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Iszoloscope Interview; A Sovereign Reflection
Tuesday, June 22 2004 @ 12:46 PM PDT
Contributed by: Malahki Thorn

Iszoloscope Interview

Heathen Harvest: I'm at the Saturation Bombing Festival in Toronto , Canada with Yann from Iszoloscope. Is that correct? That it's Iszoloscope? It's a little hard to pronounce.

Yann Faussurier: Yes that's correct.

HH: Can you start by telling us how Iszoloscope began?

YF: Well, at first at the time I was working for a radio show and trying to find some way to get involved with the music that I was playing. (Interruption...) We were working on bridges between sets during shows and it became a full-scale hobby. So after about a year we started to make some demos that was 98 or a 99. I think 99. I think it was in 2000 actually, that we were contacted by Spectra Records and we released our first release the following year.

Who are the current band members? Is it just you? Or are there others?

YF: I have some friends to help me out here and there but mostly it's just me.

HH: Do they help you out live or just in the studio?

YF: Both.

HH: Did you have previous musical experience before beginning Iszoloscope such as being a DJ?

YF: Yes I did the radio show I mentioned and I also played the skin flute.

HH: How did you come about Iszoloscope as a name?

YF: It's good you brought it up actually. An original band mate and myself who spent the first-year working on the project were looking for name. Both of us happened to be reading books, by John C. Lilly, one of the pioneers of isolation tank theory and sense deprivation. In some of his research he was actually trying to find the…, let me think of the English word…, I'm trying to think of the word for the value of how isolated someone is in his own psyche, when deprived of all his senses…They came up with multiple theories, but there was no…how do you say that? So John C. Lilly was experimenting and at one point he was looking for a way, to calculate how isolated people are when placed in an isolation tank. So originally when I was talking with my friend Frank, we came up with the idea, you really needed a device to be able to calculate the level of isolation. And that's Iszoloscope. We had our original discussions in French, and though the word was originally English we didn't like the way people pronounced it so we added the z so it would sound more French.

HH: Iszoloscope has risen to the very top of the industrial scene in just a few years after having released several albums on such labels as Spectre, Ad Noiseam, Ant-Zen. What you contribute to the fast rising in the postindustrial music scene of your music?

YF: I like to drop fat beats and grab my crotch. (laughter)

Like Michael Jackson?

YF: No he grabs kids I grab my crotch.

HH: I ask because there's a lot of competition in the scene right now.

YF: I don't know that there's a lot of competition. That seems kind of strange, you're an American, and it's very different there. It's very different in Europe and Canada from America . Here everything is relaxed and people are there to have fun. People love the music they go out to get shit faced and dance. And you know, backstage is never like... You know I've been for couple festivals in Europe, you know, like the Machinefest in Germany . Every time I was there, there was like no competition. Everyone was there just having a good time. And like everybody knows everyone. Some people might hate some others, and they may not like what some other artist does, but no one really makes a beef out of it.

HH: I'm not necessarily talking about competition amongst artists I'm more talking about the listening audience, who often have a limited amount of money to spend on music and have to make a choice on which they're going to buy. So it's like someone is either going to buy Iszoloscope or they to choose to buy something else. As far as the market goes your bands career seem to be going very well right now.

YF: I don't feel it!

HH: You are not feeling the success?

YF: I'm not feeling it! It's not like our sales are really bad, you know? But it's not like you could really make a living out of selling music either.

HH: Well you have gotten $16.00 from me so far. Iszoloscope's music stretches the range of the spectrum from chilled out ambient to crushing postindustrial beats. How do you go about composing Iszoloscope songs? Do begin with an idea or theme or do you just begin with experimentation on your equipment?

YF: I'm still trying to figure out how you crush postindustrial beats… hah hah hah

HH: It certainly sounded like you were crushing beats last night when you were playing your set.

YF: Yes, with my hands, not my penis. I'm not sure what the question was…

HH: I'm trying to ask how you go about composing the songs when you're in the process of creating them. I guess when I listen to Iszoloscope's songs, it seems like there's a lot going on in the music. I guess what I am trying to get to is, when you go into the studio to compose do you to sit down and start tweaking knobs and begin to construct simple beats or do you enter the studio with a solid conceptual idea?

