With his fourth full-length album called “Wounds And Scars” released on the rising US label DSBP, this French act consisting of Vince Pujol made again a step forward into the hall of fame of Electro/Industrial music. His albums had always that something special sci-fi influence, phat arrangements and a high-skilled synth programming that can hardly be topped. But unfortunately well done produced music and an immense talent doesn’t mostly end into total success. So E.S.R. will remain the secret tip which breaks through boring conventions and tries hard to offer a different but very dedicated and up-to-date kind of electronic-based music. Time to invade and terrorize Mr. Pujol’s inner peace to ask some penetrating questions to get a deeper insightinto his world and views…
Chain D.L.K.: Hello Vince, you currently released your new CD “Wounds And Scars” out on DSBP. How does it feel to hold now the ready done physical product in your hands? How is your mood after the stressing studio work, do you need a stop of musical activities for a while?
Esr: Holding the final product in my hands is always an exciting moment! I take time to look carefully at the booklet and pages to see if the final version looks good and I take time to listen to it carefully. Every time I’m surprised because the sound quality of a pressed CD is excellent and has nothing to do with any other format if you give it a professional listening. The rendering of “Wounds And Scars” looks great, I’m very happy and proud of this new album. I only found a mistake with the information I gave …In fact the tracks including guitars are”Blood on the walls”, “Humanity collapsing” (both standard version and alternative mix) and NOT track 11 (“Final Dream”) as mentioned inside the booklet. When I am about to put out a new album I’m always anxiousand nervous…That feeling starts with the end of the studio work and the waiting for the CD to be sent and return from the manufacturer, it is always stressing. Then I start asking myself a lot of questions (too much questions): “Is it a well done album?”, “Are people gonna like it?”, “Did I do my really best?”…All those stupid questions are haunting me even now after 4 ESR albums released. Usually I don’t really need to stop for a break cause doing music is some kind of drug for me. Believe it or not but I’m sad if I can’t put my hands on a keyboards forthree days!!! After an album is out, I usually focus on making new sounds and collecting more samples or things like that. That year was a special hard year for me cause I suffer from tinnitus for now six months…I have been forced to have a break…This shit took me down for months and I was scared I had to stop doing music…I have stopped using headphones “in case” of damage and after passing some tests at the hospital it seems that my ears and my auditory nerves are not damaged. But nobody knows how to cure or recover from tinnitus, so I’m slowlylearning how to live with it, how to continue doing music and live a “normal” life…Hard, really.
Chain D.L.K.: There’s still an episode of the past I can’t leave in silence, so I would like to ask for this. After your first CD “Distorted Visions” you made an announcement that you have left your label Wire Records to join a new French label called La Citadelle. Why did you try to leave Wire Records at that time and why didn’t your collaboration with La Citadelle never came to life? Why also the return to Wire and why had “Corroded Fragments” to be a special European version with a different track list than the DSBP release?
Esr: That’s a weird but interesting story , I mean I’ve learnt a lot about the music business during that period. In the beginning the collaboration with Wire Productions was excellent and the fact that my debut album was out made me euphoric. Before I signed with Wire Productions I just sent them the album and they directly offered me a deal for one album. After “Distorted Visions” I started working on new material and I came up with a new “demo album” entitled “Entropy” soon after “Distorted Visions” has been released, but the guys from Wireweren’t into it. Next, when time for negotiating a new contract came up, I had in the meantime another “demo album” to give a try, but the reaction was strange to me cause the guys wanted to make their choice, select some songs, remove some others and ask me to rework some stuff, etc…that was clearly not what I wanted to do, as an artist, I want to be free and I don’t want my label to be my artistic director. At that time I have been approached by other people including a new French label called “La Citadelle” which was very enthusiastic about signing ESR and putting out a double CD. So I decided not to renew the contract Wire Productions, there was no hard feeling, I mean that’s life. Unfortunately “La Citadelle” went bankrupt just before releasing the DCD! That was very frustrating and disappointing. After some time, I started to send a new CD under the name “Corroded Fragments” to labels all over the world. As I was in contact with Tommy T of the DSBP even before “Distorted Visions” has been released, a friend recommended to send him the CD. Tommy rapidly told me he was into it and asked some questions, then I received an e-mail “ESR and DSBP will join!”. As I kept good contacts with Wire Productions I also sent them the CD cause I was looking for an European deal too, and we finally signed a new agreement! Wire Productions wanted to release a 80min CD including more remixes and on the other hand Tommy who heard “Entropy” wanted to see the song “Re-Programmed” appearing on the album, that’s why the North American and European releases are slightly different. That’s a good idea, I tried to develop that kind of “different versions” with “Persistence” but in the end, only the DSBP release saw the light of day. This is a long story but it shows how hard it is for an artist to find the right label or to deal with a label…and the sales going down those days (because of piracy) does not help…Most of the labels are looking for danceable trendy “Hellektro” so if you’re not in the trend, it’s harder…Even after 4 albums and a side project released it’s hardfor ESR to find an additional European home based label. But I’m not complaining because the DSBP is supporting my music like no one else and Tommy and I became close friends leading to collaborative works on“Bio-Mechanical Degeneration” and “Diverje”.
