And we bring you a very interesting conversation with the French Black Metal band AUTARCIE. Good reading.
Autarcie is one of the most creative bands I’ve have listened to so far. Tell us a little when everything started and where the name “Autarcie” comes from. I know it has a political concept.
Ave ! Thank you for your interest in Autarcie. I formed the band around 2006, from the ashes of a previous project called SvartKrig. Previously our music dealt with classical themes related to Black Metal, but with Autarcie we decided to refocus on concepts that match more to our personal vision.
Contrary to what one might think, there is no real political dimension in Autarcie. The name of the band refers to a philosophy that advocates isolation from the social world, living in autonomy and self-sufficiency, in the way of survivalism.
The topics covered in Autarcie reflect this concept, to which are added purely historical themes.
How would you define the BLACK METAL you play. I ask you this because Autarcie is not a “new face” in the spectrum of Black Metal and in the French Black Metal. What makes you so successful? And why you call it ” “Rural Black Metal?”
I think Autarcie is more focused on melodies, ambiances and atmospheres. Feelings (nostalgic, contemplative, warlike…) take priority over the purely technical aspect. “Rural Black Metal” because my inspiration takes its source into rurality, the deep French countryside, historical and cultural heritage, forests and fields. Far from the modern, urban and disgusting world.
My band is also closely linked to Franche-Comté, which is my native regional territory, great source of inspiration for my music. It’s my own identity, my land, my roots. It’s a rural area, so my Black Metal is too.
The title of the new album ” Apogée.Ivresse.Agonie”, does it have anything to do with the French slogan in the French Revolution (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité)? There are a lot of beauty and melancholy in this album. If I got it right.
No, the title of the album has no link with the motto of the current “French republic” we hate. In fact, this album deals with the heyday of the Frankish Kingdom (during the Merovingian and Carolingian times) and its gradual decline. The famous knight Roland can be seen on the album cover. At the time of Charlemagne (great Emperor of the Western Europe and King of the Franks), Roland was a warlord in charge of defending the borders of the Frankish Kingdom, who met a tragic end at the Battle of Roncesvalles. There is a whole symbolism behind this character and his legend. It’s a perspective of the glorious past of France, compared to the disastrous times we experience today (the knightly spirit and the values of honor having unfortunately disappeared nowadays).
Every track is presented with a glow of magnificence and is kept active for the entirety of the album. How did you mix all the elements and came to a result that the album looks like a movie? When we listen to it is like watching a movie and seeing the different angles and perspectives. I mean it is a victorious tone with high quality Black Metal.
There is no particular “strategy” behind the way I compose my music. Everything is a question of feeling, intuition and spontaneity. When I compose, I don’t particularly care what the final result will be. I let the listeners approach my music in their own way, since in the end it’s all about personal sensitivity.
Do you consider that it is one of the elements that represent the French Black Metal nowadays?By the way, which are the characteristic of the “French Black Metal?”
The French Black Metal scene has no specific cohesion, it’s not homogeneous, it’s made up of many bands who interpret Black Metal in their own way. There is as much diversity as in the international Black Metal scene in general. But within this various scene, there are nevertheless a few bands that have in common the love for French historical and cultural heritage, and which want to put it forward. A love for rural France, ancestral homeland, and deep countryside. There are a few of us who share these values and these centers of interest, I think mainly of Peste Noire, Sacrificia Mortuorum, Sühnopfer, Baise Ma Hache, Neptrecus, Ascète, Sale Freux (even if mainmember Dunkel recently showed his refusal to be assimilated to this scene) and some others…
Even if it’s not always the case (unfortunately) I consider that French Black Metal should be sung in French exclusively. We must be proud of our cultural heritage. There is already enough Anglo-Saxon hegemony everywhere these days.
Have you ever watched “Bleu Blanc Satan: The Birth of Black Metal in France”? We have some pioneers of French Black Metal like Mutiilation. Which old French Black Metal bands have influenced you?
Yes, I watched this documentary, but I didn’t find it very interesting (rather useless actually). The old pioneer bands of French Black Metal that I’ve always appreciated (or which have influenced me) are : Mütiilation, Seigneur Voland, Kristallnacht, Blessed in Sin, Vlad Tepes, Nehëmah…
I would like to talk about the first album from 2009, “S.I.D.A. (Sédition. Isolement. Déliquescence. Autarcie)”, Is this title related to the decay of the Western Civilization as we know? Is it a return to the primitive far beyond the Modern World?
