Recently, Joy sat down and had a conversation with Neige the multi-instrumentalist and visionary behind the band Alcest, who sound has ranged from ethereal black metal to dreamy shoegaze. Joy found a real kindred spirit in Neige, as he composes his music from a real spiritual place, often trying to use the medium to describe spiritual visions or feelings much deeper than words can express. Though Joy creates in an entirely different genre style of music, she is often essentially doing a similar thing- attempting to describe spiritual visions, dreams or experiences in song form.
In this article, Joy described her view on music as: “Music to me is like the way it is described by J. R. R. Tolkien in ‘The Silmarillion’, some is “loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated”, while other music is “deep and wide and beautiful” and endlessly evolving to new melodic heights. The real pioneering musicians are often difficult to classify because they continually strive to evolve and grow as artists, always exploring new sounds in attempts to, as Neige from Alcest puts it, ‘for a few seconds, touch the divine’.”
Joy and Neige also discussed the spiritual aspect of the creative process:
Do you feel like when you set out in your life, after having those visions you had as a child, that it gave you a sense of urgency or purpose to do music with your life?
Neige: “Yeah. I think when I realized that I could make music from these experiences I was like “wow, you really have to do it.” Having such a thing inside me, I think that I have to show it. It’s something that is very special and I didn’t decide anything. I didn’t choose to have it. I was born with it. And I thought, if you are born with it, maybe it’s because you have to show it to other people. I wouldn’t call it a mission, because it’s very pretentious and too dramatic. But it is something I have to do, in every cell of my body and every thought that I have. It’s stronger than me.”
I understand. I feel the same way about my music and I don’t often share that feeling with others, because I don’t want to sound like a missionary.
Neige: “Yeah I am not like a prophet. I am not defending anything or preaching anything. I do it for myself and if people like it, it’s great. If they don’t like it, it’s great too.”
I think that reflects in our society how spirituality has been warped, perhaps by religion, to become these different doctrines. Because, I feel, in essence, pure spirituality is just being yourself and being your pure essence and sharing it with the world, and therefore inspiring others to be themselves and share themselves purely with the world… which doesn’t involve judgement.
Neige: “Spirituality can be many things. I think that if there is a god, I don’t think he wants to judge anyone or anything. He didn’t create the world and humans then to judge them. It doesn’t seem right to me. I think that the representation of god that we have nowadays, it’s very human. It’s full of human concepts and things related to history… very concrete things. For me this is not real spirituality. For me, spirituality is something you don’t necessarily learn in books. I think it’s way more instinctive.
Yeah, it’s something you feel in those moments of quiet, in yourself. It’s felt in a naive, innocent way, without any preconceived notions of what you’re supposed to feel or be, like what culture tells you. This might be why we can feel it when we’re children.
When you’re in the writing process, how do you get back to connecting to these spiritual layers? Do you isolate yourself or go back to nature? What is your process?
Neige: “I wish I could go back to nature and isolate myself, but I live in Paris in the city centre. It’s always very busy and I have a lot friends who want to see me when I come back from tours. It’s full of distractions. I don’t do any rituals or anything like that. I am at home with my guitar and I play around for 2, 3, 4, 5 hours sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t find anything I like and sometimes I compose one full song. There are no rules in making music. I have one trick. You have this inner voice; this little voice that tells you this is right. When this voice is (affirmative), I know I am in a good way. If I have a single doubt, it means that it is not right. So I don’t keep anything that I am not 100% sure of. That’s what I call the connection. This instinctive thing that tells you this is right.
I have the same thing. I call it my intuition or my inner knowing. It’s my connection to…
Neige: “Something. (laughs)”
Yes. (laughs) That’s how I write music too.
Neige: “I am sure a lot of people are connected to the same thing. Music and art are about transcending reality. This is true for almost everybody that is making music. We make music to, for a few seconds, touch the divine. There is not only Alcest who do this. Most musicians have a special connection with something else.”
You can read the full article in Terrorizer magazine here.