Chain D.L.K.: Also still an open question to your last CD “Persistence”. Tell us the reason and the sense why an Industrial band covers an Industrial band (Front Line Assembly – “Mindphaser”)? Have Bill and Rhys ever heard your cover and did they leave some comments?
Esr: New Industrial bands are raised with what the older bands left. Most of the people playing music admit some other bands have been an influence on their work. To me, FLA is one of the bands that really made me wanting to dig the industrial scene. I’ve always had much respect for their work and career. I’ve had a chance to meet Bill and Rhys years ago after a show and I’ll always remember that cause those guys took time to talk with us (I think that was the very first FLA “tour” in France…it was the “Gashed Senses & Crossfire tour”). So it really makes sense for me to do that cover, it’s a kind of personal tribute to them and a way to say that I’m a BIG fan of FLA. I did two versions of “Mindphaser” and we selected one for the release. I remember it took months before Tommy and I were able to find a way to get the agreement to put out that cover, we tried to reach Bill and Rhys and I got an answer from Rhys but I seems like no one really knows who holds the rights for the old songs, strange isn’t it? But we finally found what to do and get the agreement. I have no idea if they’ve ever heard my cover and what do they think about it…I haven’t been able to go to the recent FLA show in Paris, otherwise I would have given them a copy of “Persistence” and then would have been scared to hear their comments some day! (if any).
Chain D.L.K.: Some words to the technical side of your music. You’ve filled in an equipment list in your inlay featuring some of the most known music gear developers like Steinberg, Roland or Yamaha. But you also thank all developers of high quality plug-ins. Which kind do you prefer, the hard- or the software technology (VSTi) of producing music? Is it possible that this could change?
Esr: I’m a hardware fan for many reasons, probably because when I started playing music years ago there were only hardware synthesizers. To be honest, I can only create a good song if I’m playing on a hardware synthesizer. I don’t like to sit in front of my computer and watch a virtual front panel and turn the knobs with a mouse, it doesn’t really make sense to me…it completely kills my creativity…I’m only using the software synths to add a few textures or to double a bass line, sometimes I play a sound there and here but nothing more. All mysongs are composed on hardware and I have no intention to change that in a near future. I started experimenting software synthesizer and use a few ones with my side project Bio-Mechanical Degeneration. On “WoundsAnd Scars”, only a few sounds or drum loops come from those software-based synths. In my opinion, the main problem with 100% software music is that all the sounds are playing through your sound card. From my experience if you don’t have a MOTU or an RME sound card, you’ll get a very bright and thin sound…nothing very exciting to me. About free VST audio plug-ins, well, I use them for additional vocal treatments. When I record the vocals, they first go through the effects from my A3000 and are recorded into the PC under Cubase. Then I add effects to the vocal tracks using lots of free VST plug-ins. It’s unbelievable to see those high quality creative plug-ins done by people all over the world and I wanted to thanks them for their work.
Chain D.L.K.: Which is your most favorite hardware synthesizer?
Esr: I recently sold most of my expanders to renew my gear. I bought an Access Virus Ti keyboard! I love this synthesizer, it’s a monster! It holds tons of great sounds and the capabilities are beyond my expectations, but it has been a nightmare to get one that works cause the first I received wasn’t working…then users have had to wait for the latest update to have something acceptable…but this new one will surely boost my creativity!
Chain D.L.K.: Your music is almost modern and the arrangements are sounding up-to-date. But your vocals and especially the lyrics draw mostly a sad and depressive kind of view on human being. Tell us a bit of your influences. Regarding the strong sci-fi influence in your work, I would expect something more than the daily news and life around you…
Esr: After my third album “Persistence” has been released, I’ve been working on my new sci-fi project “Bio-Mechanical Degeneration”, so when I came to compose new songs for the next ESR album, I didn’t reallywanted it to sound too sci-fi otherwise it would have been difficult to manage two projects in the same vein. That’s the reason why “Wounds And Scars” does not contain sci-fi related lyrics, instead it focuses on theother facets of ESR: the critical outlook to the world we live in and also additional “feelings” which are more “personal”. First of all, I’ve always had that critical outlook cause I’m fed up with all those situations that mankind is not able to solve because of corruption, “obscure political strategies” and that never ending “wait and see” policy in most cases. The Industrial style is the appropriate one to express that kind of ideas, isn’t it? Otherwise ESR would have been a Synthpop act singing candy love stories! (laugh) Don’t worry I’m leavingthat to others. I sometimes regret that the Industrial scene in Europe is slowly turning into something more “theatrical”, I mean you can see a lot of bands with blood on their faces and blood everywhere on their CDcover art, and there’s nothing really interesting in their lyrics…some kind of “Hellektro” for the dancefloor only but with nothing behind. I like music with “body” AND “soul”, that’s why I think it’s important to keep a critical outlook or to be able to bring some kind of poetry even if it’s a really dark one. My vision of the world is depressive because the world outside is depressive!!! Of course we all have moments of fun, that exists too, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the fear of walking down the street and being scared of apossible attack, that’s the reality in our days, isn’t it? I want to talk about this world where money and corruption rule, because this is what we’re gonna leave to our children and we shouldn’t be proud of it. I want to talk about all the people who lose their jobs because those major companies just want to make more profits even if they are not losing money but because it’s so great to be more powerful!…there’s nothing more “human” in that kind of attitude. I want to talk about the new keyword of this world “efficiency”, “huge benefits”, “corporate”…You know what I mean. Is there a place for our children in that kind of society? I don’t think so, it’s a form of modern slavery where the most important people will rule the rest of the world and most of us will just be considered like crappy slaves. This is a major regression in the history of the world…Not to talk about all those fanatics using religions to stigmatize hate between people…
