Is Haeredium a musical dictatorship?
Haeredium is a folk-influenced metal band from Eastern France, whose musical and thematic core is based on the will to integrate folklore-related sounds. Their album "Ascension" is out since march 2019 and got a positive review (read it here) and so time to get in touch with the band. Let's see wh we are dealing with.
Can you give us a short introduction of yourself and the other members?
Hi! I am Sébastien, lead guitar and vocalist of the band. Haeredium is a french folk metal band made of 5 musicians, Nicolas (drums), Quentin (guitar and vocals), Rémi (bass guitar), Alexia (keys and flutes) and myself. The band was formed in 2010 and we had two albums out: Aurora (2014) and Ascension (2019).
It all has to start somewhere, can you remember your earliest musical experience? And how did it develop to your 2019 taste?
I do remember, even though I would say it wouldn't be a bad thing to forget it! Well, as you said, it all has to start somewhere! Personally my first live show was with a very messy punk band, in a bar that was just as messy. We had less than 10 people in the audience. That was more than 15 years and hopefully I have had a lot of great experiences since! My main instrument is the guitar, the one I worked the most with all along these years, and to get my 2019 taste was a curious adventure through a lot of different music styles. I am personally very passionate about traditional music and instruments from all over the world and from all cultures. I like to takes my influences form styles that appear as opposites at first sight, like jazz and death metal. The key is really to be curious, to listen to a lot of music, and to study.
What or whom did you decide to pick up an instrument? Was it difficult to learn and still playing it?
It may sound strange, but I never was into guitar heroes, and the band that made me want to play guitar is The Offspring, the californian punk rock band! I had learned to play all their songs from their first five albums! I would not say it was difficult, because I had a great motivation. Right from the start, I spent a lot a time practicing the guitar, what I still do now. Later on, I wanted to discover other instruments in order to better understand the role and the place of each musician, and to compose music for every instrument. So apart from the guitar, I learned a bit of piano, drums, violin, which I still work on now from time to time.
What kind of bands did you join in the beginning? What were they playing and did the record or played live?
As mentioned earlied, I joined a punk band to begin with, move to metal with a symphonic-like power metal band, and finally Haeredium which is the project of this last decade. Well, if you ask, I have a live recording of my first punk band... but you don't want to hurt your ears, do you?
Then there was this moment you become part of Haeredium. How did happen and was there already a connection with the other members?
Yes, me and the bass player Rémi were part of a previous symphonic metal band. We decided to create a new band and started to record the first songs in the folk-power spirit. At that time, we were only two, so I recorded keyboards myself and had drums programmed with softwares. We quickly realized that we need some help if we wanted this project to get further. I asked Alexia to join the band, I knew her from the music school where we were both students. Finally, Quentin on the guitar and Nicolas on the drums were suggested by Rémi from his job network.
The style of Haeredium is folk metal with a foot in the past but also modern touch. How was this style determined?
Well, there is not magic bullet, the style was not determined or planned to sound that way. I just tried to recreate the music that I like from all other styles, and it results in a mix of metal and traditional music and instruments related to a lot of different cultures. This is mainly about creating an “atmosphere” with the music, creating something that will make you happy or sad, dreamy or nervous, wanting to party or wanting to be alone. I try to recreate these atmospheres, and by putting together very differents sounds, like for example heavy guitar riffs with joyful violin melodies you get mixed emotions, and this is what I find interesting.
Read in your bio that folk bands are rising in France. Can you explain this?
Well, the french case is always complicated when it comes to metal music! Metal is the last music genre you want to play if you are seeking fame and glory in France. Ironically, it is one of the styles where you find some of the best musicians and composers. The real challenge for a french metal band is to cross the borders, and we are lucky to live in the eastern part of France, very close to Germany and Switzerland where there really is a bigger live scene than in France. Metal music is very popular there. However, there are in France a couple of folk metal bands whose names are known all over the country, creating a very useful network of folk metal bands that allowed us to get to play in some very cool and interesting places, like the Cidre & Dragon fest in Normandy, opening for the swiss band Eluveitie. As an explanation for the french scene having now more folk metal bands, I would say that in my opinion, this is a very open-minded subgenre of metal, because it brings together musicians and listeners not necessarily metal oriented in the beginning. A lot of people listen to folk metal while saying: I usually don't like metal music, but I like this. Artists like Wardruna, Myrkur or Faun are good examples of this bridge between metal and more acoustic-pagan-folk music.
Are those bands focussing on the french market to keep it local? And the reason you sing in english to have a wider audience?
