Oikoumen - ''Our music talks about the emotions some complex subjects can provoke''
Updated: Apr 5
Oikoumen's latest release is Dystopia. The Parisian trio have delivered a thematic work that is heavy, beautiful , musically progressive and rewarding to the listener with its challenging soundscapes that are epic yet also incredibly personal. It is a modern journey filled with demanding musical ideas and incredible vocals that begins with the past.
What part of history are you exploring with Oikoumen ?
Laura (Vocals/Lyrics) ‘’We would like to explore each part of History! So, it’s an inexhaustible source of inspiration and subjects. But remember that we are from France so the part of History we talk about the most are related to what we know the best ! So even if we talk about other places in the world it will always be from our point of view and it’s the same when we talk about more current issues.
Oikoumen thrives on diversity, was the classical component a natural evolution?
‘’Yes, we try not to put barriers in terms of music styles. Our goal is to serve what we want to say through music so if a certain style is better to say certain things, we try to use it as far as we can. But you’re right, classical inspiration as any formal music is very strong because it’s demanding and full of things to learn. We can do a lot with it and find a lot of ways to do music so we will clearly try to develop this side of our music.
With such diverse tastes, does this make song writing easier or harder?
‘’It’s harder because you are constantly trying to find new ideas and new ways to express things without repeating yourself. So, there is this obsession about « we don’t want to sound like » and this quest of surprises. But we can also say that this is fun! It’s a way to never get bored.
The creation of Dystopia? Not a note is out of place! Was it easy to make?
‘’Hell no! But what was so hard in composing Dystopia was the personal situation of the composer who wasn’t in a favourable context to compose music and had few times for it. Some songs were made in pain but it was also an outlet. I think some of these songs translate it well through the tightness, the out of breath sensation, the kind of emotions expressed etc.
With the superb vocals is it vital that your classical training is a part of the tales you are telling in both the historical and the more modern ?
‘’Thanks for the kind words because I think yes ! Actually classical singing is what leads me to singing in general. I’m this kind of singer inspired by Tarja Turunen and Nightwish so… But I also understood that starting to sing with classical singing is a strong hardship ! I mean, when I entered the Conservatoire and asked my singing teacher when I would be able to sing like a classical singer she said « It’s 10 years of training minimum » so I had to find other kinds of singing ! So, what I use in Dystopia has a classical base of course but I try to restructure it so it can serve our subjects. I mean, we are not talking about beautiful things so the singing cannot be too beautiful. I need to put pain, sadness, hope and other emotions in it. Sometimes it has to be more like a scream or a whine. And sometime I need to use more contemporary singing techniques.
‘’Does each track require a different thought process in the delivery? It can be subtle yet also powerful. How many octaves do you command?
Yes, it does! When I record, I often try with 3 different spirits (more classical, more head voice, more chest voice) and I decide with the composer what is the best to serve the song. So, because each song is different, each interpretation can be different. And anyway, sometimes we change inside the same song. I wish I could learn even more singing techniques so it would be more complete ! About the octave, I don’t have the equivalence in English but the lowest note I have recorded is a G under the treble clef staff (I assume it’s G3) but I think it’s better I don’t go under the B and the highest is called by my music teacher the « contre Fa » in French and it’s the F above the treble clef staff (I assume it’s F6). But we all can use a very large range the question is more can we hit the notes properly with the same technique and properly. That’s what is difficult!
Who are the Sons of the Apocalypse and is it inevitable from Dystopia?
‘’Nice you remember these fellows! It’s a reference to a game called Fallout 4. It took place in a dystopic world which went through a nuclear war. So, the society is destroyed and has to be rebuilt. Groups of people emerge from the ashes of the old world and among them, sects like the sons of Apocalypse. They have decided to worship the atom god… Well we hope we won’t experience such a dystopia so yes, I want to believe that it’s enivitable !
‘’The importance of Green Warriors? Are we doing enough? Many are convinced we now have to adapt rather than reverse the process?