Chain D.L.K.: Can we find also some lyrical content which has ist founding in your private life? I would like to ask specially for the content of “Nothing Stays”…
Esr: Let’s say the two past years have been quite hard for me, I’ve been working a lot and had to manage a lot of things together. In addition, talking about the day job, there’s always someone trying to push you to do more and more, again and again…After months, I felt very tired and then my health wasn’t good…I’ve been really sick and that’s probably the reason why I now suffer from tinnitus because of all the infections I’ve been subjected to. Even if it’s hard to admit that kind of thing, I think I was sinking in a sort of “a depressive state”…I realized that I was caught in some kind of trap and I wasn’t able to get out of it…I felt like I was losing the control on my own life and I wasn’t prepared to face that. Trying to tell what I was I was trying to face through lyrics has been my therapy …now you better understand one of reasons why this new album is entitled “Wounds And Scars”. “Nothing Stays” is precisely one of the tracks that reflected my state of mind when I was feeling bad. I’ve had that impression that “what I was living at that moment” was trying to turn me into someone else, that wasn’t me…I was feeling and looking so bad that I couldn’t recognize myself…I was just tired and fed up with a lot of things though.
Chain D.L.K.: The use of guitar sounds is surely a new development in your sound. How did it come to reality and why?
Esr: Even if I’m addicted to Electro/Industrial music (and I’ve been a purist when I was younger), I’ve been listening to other music styles including guitars. One of my best friends (Olivier Fogel aka “Fodge”) is a guitar player but he also loves electronic music, that’s why we do have much respect for each other’s work. We’ve always wanted to do something together so we decided to go ahead! What Olivier did on “Wounds and Scars” is excellent! I think it really brings something more to the songs and I absolutely wanted to keep those guitar parts on the album. We are trying to work more together and why not to do something even more collaborative – maybe a common side project could see the light of day in the future, we’ll see.
Chain D.L.K.: You have got a family and an own child and I think you are working daily. How can an Electro/Industrial musician bring all terms of life in a decent order? How is it with free time and further hobbies?
Esr: Good question, I still haven’t found the good balance, 24 hours a day is a bit short…and I sometimes ask myself if it’s not already too much to manage. Having a child requires great care and my full time job is the only way to live a decent life and have a little money to invest in synthesizers and equipment. To be honest, there’s is no more extra time for any additional hobbies. My passion for music and studio equipment takes all my extra time.
Chain D.L.K.: ESR – a studio project? Any live performances or plans for it in sight? How do you think of doing release parties in France?
Esr: This is something I would love to do. I have been thinking about it for two or three years but I don’t know how to manage that, there’s just too much things to do and I just can’t manage a live session preparationat the moment… This will come in due time…In the meantime I’m thinking about a possible live setup, a track listing and the possibility to practice with a few friends to see if it works…not to talk about the additional equipment necessary for live performances. Concerning release parties, France isn’t the good country forElectro/Industrial music…only a few people care about that music style especially here in southern France. There’s no opportunity to do any interesting release parties and the fact that ESR has no European labeldoesn’t help. The only release parties I did took place in Germany when my debut album “Distorted Visions” was out. A few other people supporting ESR have been doing release parties in the USA but I haven’t been there.
Chain D.L.K.: Your wishes and hopes for your future, musically and for your private life?
Esr: I want to hope for the best! I hope my health and faith in music will be stronger than ever and will allow me to do more music and projects. There’s a lot of things I want to do, the first one could be a strictly limited collection of unreleased and rare tracks for the die hard fans in a near future. Also I hope I can put out more projects including new albums of ESR and Bio-Mechanical Degeneration. Last but not least, I’d like to develop merchandising a bit, there are talks about it at the moment, we’ll see. I hope the Electro/Industrial scene will stay alive and be even more popular everywhere. And I hope this world will bring us the best for the future, but we all have to stay awake and not let things go…
Chain D.L.K.: Anything else you would like to tell us?
Esr: I’d like to thank you for your support over the years, it means a lot to me to have some supporters following my “career”, that’s why I always thank all the DJ’s, friends and people who do have some kind of respect for my works.
Visit Esr on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Tommy T. Rapisardi]