You’re right. Since the first album, there are two main facets in the music of Autarcie : the first one is dedicated to the contemplation of nature, the ancient times and the History of France (and my native region), and its ancestral heritage. The second one deals with my hatred against the modern urban world, all its deviances and decay.
The song “1638” caught my attention. It’s very complex, well built. One of the best tracks of ” S.I.D.A.” Could you tell us a little about the lyrics? Is it the period of the Thirty War’s Years?
The lyrics of “1638” are an adaptation of the testimony of Jean Girardot de Nozeroy, Lord of Beauchemin, who told the situation during the Ten Years War in Franche-Comté (part of the Thirty Years War). In 1634, the King of France Louis XIII (and his cardinal Richelieu) waged a thirty years war against the Spanish and Austrian monarchies, and tried to reunite Franche-Comté with the Kingdom of France. It was a terrible war : battles, pestilence and famine devastated the whole region. The toll was heavy : several towns destroyed, 70 castles burned down, 150 villages have disappeared, with tens of thousands of deaths. Two thirds of the Francs-Comtois died during this war. That’s what the lyrics are about.
As far as I could see by the lyrics, there is a lot of “ancien régime” and the Revolution mixed in the Black Metal you make…of course there are some other topics. Could you tell us which are the lyrics in the new album about? Do you use period of History as a background in every album?
As I said previously, the historical past of France (and more mainly of my native region) is found as a background in each Autarcie album. The latest album is in this continuity, since it deals with the Merovingian and Carolingian times of the kingdom of France.
As a musician, what are your main Influences? And about the band, what are Autarcie’s main influences?
My artistic influences are mainly literary. The regular reading of many authors (poets, novelists, essayists, philosophers, historians…) is a great source of inspiration for me. I’ve a great preference for authors who belong to the Romanticism. Musically, on a daily basis I listen mainly to Black Metal (in almost all its forms), but also occasionally to other musical genres (mainly New Wave, Darkwave, Retrowave, Dungeon Synth, various movie OST…). But these musical preferences don’t necessarily have a strong influence on my own music. I think Autarcie is mainly a part of the continuity of the second wave of 90’s Black Metal (as much as possible), because that’s what I listen to the most, and that’s what suits me best.
I asked you this because you have other projects like Dyster and Ciel Nocturne, that I also enjoy very much. When could we expect something new from this project?
Ciel Nocturne is a project that ended in 2011, I don’t think there will be any sequel one day. I still have some ideas regarding Dyster, but at the moment I haven’t found enough time to get involved in it. In recent years I’ve preferred to stay focused on Autarcie as a priority.
Autarcie is a duo. And you have connections with other bands. Could you talk a little about the ” Civitas Maxima Sequanorum”?
It was an “inner circle” gathering the main local Black Metal bands in our region in the early 2000’s. We were all friends or comrades, we almost all played in the same bands. We were united under the same banner, which is visible on most of our first albums. “Civitas Maxima Sequanorum” is the name of our hometown in Gallo-Roman times.
In 2019 Purity Through Fire released “X Annis Seditio” a box-set with the first threeAutarcie albums. Was that your idea or them? Was it a special occasion?
It was a common idea, with the aim of celebrating the ten year anniversary of Autarcie. In fact, the band is a bit older, but our first album wasn’t released until 2009.
And how’s been the feedback of the new album ” Apogee.Ivresse.Agonie”? I think it really consolidates your career as one of the most successful bands from the second wave of French Black Metal.
I’ve had very positive feedback, including from people who didn’t necessarily like Autarcie before. It seems rather strange to me, because I consider this album to be more radical and hermetic than the previous ones (in many aspects).
However, I remain modest : even we have gained some popularity over the years, I think Autarcie remains an underground band still unknown from the Black Metal audience in general.
Have you performed live with Autarcie? Are there plans for hit the road with a full line up?
