To speak of Franck Vigroux is to speak of multidisciplinary experimentation - he is an artist with a sound like few others. Great soundscapes that range from the most palpable tension and agony to the recreation of sound spaces are in abundance via the tireless creativity of the French artist. We are very lucky to be able to interview him and talk about his next album, entitled Matériaux, which will be out 21st April on vinyl, and is out now on Bandcamp.
- Hi Frank - how do you feel?
- We are aware of your enormous career in sound composition in many aspects and through the years. How did this interest in sound creation begin?
I was playing guitar since years when i began to add some particular fx to my pedalboard such as moog Ring modulator, if i remember well, which is a more common tool in electroacoustic music than in « guitar music ». So It’s probably during these experimentations that i understood music was not only harmony and rhythm, but also sound … ! Well i knew it, but i was not interested so far in sound exploration.. . Then I started to play with turntables and reel to reel tape recorder, sampler etc...
- Is it fair to say you are a big fan of using the guitar in your work? Any reason why?
Not at all , I don’t use guitar or very rarely, the last time I recorded with a guitar was for my album Ciment, there’s also guitar on one track in Peau froide léger soleil with Mika Vainio. Ciment was only guitar, recorded with a 50€ instrument very primitive. I should also mention I played guitar on a piece commissioned to Phil Niblock Noizzze that was recently released, otherwise that’s all ,but who knows, maybe later…
- Experimenting within modern composition is a tool that you handle very well. What leads you to take an idea and develop it in order to carry out a project?
There’s no rules, I like to alternate between forms, to compose a series of short 4 mn tracks with beats and melody is as challenging as a to compose a 30’ sophisticated abstract composition, it simply has different aims and functions. It often starts with the sound itself and how I organize my work. For instance I have some periods dedicated to research, to collect and classify sounds, it’s often when I want to start a new project or when another is « over », or when I’m motivated to compose with a new sound. Then I make choices with the sound materials I have produced in studio; most of the time fragments are more to make « beat oriented music », while longer sounds with their own characteristics colors etc. are dedicated to becoming elements of abstract and longer pieces. - Within the creative process - using a song like Matériaux X on your new album - what leads you to develop a composition like this and what do you want to express? Well I just had a listen to Materiaux X… and now I remember exactly how I did this one, I often abuse clusters/glissendi such as the one at the beginning, it is very dramatic, and recalls those Ligeti or Penderecky orchestral « wall of sound », I think I’ve made it with a cheap keyboard or something, the other part is something I also like to use in my own way which is sidechaining chords with compressor distortions. So basically there’s was two musical ideas, at the end it gives this dramatic wall of sound. When I compose I don’t think about a particular concept or rarely but of course it’s in my subconcious! The music you like to listen to is synonymous with how you see the universe, for musicians and artists in general their work is deeply linked to how they see or feel the universe, even if they are not always conscious about that.
- Speaking within the creative process, I sense improvisation in your works. Are you more in favor of improvisation over having everything programmed or having everything programmed and leaving some parts to improvisation? It is not really a subject to me as I improvised all my life whatever I was playing blues, free improv or with modular synth etc, but improvisation has never been an end to itself, but languages among languages. Improvising is not a well-understood notion, it is a tool for composition since the beginning of humanity, for those who want to understand it is better to compare it to the speaking and learning of a language: before you start speaking you have to learn alphabet, grammar, vocabular etc otherwise you will not be able to express anything clear and to communicate, it will be only borborygmi. Composing and improvising is the almost the same, you add a sound to another and if you like it well you add another etc and then you have a sort of sentence etc. Of course for my live performance there’s a good part of improvisation within a very precise structure, because I don’t want to repeat the exact same thing every night, but that's my choice and it can be changed, there’s no dogma. - You are a great multidisciplinary artist both alone and collaborating with other artists. In the case of this last album, you do it solo. What advantages and disadvantages would you get from doing a solo job and what would you have with collaborations? I worked with musicians all my life, I still have some collaborations, but now because my instrumentation is how it is, I can get this kind of orchestral sound I was looking for…, so I don’t really need other musicians to develop my musical ideas and to perform. But it doesn’t mean I don’t like to work with others! I still have many collaborations with great musicians and I‘ll probably have new ones in the future. There’s always something to learn! I particularly appreciated to be also an interpreter as I can see how composer works and think, for instance, I regularly commission piece to composers with my collaborative project Ensemble Ire.
- From the album that will be released shortly entitled Matériaux . What would you call this set of ten compositions?
It's an extended EP- of course a bit longer - 30’ was the perfect format.
- And finally, how do you see the future in such uncertain times?
I often have these questions these days, I understand why ! I think there’s enough experts to predict the future so i will not add my comments. Personally I like to observe geopolitic and sociology so it’s not a reveal to say that this world will still have tensions and challenges…. As an artist and citizen i think i have a small role of transmission of knowledge and experience so it still motivates me to travel to meet people.
Stunt Keaton (Musician, producer & writter)