In fact, most of the french folk metal bands sing in english. The international language of Rock and Metal is english, it just 'sounds Rock'n'Roll'. The french language has not the same vibe, the same 'aura', but still has one, that can be used differently. One has to find how to use it best! Marketing choices are not what determines if we sing in english or french, it is just a feeling thing. Since I usually compose the music first, it is the feel of the music that will determine what language suits it the best. Well, in any case this is how I personally work and definitely not the only way!
When playing live what kind of audiences are you aiming for? Are you booked for metal shows or medieval fairs? And what is the reaction of the crowd?
I think it is the downside of being not 100% metal or not 100% folk, you don't really know who will like your music. Sometimes we get surprised by people coming from totally opposite music styles and actually liking what we do. On the other side, true metalheads may not find what they look for in our music. For the moment we never played in medieval fairs, only metal shows. But whenever we play a show, even to the ears of non-metalheads, we get a really positive response from the audience. We like to put a lot of energy in our shows and to play the most party-like songs in our setlists.
You have done already some shows. What was the most fun one and what the most horrible one?
First I would mention the most rewarding one, with Eluveitie in 2017. Great show, great audience, great festival and great memories. The most fun was probably in Lille in 2014, the heat! So hot that our faces and fingers were just melting! The most horrible one, well, I don't remember any bad memory so to say, once in a while we have bad moments, like technical problems on stage, but nothing that bad.
Shared the stage with Tankard, so there must be some alcoholic stories about backstage hangouts!
I am sorry to disappoint you, but there was none of this! Or maybe were they just very reasonable for that one time!
"Ascension" is your second album. How did writing differ from the previous one? And what is the biggest progression made?
Our first album “Aurora” was like a collection of songs that had been written in very distant periods of time. The oldest song had been composed several years before, and the most recent song only a few weeks before we entered the studio. This uneven feel was perceptible on the album, which is not the case the our new album, since all the songs were composed almost at the same time. Thus, the feeling of unity and consistency is quite stronger on “Ascension”. Also, we have tried to experiment new ideas, like the classical piano part or the whistling theme from the introduction track. I see it not necessarily being a matter of confidence, since a musician is constantly into self-questioning, but rather a substantive work through creation, finding the rights ideas that depict the music we want to offer and how to share it in the best way.
Can you tell in short how the songs are brought to life? Does everyone has something to say in writing process? And who has the veto?
I write all the music and lyrics, and write music sheets for all instruments. From what I compose, I always select the best songs and I propose them to the other band members. This is how I work, but I am open about having the point of view of every members regarding his parts and his instrument. It may sound like a 'musical dictatorship' but I can assure it's not, it is just the way I work!
Looking back on the release, would you have things different? What was difficult to record the right way? And what was a disappointment?
The thing is, you know when you start, but you never know when it's finished. It's hard to reach the point where you can finally say “That's it, I am 100% satisfied with what we did”. There is always something you what to improve, or to re-think in a different way to make better and better again. This album was indeed rather difficult because it had to be technical and very precise, I wanted it to be that way. The main feeling that came with the release of the album was relief, the feeling of achievement and the ability to finally say “Now this is what we've done”. Hopefully, the work was hard but we are not disappointed with the result.
The review of the album as very positive but a criticism was that there are too many instrument. Do you agree?
I have not heard from this, but I don't agree! I would say there are not enough! XD Well, sometimes 'less is more', but it is more a thing of personal taste.
First video is 'Breathe' and it is not female friendly. Why did you let Alexia go in the cold water? Where were the tough guys hehehe
Hahaha! You made a point, sir! That water wasn't that cold anyway, or was it?
Beside the band and promoting you must have a other life. What keeps you occupied every day? Time for hobbies or other interests?
I personally work in music business full time as a guitar teacher and artist. So does our pianist Alexia. Nicolas, our drummer, and Rémi, on the bass, work in construction and heating systems business, while Quentin, on the guitar, works as a graphic designer. My personal hobby is playing music, discover new artists, cultures, learning other instruments and writing songs.
What are the future plans for Haeredium? What do you hope to have achieved in 2022? And what are you gonna do to make this happen?
I write music and compose songs all the time, so by 2022 we should have our third album out, that I would describe as more personal, or more “emotional”, but still folk and metal of course! For now we are focusing on the feedback we get from our second album “Ascension”, and see where it will lead us. A tour in Europe would be a great experience and a perfect way to promote our music.
Coming to end, is there something you would to mention, ask, shout etc?
Very big thanks for giving us the opportunity of this interview! We hope to hit the stage in your area someday!