Interview with Franck Vigroux for Secret Thirteen

Another interview for S13, this time with black magician of electronic music Franck Vigroux.

Franck Vigroux Sky Wire Blog

Franck Vigroux is a French musician, instrumentalist, composer, turntablist and movie director, who covers wide musical range from avantgarde and improvisational music to experimental and extreme kinds of electronic music. He uses both classic instruments such as a guitar as well as analogue electronic devices. Vigroux records and performs by himself or in terms of collaborative projects and live acts with artists like Mika Vainio, Ben Miller, Reinhold Friedl and other artists such as dancers, visual artists or directors. In 2003, he founded his own label D’Autres Cordes Records and 5 years later started the Company D’autres cordes, dedicated to performing arts. For Secret Thirteen, he shares his creative strategies and approaches, talks about his various projects as well as his attitude towards the future.

You are a virtuoso on guitar, worked with instrumental ensembles, use a lot of different electronic devices and are a turntablist… Yet on your new album Climent, you brought your guitar back to life with simply playing tones and overtones. How your approach of making music changed during the years?

Guitar is my first instrument, I still play it, but not that much. After years and years of practice and hundreds of concerts, I was looking for something else, new musical experiences. So at the beginning of the 2000’s I started to use turntables and samplers, making live collages, cut-ups, improvisations. That’s how I also came to composition and particularly electroacoustic music.

I have neglected the guitar for the last three years, I was totally focused on my electronic instruments and my work in terms of performing art or audiovisual projects. But last spring I found again that old 50€ guitar my mother bought me when I was 16. Strings haven’t been changed since probably 15 years, the instrument really needs to be repaired, but… It was an instrument dedicated to play with a bottleneck actually, I have to say I was a blues fanatic at that time, I was particularly into the delta blues… The roots.

So I recorded Ciment while I was making the music for Centaure EP. Both recordings are based on two very different instrumental approaches, but at the same time, they both are something very natural for me. And esthetically, they’re not that far away from each other, even though one has clearly blues influences (Climent) and the other has industrial noise influences. But for me, it’s something natural, it looks like my musician route.

What kind of feelings or impressions do you like to leave in listeners’ minds with your music on Climent? Or is it more a study of the guitar and overtones themselves?

There are many things to comment on your question. When I compose music, I don’t think about listeners, I don’t think about the others, I just think about the music and the ideas I try to reach with the few musical skills I have. Otherwise, you probably know that recently U2’s album was in all iTunes upgrade, that was just the worst thing Apple has ever done at such scale, what’s next ? A book obliged to be read? We are almost there, real dystopia.

For Ciment I wanted to avoid any kind of virtuosity, I tried to make something slow and open, no chord resolution, ghost melodies, silence… There may be something melancholic in that music, something appeased, while in Centaure the sound is massive and brutal, made of beats, noises, drones. But both albums are very complementary and if you want to know my music, I think it’s interesting to listen to both of them!

Do you study sounds more from their physical, metaphorical or biological perspective? Which aspects of sound do you examine recently?

Physically for sure. It’s something I like to explore – the volume, extremely low and high frequencies. But I can say I particularly explore all kind of distortion combinations with digital and analogue, fuzz, overdrive, bit crusher etc.

You search for new sounds mainly in your studio. Apart of the guitar, which instruments have you been using lately? And where do you get your inspiration for sound exploration, apart of your studio?

I try to invent my own instrument with combination of several electronics devices. The last set up I’m working on is a combination of a Buchla synth and Revox reel to reel tape recorder, plus two “freeze” pedals. That’s an example. Usually, I have 4 or 5 sets of that kind for live performances.

In studio, I like to explore analogue electronics like synths or filters and acoustic sounds I record by myself. These sounds are already very inspiring, their nature is so rich… My inspiration also comes from everywhere – the music I listen to of course. And all I see and hear on a daily basis is inspiring.

Read the whole interview on Secret Thirteen.

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