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With French Atmospheric Doom band Ixion's fourth album, 'L'Adieu Aux Étoiles', just out, Comrade Aleks thought it time for a chat with band founder, multi-instrumentalist Julien Prat...

Interview with Ixion.
"By strange coincidence there are two French bands whose music could be described as "space doom metal", whatever you read into this tag. Their names are Monolithe and Ixion. And if the Paris-based former crew have grown from solid monolithic Funeral Doom to something more agile, melodic and eclectic, the latter duo from Brittany keep on performing their own atmospheric Death/Doom despite all odds. As before, Julien Prat plays all instruments and contributes some vocals, and Yannick Dilly is responsible for clean singing. Ixion's third member, Thomas Saudray, left the band in 2016, so that's all. As their fourth album, 'L'Adieu Aux Étoiles', saw the light of day on the first of October, it seemed to be a good chance to ask a few questions of Julien."

Ixion: Yannick Dilly (vocals), Julien Prat (all instruments, vocals.

Hail Julien! How are you? What's going on in your secret base?

Hello Aleksey! Well we're fine here and the time is quite typical of a pre-release period: we're both hanging at the new album release (working on promotional side of things, and of course looking forward to first reviews and comments), and at the same time preparing the follow-up - I'm upgrading some elements in the studio and organizing fragments and foundations of future works!

Really? What did you add to your equipment? Did you have some wide-scale vision considering the next Ixion works behind this update?

Haha I'm quite a geek regarding the musical gear – especially about synths (both hardware or plugins). So it is mainly to add some instruments, and also re-organizing my work station. About the future works I have a lot of snippets or parts of tracks available – there will be at least two different projects, but it's too soon to tell you more ;)

Did you record any of Ixion's albums totally yourself? Would you like to record in a bigger studio with a sound producer from outside?

The previous albums were recorded between Yannick's studio and mine. For this one it was 100% at my studio. It lets me refine details as much as I want, as the mix between the doom metal base and the synth-atmospheric stuff is quite a complicated chemistry. So right now I'm satisfied with this process.

'L'Adieu Aux Étoiles' was released on 1st of October, and at least here in Russia we seem to be getting the so called "second wave" of Covid. How do you see this quarantine situation from Brittany? Is it calm on your side?

Some areas in France are also affected by this 2nd Covid wave, especially major cities, but luckily at this moment Brittany is quite spared, so life is still quiet, even if of course habits have really changed for all of us!!

How does 'L'Adieu Aux Étoiles' promotional campaign go? Well, may I use that description for this period of Ixion's life at all? Did media interest change towards the underground scene due to the Covid situation, from your point of view?

Well I think we can speak about a promotional period yes ;) I would say things are encouraging, with good relays on the web and in the press, and it seems the first welcome is good!! I think the containment period have seen people 'off' or 'pending' and even listening to music was badly affected ; but on the last months life has moved on !

If people can unfortunately not go to concerts, they have returned to listening to music. And webzines and press have regained a more normal rhythm (even if things are difficult for some structures). And at the middle of all that, like often, the underground carries its flame, because it comes to passion!

Do you feel yourself comfortable in the underground? I wonder if you see commercial potential in Ixion which could draw the attention of wider audience and bigger labels?

What is certain is that I prefer a small audience that love Ixion's music, is passionate, than a more wide audience that would find the music "nice". But it would be great to touch more people of course! I don't see being underground as a value or a goal in itself.

So it is about reaching the maximum of persons who can be really and deeply touched by our music!

Ixion - 'Farewell' (Official, 2020):

'L'Adieu Aux Étoiles' is the band's fourth album since 2004, and I see that your first period was quite calm: the demo 'Through The Space We Die' appeared in 2007 and then 'To The Void' full-length followed in 2011. What distracted you from Ixion back then?

In fact To the Void was ready at the beginning of 2010 and more than one year was lost finding a label. But it is right that we have increased our pace and a bit reduced the time between releases. One reason is that the work has been gradually concentrated in my studio rather than multiple locations: it allows a more continuous process. And of course there can be some elements of personal or professional life that interfere with the artistic work.

How did you spend this period between 2004 and 2010? Did you play gigs or whatever?

Making concerts has always been and is still something frustrating for us: because it would materially be difficult to meet each other and rehearse enough, but also because I can only imagine a scenography consistent with our music and artworks, so there is a question of budget, halls… for a very specific musical genre with a limited audience.

So the time between Ixion's albums is filled with composition, production in the studio, and beside, professional and familial life.

