The Blaze may not have a formula but blending images that could either be documentary or fiction, Guillaume and Jonathan Alric have emerged as one of the most prominent music and video acts, not only on the Paris music scene but also the entire digital world. The Forumist had a chat with the two cousins backstage at Way Out West; the Gothenburg festival where they played one of their first shows outside of France a couple of years before.
How do you think sound and vision interact?
Jonathan: When we started The Blaze we didn’t have a formula. It all happened very naturally. We had this idea of making a music video about gypsies for Queens and images started to pop up. We started walking on the music. For that scene in particular, we needed the sound to be really deep because it’s all about emotions. How are we going to transcribe that emotion into sound? It’s a two-way walk. We can have the images and walk on the music; or we can have the sounds and then walk on the vision.
How would you describe the imagery within the music?
Guillaume: It’s our emotions. We need to revisit our principal emotions, both in the music and the videos. When we make music we try to structure the emotional, then we can have some images. We need to have emotional feelings and images to find a melody that will fit.
Do you have any favourite music videos?
G: A French director, Romain Gavras, he made a music video called Stress that’s so intense. After seeing it, I was wondering whether it was a documentary, are these true images? is it real or is it all made up? It turned out that nothing was real; it was all prepared. Then it’s that video by The Knife that we love. [Sings the melody] What’s the name of the song?
Pass This On.
G: Yes, in this video it’s quite the same. It could be a documentary or it could be fiction. It’s the kind of music video that inspires our style. It’s also this way of shooting people as if it’s real. When you shoot it this way, people can identify themselves with our actors or our stories.
J: Also, with Pass This On, we learned that poetry is all about contrasts. When you see that music video, you think, ‘What the fuck happened?’ It’s a Swedish director, Jonas Åkerlund. How did this idea of a transgender singing in front of the crowd in a strange bar come to his head hearing the music of The Knife? It’s all about what music inspires. Imagination is free and you can come up with all kinds of ideas. Music videos are a very rich way of communication.
Can you elaborate on the meeting point between documentary and fiction?
J: In the studio we try to find stories within our own stories. We’re from the same family so we just try to remember being young. We’re trying to keep to our own experiences and put it in our video, but with the camera there’s a little bit of fiction. So there’s our own story, but we try to imagine more beyond that. Maybe it’s in that point where the documentary and fiction meet. It’s both about or own story and the story that we can imagine. When we were talking about gypsies, we’re not actually gypsies but we made a lot of research about gypsy culture. We tried to fit our own experiences into that culture.
Your vocals tend to be distorted which creates an existential atmosphere.
G: We use an effect that changes our voice to give it a deep sound. We do that for two reasons. First, if you hear this kind of voice, you know it’s The Blaze. It’s our mark. Second, it permits us to hide our voices. We don’t like to show ourselves too much. With our voice it’s the same, we prefer to hide our voice behind this effect.
Showing your voice is almost like being naked.
G: Yeah, because a voice is the most personal you can have in your life. When you sing with your own voice, as you say, it feels like being naked.
What was your latest dream?
J: Playing here at the Way Out West festival on the main stage.
G: It’s funny, Dazed and Confused asked us to ask another artist a question. We asked that question, now it comes back to us.
J: Unfortunately I don’t dream enough. I wish I could dream more, like when I was a baby. Now when I dream, it’s more to understand myself. Maybe in the dream I have the answer. That’s why it’s very difficult to explain a dream. I don’t remember my last dream.
G: My latest dream was reality. Reality is a bit like a dream living in the present time.
Do you reckon the subconscious of dreams also is important for creativity?
G: When you make art, no matter what kind of art, your subconscious speaks through your creativity.
J: The subconscious is where art resides. Since we made the videos people often ask us, “Why is it so important for you to talk about the young guy coming back to his family?” When they ask that question, I don’t know. I think the answer is in the subconscious. The subconscious is a way to express yourself; when you arrive at an understanding of a little part of your subconscious you start to know way more about yourself, which enables you to be more sincere with your art.
How would you distinguish between the imaginary and fantasy?
G: It’s a very philosophical question.
J: It’s a too hard question. Maybe next year when we come back to the main stage we can answer it.
Interview by Jonatan Södergren