a kid in my 20,000 people hometown there were three records shops, 15 years after there’s no records shop anymore. Besides that people never had the ability to hear so much music than nowadays. So it’s difficult to put ourselves in a 17-year-old kid’s shoes, even if we also listen to a lot of stuff on YouTube, Spotify or elsewhere.
I think we would have dreamed to have access to that at the time: there are probably more songs in the iPod or the smartphone of a 17-year-old kid than in our respective records collections. It’s a chance and at the same time, I’m not sure that it makes people get a better musical culture, apart from the real passionate ones, the curious ones.
Just like before in fact. Ultimately even if the ability to discover new music is almost infinite, I have the feeling that people still have very stereotyped practices, 90% of people are listening to shit, and often the same shit as their neighbors.
Why do you make the music you make? Is it in you? Is it a choice?
It’s the combination of our three personalities, of the way we play, of what we listen to and what made us that led us quite naturally to play what we play. There was no real calculation, just the desire to tend to something more instinctive, physical and maybe less intellectualized.
Describe your palette of sound.
It’s quite paradoxical: Cindy has this very aerial, crystalline, sometimes almost mischievous voice, at least very melodic, all in curls and arabesques. We sometimes play by contrast with that on tracks like “Fortress Of Salvation” or “Last Rites”, where the music is sometimes heavy and threatening.
Otherwise, we love reverb, delay, and chorus effects, we can use clear and clean sounds but in perverting it with those effects, that is for the “coldwave side”, then you also have sometimes sonic bursts when we push distortion levels in a warmer and shoegaze spirit. What is certain is that the sounding angle is really important to us, almost as important as the structure or the arrangement of the songs.
Too many bands tend to focus just on the composing/writing side, which is the aspects that are usually put forward, the sonic side generally comes after that when it’s not just delegated to the producer. Yet when you think about it for a while it’s a very important aspect that is able to increase the effect of a simple pattern or create an atmosphere.
Most bands that we love and that are recognizable from its first notes have that sounding imprint because they have a very strong and identifiable DNA (The Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Ride, Dead Can Dance, The Soft Moon…).
You’re from France, how does it feel to be from there as a band?
It’s hard to tell because we always lived here and we don’t really have any points to compare with. We did not have the opportunity yet of touring in foreign countries, which we would really love to of course.
On the other hand what is great is that for some years now we have an interesting effervescence in France with lots of great bands in different musical genres and that allow themselves to make the music they want to make without complex.
Is the french public receptive to your kind of music?
That’s the feeling we have, there is a good feedback. People seem to appreciate what we do, whether during shows or by the feedback we get on the web. In all cases one of our biggest satisfaction is to notice that the people that come to our gigs or that have an interest for the band are very different, it covers a large spectrum of individuals: you have old goths, young metalheads, people listening to pop or electronic music. This is really rewarding.
France got on the shoegaze map by introducing the world to blackgaze with bands like Alcest and Amesoeurs, do you think it has helped the shoegaze scene?
Certainly. At least outside France, it probably had an influence. When you think that at the beginning of the nineties the shoegaze movement was mocked and reviled by the press (all that to heap praise on Britpop soon after), that Slowdive was reviled a little bit more with each album they put out, and now everybody acknowledge without any doubt the huge musical impact of this movement. For sure when bands like Have A Nice Life, The Soft Moon, Nothing, Whirr, DIIV and all the French Blackgaze scene emerged it was really refreshing for a musical genre that in fact never really ceased to exist. And it surely allowed French musicians to appropriate this music in a more laid-back vision than in the past.
There’s a postpunk element to your music, does it help or hinder you to not be a Slowdive clone?
We don’t know about post-punk but we never told ourselves: we’re gonna sound like Slowdive or The Cocteau Twins, we have too much respect and admiration for these bands. It’s certain that you can hear in our songs that we’ve listened a lot all these bands but we listen to a lot of other stuff too: folk, pop, electronic music, metal, and all that mixture of influences got absorbed in an involuntary way in our music.