It's a bit of a crude comparison, but you've kept your own formula of Jean-Michel Jarre-influenced Doom Death metal since 'Through The Space We Die'. Space synths are one of the band's most recognizable features, and there are proper Doom riffs and both growling and clean vocals… How did you build this formula?

This formula reflects my tastes and influences: I try to combine in Ixion the different musics that I love. And different bands have shown the way mixing synths with doom metal - they inspired and still inspire me so much - so I tried to push further this principle with a more assumed use of 70's/80's synth sounds. It's a great pleasure for me to play with the two sides: focusing on a doom riff, on an ambient or synthwave passage, mixing the two... Just as we play with the different kind of vocals to strengthen the music in a direction or another, with the ghostly mournful clean vocals of Yannick, the growls, but also some rock vocals, vocoder...

Your music is described as "atmospheric Doom metal", usually. Did you use this description back then in 'Through The Space We Die' times?

Yes I think we have always used this description... in our case "atmospheric" is mainly synonym of spatial, electronic-ambient, but it is also a question of moods, and emotional atmospheres, so I think it is quite logical that we keep this tag.

What are your Doom influences?

I think the bands who have influenced me the more are Swallow the Sun, Shape of Despair, My Dying Bride (my preferred period is the triptych The Light at the End of the World, The Dreadful Hours, Songs of Darkness…), Doom:vs, Saturnus, and Draconian enlarging to gothic/doom.

Even though back then in the '00s your countrymen Monolithe performed another kind of Doom, with a huge tendency toward its Funeral form, I bet you couldn't avoid comparison of Ixion with them. Do you actually communicate with this crew?

Monolithe is one of the projects that have 'shown me the way' as I said before. There are obvious bridges between us, even if there are also some real differences. I love their work. We don't know personally each other, but I have a few contacts with Sylvain Bégot.

How would you sum up the general lyrical message of Ixion? How does it change from album to album?

Our common theme across the albums is the expansion of humanity through space, with 'sub chapters' on each album, following different spaceship crews.

On To the Void it was the failure of a mission and the crew finally dying lost in space ; on Enfant de la Nuit the discovering of a superior intelligence and civilization, some 'creators' ; on Return the come back of one crew to Earth after having abandoned their mission... L'Adieu aux Etoiles follows Enfant de la Nuit with the crew meeting the creators, discovering other terrific beings and understanding the dark fate of our universe, leading them to leave it...

Do you believe in humanity? Do you believe world leaders will return to conquering space instead of fucking up and bleeding Mother Earth dry?

I believe in the potential of humanity but is frightened how easily we can toggle between the better and the worse! Something that I really fear right now is the decline of science and humanism, and the strengthening instead of beliefs, personal certainties… even in 'developed' countries. It leads to extremes: religious fundamentalism, 'green fundamentalism', and still there is the problem of financialization… While I think the humanity, as always, will go on thanks to science, dialogue, progress.

Clearly world leaders don't help… even if I believe more in the collective and societies interactions. About space I don't really know… difficult to say if we will really spread to space one day!

As 'L'Adieu Aux Étoiles' is a typical Ixion album, how would you compare it with its predecessor 'Return', released three years ago?

I would say Return was on the edge of our universe, with its 'luminous' vibe, some post-rock elements... a kind of experimental approach to enlarge our world, even if it still bears our sound.

L'Adieu aux Etoiles is a refocusing on our musical heart, a signature work, for which we have sought to perfect things: composition, arrangements, sounds, production... but also artwork or photos - to bring to light the essence of Ixion !

Ixion - 'The Black Veil' (Official, 2020):

You've shot a video for 'The Black Veil' which offers a good look at the new material. But do you see a reason to spend a bigger budget on Ixion videos? Is it worth spending money on the visual side of your music?

Nearly every person that I discuss with evokes the fact that our music leads the listener to space, to another world, etc... I think it has a visual dimension. Probably I'm particularly influenced by Jarre on this point, who speaks so often about 'soundscapes'. So to look after videos seems quite natural.

For this new album the videos made by Aimed&Framed provide a nice spacey imagery to accompany the music. It would be great in the future to make real short-movies, I mean sci-fi short-movies in the vein of Interstellar, but, just as for concerts, there would be a big budget issue... we'll see ! One thing is certain : its' the music above all !!

Thank you for the interview Julien! What may we expect from Ixion in 2021?How soon do you plan to return to your studio?

Thank you!

The return to the studio should be very quick – but it can take some time to finalize something new ;)

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Ixion bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-10-26 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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