I like to talk about what inspire artists. I think that, as an artist, it’s important for me to always be looking around me. What happens in the world, what I can take from the world. It just make what I do more interesting and fun to do. I don’t like to do the same stuff over and over again, neither I see the point of doing everything exactly the same all the time.
When people ask me who or what inspire me, or which bands I take inspiration from, I just have a hard time to answer and usually I answer with “Life!”. That sounds a lot like a bohemienne-style answer or something philosophically hipster, but it’s just the true and I’m not trying to play the complex artist.
I do think that there are people and bands that inspire a musician. I don’t believe it when someone says that they don’t take inspiration from anyone, I don’t see that possible. At the same time I believe that inspiration stops where your mind and your creativity kick in, and that you carry along the inspiration you had when you first started making music.
When I was a teen, I started to play guitar before to switch to bass. I’ve never been a great fan of playing other people’s songs. I did it, sure, to get my hands around the neck and be able to play chords and notes properly, but I’d say that I started to write my own music right away. My very first song had very complex (and probably atonal) chords because I didn’t really know proper chords, and so I came up with my own.
However, I did play other artists music to learn the bare minimum. I played Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and also Nirvana and Metallica. But on the top of them all I would say Black Sabbath, because their riffs were easy to play and melodic and heavy at the same time – I’ve never learnt solos because I’ve never been into lead guitar – and I think that it shaped me out in terms of songwriting and style.
When I listen to my song “Supernatural” from Caleb’s Curse I can’t help but imagine Toni Iommi playing that riff, with all the due respect. It’s been almost 20 years now but still as of today the way I think about heavy guitars is a lot in terms of melodic riffs and heaviness. And it’s always been like that, even 5 or 10 years ago. Now obviously when you listen to my music hopefully you don’t say that it’s very Black Sabbath.
Same thing with bass guitar. I started playing bass because of Massive Attack but my school was The Cure’s Simon Gallup’s style. I loved the fact that this guy were able to play only one or two riffs that sat perfectly throughout the whole song. Simple, but really efficient. And I love the metallic, edgy, clangy sound of the bass. I adopted this style, especially when I played in Nine Tears and it’s still now probably my favourite style of playing. But also, you wouldn’t say that I sound like The Cure.
It’s interesting, however, to analyse this. “Supernatural” isn’t Black Sabbath at all aside from guitar riffs. What lies underneath the guitar is something light years away. That’s because I’ve had other influences and I blended them together. That’s were my creativity kicked in.
Now I’m set in this way pretty much. Instinctively, I tend to play guitars and bass in that way and also that influences the style of my music whenever I compose. But if I did the same thing for 20 years I would get bored and wouldn’t find music interesting anymore, and so I need other influences.
The fact that I’m able to create my music at home and that I’m alone in this, allows me to be the boss, so I can choose what to do and what not to do. A lot of that comes from my interests at the moment, the music I listen – which by the way is always different – and also what happens in my life. When I listen to my previous albums I can exactly pinpoint which artists I was into and how I felt during that time. For example, when I made “Dreams Hopes and Visions” I was very happy and used to listen to The Sisters of Mercy a lot. Also, I was playing guitar a lot with the drum machine just like I was rehearsing with a drummer. I can see all of that in that album.
I like to consider albums and songs in general like postcard to my future self.
I’m not afraid to change things up, or sometimes to completely turn them upside down. I have phases in my life. There are times when I’m more interested into photography or art or painting, when I devour TV series or movies, and then I follow something else for a few months. And since I consider myself an artist, I don’t want my art to be part of my life but rather the opposite. I want my life to be part of my art. I want my art to be the mirror of my life. I want life to creep into my art and my songs. I took that approach from Alison Mosshart, singer of The Kills. I heard her once saying something like this:
When we started our band, we didn’t want our music to be into our lives. We wanted our lives to be into our music.
(Alison Mosshart, singer of The Kills)
When I read it, I said “Yes, THAT!”. One day I might be all for extreme metal and the next day I might listen to ambient music all day long. That’s okay. I know that all of this will eventually end up on my music. That’s okay, and probably that’s why my albums have different attitudes and maybe sounds.
It’s who I am. It’s me.
But I can’t do that without taking inspiration from what is around me.
Take a look around you. Look at your life. You might think it’s all rubbish, but everything is constantly interacting with you and shaping your artistic feeling. Your pain and your sorrow is never vain, there’s always a way you can use your pain to change or create something good out of it. Also in your art. If you can take advantage of that, your suffering won’t have been vain.