Guillaume Cazenave is a musician from Bordeaux in France, and he recently put out his debut album titled “AM.” In an interview for Progarchy, Guillaume speaks about the album’s creative process, his view on the modern prog scene, and more.
Hey Guillaume. How are you doing?
Good, thank you. A bit tired tonight. The news in France have been quite terrible lately and it’s hard to stay focus on a daily routine, it’s a bit stressful. But I feel good enough to answer to your questions.
You released “AM” recently. How do you feel about the release?
I feel relieved and anxious. It’s a very peculiar feeling to share a project that took so long to create, and for which I have been the only “architect” most of the time. Relieved because it’s time to move on, but anxious because now I start telling myself that maybe I could have done better… But luckily, I am very satisfied by the way “AM” has been received so far. Most of the reviews notice its originality and it motivates me to produce as soon as possible “NZ”, the second half of the project. Moreover, having reviews enables me to cut the cord with this first part which was, as I said earlier, long and intense. But the relief is bigger than the anxiety. ☺
How much of a challenge was it to work on the album?
The production of this album has been a serial of challenges: the preparation, the writing, the recording, the mixing, the artwork…. It has been quite difficult to deal with all of that, because of a constraining concept. I’ve been quite ambitious when I started it, and it has been some hard work to follow through, especially because “NZ”, the second part of the project is going to be crazier than AM. At the end, I think the bigger challenge was to keep on going with the idea to write the lyrics of the song with the concept I chose. It took me 4 years and I have to confess I doubted many times. But now AM is finished, I can’t question it anymore. So the challenge with NZ will be to offer new things with the same concept.
How is the progressive rock/metal scene in Bordeaux these days?
I don’t think that Bordeaux is particularly a progressive rock city. I said “I think” because I don’t really know about the musical scene in Bordeaux, so I could be wrong. I went a few times to the festival “Crescendo” which has been taking place next to Bordeaux for quite some time, and which has welcomed some high profile bands. There is as well some good associations including one called Eclipse that makes a lot for the prog rock around here. Otherwise I discovered the band Seven Eyed Crow lately and I found them quite impressive. I haven’t listened to their album yet but I will because what I heard from them was very good.
What is your opinion about the new wave of progressive bands?
I have mixed feelings about it. Some bands are really interesting, but it seems to me that the big majority of bands nowadays try to sound like some other big bands we know.
The technical level is impressive, the production is usually very good, but I don’t know, I feel like not a lot of them take risks. Some of them do it though, like Leprous, which albums are exemplary. I remember liking two albums by Indukti but I don’t know what they’re doing at the moment. I’m interested by Shaolin Death Squad music, even if they stay close to their obvious influences, which put them at the edge of the so called progressive music.
I love Twelve Foot Ninja and Jolly. Both Audio guides to happiness are amazing. I thought that the album of Circle of Illusions was really well done. Haken is quite remarkable too. In France, the band 6:33 is terrific. I find the Djent movement quite boring even if the intentions seem good. Moreover the actual representatives of the strictly prog rock or progressive metal movements tend to get a bit tired. Steven Wilson keeps on doing Steven Wilson (his album hand.cannot.erase seems to have been made in autopilot), Riverside is getting more and more conventional (although Duda is doing some amazing music with Lunatic Soul), Dream Theater sounds used to the bone, Flowers Kings keep on looking backwards, Anathema seem like they found a good balance but give the impression that they’re satisfied about it, etc.… I think that some more interesting bands are not well mediatised. I’m more interested in bands like Screaming Headless Torsos. It is more related to fusion music but they take more risks.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
They are numerous and varied. But the main ones are Devin Townsend, Mike Patton, and Pink Floyd. I’ll add King Crimson and Magma as well. A journalist, (Luca Biela from Clair&Obscur) evoked Frank Zappa when he reviewed AM. I never thought of Zappa as one of my main influences but I actually think it’s quite accurate. Especially because I listened to Joe’s Garage again and again through the years. However I think I’m more influenced by the artistic approach they have to composing music than by their actual music.
What are you listening these days?
I listen to my Shazam playlist on Spotify, with some weird things and some pop songs. I’m thinking in particular of the song “unstoppable” by Dianne LaHavas. So beautiful. My son listens to Cars soundtrack, so I do too! ☺
Your five favourite records of all time?
I can give you 3 without hesitating: Devin Townsend’s Infinity, Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the moon, and Mr Bungle by Mr Bungle. I think those albums gather innovation, emotion, technique, and are perfectly constructed. After that, well, I would probably say a Robert Wyatt’s, Rock Bottom maybe, and a King Crimson’s (Discipline or Red?!) I consider that Sunsets on Empire by Fish is close to be a masterpiece, if it wasn’t for the song “Change of heart”, which is a bit under the rest of the album I think.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you used to record “AM”?
I recorded most of the album on Cubase. I’ve been using this software for the past 20 years… and all the different versions were very effective. I used the Korg Triton for the main keyboards, and I linked it with some plugins from Native Instruments, Komplete more specifically. I used my good old Gibson Les Paul and an Ibanez Sabre S2020X with Piezzo Microphones for the guitars. I played a Takamine for the acoustic parts. Then, for the guitars effects, I mixed hardware and software. Lexicon’s Mpxg2, or Guitar Rig and amplitube. But I’ll try to renew all that for “NZ”.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
Yes. My priority is “NZ” which is the following of “AM”. I will produce as well another album that will be called “One Sweet Hand”, which should be easier and quieter. I would like to compose it with my brother Rémy who is very talented. But I think he’s doing his own projects at the moment so we’ll see. I might try to plan a unique concert that will gather AM and NZ, but only in a year or two, something very festive.
Any words for the potential new fans?
First of all, thank you for reading the whole interview. I am a bit talkative, but I hope you will feel like giving a try and listen to my album “AM”. The album as well is quite talkative, in a good way I hope. ☺
Visit The Odd Gallant’s official website, and buy “AM” from the webstore.