I’ve already played a lot of concerts with my previous/other bands (especially Hasserben) but never with Autarcie. Among my friends and comrades, I know some good musicians interested in participating in a session line-up to play live with Autarcie. I don’t know how the future will be, maybe one day we’ll play live, at the moment I don’t know really.
How’s the pandemic Covid-19 where you live? Did the pandemic delay the recording and releasing of the new album?
Fortunately, the virus didn’t affect anyone close to me. In France, the authorities are taking advantage of the pandemic crisis to completely enslave the people (forced lockdown, compulsory vaccination, deprivation of freedoms). And the people let it go, the obedient sheep follow orders…
On the contrary, the pandemic made it easier to record the latest album because my drummer and I had a lot more availability and free time.
To some people, Black Metal must be satanic. Do you think that Black Metal should be restrictive like this? Only 666 is worthy.
Were the first Black Metal bands exclusively satanic ? Of course they often dealt with occultism and darkness, but also with nature, forests, ancient times, paganism, History… To summarize Black Metal to the satanic aspect seems rather simplistic.
Nowadays, a lot of bands claim to play Satanic Black Metal, whereas in everyday life they are normal people, harmless. For me, no matter what the message is in the music, what’s important is to be genuine and honest with yourself. No deceit, no artifice.
What are the future plans that could be revealed?
There are several projects currently in progress with Autarcie, but at the moment I don’t know when they will materialize. Just know that there will be a sequel, it will arrive in good time.
Do you think that Black Metal has evolved since the 1990’s? What are the positive and negative aspects of this “evolution”?
The positive aspects are the multitude of good bands which have developed some very interesting concepts, and which have positively evolved the musical landscape of Black Metal. Over the past thirty years, many bands have contributed to considerably enrich this art. The downside is related to the advent of the internet. Nowadays it’s very easy to find all the info you want about Black Metal, and it has popularized and discredited this movement (which was originally underground). Many people who don’t understand this art have taken an interest in it and reinterpreted it in their own way (often negatively). The internet has brought a lot of posers and useless bands into the Black Metal scene. Today this musical genre is unfortunately becoming too standardized.
What elements from the French culture are in the background of your songs? There is a lot of Paganism in the album “Sequania”. Tell us a little about this album.
In my songs, the background related to French culture refers essentially to its historical heritage and rurality. There are many references to my native region, Franche-Comté (also called “Sequania” in the Gallo-Roman era). Moreover, the album “Sequania” is entirely focused on the History and folklore of Franche-Comté, so it’s an album dedicated to my own roots and my homeland.
What are the bands that you are listening to nowadays? Any bands you could recommend?
Usually I mainly listen to the great Black Metal classics from the 90’s and early 2000’s (roughly speaking, the legendary albums by Burzum, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Ulver, etc). I can still quote some names of great bands that I listen to a lot these times, but most of them are already well known too : Peste Noire, Panphage, Mgła, Clandestine Blaze, Serment, The True Werwolf, Mavorim, Burshtyn, Wolfnacht, Urfaust, Black Magick SS, Maléfice, and many more…
And what about the new albums that are now released like the new Darkthrone album? Which bands do you buy merch?
Honestly, I don’t like much what Darkthrone plays those years. Of course I’m a big fan of the early albums (from the beginnings until “Hate Them”) but the current sequel didn’t interest me.
In truth, I haven’t really looked at the albums that are currently being released (except the latest Clandestine Blaze). At the moment I’m running out of time to listen to the new albums that may interest me.
Regarding merch, I’ve only bought vinyl records for years, because it’s my favorite physical format. I don’t buy CDs anymore, except when I really like an album which only exists in that format.
You have a Distro “C.M.S. Distribution”. What does the abbreviation stand for? What are the main difficulties of a distro or a label nowadays that everything is “digital”, “virtual” and “online”?
The name “C.MS” stands for Civitas Maxima Sequanorum. As I said earlier, this name was originally the banner that united local Black Metal bands in our region. I used again this name (abbreviated) when I launched my distribution website, in order to sell productions affiliated with this banner. I never ran a real label, but I guess it’s not really easy (or lucrative) nowadays…
Merci pour cette interview. Thank you for your time! Si vous pouvez nous laisser un message, cela me fera plaisir.
I wish you a good continuation. Thank you (and the readers) for your support & interest in Autarcie.