It came out from nowhere but this project has already spawned two EPs and one full-length in a year. But what’s more interesting is that what started as another post black metal one man band has turned into an (almost) full electronic project, where coldwave, trip-hop, ambient or even trap collide. We’re talking about BAUME, the brainchild of Juif Gaetan. The French musician uses this band as an outlet of those experimental ideas that possibly wouldn’t have a spot on any other of his many metal projects. During a deep chat he tells us about the creation, influences and working ways of BAUME.
Subterráneo Webzine: Your first two EPs, Les années décapitées and L’odeur de la lumière, were straight up post black metal, but suddenly last year, with Un calme entre les tempêtes, you decided to completely turn the project into electronic/ambient/trip hop/coldwave music. Which was the main reason behind this huge change? What motivated you to go through that path? Those kinds of changes aren’t very common on metal bands/projects…
Juif Gaetan: I started BAUME when some of my black metal projects, like CEPHEIDE and RANCE, for example, were on standby, which pushed me to compose in this universe because I had no other alternatives to do it and I wanted to somehow make this musical trend more personal to me. Then other projects were born, or others took over so I wanted to experiment more with BAUME, being all alone, it was much easier than in a band and to tap into other musical styles that I listen to on a daily basis.
Indeed, I don’t know if the gradual transition is very common, but I found it interesting, especially since all the styles you mentioned influence me in all my stages of composition, whatever the style. You can find coldwave or triphop influences in CEPHEIDE like black metal in the last BAUME EP for example.
SW: Since I understand that, for an artists must be quite difficult to label his own music and I don’t want you to tell me “I play ambient music” or “I play coldwave” or whatever genre, I’d like to go deeper and ask you about the certain artists/bands that have influenced you the most on this project.
JG: It’s quite complicated to name groups or artists in particular because my songs are nourished by a lot of influences, both in the composition phase, for the mixing or sound research. For example and more generally, in over a day, I can also listen to crust, hip hop or coldwave. For guitars, for example, I’m still as attached to the sounds of YELLOW EYES or FURIA but I can also look in the same song for references to groups like LEBANON HANOVER or even OKTOBER LIEBER. And for vocals, especially on this last EP, I can search for artists like Kendrick Lamar, Babx, etc
SW: Keeping up genres, your newest EP features trap beats. One one hand this is quite unexpected, but on the other, you’ve been experimenting all the way along, so I think it was a matter of time you ended up doing something like this. Were you a big fan of this music or was it just for the sake of experimenting?
About «Naufrage», I believe that this is the first BAUME track where someone else besides you has the vocal spotlight. How did came up the collaboration with Oxytocine? Did you ever thought about release it with your own vocals?
JG: Indeed, I take the BAUME as an experimentation area where I give myself the freedom not to think as a group of a certain musical current etc. I just enjoy myself on songs that I want to compose, whatever the style. To join what you say on the side “trap” or hip hop more generally, indeed, I listen to it relatively often with groups such as $uicideboy$, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Mc Solaar… and I hadn’t yet taken the time to let these influences be heard more clearly in my songs.
For «Naufrage«, the initial goal was really to compose a song for another voice. On the one hand, because I had never done this kind of exercise and it really interested me in terms of mixing, collaborative work etc. And from a general point of view, I wanted to put another voice, another universe forward in order to give more depth to this album.
Suddenly, by having this approach, I looked for artists with an interesting approach, without necessarily being the universe of the project and after several contacts, I met Oxytocine and we very quickly shared the same enthusiasm for this release.
JG: For this cover, I wanted something less abstract than usual, consistent with the music and something “bodily” related to the title of the album. A few months ago with my friends, Lila (RANCE) and GUILLAUME (BLURRTHROWER), we launched an art magazine Citadelle composed of a selection of artists ranging from writing, painting or even photography. It was in this process that I discovered the work of Camille Kehrlein, from whom we have selected this photo which perfectly matched the spirit of this EP.
SW: Together with Mon Être, tu ne le vis pas, you’ve released two short poetry book entitled Sous le voile de nos Lumières Mortes and Une Calme entre les tempetes. Do they expand the lyrical themes of your musical works or there is no relation at all except for the release date?
