In the lead up to the release of Alcest’s brand new album Spiritual Instinct on October 25th there has been a lot of talk about the personal nature of the album. In this press interviews to date Alcest’s main man Neige has been very open about the fact that the album was written during a period when he was struggling.
“It is a long story,” he says when HEAVY Mag gets the chance to sit down and chat to him about the origins of the album. “This band has a whole concept around the music and the reason why I started the band when I was a teenager. I talk a lot about spirituality and that has been very important for me my whole life because I had this spiritual experience when I was a kid and it really shaped the person that I am today. It left a really big mark on me and I have always been drawn to topics like life after life and what is the meaning of life, what is the good of being here and everything.”
“We had been touring a lot with our previous album,” he goes to explain as we talk more about the origins of Spiritual Instinct. “When you go on tour for such a long time you can get lost and lose touch with yourself and you don’t know who you are any more. I think I kind of lost touch with my spirituality in a way and the things that I really liked and I felt really down at that point. So that is why this album is a mix of something very other-worldly and also very beautiful. It is beautiful but it also has a lot of anger and frustration because for once I had a lot of more darker and anxious emotions to put into my music.”
As Neige shares so candidly how he was feeling at the time I ask him how difficult was it for him to sit down and write such personal lyrics that he knew would one day be heard by his fans. “Yeah, I never speak about it directly,” he says after taking a deep breath. “I never say ‘I am feeling bad’ in my songs you know. Everything is always very metaphoric and very symbolic so I look at a lot of symbolic paintings and symbolic poetry so I guess they have a very big influence on my writing so if you take the first song which translated into English is ‘The Midnight Gardens’ it is about this place that I would see in my visions when I was a kid, because I told you about my spiritual experience, right? I was having these mental images of this place that doesn’t look anything down here on Earth and I really didn’t know what to do with these images so I read a lot about near death experiences because I knew it wasn’t a dream or my imagination and I found a connection through what people were describing and my own experience. I don’t like to be very direct and talk about how I feel depressed so I try to find a way to put it that is more enigmatic and poetic.”
One of the other things that made putting together Spiritual Instinct more challenging was the band’s decision to record onto analogue tape and while Neige says it did make the process longer he wouldn’t have changed it for the world. “We like the sound of tape it is a little more organic,” he explains. “It is a very different way to record because when you work with digital and computers you can keep like fifteen takes and it can be very difficult to make decisions and as a result you can lose so much time. When you record with a tape machine though if you want to do another tape you have to erase the take you did just before, so you have to be smart and not erase something that is already good so it is a very, very different way to work.”
To sum up I ask Neige does he have anything he would like to say to his Australian fans before they listen to Spiritual Instinct. “I just hope they listen to it with an open mind,” he says. “Try not to think too much about musical styles because Alcest is so much more than just a mix of music genres there is a whole another other-wordly dimension to this music and it really means something to me. I hope everybody likes it and they will feel some kind of spiritual stuff, like I hope they will be able to escape Earth for awhile.”
Take a listen to the interview on Spotify and hear what Neige says about an Alcest tour to Australia.
Spiritual Instinct is out through Nuclear Blast on October 25th.