Sister Iodine | Interview | New Album, ‘Hollozone’
Sister Iodine is a long running French noise project that have no plans of stopping anytime soon. Their latest album, ‘Hollozone’ is being released April 21st, 2023 via Nashazphone.
The band began in the 90s and are continuing to record some of the most radical, experimental and uncompromised music, stretching sound limits with each new album.
“We meet to record”
Can you tell me, in your own words, what am I listening to when I listen to this album?
Lionel Fernandez: At the beginning, we wanted to make the continuation of our previous album ‘Venom,’ with the idea to make a diptych. In our heads, at the genesis, it is, as often, something similar to the soundtrack of an imaginary movie, which would be a horror movie . But quite quickly we dug other furrows and explored new tracks of sounds, of textures and the disc left in another sonic imaginary. While remaining in the same vicinity, the same swamps, “black metal not really black metal but nevertheless black metal” as a friend said to me.
Who does what in the band?
Lionel Fernandez: Erik Minkkinen does guitars and vocals. Nicolas Mazet does drums and contact mics, triggers, tapes, I do guitar and synthesizers, basically. On stage and in the studio it’s pretty much like that.
Is what you do songs or improvisation? Does rehearsing mean recording? Do you have a certain plan before you get together and start playing? Or is it: set-up, start playing to see what happens?
Erik Minkkinen: It is actually a bit of all of that, but in the right order: a “set up and see what happens” session leads to a primal plan that gets improvised and recorded. The order can change though, a lot of the recordings are: first meet in a while filled with a primal thought energy, the first improvisation can quite often be the perfect capture of the energy we wanted, but not be the best recording of it. Mostly the process of a record is a collection of these meetings a few days before a show, recording the primal ideas, blowing them up for the show, gathering more destructive ideas, the rest has no rules.
Nicolas Mazet: We often start with an improvisation that we record then see what works and then build a song from that… It can also start from a pre-recorded synth that gives a texture, a mood or a guitar sound, a drum pattern – the process kind of varies from track to track. Lionel mostly does all the editing and mixing from many different sessions.
Lionel Fernandez: In any case, what is sure, is that we record everything we do. We don’t rehearse anymore, we meet to record.
Can you remember how the recording of this album went?
Nicolas Mazet: Well, this album has been recorded and mixed over 3-4 years. It is a long process of recording then editing. We tend to go in many directions searching for new venomous sounds and toxic textures. At the end we have a lot of material, we make a selection to build that new album that has a narrative, a mood…
Lionel Fernandez: Yes, the recording took place in several sequences, spaced out, as we recorded it ourselves, in our studio, We have the flexibility to work at our own pace, according to our inspirations too. We did a lot of takes, spread out in time and after a long process of production, collage, editing, to arrive at the final version.
“Our sound evolves all the time”
For how long does this band exist? Almost 30 years now?
Nicolas Mazet: The band started 30 years ago, yes. First we were 4 members with a bass player for a year. Then we became a trio, we tossed all the previous songs and started everything from scratch, it became right away more experimental using some old Korg synth, a turntable, some concrete sounds but we always kept the energy of no-wave/rock that was our primary influence.
Lionel Fernandez: Indeed it’s been 30 years. Our sound evolves all the time. At the very beginning we came from no wave, Mars, DNA, Theoretical girls, and then all kinds of poisons came to infuse our damaged brain and influenced us. We are always looking to expand the boundaries of our own music, it evolves all the time. We work maybe today on slower things, more distorted, slowed down but always pierced by some kind of deflagrations.
Is chaos part of the music of this band, or is it controlled chaos, chaos within structure?
Nicolas Mazet: Sure, it’s organized controlled chaos with some floating structures.
Lionel Fernandez: Yes, chaos is in the structure, but it’s confusion. it’s really something we’re looking for, to create a kind of confusion between “rock” and chaos.
Which bands or records do you see as key influences on the music of your band?
Nicolas Mazet: Well there are so many. Not sure where to start but all the no-wave bands from the NY 80’s, early industrial, concrete music, Japanese noise, extreme computer music, black metal and so on….
Lionel Fernandez: Abruptum, Hafler Trio, Mars, Hanatarash, Bernard Parmegiani, to quote a band from each musical genre mentioned by Nicolas.