YF: It's never the same I guess. Usually I start with a sound I like and I play with some software and hardware. Then I tend to build the track around that.

HH: The music of Iszoloscope is fast and furious and is delivered in vicious assaults of industrial rhythm. Is it important to Iszoloscope whether your music is considered danceable by your audience?

YF: Honestly I just make the music I want and that's about it. Yeah I like to dance and all that. I like dark ambient and I like experimental and as long as I like it I'll make it. If someday I wake up and decided I hate industrial music and think, this sucks! Well I won't see it that way I'm sure. But if suddenly I don't like something it won't be created like that any more. I have no contractual obligation with anybody. That's probably one of the reasons why I signed with multiple record labels. I don't have any contractual obligation like some type of a contract that says on your next album you must have five danceable tracks. Two less accessible songs... But it's not like that. I do whatever I want.

HH: Has it been an intentional preservation of your artistic freedom staying away from signing with a particular label? Has it been you're reasoning to not get confined to one label that might dictate what you might have to do?

YF: To be quite honest no one has offered me a contractual relationship or any type of a contract that would imply that I have to stick with one label. But saying if the situation were to happen, I have no interest at all for the simple fact it's very clear I don't do this for money. I have no intention ever of doing this just for money. Honestly though if I got the offer to make like a soundtrack to a movie that would be very interesting. I like trying new stuff anyways. But talking about making music in the context of making music in the record industry setting…I make what I want and that's it. I guess that's why I get some success out of it. I don't come from the mainstream. But if you come from the mainstream you either suck or your stuff is predictable.

Iszoloscope's most recent two CD album is titled "Au Seuil Néant." This release featured a complete second CD of Iszoloscope song remixes. There seems to be a real emphasis within the postindustrial scene right now of artists remixing other artists releases. What you think is brought about this wave of remixing? Do take on making the initial contact with other artists who you want to remix your work or does the label take on that task for you?

YF: Basically I felt like it. I am talking only for myself. I contact the other artists myself. I don't sell anywhere near enough albums to be in a situation were the label would do that for me. All my remixes have actually been done by friends of mine. Not one single remix appears on any one of my albums that hasn't been done by a friend. I just asked them basically and told them I was releasing a new album. I think more than half the artists on that remix CD are from my home town of Ottawa , Canada . A couple of them have had luck getting on record labels but I don't think they have the recognition that they really deserve. I thought it would be really bad if I got a shot on Ant-Zen and didn't say "hey check these guys out!"

HH: So it's important for you to bring other people along with you?

YF: Yeah, yeah I'd like to because I think these people really deserve it.

HH: Yeah the record industry can be really nasty.

YF: I know that's what I'm saying. That's why I am not interested in the commercial aspects of it. There's nothing there, there is not even any money to make. I don't know why people are so obsessed it's like they're stuck in the eighties. I'm not necessarily opposed to selling records but this concept of rock stars that make so much money… All the albums I sell don't even cover a third of what I've spent on equipment. It's just the attitude some people have regarding music I don't get it. I don't understand it. For some people it's just like having a day job. Or even worse, I don't get it.

HH: I'd like to talk about your news split album with Ah Coma Sotz. Titled “Acamanecroszcope.” So the new album is a split between Iszoloscope and Ah Coma Sotz. How did this pairing come about?

YF: Actually Herman from Ah Coma Sotz is a very close friend of mine. Actually without him…(Interruption / Jokes)

HH: How did Iszoloscope and Ah Coma Sotz come about choosing the Necronomicon as a theme for the collaborative CD?

YF: I don't know common interest I guess. The guy from Ah Coma Sotz is really into kind of ritualistic stuff, I love that stuff to. I'm not as into it as Ah Coma Sotz. I like to touch on the science facts and I like science fiction to. But we are in the same type of vein I guess, stylistically. So I think it was the first thing that popped into our minds. And we totally agreed on it even later when we argued. There is so much stuff about that book. It is a good example of not how it is, but how people would like it to be.

