Discover up and coming bands in 10 questions…
15 August 2019
SÔMBRE is a French duo featuring singer Cédric Manine and producer/instrumentalist Axel Wursthorn. They started their musical collaboration back in 2011, but it was only after signing with indie label Uproar For Veneration Records that the pair was able to launch their debut longplayer called ‘LINSAY’ earlier this year. An intriguing record where 80s post-punk influences and new wavish synth soundscapes go smoothly hand in hand with tuneful songwriting turning the final result into a multifaceted sonic realization. From dancey Sisters Of Mercy moods to doomy Depeche Mode moments. Enough reasons to
have a chat with the ambient tandem, but let’s start the acquaintance first with some music. Here’s ‘FALSE ILLUSIONS‘, one of the highlights of their first longplayer…
Hello Cédric, hello Axel,
bonjour and welcome…
1. What sparked you to start a band in the first place?
Axel: “We both have been in several bands prior to Sômbre, but I really think this project
is a way for us to reconnect with our past and with what we always wanted to do. Our musical DNA has been influenced by post-punk, cold and new-wave more than many other kinds of music, so I guess this is the most natural way to compose for us. We met in a studio about 20 years ago, I was already a sound engineer and in charge of the recordings of Cedric‘s hardcore band at the time, called ‘Waiting For Better Days‘. We shared many interests, but I was occupied with my metal band Carnival In Coal at the time. Ten years later, free from any engagement, we decided to launch Sômbre and release our first EP ‘Half Light‘ in 2012.”
2. What’s the story behind the group’s name?
Cédric: “There is nothing in particular, it’s complicated to find a band’s name that is catchy enough to make people want to listen. It was more or less a joke at the beginning, but we found it was not bad to have a name in French and that illustrates our music a little. The funny thing is that no one outside the French-speaking pronounces it correctly. We laugh while listening to the radio shows and podcasts that played us everywhere.”
3. Your debut album is titled ‘LINSAY’. Who is she/he or it and
why dedicate an LP to her/him/it?
Cedric: “Linsay is a fictitious name but it is also the title of a duet with Regina Sosinski. She was the singer of a band that I loved in the early 2000s. We had exchanged some emails at the time and when we wrote the album I wanted a duet with a female voice. I contacted her and she immediately agreed. So let’s say that this album is more or less dedicated to her, cause I love her voice and her band meant a lot to me.”
Meet the real Linsay vocally, above…
4. The influences by post-punk/new wave bands from Joy Division back then to Interpol today, are still very present and prominent. Why is it that their doomy sound is so attractive for many other artists including you?
Axel: “I wouldn’t call it doomy, but maybe a sincerer, harsh, deeper sound. And this sound gets old with grace. Bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, And Also The Trees, New Model Army, Killing Joke and much more are still here, and their sound is still relevant and influenced many bands through the years.”
Cédric: “It’s very exciting to see that the scene is growing. So many bands, so many radio shows, cool labels. During the last months, I met a lot of very nice people dedicated to the scene.”
5. The artwork of LINSAY is pretty mysterious. Tell us more about it.
Cédric: “That’s my fault! Hehehe. I did not really know what I wanted to do at the very beginning, I just did tests with various materials and then reworked it all on computer.
At the end we see things that were not planned, like this effect of mountain and clouds. That is nothing in particular but it illustrates quite the dark side of our music I think.”
6. The last song on the record is a cover: KIM WILDE’s Kids In America’.
Why exactly did you pick this one to cover?
Axel: “It’s simply one of the best pop songs of the eighties. Catchy, well sung and produced, somewhere between Blondie and Billy Idol… pop music at its best. We’ve been lucky enough to live our teenage years in the eighties, to be fed with artists like Joy Division, New Order, Depeche Mode, Propaganda, The Smiths, and many more. Contrary to what many people think, the 80s was an exciting musical era, along with the evolution of gear (synths, beatboxes, samplers, sequencers…) and many new styles and bands came out of this new evolution.”
7. Which track would you pick to introduce
somebody for the first time to SÔMBRE music?
Axel: “It’s hard to make a choice because each track has its own specificity, but many people seem to point ‘Black Skin Twins‘ as their favorite tune, so why not this one… and
then you’ll want to listen to the others!”
Cédric: “Yes, ‘Black Skin Twins‘ seems to be a favourite but it’s complicated to answer
this question because the album is very varied. There are electro-pop songs, others with shoegaze sounds, and an EBM influenced one. We want to make music without barriers, we write on instinct without any calculation, except that it sounds good.”
8. What movie would you pick to visualize your music on a big screen while playing?
Axel: “Hard to tell… could be a TV show like Black Mirror, or Russian Doll, or Sex Education…maybe a David Lynch movie, or something much older, by Murnau or Fritz Lang…”
Cedric: “Nice question. I think old horror movies would be great. It’s funny because I
often write texts with images in mind. As if I was working on a song’s video clip.”
9. For which band would you sell your soul to the devil do a world tour with?
Axel: “As an old fan, and because the band still exist, I would say And Also The Trees. They created a unique sound and very personal atmosphere, and they’ve always been close to their fans. They still tour, so it might happen, who knows?”
Cédric: “I would never sell my soul!! But touring with Depeche Mode or being guest at a The Cure show would be awesome. But to be more realistic, we would love to share the stage with newer bands as Actors, Drab Majesty, Creux Lies, The Foreign Resort, Crying Vessel, Silent Runners. We just have to be ready for playing live, that’s what we’re working on right now.”
10. SÔMBRE’s ultimate ambition?
Cédric: “Once again, we are realistic, we have no other ambitions than to release our next album on a good label dedicated to our music, play concerts, meet people… we’ll see what will happen for us.”
Merci Cédric and Axel for the interview.
May the road rise with SÔMBRE!
Stream/purchase LINSAY in full right here…