Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Lys Noir is a great album (Ed: Jason’s review is here). It’s the band’s first album in four years. Does it mark a significant development for Monarque?
Monarque: Hi Jason. It has been a while since the last full-length indeed, but I have kept myself quite busy. There was significant development mainly during the recording process. It is the first time that we used a professional studio to record the drums, and it sure makes a huge difference. There is also a bit more keyboard that on previous releases, and it really adds to the overall atmosphere of the album. I am in constant spiritual development, and this also affects all that I do.
Jason: How did you approach composition for the album? Did you have an idea of how you wanted the album to sound or did that take shape as the tracks were being developed?
Monarque: The essence of Lys Noir was composed in 2011, and immortalized on the demo tape La Mort. Being active with other bands slowed me down a bit, but it also gave the songs time to mature. I had a specific idea of how I wanted the album to sound. It had to be a reflection of the art I like most, without being pure plagiarism. It had to echo 1994, and the glorious days of Scandinavian black metal, yet retaining my personal touch. I composed all the guitars and bass back in 2011. Rough drum tracks were done in our rehearsal space. The following year, drums were professionally recorded during summer, while all the rest was re-recorded in winter. All the keyboards were added by my comrade of Sorcier Des Glaces, who also mixed and mastered the album. He definitely pinpointed the perfect sound and production for Lys Noir.
Jason: Is there a philosophy or an ideology that drives the material, both musically and lyrically? And how does it manifest itself in your compositions?
Monarque: Monarque is a vessel for all things dark and the cult of Death. What drives the material and all I do is integrity. Instinct. Putting my soul into what I do. When done the right way, you can feel that in all forms of art.
Jason: What are the lyrical themes? Is there a conceptual link across the album?
Monarque: The album stands as a whole, but the songs could also be enjoyed on their own. Like I mentioned before, death is definitely the main lyrical theme in Monarque, as is the devil. It used to be focused more on blasphemy in the past, but I do not think it is still relevant now. Artists have been bashing religions for years now, and it does not really have any shock value anymore, nor real point, since nobody cares. Churches are closing here, since they are empty. I chose to focus on death, the universal truth. Songs on Lys Noir are talking about the eulogy of murder, satanic rituals and spiritism, reaching the other side…
Jason: There are a number of bands for whom English isn’t their first language yet choose to write in English. Why do you choose to write lyrics in French?
Monarque: Yes, there are indeed too many bands who are aiming for “fame” and chose English instead of their mother tongue. I think it’ stupid. If your songs are that good, someone somewhere will translate the lyrics. I chose to express myself in French since the beginning of this project, because it is an important part of who I am. “Bigger” bands like Taake have always used their language too, for example. I am proud of my cultural heritage, and it is a facet of it that will always be a part of Monarque. It’s just about being authentic.
Jason: Why did you choose to cover Frozen Shadows’ ‘Au Seuil des Ténèbres’?
Monarque: This was made as a tribute to Québec’s oldest black metal band! Myrkhaal is also a close friend and I have been a huge fan of Frozen Shadows for years. They have a flawless discography, and few bands from Québec have been able to match the brutality vs. atmosphere of Frozen Shadows.
Jason: Bardunor is playing drums on the album and you’ve also brought in Atheos on guitar and organ. In the past, you’ve mostly recorded all of the instruments yourself and, until recently, used a drum machine. Why did you choose to work with these two musicians on this record? What do they bring to the band and the music? Were they involved in the writing?
Monarque: Those comrades have been playing with me live since a long time. I do not have the talent to play drums like Bardunor does. I believe he is the perfect match for my music. I composed the whole thing and he did the drums. It was a pleasure to have Atheos involved too, since he is a close friend and has been supporting me since the early days. He recorded the rythmic guitars for the album. When done well, drum machines can be okay, but if I have the choice I will definitely go for real drums anytime. It is the case in the band since 2010.
Jason: How did you come to work with Sepulchral Productions? And why did you choose to work with them for the release of your material?
Monarque: Sepulchral has been helping me out especially with live gigs since I started to tour. We have been friend for years, and he does an excellent job with bands on his roster. This was a natural choice really. The Québec scene is quite small and everyone is in touch with each other. Sepulchral and me have been partners for gigs organisations and collaborate often on all kinds of black metal-related projects.
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork for the album and what it represents?
Monarque: The artwork was drawn by Parisian artist Maxime Taccardi. He is a very talented and passionate individual. He also uses a lot of his own blood in his drawings, which is original and also makes it all more personal. The artwork symbolizes the end of the world. The skull represents our planet, while the shadow pointing on it is the anti-Christ, or death. The red (made with Maxime’s blood) circle is encompassing the whole thing with occult symbols.
Jason: Since 2009’s Ad Nauseum, you’ve released a number of splits with other bands (Neige et Noirceur, Evil Wrath, Crépuscule, and Sorcier des Glaces) Why did you choose those bands? Do you feel that they complement Monarque?
Monarque: I do split releases with bands that I like, but foremost people I respect. I have been in touch with those involved in all the bands you mentioned, and know them personally. The exception would be Shatraug (of Sargeist / Horna / Behexen fame; Monarque/Mortualia split), that I have not met yet, but I shall this autumn. We have traded and been in touch for a while too. I would not say that those bands complement Monarque, but we have a mutual respect, and that is very important.
Jason: You’ve also released two live albums (in very limited numbers), 2009’s Traditions, Blasphèmes et Sacrifices and 2011’s Under The Black Sun. Why did you choose to release those particular performances?
Monarque: The 2009 tape was more of a “souvenir” for me and people involved in our live beginnings. That’s why it was so limited. Plus, Monarque was not really known at that time, so the limitation made sense then. Under The Black Sun is an accomplishment I am really proud of. Monarque was the first Québecois Black Metal band to tour in Europe, and being invited to this prestigious festival was an honour.
Jason: Many argue that black metal has become commercial in the sense that, because anyone can access the music, the true spirit of black metal has become diluted and dulled. Do you agree? And do you think black metal can ever retain the potency it once had?
Monarque: I partially agree. The genre is more accepted because of the bigger bands, yes, but there is still an underground scene that is alive and well. As long as there will be passionate individuals, devoted to the art form that is black metal and that they put their heart and soul into it, the black flame will burn strong.
Jason: What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene? Do you think that because of the ease of making music available, the internet has affected the quality of music?
Monarque: It has affected quality of music; that is a certainty. Now every shit band can pollute the internet with its music. No need for studios with all the downloadable plugins, and any talentless guy can take advantage of that. I miss the pre-internet time, really. Fortunately, there are still a few people who believe in trading, that the artworks is still very important, and that music takes time and soul. It is not just fast-food for the ears.
Jason: Because of music being readily available in digital formats, what’s your opinion of the digital era?
Monarque: I am a nostalgic, and would pick tapes and vinyl over CD and digital anytime!
Jason: Because of the internet, the underground appears to be less underground as it’s now easily accessible. Is it the modern version of tape-trading?
Monarque: No. The real underground exists, but it is NOT on the metal-archives forum or whatever. There is still a lot of tape-trading going on, and devoted people are still carrying the flame of what once was sacred.
Jason: What does the future hold for Monarque? Is there music in the pipeline? Any plans for shows?
Monarque: If all goes according to plan, we will be back on stage in 2014. The next release is a 4-way split with Québec’s black metal elite: Forteresse, Csejthe and Chasse-Galerie.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Monarque: Thanks for your support! Hail Satan! Hail Death!