Interview with CyLeW
When I was 12 I had a serious crush on Cherie Currie of The Runaways and dreamt of one day getting married to her, however life had other plans for me and when I was 17 I was knocked out after having seen the video of Kim Wilde´s Kids in America in 1981, now there was my future wife. But in 1986 I met the love of my life and we´re still together, but that doesn´t stop me for "falling in love" in an artist that has the power to reach your heart with her music and lyrics. That artist is CyLeW from Paris, France. Thanks to my friend Philippe who gave me the tip, I have now a copy of her new album "Black lace prophecy" and was lucky to get an interview with this beloved singer/songwriter.
Hi there, your new album "Black lace prophecy" is finally out but it has taken 4 years since the debut "Not so sleeping, not so beauty" (2008). Why did it take so long?
CyLeW-Hello Kaj. Yes it took a while. I wanted to take my time, I had no rush and no pressure. I wrote all the songs during that period and went in studio on and off to work on this new album. It wasn't a planned process. Then it sketched up and became more precise. I was still trying to make the first album live. I traveled a lot during this period and I'm guessing we can feel the different moves on the record. I just did not want to rush it. People always talk about the second album as being a turning point and it was for me on different levels. Be it the songwriting in itself, the technology I used to work my demos, and the general feel of my life throughout the timespan. And then the actual record was ready and done almost a year ago, the rest of the work (not music) took some time too.
"Black lace prophecy" is a bit of a concept album with a story that feels a bit sci-fi, I read it and I love the story. Could be a motion picture, perhaps you should sell it to Hollywood?
CyLeW-Yes, this new album can be seen as a concept album if you take the short-story in. I did not want it to be forced. Those who only want to listen to the album without the story are not influenced by it and the album stands for itself. But those who want the parallel universe can experience it on both the story and the music, there are two "readings" to this album.
I have been and still am writing a novel aside from this project. I found it interesting to mix both into one. At first it was for fun and then it took over and found it's place within the project. I also liked the idea of having something special in the booklet, not just the lyrics and photos but like an old handwritten diary one would find and go through.
Ha ! Yes I should sell it if Hollywood is interested ;) ! I am planning to make a novel out of it after I finish the novel I am working on now.
I have listened to the debut album "Not so sleeping, not so beauty" on Spotify and I think the new album sound richer, it´s better produced and the songs feel more nuanced on "Black lace prophecy". The first album feels more raw and naked, what´s your thoughts on this?
CyLeW-Yes, "Not so sleeping, not so beauty" was more of an opening and transitional album. Let me explain. I had been touring and playing these songs for years (10 years for some) and I found myself stuck in that place. I wanted to give them a resting place, like a photo album that you would place on the shelf for your children and grand-children to discover. This was my first studio experience and I was not used to all of it. We decided to keep things raw, live and with no artifact. The title reflects that. The other side of the fairy-tale, the passage to adulthood. Making this album was opening a new door. Many of the songs I had written were very personal, I was getting over traumas throughout that time. I did not want to have this dimension follow me throughout my songwriting. It took me some time to re-direct myself in this. As you know habits are hard to break, and it is the same with music.
I needed and wanted the new album to be in a way contrary to the first, be it in the global visual aspect as well as the sounds and lyrics without altering the overall essence. "Black lace prophecy" has an open dimension on the production level as well as the writing. The collaboration with producer Arnaud Bascuñana definitely marks this album in it's sound and production compared to the first album. Even if there are difficult and important themes, it is an overall positive album. Pushing awareness and the will to fight for things that are important for the future of mankind and the planet. This fictional post-apocalyptical world is a reflection of where we are today. Why so many people talked and obsessed about the "End of the World" while we knew nothing was bound to happen, therefore we know we are in excess and that we are walking on a string.
You´re both French and American, you were born in France but grew up in USA. Do you feel you have 2 countries that you call home?
CyLeW-Yes, I am torn between both cities, I feel at home yet a stranger in both. It is complicated to explain but anyone who has lived so long in different countries feels the same way.
