Interview: Psygnosis

In May French instrumental progressive extreme metallers Psygnosis released their third album, Neptune. Below you can read the interview DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen had with Psygnosis’ Rémi Vanhove.

Hey, how are you?

I am fine! Preparing our French tour at the moment, and we are very excited about it! Looking forward to be back on the road with our friends of Zayuz, we met them in our Mexican tour last year, and we are glad to have them with us for the first part of our tour!

Psygnosis, how did you come up with the name?

Well, Psygnosis was the name of a video-game company who developed and edited some games that I loved in my childhood, like WipEout (I’m a huge fan of this serie of games), Shadow of The Beast, Lemmings, Colony Wars, etc. And this name always intrigued me! I started this project 8 years ago, I wanted to have this kind of name, it became obvious. Later we discovered that it mean “spiritual knowledge”, which is a good fit I think!

Eight years ago, Psygnosis was formed, can you tell us something about the last 8 years and Psygnosis’ members?

At first it was a one-man-band, I released a first ep, Phrases, that I composed and recorded in one or two weeks. It was experimental, I had a black/death metal band, Euphorya, and Psygnosis was only a side project. My friend Jeremy was the drummer in Euphorya and told me “this stuff kills grandma” haha, a French expression to also say “this is awesome”. Euphorya stopped, and we decided to seriously work on Psygnosis, and he switched from drums to bass. Meanwhile, we met Anthony, and we needed a second guitar player!

We had two different singers before we decided to become an instrumental band with Raphael on the cello. We worked with him since Anti-Sublime, our first album, and it became some kind of evidence to have him in Psygnosis as a full member! In 8 years we evolved a lot, had several mutations but I think we kept the original substance of what was the music of Psygnosis on Phrases. With, of course, maturity and better technical skills!

Your music is not something you hear very often, how would you describe it yourself?

Honestly I don’t really know. We call it “Progressive extreme metal” because it is progressive, and extreme, and it’s metal (duh), but I think we are more than that. We have a lot of electronics, a lot of atmosphere, and some “in your face” stuff between all of this. So, I don’t know. Maybe we are doing some “AWESOME METAL”?

Nowadays, your music is only instrumental, but you did have a vocalist earlier. Why did he exit Psygnosis and what made you decide to go instrumental from that point on?

Yohan had health issues and wasn’t able to perform on stage anymore. And from his point of view, if he can’t be on stage with us, he don’t have to be with us at all. So he decided to leave. We had some auditions, none of these guys, even if some of them were nice and became friends, had the same skills as Yohan. We didn’t want to see the comment “the previous singer was better” with our future releases, so we decided to avoid vocals. And as I said earlier, to have Raphael with us was logical, he worked with us in the past, he is a friend and understand our music, so let’s go! I still think it was the best choice!

So, your music doesn’t have vocals, you have no drums, only two guitars, one bass and a cello. How do you manage to combine such heavy music with the sound of cello, with enough room for the cello?

It’s not something that I think. In fact I’m still doing music the same way that I did in 2009. Every tracks I do, I have to be sure that it can be listened even without vocals. If it’s boring without vocals, it is boring, period. I never wanted to be a slave of literal stuff, I always wanted music just to be « music ». Maybe because I discovered music with electronic music, and learn music without vocals in the beginning. Anyway, this kind of work is for Raphaël, and he decides if there is room for him, or not. For the next album we have a more connected way to do things, at the moment I still do everything except the cello parts, but we talk together, to know what kind of stuff he want, and what kind of stuff I want, don’t want, and am able to do!

Recently, you released your new album Neptune, how are the responses so far?

The responses are GREAT! Honestly I don’t remember any bad response about it, except the “instrumental metal is not my cup of tea”, which is not a big deal! So yeah, great response from our fans, from the press, etc. And I agree with almost all the flaws pointed in reviews !

When you compare Neptune to your earlier EP, AAliens, which was your first release as an instrumental band, what differences do you hear?
Not so much. In fact, the track Man ov Steel was supposed to be on Neptune, it’s a song from the same “composition period”. The obvious differences are production and length.

Neptune was preceded by the first metal show in a French opera, l’Opéra National du Rhin, with Empyrium, Igorrr, Grorr and Laniakea. How did it go?

It was incredible! It’s not a place where we play metal everyday, it was an incredible opportunity for the band and for us as persons! I hope that we’ll be able to have this kind of events in the future, in this opera, and other opera’s in France or in the world!

You already announced some tourdates in France and one in Switzerland. Can we expect more shows? How about The Netherlands?

Of course you can expect more, this band will stop the day I die! I hope we’ll be able to come to the Netherlands! We hope that we’ll be able to be on a few summer festivals in 2018, and have more gigs around Europe!

Any other future plans you can already tell us about?

Yep! We already working on the little brother of Neptune. I’m not planning a release until 2019, but we’re already on it. We will release a second volume for our compilations series Lost & Forsaken with demo tracks from the Neptune Sessions that we didn’t use in the final album. Maybe in November. We have a lot of ideas for other “non-album” stuff to release, some experimentations, but it’s too soon to tell. And of course, more shows, more shows and more shows!

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Thank you for your questions! Thanks to everyone who read it, and I hope you had or/and you will enjoy Neptune as much as we do! See you on tour!

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