We had a chat with talented multidisciplinary artist Raoul Sinier, who tacked towards a more personal and accessible album called “Welcome To My Orphanage” after a decade of overdrive in the electro scene. Both music and Sinier’s vocals waver between bright and dark, lively and desperate atmospheres which go beyond a clear and constrictive notion of “genre”. Raoul Sinier’s “Welcome To My Orphanage” comes out on Good Citizen Factory.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Raoul. How are you?
Raoul Sinier: Hello. I’m fine, thanks.
Chain D.L.K.: I’m pretty sure you don’t really need an introduction from me, but I’d like you to introduce yourself to our readers in your own words and I’d like you to also introduce the direction of your artistic/musical research and whatever else might be useful to know in order to understand who’s speaking?
Raoul Sinier: I’m a French artist, doing music, painting, video, and writing lyrics now, with a personal universe, combining dark aesthetic, tiny creatures, weird moods, irony and humor, headless corpses and a vast range of emotions. I think that my music is my main thing. I don’t really think too much, and don’t like conceptual art, I let myself go with the flow and see what comes out of it.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there any logical or narrative connection between all your albums? If so, how would you describe its plot?
Raoul Sinier: Sure, but it’s more about an aesthetic than a clearly defined plot. It’s more like a continuous wave, going from abstract hiphop to electronica, to complicated harshness, to peaceful again, to singing, etc… with a common dark poetry, for lack of a better term.
The real plot is here, the fact that I never force myself into anything, I only create when I’m inspired, and if I don’t have anything for months then it’s simply too bad. Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve always been fascinated by those freaky entities which crowd you clips… how do you create and devise them?
Raoul Sinier: I don’t really know, I like out-of-place characters and situations, I like absurd, sleazy and amusing scenes. In the videos there is something else: the technical aspect. Since I do everything by myself, I have to rely on my skills before writing something. I can’t do a crowd of photorealistic creatures and robots assembling into a giant face or stuff like this. I would love to but it would take so much resources and time, especially since I’m learning everything by myself with trial and error. So sometimes it’s easier to write a video about a piece of raw chicken meat coming back to life. Having said that, I love those tiny weird and cute ones. I especially love to give life to faceless creatures. I have more flexibility with animation from paintings, but also other limitations.
Chain D.L.K.: Apropos of that, why did you cook that nice yellow crab in “Brain Kitchen”? And what about that monster with anus orifices instead of eyes? 🙂
Raoul Sinier: Somehow that’s what it took to bring this little story back down to earth, to everyday life. And I thought it was funny that everything you saw on this video was just a crab’s dream, just before being boiled. This is really funny to me, showing a lot of incredible characters and epic scenes which end up in a simple kitchen, with a regular dude cooking in his underwear… About the anus eyed monster, I’ve got no idea where that came from…
Chain D.L.K.: When I saw some of your clips, the notorious first movie by Lynch, “Eraserhead”, sometimes came to my mind… Any connection between your videoclips and Lynch’s “Eraserhead”?
Raoul Sinier: Yes, most definitely, but I’m not always a Lynch fan. I really love “Eraserhead” for its aesthetic and storytelling, but I’m not too much into some other movies where… well… I don’t understand a bit of it. I think it’s good for short films and music videos, but I’m not comfortable with full movies that more or less say “find your own explanation, I don’t care”… I’m not saying they are bad movies, but it’s not my thing. I like being blown away with solid and well thought out stories.
Chain D.L.K.: I don’t mean to pry, but may I ask why you titled it “Welcome To My Orphanage”?
Raoul Sinier: Ah, of course! I’ll try to explain. It’s all about freedom. The orphanage represents the place where you are on your own and have to give up some of what you’ve been taught, even if you may feel a bit left apart. And I’m not talking about my or anyone’s actual parents or family, it’s an image of a place in your mind where you are your own leader, where you overcome your roots and societal heritage. It has a lot to do with self-alienation, too. And of course it’s a way to write weird and interesting lyrics.
Chain D.L.K.: Who is really welcome to your orphanage? What’s the price to get on board?
Raoul Sinier: Everyone who wants to get rid of useless obstacles is their life. This orphanage is not a place owned by anyone. This is what I’m talking about in “Ruined Map”, where I give a friend a map with directions to the orphanage but he can’t make it because he keeps on drawing stupid shit on the map. What I want to say here is that of course it may appear comfortable to live without questioning anything, but is it really interesting in the long run? This character is ruining the map on purpose, and still pretending to try to get there.
So of course it’s free. It only depends on what you want from life.
Chain D.L.K.: Is the “she” you sing about on “A Million Years” (very beautiful song) the same “she” of “She Is a Lord”? Who is “she”?
Raoul Sinier: Thanks. No, it isn’t. “She is a Lord” was written by Sylvie Frétet and it’s a self-portrait, very abstract and personal. She used obscure aspects of her life to write something that doesn’t make direct sense but creates great images and narration. Not all songs have to have a meaning or something to explain. In my songs about the orphanage, I have very specific things to say, but I don’t mind if it’s not interpreted in the way I intended. What I want to offer is emotions, subjective emotions, talking straight to the heart. And that’s what I’m looking for as a listener. If the lyrics are moving me, of course it’s even better.
“A Million Years” talks about a guy in love with a monster that cripples him again and again. This one is not related to the orphanage theme, well not directly. This is more about visual images and feelings. Like one of my paintings.
Chain D.L.K.: One of the songs your voice was so expressive in is “Cleaning Man”… do you feel anger or envy for that cleaning man who “doesn’t fully understand what’s going on in this place” and “likes when things make sense”?
Raoul Sinier: He’s the orphanage’s janitor. He sees all those people who are considered freaks by the regular and clean society and he doesn’t understand any of it. At the end of the song, we are being told that at some point in the past he was a resident too. You know, always be on your guard. You may think you are conscious and warned but it’s easy to let yourself go and become a sheep. I know… said like this is it’s a bit preachy, that’s why I used a lot of images and situations.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the ideal addressee of the threatening lyrics of “Empty Shell”?
Raoul Sinier: It’s related to the same thing again, be aware, be hard on yourself, set the stakes high. You think you are great but maybe you are just a piece of shit. Haha, yes it’s brutal, but it’s also funny. And it’s good to be harsh sometimes.
Chain D.L.K.: Another meaningful song is “Analog Shit”… what’s the best place to play it loud? Why have you decided to have a robot sing it? 🙂
Raoul Sinier: Oh you can play it wherever you want. Please play it wherever you want. I had this idea quite some time ago, to use a robotic voice. But it’s a bit cliché in electronic music, vocoders and auto-tunes you know… It’s really annoying today. And it’s also an overused trick for electronic musician to add voices without singing or having guest performers. Since I’m singing a lot now, I’m not uncomfortable with this anymore, so I came up with this idea of an actual robot character. And of course this robot hates humans and the lyrics are anti-humans. And even the robot talks about the same theme when he mocks humans for having mortgages, being lost with religions and being stuck with their everyday life.
Chain D.L.K.: I have the impression that you argue that decadence and cultural crisis (partially related to the financial one) is a necessary, cathartic and somehow edifying phase for humanity… is it so or not?
Raoul Sinier: Ah this is interesting. It’s not really about the present situation, it’s more about people who find excuses not to live their life the way they want (in our modern and rich societies, of course). And I’m not talking about extreme behavior or extreme lifestyles, but just about being honest with yourself. Like, do you really want children? Do you really need to work that much? Do you have to be this submissive? Or Rebellious? Do you really have to get married? Are you forced to agree or disagree with your family? Well ok, you got it, the list is endless… Living outside the usual full social pressure is not always easy, but it’s really not that hard, to an extent at least.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there anything you’d like listeners to understand after listening to your album?
Raoul Sinier: I’m not sure. Of course I would like them to understand the lyrics the way I intended them, but if not, well it’s okay too. I really don’t mind loving a piece of music without understanding the words, just for my own private pleasure. I tend to think that art, music and painting anyway, is not the proper way to express important insights. For me music is more about pleasure and entertainment, and that doesn’t mean it’s cheap.
But what I would really like the listeners to understand is that music is not about genres and classifications. The singing doesn’t make my music that different from my instrumental days. Some guys are really uptight with this (and they should pay a visit to the orphanage too, haha).
Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to bring it on a live stage?
Raoul Sinier: Sure, I already did but it’s really difficult for someone like me to find gigs. I wish I could do more, but when you are not in a specific musical genre it’s always tricky. And especially with electronic music, if you are not 100% dancefloor, dustep, breakcore or conceptual installation with infinite delays and such, then it’s a bad start for you. The gap between mainstream and underground music seems wider than ever. Can you imagine bands like Primus being signed today? Can you imagine Queen starting today and doing Wembley in a few years? Ok different times, but that’s exactly my point.
So yes, promoters and booking agencies, have a little faith in something just a little bit outside the box and book me! (and many others of course).
Chain D.L.K.: Any forthcoming projects (more or less related to this great release)?
Raoul Sinier: I released two videos for this album so far, “A Million Years” and “Ruined Map”, I plan on doing a new one with the rapping robot, and I got an idea for a 4th one. And we’ll see after that.
Chain D.L.K.: To quote your last track “Where You Are”, where would you guess I am at the moment? 🙂
Raoul Sinier: I assume behind your computer screen but who knows?
Maybe I’m in my room, writing back to you and trying to find a clever ending, but maybe, due to a very unusual turn of events, I’m locked in a box at a party and I can’t get out because I’m dressed up like a fakir and it’s such a pathetic bad joke that I have to wait for the party to end, so I’m replying to you with my smartphone.
“Where you are” is a question to the listener, asking where you are with all those questions about freedom, self-alienation, social pressure and so on. But here again, it can just be the idea of me finding an awesome vowel-modeled synth trick.
Chain D.L.K.: Thanks for answering… anything to add?
Raoul Sinier: Although it’s very clear in my head, I’m having trouble explaining my orphanage idea, even in french. And I hope I didn’t sound too preachy. The most important thing is my aesthetics, the emotions and images I’m suggesting.
Have fun and thank you!
visit Raoul Sinier on the web at: www.raoulsinier.com