10 questions with SAÅAD
Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier aka Saåad is a drone, experimental and ambient duo from Toulouse (France). These guys have been releasing some of pretty damn good ambient drone albums since 2010, and their new album Verdaillon is easily one of the best ambient drone albums of 2016 and was featured in That Special Record's September packs, so I thought it would be cool to interview Romain from SAÅAD and asked him 10 questions about his craft and inspiration as an ambient / drone/ experimental music artist.
Hey Romain. You guys live in Toulouse, France, right? How (if at all) does where you live influence your creativity and your music?
Some albums like Confluences, Delayed Summer or Verdaillon have a lot of Occitan & patrimonial references because these records were conceptualised in special places in the area around Toulouse. We’ve also worked with Grégoire Orio & Jérôme Loisy on their movie Empreinte's soundtrack, which is centered around the Ariège region. So yes, it has a big influence in our music.
Tell me a bit more about your backgrounds and how it influences you to create music the way you do.
We both come from the post-hardcore scene, and this was how we met each other. We grew up with this music and most of our friends are still into it … but playing Saåad's music is a totally different energy, as a musician but also as a listener. There are some tracks like Postdamer Platz, Back Pain / Pain Back or Utopie where you may hear our musical background, but I don’t think it played a role in Verdaillon or in any of our recent releases, or it’s now totally unconscious.
Was there a specific “Aha!” moment when you knew that you’d pursue a career in music, or did you consider other options?
I started playing guitar at 14 years old and since that time, music has been my biggest passion. I can’t imagine ever stopping, but I don’t want to see it as a career. I have a job and I’m very happy like that. It’s nice to make some money with it . When it happens, it helps to manage time to do it well and to be totally focused on it, but there’s no career plan for me.
Your music is quite dark and dramatic. Who are your biggest inspirations, both in terms of what you do as ambient / drone / experimental artists and other mediums of creativity, such as cinema, photography and art?
I've always preferred dark and dramatic arts, minor melodic progressions… With Saåad, our biggest inspiration is Nature, where we did our record(ing)s. We don’t talk a lot about external inspirations, so maybe Greg will have a different answer … but generally we don’t have a clear idea of what we will do before we press the record button, so our influences are unconscious … There were just a few tracks on Orbs & Channels which were inspired by Wenders’ masterpiece Der Himmel über Berlin.
What’s the story behind your new album Verdaillon?
Two festivals asked us to create a special live set based on the sounds of the Puget organ of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade. During 2 two days we were allowed to play with this instrument and record everything we wanted. Verdaillon is the result of this work, a mix of untouched in-situ recordings and some arrangements by adding guitars, vocals and layers of acoustic laptop on top of it.
What are your other interests when you're not composing music?
My wife, good food, film photography, TV series, and recently soldering my own synth modules and pedals…
Tell me about your favourite piece of hardware. And software? And what does your setup look like right now?
Two years ago, I started building an eurorack system and it became my main instrument. I wanted to avoid the computer and software environment. I like the fact that there’s no Preset and that you can pick modules from different manufacturers and imagine your own electronic instrument. It’s so creative and perfect to shape new and surprising sounds. And there is a certain randomness to it, like living sounds. Sometimes I still need my computer to emulate 2 or 3 Polysixs that I control with midi keyboards and controllers, and to add a chain of reverbs on my microphone.
What can you tell me a about your process of composition? What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
A drone or some field recordings, but most of the time we plug everything and start jamming. There’s only a few tracks that have been written, most of our discography is a collection of improvised moments.
What do you think of the current ambient / drone scene / experimental scene?
I haven't listened to a lot of new experimental releases these past few years … so I don’t think I have an opinion about it. Maybe less computers more hardware ?
What do you like more about it? And less ?
I like the fact that anyone can do it, even with no technical skills nor musical knowledge. It’s also the biggest problem, with artists releasing an album every week or month and tons of boring ambient records.
What do you usually listen to in your free time?
A lot of different stuff, from traditional music to noise, metal or techno. Music is like food, I need a wide range of flavours. This morning I listened to all my Bright Eyes albums … they're one of my favourite artists.
Any artists that have caught your attention recently?
Recently... I liked the Brian Case solo album on Hands In The Dark, Umor Rex recent tapes especially the Brett Naucke or the Arve Henriksen, Hilmar Jensson & Skúli Sverrisson Album. I’m also a big fan of Geddes Gengras and his recent Interior Architecture is beautiful.
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Posted by: Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Selector at That Special Record. Miguel writes interesting stories about outsider electronic music & vinyl culture.