HH: The book that comes with “Acamanecroszcope” states that Iszoloscope was responsible for “Necronomicon documentation.” What did this task entail?

YF: I basically just read a passage in the book. No really. I was basically the one that look up the names for the songs. I also did the research to find the incantations that were used inside the music.

HH: Did you have intent behind taking the specific names that you chose for song titles?

YF: No, not really it was more like eeny meeny, miny, moe.

HH: Did you have pre-existing interest in these occult themes before beginning this album?

YF: Yes. I like anything that's weird; you know everything that's weird. Just put it this way, anything that is left field, anything that's not…well I guess anything that goes bump in the night. I love that stuff.

HH: When you perform live how much of the show is improvised and how much is prerecorded?

YF: Actually what I used to do is I would bring a synthesizer with me. But now that I do most of my stuff on the computer, so I prerecord most of the set but remove some baselines and use pads. I used to have drum pads connected to a synthesizer and that's how it worked. I wanted to become more interactive so I am working on a laptop now. Actually last night was the first time I ever used my laptop during a concert. I was really surprised it skipped. I wasn't expecting that. I didn't even know my laptop could skip. You know I really don't know what was going on. Because the sound coming out of my laptop is kind of thin I was routing it through two amplifiers and maybe that had something to do with it.

HH: Last night your set really had everybody going. It was very similar to when This Morn Omina
played. The energy was just really high in there.

YF: Yeah, I think I was as surprised as you. I would say…no I wouldn't say it is typical. And I really never get bored of it. It's great! I just love it. I'm thrilled every time. I'm always surprised by people's reaction to my music.

Seeing you up there dancing around and getting into the music really helped liven up the audience.

YF: Yeah I always do that.

HH: I'd like to give you an opportunity to discuss any future projects you might have evolving yourself and Iszoloscope.

YF: Yeah I have a bunch of new albums lined up for this year actually. There is an independent label called YB70. I'm overdue on this one actually. It was supposed to be released a while ago but nothing is ever on schedule with record labels you know. There will be a twelve inch coming out YB70 on vinyl. It's a twenty-one minute new album.

HH: Is there anything new we should be expecting on this new album?

YF: It is extremely umm... breaky. I guess it doesn't sound really like my most recent album. Last summer I moved into a more break beat direction for a while because my music is always changing and I collected three or four songs I did in that period and compiled them for the YB70 release. He is a good friend of mine and I really believe in his record label.

HH: It really seems like the music scene you are involved in is held together by friendships, almost like a friendship culture.

YF: Yeah it really is like that. It does have some of its own downfalls. It's become sort of a boy's club.

HH: I wanted to ask you about that. Because I'm a gay man and I totally noticed the lack of women musicians involved in industrial music in general and especially in this genre. Why do you think that is?

YF: Honestly, I don't think I'm in any position to comment on that. No honestly, because any answer I could come up with I'm sure I can't be right on that because I'm not a girl.

HH: Do you have female friends you know who are musicians?

YF: Yeah, I know a few girls that are here that are involved in industrial music.

HH: On your web site you discuss how isolation and personal experience have influenced your music. Can you discuss this isolation and your personal experience with isolation?

YF: The music I make it is very personally. It's not something I make for someone, for something, or even to pay the rent. I do something because I feel like doing it. If I feel like making music sound a certain way it if, is obviously that's because that's what's in my mind. And it's a reoccurring theme I find throughout life.

HH: What theme is that?

YF: It is just that most the time I make a sound and then think back on it what comes to me is basically something to do with... I guess its losing touch. When you're isolated you lose touch. Humans are social animals and as soon as you don't have other humans around you as a reference, with all the good and the bad that comes with it of course, there are lots of bad things but its just human nature. But what I mean, is when you are completely isolated from contact with other people you begin to lose touch. People help keep you grounded. I really believe we were meant to guide each other. If there is no one to ground you can totally get lost. Or it is not really about getting lost, it's a matter of not having any reference. Therefore it is valid to you but it can't be to other people because they can't relate to you.

HH: Well thank you Yann for a great interview and for taking the time to talk with Heathen Harvest.


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