Chrysalide are a highly creative electronic/industrial trio from France founded by brothers Arco and Syco Trauma. In 2002, the duo created Audiotrauma, a collective/label set up to support the industrial scene in France. They had their first release as Chrysalide in 2005 with the “LOST EP” and added a third member, Amnesy, in 2009. Their use of distorted vocals initially brings to mind Skinny Puppy; fans of that band would definitely want to check out Chrysalide, but musically they really have a sound all their own. It’s extremely heavy, with a powerful, raw edge to it. Chrysalide don’t overpower things with too many layers of sound, and the minimalism just adds to the intensity. In an email interview, Arco, Syco and Amnesy talk about their new album “Personal Revolution,” history of the band, and more.
Could you talk about Audiotrauma a bit? How did it initially come together? Had you already been working on the music that would become Chrysalide when it started, or did it perhaps inspire this project? What is the current status of Audiotrauma?
Arco: We created Audiotrauma Records in 2002 with a bunch of friends and musicians. At first we created it because the industrial scene in France was very small. And it was the only way to play and release records. We had to learn to do everything by ourselves even cope with financial failures. Especially when we decide to organise the biggest french industrial festival : the noxious art fest. Of course Chrysalide project was born right into this. It stemmed from all those industrial, idm, hardcore, breakcore, electrodark …. influences.
(Today, i’m not into audiotrauma anymore. For the moment i prefer to work with label such as ant-zen, jarring effects or Dependent. Work on my own label is really tiring, it takes up a lot of energy. Being independent is a really consuming activity. I personally need other people to believe in me.)
Syco: It was a collective adventure at the beginning, now I do continue the fight alone´, while Chrysalide is now signed to European label Dependent. I am not really alone to be honest, cause Arco and Amnesy still continue to collaborate with me for mastering and visuals.
Arco is a bit frustrated about the human experience, but i still believe in the french artists. everywhere we go, people tell us that the french sound is special, and I do agree with them. Let the future tell us what will happen.
How did the making of “Personal Revolution” compare to previous releases? Did you have ideas of what you wanted to do/accomplish with the album before starting work?
Arco: We wanted to make the whole recording process more introspective, we wanted to question ourselves, to grow up, to move on. So the music was not as much work as the vocals. The album includes a lot of pain and fighting, and it took a lot of energy, but now listening to it, I think you can hear it, as it has a lot of heart and energy. We simply needed more space, more simplicity, like a girlfriend without make-up that asks you “do you still love me?”.
Syco: The two oldest albums we have a VERY aggressive and partially hard-hitting and disharmonic. This one is more song oriented, and some people think we tried to be more commercial. But that is not true. We were free to do what we want, and as Arco says, we needed to do it exactly the way we did it, we needed to move to evolve. It was that or it would have been the end of the band. It’s an involved and no borders project, after all its called Chrysalide. The 3 of us, we are different and complementary to each other, but it also comes at a cost. We ask a lot of sacrifices from each other. It’s like in a couple you know, love and hate is still not to far all the times. We needed a turning point and Personal Revolution was the right way for us to take it.
Amnesy: To be honest, once we were done with “Don’t Be Scared, It’s About Life” we could have done one million of these kind of tracks right after it was finished. But we decided to let the time pass, to grow in terms of musical ideas, and to evolve in style. We learned about ourselves. Personal Revolution is a testament to what we feel today when we look in the mirror or when we look at those we love.
“Personal Revolution” is also the name of a track, but what made you chose to use it as the album title?
Arco: The title was the first step, the first brick of the building. We needed a strong theme to motivate us. And the title track itself came later. I think it was actually the last track we recorded. And it is the final track of the album. As kind of a conclusion.
Syco: To be honest I was being the biggest problem of the band just before we started to work on Personal Revolution. I was too sensitive, too angry and too self destructive. I was on the wrong way, I was on the fall. So after some chaotic shows and because i realised that i would loose my main reason to live, i proposed to the guys to work on this concept. I also realised that the most of our audience was like me: Depressed, self destructive and haunted by an indefinite anger. I thought that we could also use this idea to share our experience with our fans. We are not fucking cursed my friends.
What is the creative process like between the members of Chrysalide? To what extent do you collaborate in terms of songwriting/composition?
Arco: Syco is more into the lyrics, the themes, the concept, the storytelling, Yoann is more about the style, the form, the design and i’m more into the music composition, the mixing and the mastering.
Syco: Arco is right, but of course each of us does participate in all of the domains.
Amnesy: In fact we all do a bit of everything. You have an idea for a visual, let’s take it, you want to do a demo song? Let’s try. We have no limits in our collaboration. We all three are very involved in the creative concept of Chrysalide.
