Herbst (Lantlôs) Interviewed

.neon has been ready for more than a year now. What took so long?Herbst: There were some problems between Prophecy and my old label. But fortunately all turned out to be cool in the end. You know, it’s very frustrating, when you work so hard on something and you simply won’t get anything back. I was also about to drop the whole album, because it was so much work and it cost me so much nerves that I simply couldn’t imagine putting even more work and blood into it. But as I said, now everything’s cool and I am very satisfied.

How would you describe .neon?

Herbst: .neon is about the relation between reality and the inner core. When I was 17, my perception completely shifted. Everything I perceived was kind of blurry and “filtered”. It is as if you were watching a movie. You don’t have control over anything. It is as if you were not going [on] the same ground as others. I feel surreal. Not in a superior sense, but just that my relation to reality is wrong. The outlying impacts descend into a blurry substance that isn’t even in existence. Everything that exists is within yourself, because you only can experience yourself. I guess you won’t get an idea about what I am talking about. And it is very hard to explain it, because it is something very special. But you can imagine it as a constant feeling of having a flush. This is extremely complicated to cope with. Because everything changes. Everything is gray. There are no contrasts, no good, no bad. No happiness no sorrow. Just gray. And escape. That’s what .neon is about and how I tend to describe it.

What does the album title mean exactly?
Herbst: The title is related to the same feeling of a shifted perception of reality. It is linked to a night I was in a total delirium, very drunk and all that. And wasn’t aware of who I was, what I was and where I was. I was literally blind and totally disorientated. There were just colors of neon lights. And I felt that this moment is important in my life, because I somehow felt home. It was disembodied so to speak, just surrounded by feelings of my core. And felt really destructive and maybe because of that really good for a moment.

How did you meet Neige?
Herbst: I met Neige quite by chance to be honest. When the Amesoeurs 10” was coming out, we were finishing our first album, if I remember correctly. And of course we were in need of artwork. So I got this EP and I really liked the artwork, because it was exactly the kind I was looking for. So I just checked for the URL that was printed on the back [of the CD], without knowing who I was contacting. It turned out to be Fursy. I didn’t even know that Fursy was playing in Amesoeurs and about his close relationship to Neige. However, he liked the album, did a fantastic artwork and showed it to Neige. Via several mails we somehow found our way together. That’s basically it.

Did you know he’d be right for Lantlôs?
Herbst: [Laughs] Yes, of course. I guess we wouldn’t be working together if not. In some points we are very similar, especially when it comes to emotions and things we have experienced in our lives. To be honest, I’ve never met someone who was actually understands my music as good he does. He’s perfect for Lantlôs, because he understands what Lantlôs is about and he can stay within the theme and be creative at the same time without annoying me.

How would you describe your musical relationship with Neige?

Herbst: First of all, I have to say that I am very difficult when it comes to music. I rarely like anything and I’m extremely bored extremely fast. So, there are only a very few people I can get along with, when it comes to music. With Neige, it’s quite mixed. For example: I listen to a lot of ‘80s heavy metal and really cheesy sleaze stuff, whereas he is rather entertained about how deep I feel this music. On the other hand, I have the same thing when he tells me how much he loves Joy Division or Smashing Pumpkins. I mean of course, it’s okay he likes that stuff, but I can’t get anything out of these bands. For sure we have some bands we both like or dislike, but it’s not that we’re going hand-in-hand when it comes to our musical tastes. But if we found something we’re both in love with, I believe we can talk about it for hours.

Do you think there will be some market confusion between Alcest, Les Discrets and Lantlôs? I understand all are different from one another.
Herbst: No, I don’t think so. I think Les Discrets is absolutely not black metal. If you ask me it doesn’t even have a slight influence, so I am always quite confused why people are putting a black metal tag on it. And as I said before, I don’t think that Alcest and Lantlôs are similar. Especially when I look at the new Lantlôs material, which is still to be recorded. I guess people will understand soon. Both projects are really something different.

There’s a bit of jazz in Lantlôs. It’s most obvious in the song ‘Minusmensch’. Who are some of your favorite jazz players?
Herbst: Phew, that’s a tough question. Though I like some jazz, I’m more a fusion type of a guy. But anyway: I like some Miles Davis but that basically it. Generally, I prefer stuff like Allan Holdsworth, Fugu, but also some new jazz like for example Jaga Jazzist. But the whole jazz thing is something I’m rarely attracted by. If I’m allowed to [make] a recommendation I’d like to tell that you have to listen to Miles Davis’s “Generique” [from the film Ascenceur Pour L’Echafaud]. It’s so black and sleazy, smoky and criminal. You gotta love that! It’s like the theme for a detective waiting for his femme fatale client. In addition to the whole film noire stuff it [“Generique”] also has a slightly erotic atmosphere! It’s really great!

Do you think there’s room in Lantlôs for more jazz?
Herbst: Um, there are some jazzy parts on the new to-be recorded album, though they aren’t elementary. So I don’t know. Songs come as they come.

The vocals at the beginning of “Pulse/Surreal” reminds of singer Sade. Are you Sade fans?
Herbst: No, I didn’t even know his/her name. But I will give it a try!

Lantlôs is labeled as post-black metal. I realize you’d rather not place a tag on Lantlôs, but would you categorize it as black metal or post-black metal, whatever post-black metal means?
Herbst: No, no. I’m totally okay with post-black metal, because it means black metal and beyond. But I hate the shoegaze/post-rock black metal being used as a synonym for post-black metal, because it isn’t the same thing. I don’t consider myself to be with Lantlôs within the post-rock black metal thing, but in the post-black metal thing.

I think a lot of people fail to realize Norway’s In the Woods… may’ve pioneered the style. Heart of the Ages is like a blueprint for shoegaze/post-punkish black metal.
Herbst: To be honest, the stuff I heard of In The Woods… was almost unbearable to listen to. I really have no relation with their music. But I have to admit that I never cared of getting deeper into In The Woods….

I like how “These Nights Were Ours” soars. It’s fast, dissonant, and aggressive yet it doesn’t feel heavy and cumbersome. Care to comment on how this song came to be?

Herbst: It is obviously about love. No more comment.

“Neige De Mars” also has a fast and light feel. Are “Neige De Mars” and “These Nights Were Ours” related?

Herbst: Yes, all titles are embedded into the same theme of losing relation to reality.

There are three different languages used on the album. Was to convey the same emotions differently using three language constructs?
Herbst: The languages are of less importance. “Neige De Mars” was a misunderstanding between Neige and me. No offense, but most French people speak English very shitty and I thought it was the same with Neige. So, I translated the lyrics into French. Later, it turned out that it wasn’t such a big problem, so I kept going on in English. The lyrics of “Minusmensch” were initially written in German, but I decided to translate them afterward and use them for .neon. The only reason the title is still in German is that “Minumensch” is a composition, so there’s no proper translation or English term. By the way, it means something like Opposite-Human or Negative-Human.

** Lantlôs’s .neon is out now on Prophecy Productions/Lupus Lounge. Order here.