First of all, could you
give us a brief introduction about your band?
Ok. Absent is an electro-eclectic band which is composed
of Fred, alias “La Division Mentale”, and me, Yannick,
contemporary art student. We create soundscapes in order
to pay tribute to soundtracks movies and electro music.
“Children EP” is our third production. This album
develops a concept which is about children psychology.
How did things get started, and why did you pick this
The very first idea was to make a post-rock band. As I
was only one in the band, I started to make my own way
through electronic instruments. Soon, I realized the
potentialities these instruments offer, so I decided to
explore the electro music field. Then, Absent began his
experimentations in 2004. The tracks were good but not
the mixing. At this moment, Fred joined the band,
bringing his sound mixing experience. I liked the way he
worked. For this time on, he’s been more and more
implied in the Absent’s project, so much that now he is
a reliable help to compose. Regarding the band name, I
choose “Absent” because there were nor acoustic
instruments neither voices (even if the ongoing tracks
are changing this music approach). I am very keen on the
idea that sound is an invisible material able to create
mental images. That’s the reason why we focus especially
on building soundscapes. Absent is an artificial music
aiming at generating artificial landscapes.
What are your main influences?
Our inspiration comes from every shape of art:
photography, plastic art, painting, theatre and overall
fantasy films. Our point is to work on materials related
to virtual or mental pictures. Considering musical
influences only, we listen a wide range of artists, who
do not belong all to the electro scene. There is a lot
of good stuff everywhere. Right now I am listening a lot
of Wagner, Soul music and Parmegiani.
Your tunes are far away from the mainstream edges.
How would you describe the music you make?
The thing is we make the music as freely as it comes to
our mind. We do not bother belonging to such or such
musical stream. Journalists as well the public make it
better than us. Moreover, we mingle all musical styles
in order to cloud the issue; as a rule, we describe our
music as “semi-experimental”. That is to say we mix the
main features of a lot of musical styles. When one
listen to Absent, he can catch many references to drum
and bass, noise, ambient, electro acoustic, hip-hop,
post-rock, classical… We like the idea not to follow
audience’s expectations by using and mixing various
musical rules. Our identity is more based on sound than
How do you usually compose your songs?
We always work the same way: first of all, I make tracks
only with synthesizers, drum machine and sampler. Then,
once the narrative frame starts to be good, I send it to
Fred. He works the mixing part and adds new musical
elements if necessary. After that, he sends it back to
me. I approve it or else, I work it again. Thus, this
exchange keeps on till it perfectly fitted for both of
Your first EP came out little time ago, and it got
good ratings from our zine. What do you think of the EP
I am pretty happy with the result. The fact of being
gathered around a concept, children mental diseases, was
really interesting. The intervention of various people (graphic
designer, musicians and psychologist) makes “Children
EP” more than a simple disc; it is rather a complete
artistic object. The elements are combined to bring the
audience a global vision of a very part of life. Indeed,
childhood is the time when fantasy is as relevant as
reality. To me, many artists keep this vision; they make
fiction a reality. A musician ‘plays’, as children do.
How did other press and public reply to it?
For the moment, things are going pretty well, the
feedbacks are encouraging. Nevertheless, we noticed that
“Children EP” rather surprise the columnists. Some of
them consider it as experimental music, others as
electronica, and finally few ones who make a hint at
trip-hop music. Some writers had even declared it as
unclassified. Create confusion, even among the
specialists, is very important. I do not want to copy
what already exists, I prefer bringing a kind of
alternative. I guess that every music has to be
original. Regarding the audience, we performed Children
EP once. It was welcomed and this was also one of the
best performance Absent had ever done. The repetitive
side of the tracks allows to explore largely the tones,
making all the changes subtle and sharp. It seems to me
that this way of working rather reminds of the one the
American minimalist music composers used: psycho-acoustic
effects and repetitive patterns which hypnotize the
What is in your opinion the best track on the release,
I prefer the track “La capacité d’être seul”. The organ
evokes a very sacred atmosphere close to a ritual. Its
everlasting melody is unsetting, reinforcing its
weirdness by the quick and shifting scissor sounds. The
second reason why I chose this track is much more
subjective and superficial. With hindsight, it reminds
me of the song introducing “Fight Club”. I must say that
the Dust Brothers soundtrack makes part of my favorites.
The simple and efficient way it is composed perfectly
fits with the ambience of the movie.
Instead of lyrics, you described the meaning of the
songs in the press sheet, which is pretty uncommon. Why
did you decide to do it this way?
The first idea in doing “Children EP” was to work on
four children portraits. We wanted to go further into
the description of sound, which is purely abstract, with
others ways to express it. We wanted to frame the disc
as a universe revolving some themes, in which every
point of view model each details of the music. The
booklet offered room enough to write ‘a book’ as well as
C.D. time for others artist’s performance. That is why
we started to get in touch with people we knew, in order
to keep the entire integrity of “Children EP”. Thus,
childhood psychologist’s texts were to be a very good
basis. Regarding the sound composition, we decided to
avoid any vocal appearances; adding audio text makes too
many changes into the instrumental description. Each
portrait is to be read on several levels, each one of
them regarding a precise domain.
If I am not mistaken, Absent is as well a live
project. What can a stranger expect when he visits an
Absent live show?
Usually, Absent live sets are deeply jerky, keeping in
mind the multi styles melting. The main point is to make
things the audience does not expect. Nevertheless, we
make it different for Children EP live performance by
playing it more progressive, less jerky. Sounds are more
organized and looped few minutes; in each loop, we made
‘micro variations’, sometimes almost elusive. The live
session was performed with Sylvain Weber, Absent’s VJ
since 2005. His work brings a new level in reading the
“Children EP” portraits.
What can we expect of Absent in the near future?
I have various ideas like adding singing and acoustic
instruments, starting a new project with Fred, develop
an album based on ‘found object’ concept… Some of them
has materialized and might grow soon.
The interview ends here, thanks for your time. If you
have some final words to add, you can do it here.
Thanks for the time and interest you got in Absent. I
hope we will meet you again.
Interview by: Gerardo, answered by Yannick - June