Those in the know are aware that I am a wee bit of a Steampunk. I quite enjoy the aesthetic as a cosplayer, and I’ve been trying to pull together a Steampunk novel series for several years now. (I think we’re aaaaaaaalmost there).
I have a soft spot for Victor Sierra, an extremely talented Paris-based Steampunk band. I reviewed their album ELECTRIC RAIN, and was lucky enough to strike up an acquaintance with the band. Several months ago, after a brainstorming session with my literary agent about how to expand, market and work on the Steampunk novel I was polishing, I hit on the idea of asking Victor Sierra if they might be interested in writing a song about the novel. They were!
I think “The Skylark’s Song” is a fantastic interpretation of the novel. There’s this great industrial drive to the song, which really plays with the concept of the novel being set in a world just about to enter an Industrial Era, and there’s something about the discordant clash of voices that plays into the fact that the novel takes place during war-time. I think my favourite part is that they sing the novel… and then they play the epilogue! I know many of you haven’t read the book yet, but trust me when I say the song is awesome, and sharp, and right on the nose.
Want to hear it? Here it is!
One reviewer said, of the track:
The use of an oboe always seems to evoke a lighthearted but tragically flawed sequence.. When mixed with a wailing saxophone the brightest of music has very stark shadows within.. Such is the case with “Freyleche Apokalypse”, like a carnivale gone imperceptibly awry the insipid imposing beat belie the essence of the final track “Skylark’s Song” as absolutely ineffable and inevitable.. The shadow of Victor Sierra lingers just behind the eyes and and reaches to entirely ensconce anyone with improved inner visualization information through their audio interface with extreme effectiveness and absolute precision.
On the eve of the release of their second album, YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW (dropping June 15 2013), Commander Bob, Anouk and Big Machine were kind enough to answer some interview questions here.
I’m not going to review the album because, hey, there’s a song written for me on it! But there are two great reviews if you click here. And honestly, it’s just a fantastic, atmospheric, elegantly rough collection of songs. It’s well worth the purchase.
As far as I can remember, music has always been central in my life. I was composing in my head before having even touched an instrument. I have been through several musical trends and formed several bands. Whatever style I was in for a while was only a platform for me to experiment and evolve towards something else. I moved too fast and I was the engine while all my co-members were sort of breaks. It has been a drag until I met Anouk and we formed Victor Sierra.
Actually I’m not a princess!!! But perhaps I’m one in the end! I was an actress, and I became a vocalist when I met Bob. since then I’ve had a child and then I became a fashion designer… In Victor Sierra I’m all of these at the same time. I could say I put myself together… So I must be a Princess after all.
New wave, cold wave, no wave, 60’s garage punk, blues, electro, ambient, dark ambient and Krautrock. Victor Sierra was created before I came in but their sound was definitely something for me…
2. You’ve probably been asked this before, but what makes music “Steampunk”? Why and how did you decide that Victor Sierra would be steampunk?
When Big Machine joined the band three years ago, he told us about Steampunk. We had never heard of it before. So we did some research and all of a sudden we found out that we were not alone, at last! Every single piece of the puzzle seemed to fall into place… The dystopia, the “uchronical” visions, the outfits and contraptions, the mix of genres… The encounter of romance and technology. Victor Sierra had been a steampunk band from the beginning without us being actually aware. But I would like to mention that Dieselpunk does attract me, as well. That’s how we came to create the imaginary Airship Hydrogen Queen -of which I’m the Commander! I would rather speak of retro- futrurism. It’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow!
Everything was there at once, clothes, music, jewelery, the universe… At one point we were suggested we were SP, a click on google to understand what it was about, and we realized we were at the right place: home…
Big Machine :
We had been playing for a while when I realized : Victor Sierra is a retro-futuristic band. We are Steamers but we don’t know it yet ! It really changed my life… -_o
(Author’s note: How? Now I’m facinated…)
3. What do you think are the connections between steampunk music and literature?
Steampunk started with literature. Steampunk literature is a real genre, steampunk music isn’t. Steampunk has to do with words, overall ambient, stories, universes, alternate history…Not with musical notes. And this is the reason why music is so diverse in the steampunk world. In terms of music, we have nothing to do with Veronique Chevalier for example and at the same time we have everything in common with her work because we look in the same direction, even though through different goggles. Our friends from the Clockwork Dolls are much more romantic than we are and yet, we share an epic vision of the world as it should have been. Mark Rossmore from “Escape the Clouds” is another example of a wonderful songwriter following different paths leading to the same imaginary place.
4. Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re writing a song? Do the words come first, or the music?
There’s a song composing itself in my mind. Sometimes it gets tiring, even boring! I’ve always been writing about the other side of things. Even simple ones. I’m not interested in telling the truth about things everybody knows to be true. And even more so when they’re wrong!
5. Do you speak all the languages you sing in?
I speak French, English and Spanish. I’ve been writing in those three languages for years. As my name shows I’m a Jew originated from Eastern Europe. I don’t speak Yiddish but I heard it a lot in my family when I was a child. It was the language people used for children not to understand. But as always, we got some words here and there. My friend Elsa Drezner writes the lyrics of our Yiddish songs.
I personally speak French very well! Yiddish is a bit alien to me, though the “cabaret” aspect this language induces is quite close to me. Besides I understand and speak some English and Spanish, well, mostly after some shots of Rum. And I don’t start my vocalist work before having perfectly penetrated the meaning of the lyrics. I sing words, stories, situations I can feel mine.
6. Do you find any difference at all between European venues or fans to the North American ones?
We’re not talking about differences here but about a huge gap! France is dead to innovation. Interesting venues have all disappeared. Bands and audience are very badly greeted in the ones remaining these days. But it’s a general atmosphere in France. I’m sure you already heard about it. About fans, our audience is much more on your side of the pond than on ours. And we don’t mind. We’re much more attracted to North America.
What do you think we want to live in America for? As for me, I don’t want to say more on that subject. About all the disappointment we get from that European inertia…
7. What was it like, running your first IndieGoGo Campaign?
Actually, it was our second campaign of the kind. Our first one made us cross the ocean last year to go and perform at Steampunk World’s Fair (it was fantastic!). As for this one, we reached our goal which was to be able to record the songs and pay the manufacturer. A second album is always a perilous adventure (?). But it looks that as far as today it’s warmly welcomed by critics. We’re very happy and we hope our audience will enjoy it as well.
Just one word about Indiegogo… As you already know, I make the contraptions we propose. And what I enjoy so much is that I make each of them thinking of the person who ordered it, even though I don’t know her/him. Her/his name is in front of me, I imagine this person, I sew for her/him… and I like that!
8. You’ve composed music for a webseries, and now for my own novel – what other collaborations have you done? What would your dream project be?
We also recorded “Ecos de Voces Lejanas” from the novel by Josué Ramos, Madrid, Spain. It has been a great pleasure to write this song. What pleases me is the huge difference between this track and Skylark’s Song and Dirigible Days. I have a lot of “dream projects” of which I’ll talk about when I’m ready. For now, our goal would be to perform more often on stage and mostly in North America where we have our audience as I mentioned before. We spent several months locked in our studio. We need some fresh air!
I speak for myself only. It’s something I haven’t talked about with Bob and Pierre yet. I would love to write a Steampunk Opera with other bands and Clockwork Dolls in particular. Yes…as simple as that!
9. Tell us about writing “Skylark’s Song”, please! What was your experience?
It could sound a bit excessive. It may sound as if we wanted to please you. But it’s the truth and I don’t mind what people will think about it: It has been the most pleasurable song to write, compose and record. I loved your novel and it inspired me a lot. I suppose it shows when you listen to the song. I love the way Anouk sings and I can’t wait to perform it live.
(Authors note: D’aww! Thanks guys. I was on pins in needles the first time I heard it, and it stole the breath from my lungs and made my scalp prickle. It so much captures the heart of the novel.)
I know that this question wasn’t meant for me. But I just want to say that I love to sing it. It deeply moves me. I found myself in it, in its lyrics and music.
10. You guys are all super awesome – tell us how we can buy your albums, book you for a show, and follow you on social media!
You can buy all our albums here:
And like our band page here:
You can get all info about us here:
You can follow us on twitter here:
You can follow our Youtube Channel here: