14 Jul 2022 - Daniel R.
A few months back, E-L-R from Switzerland released their brilliant second full-length Vexier, a record full of wonderful, melancholic yet strong, doomy songs. What drove them? How was the record written? What is different between this record and their debut Maenad? And how did the collaboration with a Swiss German rapper came to be? All of these are questions we just had to ask, and our man Raniel did brilliantly! Enjoy our interview with two of their members!
You’ve been a band since 2016, what made you want to form a band? Any particular events?
I.R. M.K. and I have been playing in several Bands before, also in joint projects. When I quit playing in my former band, really wanted to start a new project. S.M. and I decided to share some riffs and soon knew, that we want to go in the same musical direction. We always went to many concerts together and at some point we said to each other “that’s what we want to do”.
What were your influences back then and have they changed somewhat?
I.R. We all have different influences and inspirations, and we bring them all together when we play music. We all like heavy music like doom, black metal or shoegaze but we also like a lot of other genres; M.K. and S.M. are big fans of electronic and trap music. I guess that’s why we don’t feel the need to push our sound in a specific genre. It all happens very naturally and we are very open for new inspirations.
Have you had lessons, be that vocally or on any instruments while growing up?
I.R. I started making music at school. First I took some keyboard lessons and started to play guitar in our school band. This awakened my interest in music immediately.
M.K. I am almost 100% self-taught. Growing up having a drum set I just tried to replay what drummers of bands were doing. I learned the most by playing in different bands.
As a relatively new band, how does it feel to play on the same stage as bands you grew up listening to or were influenced by?
I.R. We’ve already shared the stage with a few bands that have influenced us a lot. It’s a really satisfying and awe-inspiring feeling. We’re really looking up and try to learn as much as we can from them.
M.K. We definitely also had to learn a lot about everything going on before and after the show. Things are a little different if you are on tour playing bigger venues than the punk ones in your hometown. Like how to do a proper soundcheck even if there isn’t a lot of time for the support acts. How important it is for the whole production to be on time, have your stuff organized and be respectful with all the other characters working with you. But mostly I am just simply blown away by the opportunities we have, to share the stage with bands we love and look up to.
What was your favorite live moment with E-L-R as of now?
I.R. The best moment is, when you can feel the energy from the audience. Every single show is different, some M.K. you feel more confident and some it’s really hard to let things happen. But when you feel the audience by your side, in the same bubble, then it’s a good show experience.
M.K. I love every single show that I am able to play with E-L-R. Even if something doesn’t work out how it should I am thankful for having the chance to play on stages in front of people I have never seen in my live before.
Are there any bands you’ve yet to play with that you’d like to?
I.R. We really hope to play with many of our new friends again. But it’s also always a pleasure to meet new bands and new people. We are very open minded and we love to play shows with other bands, even of other genres.
M.K. It’s more about the people in the bands than about the band itself. Sometimes we don’t really know about the music but as soon as we get in touch with them everything works out nice and after a short time it often feels like being friends for more than just some hours.
It feels like your music has progressed between releases but what changes do you feel you have made between releasing albums so far?
I.R. S.M. and I started writing the first songs of Maenad together and had the same visions of the story. Maenad takes you on a journey through different places and states. It was just a start or an introduction to a larger story. Vexier is more an expression of feelings and emotions. The writing process of Vexier was an organic journey between the whole band and evolved from many rehearsal sessions, together. Since we often try things out over hours during jam sessions, we started to record every thing. Like this we don’t have to stop the flow during a creative session but can always go back and choose the parts that worked to later write a complete song. Many different emotions flowed into this album since 2020/2021 was a tough time for everyone in their own way – I think this made everything naturally heavier and darker.
I love the new album but what does Vexier mean to you, both as a word and as an album you’ve recorded?
I.R. Shortly before we recorded our first album Maenad, we were looking for a new drummer and asked M.K. for the studio-sessions. Half of the album was written by the old formation and three songs were written together with M.K. After the recording process M.K. became a full time member of the band. Vexier was written by the three of us as equal parts of the band. Every song was born in our rehearsal room and this makes this album very special to us. With Vexier we grew as a band, as musicians and as friends. In every picture we see or in every situation you find yourself in, there may be something hidden we cannot see at first glance. Sometimes you have to be patient to see the whole picture.
You have two guests on Vexier, Remo Häberli and BAZE, how did those two collaborations happen?
I.R. Remo Häberli is our long-time friend and the owner of Hidden Stash recording studio, where we recorded both albums. M.K. and me were also involved in his project “Posthumanbigbang”. We really enjoy working with him, he knows us so well and always gets the best out of us. He is an inspiration and always has the inputs we need. Since he also left his mark on our first album, It was clear that we want to work with him also for the second album as recording engineer, sound designer and also as guest musician.
BAZE is one of a founding fathers of the Swiss rap scene. The idea of collaborating with BAZE came up when we played a special show together in our hometown Bern. We liked the idea of bringing these two different worlds together and asked him for additional vocals on “Fôret”. He wrote the lyrics in Swiss German and it’s about a tender being, swallowed by the forest and the fog. The lyrics are dark. Perfectly fitting.
The front cover to Vexier, to me anyway, looks like someone in touch with nature, is that a correct interpretation?
Do you want to establish that connection in your sound as well?
M.K. We are creating pictures with our music. Close your eyes while you are listening to our sound and there will be a good chance that images of forests, mountains and wide open lands will appear in front of your inner eye.
You give initials instead of your full names, is there any particular reason for that?
M.K. There is no need for us to use our full names.
What do your families think about the music you have recorded?
I.R. Well, like many of the “older” generations, our parents have a different taste in music than we do. But all of them listen to our records and even wear our merch! We are in the very lucky situation that our parents fully support us in what we do. We are really happy and appreciate it so much to have our families and our friends in our back – it means a lot to us.
M.K. Compared to the hardcore bands I used to play in before, my parents actually understand the music we are creating now way better.
How do you feel now that the world is slowly opening back up, with live music starting to happen again? Are there any elements to that, which scare you?
I.R. It really feels like waking up from a long winter sleep. Although everyone has been looking forward to play shows again, everything moves so quickly and we’re almost not used to have busy schedules again. But after our release tour in Switzerland in April/Mai 2022 with Abraham form Lausanne, we got back in “touring mode” very quickly. It finally felt like “canceled” life was back, and we all really needed this.
What’s next for the band?
M.K. We just signed with Doomstar Bookings and are really looking forward to the newly opened doors. We are already planning different EU tours with other bands. More news coming soon.
And now onto our quickfire round:
Tea or coffee? I.R. Coffee
Guitar solos or riffs? I.R. Riffs
Sport or cooking? M.K. Cooking
England or Egypt? M.K. England
Festival or club show? I.R. both
Grass or concrete? M.K. Grass
Plane, train or automobile? M.K. train
The printed word or electronic communication? M.K. printed
Guitar, drums or piano? M.K. drums of course
Party or quiet conversations? I.R.Party!!!
[Photo credits: Title photo by Ramon Lehmann, Live at ProphecyFest by Sven Paul]