JG: These two works contain texts which accompany certain pieces of BAUME or CEPHEIDE but they are above all collections which are intended to have a subject without music. I have been writing for many years, and I am really happy that two books have emerged this year and in the future I would like to focus more on this art form which is very important to me. Currently I am working on a new, longer text book that I hope to be able to finish at the end of the year.
SW: The pace of releases has been relentless, almost every few months we have a new EP, which makes me wonder: Are you composing music every single day? Don’t you fear a possible backslash? I mean, that people gets overwhelmed with so many new releases. Do you plan to maintain this pace or, in some moment, you’re gonna take a short brake?
JG: I think this year has been quite special with the different confinements etc. As a result, I could not play with my other projects which are group formations (RANCE, CEPHEIDE, BASILIQUE) so I put all my inspirations and my energy into BAUME, hence the number of releases in very little time. More generally, I actually play or write almost every day, except that I usually have the ability to juggle several projects precisely to avoid this “over abundance” aspect. Looking back, I have the feeling that I have completed a chapter with BAUME and I would like to give myself a year off in order to compose a full album, maybe more constant or that would encompass all my influences without selecting some of them, depends on others.
SW: You’ve even reworked some of your songs from one release to another: “Rien ne dure” and “Un calme entre les tempetes” were edited and remixed on Août Approche. Wheren’t you happy enough with the final outcome of those tracks? Why did you include them?
JG: I reworked these two songs because I found them to be part of a cohesive whole and to close an interesting musical chapter. For “Rien ne dure”, there was no speaking and I have the process of putting more and more the voice forward, so I said to myself that a 10-minute composition would be a good exercise and I really took a liking to rework all these last pieces especially according to the song.
SW: On Août Approche, the main melody of “Dans le mysteres de la dissolution” sounds very familiar to me, like it was inspired by European classical music (perhaps I’m mistaken, but I had to ask you). In any case, how was the “birth” of this song?
JG: I hope my subconscious hasn’t plagiarized something (laughs).
It’s interesting that you’re talking about that particular song. Whether it’s in an album or in a song itself, I try to put in some “strange” passages compared to the other elements of the album. For this one, I really wanted to look for influences in reggae, ska or world music (of which I am a big fan as a listener), which contrasted with the very dark texts and that allowed me to working for the first time on much less linear rhythms. This is the first track I wrote for the start of this album and I’m really happy with the contrasts it offers.
SW: This one is more technical: how is the composition progress of any of the BAUME works? I know you play all the instruments but, do you record, mix and master everything on your own? Or someone else does it? Because I always had the impression that your music must have dozens of layers with sounds that we don’t even get to hear on the final result. Furthermore, let me add that Mon être, tu ne le vis pas sounds the best among all your releases (or, at least, the loudest).
JG: Generally speaking, I start with main melodies to which are actually added a lot of sub layers. To get an idea, there are on average about fifteen guitars for a song. There are the main leads that I manage in the pans and then I create under layers to create material or dissonance so that the melodies are not necessarily too obvious from the first listen. Then add synths, violins or black guitars to further thicken the sound. I usually do everything myself. On the one hand, because I really enjoy working on mixes and have a pretty good idea of what I want, so it’s much easier to learn to do it alone than to delegate it. It’s only for the mastering that I do in the studio, because I don’t have the necessary equipment for that.
SW: I’ve notice that, generally, in your mixes your voice is always on front, while instruments serve a little bit more like a background for your words, why is that? It’s quite surprissing having into account that you come from a musical background where the voice, many times, isn’t so important as the guitars or the drums.
JG: Yes that’s very true but that’s really the point of the project too. In my other groups like CEPHEIDE for example, where I also do the vocals, this one is very behind to accentuate the atmospheric side of the songs. For BAUME, I really want to highlight the texts. Therefore, the song must be sufficiently audible. It’s quite difficult for me to find a balance so that all the guitars and melodic layers can be easily discerned while putting the vocals as the first element in the mix with an atmospheric side in mind. I think in the future my main job for BAUME will be to purify these many layers a bit to gain efficiency and clarity. It’s a work I’ve been trying to do since Un Calme entre les Tempêtes but I think I can still make progress on this aspect.
