Pluie/Noir Interscapes 03
Welcome to the new Pluie/Noir podcast series, Interscapes. 8 years after our debut we decided to press the reboot button and return to our roots. With a new format and back to a regular monthly schedule, Pluie/Noir Interscapes will feature audio collages, mixes, live interviews and live recordings from P/N artists, friends, and other collectives we admire.
Because less is more, instead of the usual triptych format, this series will feature one single visual interpretation of the music by a graphic artist. The artwork will be available to purchase in poster format on our rebooted Bandcamp page very soon, with cassettes or CD-r of the mixes as a bonus. For Interscapes 03 we welcome Shōen 荘園, the very talented French artist behind the upcoming album on PNEM04, with a visual interpretation by in-house designer & head honcho, Max Binski. You can learn more about them right here:
INTERVIEW — SHOEN
Hi Samy, such a pleasure to have you at P/N. How have you been?
I’m good. It’s nice to finally get out of quarantine and enjoy the beach, even though I did somehow enjoy this period due to the nice and calm atmosphere it provided me: it was nice the hear the birds singing for once, and I spent more time on digging music, creating and talking with the people that I love.
What is Shōen about?
Shoen was initially a joint project together with my mate Pazu, but he recently left the project so he could focus on both his law studies and his main music output, which is mostly dancefloor-oriented.
We choose this name for its meaning in Japanese. We thought that the deeds of ownership for the plots and the classification of agricultural land were a beautiful metaphor for music nowadays.
“there’s also some degree of self-induced artistic pressure, taking into consideration how old this music style actually is and how many excellent musicians have and are exploring this genre”
Is ambient music your main focus? Why?
In my opinion, its the perfect music style. There’s an enormous feeling of freedom, and I feel it especially when DJ’ing ambient music: there’s no bpm, just an overall tone to respect, and it’s the best feeling in the world. But on the other hand, there’s also less room for improvisation and demands mixes to be prepared extremely well.
Production-wise, creating ambient and experimental music is very different from producing something like micro-house (something I used to do a few years ago). Here this feeling of freedom is a bit harder to manage, especially when you want to reach specific results.
Locking a certain feeling to a loop is the easiest way to finish a track, but to achieve something nice,
arrangement and mixing require a lot of my attention. It’s a totally different challenge. But there’s also some degree of self-induced artistic pressure, taking into consideration how old this music style actually is and how many excellent musicians have and are exploring this genre, backed up by copious amounts of music theory knowledge. It keeps me humble, and constantly realizing that I still have a lot of hard work to do, every day.
Very cool DJs and producers surfaced over the past years. Huerco S, DJ Special Guest, Tau Contrib and Ulla Strauss come to mind. I think they are the future of the genre, showing the world that something extremely interesting is happening in the ambient scene.
You think the growing interest in ambient music is a natural response to the sociopolitical chaos we live in?
To be honest, I’m not really aware of how much the ambient music scene is growing because I’m totally lost in it. I’m not even sure how it was before, so my terms of comparison are low. But I do think people who have spent long periods in clubs and want to find something other than “boom boom” can find something soothing and contemplative in ambient.
Everybody is different. I know a lot of young people interested in ambient music because of its psychedelic and calm nature. I think everybody has a very specific relationship with this kind of music because it’s not something you can hear everywhere. You do need to make your own research, find artists and labels on your own, explore the scene and see what agrees with your body, mind and soul. I secretly hope this music style will grow exponentially, as listening to it in a festival is a remarkably pleasant experience.
“Everybody is different. I know a lot of young people interested in ambient music because of its psychedelic and calm nature.”
You are PNEM’s next release. What can you tell us about its creation, from the gear used to your narrative choices?
I arranged and produced this album in one week, and I think it was right when I was about to complete my modular rack at the time. My rack has already changed quite a bit since then so I don’t really remember what I used for the album, but I did a lot of recordings with the modular. And the organelle!
I usually record a lot of stuff before doing arrangements. I’m recordings like, every day, maybe for a month. Then I dig into all of my samples and recordings and choose what I want to work with. There’s definitely a lot of production and post-production on the computer: days of sampling and re-sampling.
Regarding musical narration itself, I have a particular focus. I mostly work instinctively, without pressure. I wanted to make an album and not “just one more song”, so I had to dig into every facet of my personality, from the darkest to the brightest. I think you will hear this on the album.
Why, when and how did you record this podcast?
I recorded this mix one year ago, without any particular purpose. I had just found some tracks I thought could go along together in an interesting way. After a long meditation session, I felt ready and just recorded. I remember it was a hot summer afternoon so I had to open the windows and at some points, birds came to listen and sing over the mix. It was really a beautiful afternoon.
“I usually record a lot of stuff before doing arrangements. I’m recordings like, every day, maybe for a month. “
You’re a hypnotherapist, how does this entangle with ambient music and it’s psychological effects?
Music is a vehicle for feelings and emotion, it also reflects on the energy fields that make your body feel certain things. These reflections are stronger on Tibetan bowls for example, but you can feel them on any music style. That’s what generates the so-called “goosebumps” effect when a song resonates with you.
This is a really complex question. I think I will answer it in more detail in an article for Rings of Neptune.
Short, medium and long term goals?
Collaborate and meet people involved in ambient and experimental music. Organise an ambient rave. I will continue to invite more DJs to my ambient experimental radio show called Cosmic Connexion. In the long term, Cosmic Connexion records should be born.
I will keep on meditating, and build my house in Aubrac which is a great area in France. Google it. And I’ll keep producing every day of course, and release a new album, experiment further.
— X —
INTERVIEW — MAX BINSKI