‘’I think « Green Warriors » are important because they are inspirations, they give the impulse. About if we are doing enough that’s hard to say for us because we aren’t experts on this subject. But I think it’s not only a question of « are we » but « can we ». Not anyone of us can change the world alone. Of course we are stronger together and we can open the way but we also need to make bigger structures move. And yes, we will need to adapt even more if nothing changes but I still think we need to have the idea of changing in mind because if we adapt to anything we will also have to adapt ourselves to an unbearable world. That’s sad when we know how beautiful the world can be.
Inspiration comes from everywhere?
‘’Yes! Everything can become an inspiration for sure. And yes, as I said in question number 1, we know that we are not omniscient so we clearly are influenced by our environment (social, cultural environment etc).
What is the essence of life?
‘’Cells and a bit a magic to link them.
Spiritual or physical?
‘’It depends on the members of the band! I am more spiritual for sure (I could live only with a brain). Elie, the composer, would be more physical (he cannot be doing nothing with his hands for more than 10 minutes). Yael, the bass player, both! Because both must work together but not for a long time.
Is music the best way to represent your ideas and ideals?
‘’I won’t say it’s the best way but the way which suits us the most! Music is mostly about transmitting an emotion and simple ideas. Sometimes we are addressing complex subjects and we know that through music we will only express a few and a simple part of them. So, we’ve decided to take it as it is. Our music talks about the emotions some complex subjects can provoke. The raw part of the reflexion.
And the last place of complete freedom when things like written poetry are now lost?
‘’No, I think all artistic places are free (well it depends where you live anyway) and I don’t think written poetry is dead. There is lots of ways of expression and some are more mainstream than others, more fashionable at a time than other but I’m not sure they are lost.
Is the immediacy and the #me first of the 21st century an issue that needs to be addressed?
‘’Yes, it should! Because we lose a lot by being selfish and I would say it’s even unnatural. We are made to be connected to others and we will necessarily need people one day so I don’t think the « me first » state of mind is efficient. And the first to the top can also become the first to fall !
Greed is paramount is that the metaphor of Blood Ores.
‘’Yes, it can be a way to think this song ! It’s all about the domination game in the world and the imbalance of power. It’s also a criticism of the « any means will do » state of mind and the fact that sometimes humans are seen as tools. But a life worth more!
What musical colours does your art represent in terms of your music?
‘’All colours of the rainbow =D it depends on the mood!
What drew you to the heavier side of music?
‘’It’s the heavier side of life! Actually, metal music suits perfectly what we want to express. It is an outlet for all the bad things life can brings and also, it’s a very powerful music which talks to our guts. We love this power and this sincerity we can have in this genre. Never bored with it! Even if we don’t stick to it all the time !
Why do you think it’s so vital?
‘’Because life is made to do and discovery new things always! Writing music is a way to gather all that and to deal with strong emotions so that’s why it’s vital.
What is the musical journey of Utopia? Is it obtainable?
‘’It’s a travel on earth which highlights all the beauties surrounding us. It is a call to remember that and how short and amazing life is. So, we would be stupid to be disrespectful about our environment. But to say if it’s obtainable or not is impossible. It depends on so many factors but we need to keep the hope because without this emotion, we won’t be able to do nothing.
Plans for the future.
‘’We would like to find more people to help us grow in this gridlocked industry ! We want to search for a label for the second album, productions, bookers… A drummer also! Opportunities to do lives and to meet people. For now, what is sure is that we’ll make new shows in Paris for the next month and we are writing singles and songs for the album number two!
Top 6 albums of all time.
For me it’s:
1 - Oceanborn from Nightwish
2 – The wall from Pink Floyd
3 – The Garden of Zephirus from Dead can Dance
4 – Doomsday Machine by Arch Enemy
5 – Odyssey by Vangelis
6 – The Resistance by Muse
For Elie it’s:
1 – AC/DC Live 1992 d’AC/DC
2 – The wall from Pink Floyd
3 – Once from Nightwish
4 – Ascendancy from Trivium
5 – Never for Ever from Kate Bush
6 – Mezmerize from System of a down
For Yael it’s:
1 – Choirs of the Eye from Kayo Dot
2 – Fetch from Melt Banana
3 – Colored Sands from Gorguts
4 – Tomorrow’s Harvest from Boards of Canada
5 – Pork Soda from Primus
6 – Infrarouge from Minuit Machine
Bigcartel (pour les versions physiques): https://oikoumenstore.bigcartel.com/