Text: Fabien Trève
Photos: Florian Baudouin
On the occasion of a concert by Post.Lyon, post rock events in Lyon, we had the chance to meet VAGUES, who were sharing the stage with their colleagues from Luje that evening. This event gave us an excuse to FINALLY come back to see a concert after this (too) long period of time, and was a late release party for their latest album, Aux Portes de la Nuit released last year. Better late than never, right?
We are tonight at a concert by Post.Lyon, how did your collaboration go, especially in terms of getting in touch?
Yann (Guitar/Vocals): We’ve been playing shows with Post.Lyon for a while now. The first time was around 2017, we went to the Farmer, Hard Rock Café, small venues like that where they organised sets with post-rock bands, often international ones.
Tonight, Luje is sharing the stage with you. Did you already know them?
Paolo (Guitar): Yes, they were with us at ENM (Ecole Nationale de Musique). And we don’t have many bands that fit with us in terms of aesthetics, so it was obvious for us to propose them. They were already supposed to come to our release party which was to take place on April 16th, 2020. You know what happened in the meantime… Tonight is a kind of a reboot.
So I guess you must be happy to be back on stage after Covid, have you ever had the opportunity to perform the last album on stage?
Yann: No, we haven’t had any gigs since March 2020.
How was this period without a concert?
Paolo: Bad! It was very demotivating. We had a lot of things that were starting to be scheduled that didn’t happen, so a lot of false hopes for very little materialization.
Let’s come back to your latest album. We noticed that the production was really impressive. How did the studio sessions go?
Tanguy (Drums): We all worked like hell beforehand, then we recorded on raw run track by track, instrument by instrument. As for the mix, we got involved in it a little bit, but with the distance we worked mostly by exchanges with the guys in the studio. They would send us drafts, we would say that it didn’t suit us for whatever reason, and this went on for 36, 40 exchanges, and after a while we got to the point where we said “well, the deadline is in two days, let’s stop changing things” and it was sent to the mastering.
Pablo (Bass): You should know that among the three people who worked on our two EPs, there is our live sound engineer, Gabin, who is here.
Tanguy: The two others are the “spare” sound engineers if Gabin is unavailable, which is quite rare.
Yann: So the three of them know the project pretty well. The studio is called “La Cafetière Studio”, in Viriat, just outside Bourg-en-Bresse.
In your sound, we can find various influences, in particular shoegaze and post-rock. What are your other influences?
Pablo (Bass): The influences are mostly personal. Some of us are more metal or post rock oriented and Yann and I try to look elsewhere. Afterwards, it’s a mix of all this that is done in rehearsal, and we try to make sure that everyone is satisfied with what we do. It’s not always easy, especially to mix rough stuff with vocals, to make the voices stand out with the French lyrics. So far we’ve managed to do it pretty well.
Paolo: Our big starting point remains Alcest.
Yann: Alcest is really a band that brings the four of us together and on which we really agree.
Paolo: Besides, they’re famous now, so when we say their name, people know what we’re talking about!
Yann: Regarding the vocals, there was also the influence of Feu! Chatterton, which was a good trigger about where we wanted to go in terms of aesthetics, even if it’s less rock than us.
How goes the writing of the songs usually?
Tanguy: Collectively, with the four of us, in the rehearsal room. It starts either from an embryo of someone who brings an idea or from a jam session. On the other hand, when it comes to writing the lyrics, it’s completely personal and 100% Yann.
Yann: Well, I send them my lyrics as I go along so they know what I’m talking about though!
Have you ever written music after a text?
Paolo: Yes, sometimes when we jam a music and there is already a text in progress…
Yann: I’ve got a big notebook with a lot of texts I’ve started, I’ll pick from it and I’ll think “well, this could fit in terms of atmosphere and what I’d like to tell”.
What is planned for the future of the band?
Paolo: Playing. (laughs) We’d like to do as many live shows as possible, but given the current situation…
Yann: And keep writing, it’s been a bit complicated this last year, to find where we wanted to go artistically. We managed to make two EPs that we like, but what happens afterwards? We don’t want to be repetitive either.
Paolo: It’s a bit complicated, because normally when you release a record, you let it live a bit, you do live shows… But here, as we said, it’s the first public concert where we play our second EP that we recorded two years ago.
Tanguy: In our heads we’re already moving on to something else, whereas at the moment we haven’t even made this EP live, so we should first take care of that. The aim is to tour! Like it was originally planned.
No side projects for any of you?
Yann: I’m starting to play synths. I bought some analogue synths, there’s one on stage tonight, by the way. I’m starting to write songs that are more electronic music oriented, to set up another project, but that will be in a long time.
Could the synth have a place in VAGUES?
Tanguy: It already does! It’s not on the EP, but tonight, there are tracks where Pablo alternates bass and synth or plays the synth only.
Pablo: We don’t want to go into an electronic sphere. It’s just to give other bass colours, or that kind of thing.
Yann: It doesn’t change much in the sound, the bass is going to be a little bit more ambient. The whole soaring side of a song works well with that.
What impact did the city of Lyon have on the project?
Tanguy: First of all, the meetings on the stage, for example with Post.Lyon, playing in venues like the Farmer, Hard Rock Café, or here at Sonic, for the first time, and especially the projects of friends who are at the same point as us and which are very motivating. I’m thinking of KITCH, Ice Bear, a whole scene that’s very moving because these are people who face the same obstacles, the same victories… We support each other.
What are your current music favourites?
Tanguy : For me, this year, it was Movements, because it’s the most beautiful thing. The drummer is the guy who writes the best! The drum part is a big masterclass.
Paolo: At the moment I’m discovering a love for Vildhjarta, even if it doesn’t have much to do with the music we make! There is a great ambient background, though.
Yann: My big blow in the last two years was Fontaines D.C., an Irish post-punk band that smashes absolutely everything.
Pablo: For me it’s completely different, it’s the album “Lundi Méchant” by Gaël Faye that I discovered during the lockdown… it’s incredible.