Interview: Second Spectre
Strange Therapy presents a new name in its ever-growing roster: the French duo Second Spectre. A Cast of Memories is the name of their 8-track cassette here presented, a new chapter with a haunting rhythmic approach and filled with beautiful emotional cinematic soundscapes.
TF: What motivates you to create Second Spectre? what perspectives do you want to explore?
SS: Second Spectre was officially created in 2017 after we had several remixes proposals. By the time we started making music together, both of us already had separate music projects for a few years. After we met, we almost immediately started to write some tracks as a duo, even though we had no real name for the project, nor any idea of where this could take us.
When we think back at it, we simply had fun sitting together in the studio, didn’t think of anything before starting a track, and we seized the remixes offer as an opportunity to seal Second Spectre. We always thrive to experiment with sounds and techniques and that’s why it takes us a while to be done with the work we achieve. As we are pretty harsh critics on ourselves, our tracks are always re-thought numerous times, with a lot of major changes, trials, and errors.
Tell us something about you. What’s your background? Where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes?
Julien: I studied architecture in Paris and after my diploma I specialized in 3D visualization for architect agencies. As a teenager I was first fond of Black Metal and Doom until I discovered Warp Music Label, which opened to me a window on a whole new world of sounds. Nowadays, even if I still listen to my old favourites, I’m more open in terms of music and my influences are quite wide, going from Andy Stott, Bones, Tim Blake, Agnes Obel, to Burial.
Boris: I’m a sound engineer, I studied in the SAE School in Paris. I’m really influenced by all of the IDM scene. An old friend of mine gave me his old MP3 player back in the days, it was full of Aphex Twin, Chris Clark and Boards of Canada. I was completely amazed by the genre. Before that, (and still) I was a typical music junky with my Marilyn Manson albums.
TF: You haven’t given much interviews and you remain quite discreet despite of the recognition your productions and dj sets. Do you think that an excessive media exposure tends to cause harm to music?
SS:We don’t care much about social media as you probably noticed. The idea that social media has to be 50% (or more) of the artist job is something we are deeply against. These days, the time we spend as Second Spectre is at least 80% of creativity and pleasure, 10% of drinking beers, and the last 10% goes to promotion.
That means, when we have a new release or something we will be making a few posts here and there for people to be aware of it, but that’s the end of it.
TF: Talking about Strange Therapy, What makes it different from the others?
SS:Strange Therapy is one of the few labels in the electronic scene that has never disappointed us in terms of quality and consistency of it’s releases.
Every time we see a new VA, a new EP or an album on it, we know that we will be amazed. On top of that, it has been a delightful experience to work with them as they were super efficient, always there with good advice and support, immediately making us feel as a part of their family.
TF: What new hardwares did you apply to make 'A Cast of Memories' EP? Do you have a particular method while working in the studio?
SS:This album is no exception and has been made in a similar fashion as the previous one, with no particular new piece of gear. Our creative process is mostly oriented around Ableton as we tend to work a lot with random samples that we heavily process after. Those can come from any source possible; a resample from a Youtube video, a sound recorded through a phone while watching a movie, sometimes field recording for ambiances, drums and grooves from old records, samples from the Ableton library etc We also got some hardware outboard FX that we use a lot but apart from that, all of the ideas come from Ableton and a few VSTs.
TF: How do you compose this tracks? Do you treat them like musical narratives or more like sound sculptures o images?
SS:We try to stay away as much as possible from the “loopy” way of making a track as it is traditionally done in electronic music, because we never managed to turn the loop into a finished product. That means we usually compose by starting with an introduction, then a build up, something “chorus like” and so on until the end of it and the outro.
To do so we always use the arrangement view of Ableton to mess with random ideas, several resamples, FX’s, more resamples, more FX’s, until it gives us a mood that could work as an intro. From that point we go on and it slowly guides us through the track idea.
TF: What new hardwares and softwares did you apply to make this album?
SS: Mostly stuff that we have from the beginning and continue using from one track to the other. The newest thing in the studio was the Lyra 8 from Soma but we didn’t use it a lot except on some tracks like Wisdom or for very little ambiences.
A lot of the sound shaping is coming from Soundtoys FX’s, or Ableton VSTi that are perfect to share projects from one computer to another. Fabfilter tools for mixing purpose and for the hardware thing, we have some mics, a Zoom H5, a Sherman Filterbank (Boris : my personal favorite thing), and some other strange devices that we keep because they sound alive and nothing alike Software. We both used to have studios packed with a lot of gear, but we realized it was more of a creative dead end for us.
As an example we sold our two modular rigs before writing the second album because we couldn’t stop making bleeps and blops without really making music at the end of the day.
TF: What are you working on now? What ideas or plans do you have for your future work?
SS: First we will have a beer and then take a deep breath after the official release ahah. The creative process for this album was extremely long, with a lot of ups and downs. Some of these tracks were started almost 3 years ago and had forty versions at the end! As said earlier, we like to be 100% sure before validating a track, and reworking, correcting, polishing, mixing them was a hard piece of work. After that we will probably go back to it and write another album.
TF: To say goodbye, what can you tell us about the premiere track you publish with us? Any experience during the creative process?
SS: "Do You Believe In God" is the opening track but it was also the first one we chronologically made in the album. We had to put a lot of effort into it, and we were almost about to give up many times with it. Now this is one of our favourites and we feel proud about the fact that it doesn’t sound like anything else we know. We could say that it really illustrates the whole creative process of the Album.
Listen exclusively, "Do You Believe In God".
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