SW: As an editor of a music website we receive many requests of bands and artists to review their music, but in recent years I’ve seen a growing trend: the solo artist/one man band. It has always existed, of course, but now with so many available tools for the general public, a more individualistic western society and on the top of all, the quarantine, seems that a good handful of artists prefer this way to make music, instead of searching for people that have the same musical vision, rehearse, reach to agreements, etc. What’s your opinion on all of this?
JG: I think that this question includes a lot of criteria, whether they are technical or personal criteria and also to know what is the subject of the project. Since I find it difficult to generalize about such personal things, I will simply give my point of view based on my experience.
I really like playing the drums with RANCE for example because the compositions of Yann (guitar) and Lila (bass) come from influences that would not necessarily be mine in the first place and therefore we find a mutual and complementary enrichment. This project is a great pleasure every time for the lives and I’m sure I could not transcribe these emotions in a solo project.
From another point of view, I started BAUME, because I didn’t want to compromise in my composition work and I found it as interesting as it was stimulating to create a project from start to finish, whether in the visuals, texts or music so that it is an open book as personal as possible.
I think that the ideal is to be able to do both and that it is not against each other, there are just different words and experiences.
SW: Besides BAUME you’re involved in quite few bands: BASILIQUE, CEPHEIDE, RANCE, BLURR THROWER, NUIT BLANCHE and SCAPHANDRE. Except for the last one, which looks like a prequel of BAUME, all of the rest are proper bands, with other members, not just you. What can you tell us about them? Is BAUME right now your main priority?
JG: BAUME is not necessarily my priority, but in recent months it has become one of the only sources of composition, by default, in view of the current health circumstances, but all the other projects are still active. For CEPHEIDE, I am finalizing the recording of a full album of about 45min, in a vein a little more aggressive than the previous albums. For RANCE, we are currently rehearsing hoping to be able to record an album for this year as well, and NUIT BLANCHE, the electro project with my wife is being mixed so the first EP should be released in June. I am really looking forward to this happening because we have all been working a lot for several months!
SW: At last I always ask the artists for recommendation of bands they’ve discovered recently, that they’ve always loved… Whatever! We don’t mind about the genre, doesn’t have to be heavy metal.
JG: These are not necessarily recent discoveries, but often bands that I have enjoyed listening to again. Also, with the composition of CEPHEIDE, I took the time to listen to a lot of albums that I liked, in order to have references for the mix for example or simply to see if my appreciation had changed after several months. So at first intuition, I think of
- BOLZER – Aura: I find the guitar lead work really good. There are a lot of melodies while the whole still retains a very death metal side or at least very brutal. I find the vocals really original for this style and it adds to the project a unique aspect that I really appreciate.
- FURIA – Marzannie, krolowej Polski: First of all for their sound! I really like this type of atmosphere where the mix is very raw, both for the drums and on the guitars which are impregnated with a lot of noise. Then in general, their songs find a good balance between very melodic, very heavy moments and very black n’roll passages. I find it really good to listen to, and also for this project, I really like the singing which contrasts by being quite soft compared to the general atmosphere.
- SAD – A Curse in disguise: Simply because it is one of the first black metal bands that I listened to and which really brought me into this universe. It’s not necessarily one of my favorite projects, but when I listen to it again, I find the contrast between extremely melancholic melodies and a very forward song. I find the whole to be very catchy and very depressive at the same time.
- OKTOBER LIEBER – In Human: This album particularly marked me this year because it is one of the first which made me again interested in electro music. I really like the texture of their sound and their sometimes quite old school melody. It really motivated me to work on the last BAUME or on NUIT BLANCHE.
SW: Thanks for your time, anything else you want to add?
JG: I wanted to thank you for your very documented interview, which made it possible to talk about all of my musical projects and also current collaborations like our CITADELLE review. We all work a lot and we put a lot of energy and love into these projects and it’s really nice to be able to talk about it and communicate our feelings through these.