We all interact in all the areas. But as you can imagine it can become a big mess, so we have set some “responsibilities process”, each of us has the “last word” on a particular domain. Syco guarantees the global concept, to keep on the right way. Arco is the guarantor of the main composition aspect and I guarantee our visual identity. I also like to work on sound design, then we spend a lot of time with Arco on it. In the end we have an album record that looks and sounds like us.
Do you ever consciously think about how your influences might come through in your music? For example, I sense a strong Skinny Puppy influence and wonder if thought goes into incorporating elements that you like while still sounding unique. Or do you not worry about things like that, and simply make the music you want ?
Arco: We’re inspired by all kinds of music. There’s no limits for us. We just looking for something exciting, strong and fresh. We don’t really think about what it sounds like. We would like it minimal, electronic and varied. But believe me we do not try to copy any band deliberately.
What type of equipment set-up do you use for recording? Are there any pieces of gear or software that you think are particularly important for your sound and/or creative process?
Arco: We use basic professional equipment. But we spend A LOT of time on the actual sound design. Not matter what gear you use, it depends of how you use it. How much time you are willing to put into it makes a difference. I’m not a synth collector. I’m not really into gear porn. I just try to assimilate a lot of different techniques each day, and use the equipment that I have creatively.
Amnesy: In fact we all three started from nothing with all our disruptive elements. In the past we were tweaking a lot in our bedrooms, we learned all the techniques by ourselves. Today, we are still tweaking but being a bit more resourceful, with better equipment and our overall experience. But we still have a lot to learn.
You’re known for putting on strong live shows. For those who have heard your music but haven’t had a chance to see you play, how would you describe the live experience ?
Arco: We try to make it massively energetic and try to share this energy directly with the audience. This is the most intense moment for us. We try to share a kind of violent expressiveness. Sometimes it is hard to go back to real life after the gig, it feels surreal.
Syco: We are quite naked, in the literal and figurative sense. We are simply true.
Amnesy: It is a place where you feel good, it’s our moment, for you and to us. It can sometimes feel cold or sometimes very warm. We try to break the barrier between band and audience on the stage. We reinterpret existing tracks, we add intros or outros, you can always hear something that does not happen in the original cd track. We like to play also exclusives titles, from compilations or other stuff. Keep it varied.
As it does use a lot of electronics, do you feel that there have been any challenges in adapting your music to the live setting? Or do you think about live presentation as you create?
Arco: It is always a challenge for us. And our tracks and playlists are changing all the time. We try to regularly change details when we debrief on the road. The live show is a living form for us compare to the album. It is a way to experiment with new stuff. That is what it makes it so exciting.
Syco: I always ponder about the live settings for our shows. We have already thought many times to play with a guitar player or a drummer, but it could be better or worse, so we prefer for the moment to choose the efficient way at the moment. But you can be sure that we will try out some new experiences.
Are you still based in France? What is the music scene like there for this style of music?
Arco: Yes, we’re still living in France near the german border. To be honest, there is very little scene here for this kind of music. The french people just don’t understand this hybrid sound. It is much more popular in Germany, in Belgium, in Tcheque Republic, in USA or Canada. Except when we play in Paris. We’ve always have a good welcome there. I do not really know why.
Syco: I do not totally agree with Arco. There is probably a scene in France for this kind of alternative music (remember the free techno movement, they were a lot, and it was closer to Madmax than Trance style) I think France is a bit different than Germany, England or other industrial countries. A french sociologist called it: ” Paris and the french desert”. People from Marseille dont’ meet very often people from Britain you know… the center of this country is like a no man’s land. we don’t have industrial scene like in Germany or England, we don’t have big animated cities like in USA or Canada. I think it’s the reason why the scene looks very small.
Are the members of Chrysalide currently involved in other musical projects?
Arco: Of course, I’m working on my solo project “Sonic Area”. I play all over the Europe and I am actually working on a brand new album.
Syco: I do a side project with my friend Martin from Hologram_ called Republik of Screens. We have started to think about a new RECORD. It Is hard to meet each other so we can not give you a schedule for this release just yet.
Amnesy: I will try to do something new beside Chrysalide. Not easy for me but a new limit to reach. Wait and see.
What made you decide to cover “‘Another Brick in the Wall’” for the “Don’t Be Scared, It’s About Life” album?
Arco: We talked about it since many many years and one day we simply made it. Another Brick in The Wall Chrysalide Style. And it worked better than we expected, especially live. However, we made it very quickly without thinking too much. But the people want it all the time. So it slowly became kind of one of our trademark “hit songs” for our live shows.
What is in the immediate future for Chrysalide? What are your touring plans? Will you be coming to America?
Arco: We are actually working on it. It is a bit early to tell you more.
Syco: Yes we really hope to meet all of you during the Tour. It will be probably the bigger and the most international tour we have ever done. So I see you there, my friends….