I have been living in Paris for a while now and have grown accustomed to it. I go back to LA every year. I love Paris and the way you can breathe in centuries of culture just by looking around you but I love the positive energy you get in LA. I am half French, half Armenian/Greek. I am glad to be mixed in cultures and in countries, it offers tolerance and open-mindedness that I am thankful for.
I hear many influences in your music such as The Cranberries, PJ Harvey, Garbage,Tori Amos and Evanescence, are they your favorite artists?
CyLeW-The Cranberries, I cannot deny, hehe. They were the trigger. An important part my childhood I was put to classical music, piano in my case. I loved music from the 60s. Then I discovered Nirvana, REM, Pearl Jam …. One morning, I was walking to school, listening to the radio on my walkman (my that sounds old) and I heard Zombie. At that precise moment I knew I wanted to do that. I went home and saved up money and bought all the Cranberries records. Then I saved money and bought a guitar, an amp, a mic and a mic stand and that was the end of it. My mother never had peace and quiet at home ever again :).
I grew out of this influence because it was too present and I needed to grow out of it to find myself, I was still very young. You have heard my major influences in Tori Amos, PJ Harvey and I need to add Placebo and a pinch of Garbage, Metallica and Portishead. I never was influenced by Evanescence as they came afterwards. I had already written most of the songs that are on the first album when they came out but I get that comparison very often.
Some of my favorite bands that I discovered on the late are Depeche Mode and Rammstein.
How does a perfect day look for you from the start in the morning to late night?
CyLeW-Hmmm, I guess getting up not too late, then having coffee, then a second coffee and maybe a third. And then opening up a ProTools blank session with my acoustic guitar, mic and my little notebook and that a good song actually comes out. Now that is a good day ! Then having a second listen before going to bed hours later and still thinking it's a good song, and a keeper.
Other than that a stress-free day walking in a natural environment like the desert, the mountains or just driving on a lonely road listening to music :)
Or just a nice conversation over coffee, red wine with friends.
Basically simple moments.
What things inspire you to write a song?
CyLeW-Various things inspire me. People, causes. Human nature in it's ugliness, it's beauty and it's paradoxes. Anything that fires the heart, the mind and soul.
The video of "Survivor" on youtube is really beautiful, will you make another video for another song on "Black lace prophecy"?
CyLeW-"Survivor" was shot in Salton Sea in California under 45 degrees Celsius, it was quite an experience and it was even a bit dangerous :) We almost lost half of the crew and gear ! Sebastien Chort did a wonderful job on this video helped by Matthieu Grospiron. Two former lighting and 3D artists at Dreamworks, both French. When Sebastien suggested Salton Sea as a location and sent me a documentary about the place it was precisely what we needed. The place is surreal and hostile. The heat, the stench, everything but so fitting.
We will be shooting a new video very soon for the second single off "Black lace prophecy". More information to come soon….
I love videos, I like participating in the storyboard, accessories etc.
I really love the song "Stop" with a synth melody in the chorus that is so cool. Did you come up with that idea in the studio or was it written before recording the song?
CyLeW-"Stop" is one of the first four set of songs written for the album. On my original demo I had a synthy-type effect on my guitar riff. When Mathieu Zub, guitar player, listened to the track and started laying guitar on it, he came up with that slightly oriental and The Cure type riff that immediately fit. The guitar has a synth-type effect on it. So the idea made it's way early on and stayed.
What would you choose between :
Paris or L.A?
CyLeW-Aghhhhhhhhh the worst question !!! I'm sorry. Well in an ideal world I would alternate three months in each :), that's the time it usually takes me to be home-sick, whichever the home.
Recording in the studio or perform live?
CyLeW-I like both but I prefer a live performance for sure !
Living alone as a millionaire for the rest of your life or together with your soulmate but with no money to talk about?
CyLeW-Can I take joker on this one ? I can't decide both are very tempting.
To survive the judgement day with a group of people and fight against zombies or being the sole survivor hiding from alien monsters taking over the planet?
CyLeW-I'll fight against the zombies … Aliens are a lot smarter and invicible ;) ! I know out of experience...
Finally, do we have to wait another 4 years for the 3rd album?
CyLeW-I hope not !!!! 3 and a half years will do it