We conducted an interview with Nak of ZERO ABSOLU, a one man post-metal/shoegaze/noise project from France, on January 15, 2012.
Hello. Thanks for taking this interview. Please, introduce yourself and describe your project.
Hello, I’m Nak a French musician living in the alps, close to Switzerland, after playing in several bands (mostly indie and hardcore music) I started the project ZERO ABSOLU on my own 6 years ago, it’s a kind of modern one man band, I use loopers and electronics, programmed drums and many instruments on stage (Guitar, bass, Keyboard and vocals). It’s a mix between post rock, noise, shoegaze and metal.
It’s about 6 years since ZERO ABSOLU was formed. What were the most memorable moments of that time?
Well, I don’t know if I have a special memorable moment that is more important than the others. Every step of the project was nice, the first recording, the first concert, the first French tour, the First big show, the First concert out of France etc… for now, all this development makes the project going forward, and so I enjoy the moment, every concert, every album released, every tour is the promise of ups and downs, the most memorable thing is maybe just the project himself, and I hope it will continue like this.
Is it your main project? What other music activities are you involved in?
ZERO ABSOLU is my main project, but I play in other bands, in totally different style, I’m the bass player in SPORT a indie punk band from Lyon, and singer in a metal band called NERV. It is important for me not to play in projects in the same kind of music. I also work but it’s not very interesting.
As a modern one man band, aren’t you thinking about adding more musicians? What about your live shows. Do you have any session musicians?
Being a one-man band have several benefits and drawbacks, of course I will never have the same intensity as a band, all the instruments are plugged into the PA, I don’t use any amp, etc… Nevertheless, it’s one of the first interests of the project, being alone on stage, building the songs live, with all my loopers and instruments.
What I like when I play with my other bands, is sharing the stage with my friends, composing all together, I love playing with them. ZERO ABSOLU is my 100% project and I don’t want to impose it to any other musicians, I’m just a dictator for myself. J Also I really enjoy the emotion you get when you’re alone, it’s really really hard, I mean, it’s like being naked in front of everyone… you’ll maybe think it’s kind of selfish but I love playing shows with ZERO ABSOLU alone, and for now I’ll keep the project as a one man band.
Tell us about your local music scene. How popular is the expression you’re trying to “sell”?
The situation of the alternative music scene in France is quiet shitty, you have a lot of great bands touring all over the world but barely known in their own country, touring in France is also really expensive, and the alternative cultures does not exist for public funding. Well, I don’t know how far the word “popular” means anything, but there are people backing up at me. But it’s difficult and also because I’m not in a specific scene.
The funny thing about my approach to music is that I am often torn apart between two different styles, i.e. post rock and heavy hardcore. It would be extremely hard for me to choose the one and only style and genre for my band. That’s why I would probably form 10 different bands… or a schizophrenic one performing 10 different styles.
What do you love the most about the music landscapes you create? Aren’t you tempted to try another style and way of expression?
I guess we have the same problem [laughs] with ZERO ABSOLU I wanted to mix the most influences than I can, of course I have some constraints about the one man thing and the technical stuffs, but I don’t want to feel blocked by anything which prevent me to go by all the influences I have, the 3 albums released are quiet different, and I will not hesitate to compose differently in the next one, to be the more possibly honest. Only the future can tell, but the project is already surfing on lots of different styles. That’s kind of cool. The thing is, for bookers, labels and promoter it’s difficult not be part of a proper style, I mean like Metal or punk or post rock etc… Most of them see that as a problem, they think people aren’t that open minded I guess.
You’ve just released your “Autømn” album. How does it differ from the previous 2 releases? Tell us more about the message behind it, as well as the technical details, writing process, etc.
The firsts released were concept albums, the first one is about the story of a life, from the born to the Dead, the second one is a double album I wanted to make the opposition between dreams and insomnias. This new one doesn’t have any concept at all, I wanted to make something more organic, more rock, without any message but just the music itself. I composed it with 2 loopers instead of 1, so I could change the rhythmic and the BPM, it takes a lot of time to create this album, nearly a year, without any concept it was harder to see where I was going on, but I don’t wanted to force myself to have one that couldn’t fit with the music.
You are heading for a massive tour this year. How important is touring for you? How many shows have you been playing so far?
I love touring, playing live and being on the road, meeting people, learning about different countries and their culture, it’s perfect… it’s hard to explain, but for me it’s the most important thing about ZERO ABSOLU, not that I like to show up particularly, but because of the energy, the sharing with the people. I’ll try my best to be on tour the most I can. I am over than 160 concerts at this time.
Tell us more about visuals displayed during your live events?
When I started the project it was really hard to be in front of an audience that is staring at me, I used to play in hardcore bands, and so I wasn’t paying attention about that before, but the first concerts was really odd. So the visuals came naturally, they helped me to be more comfortable on stage, and they add something undeniable about the show, more than a lonely guy juggling with loopers. I try to ensure they bring something more to the music and for the live set and not just a 2nd focus point.
What can people expect from your live set?
It’s hard to answer that myself, what I can tell is the people who liked the shows mostly tell me they liked the emotion of the music, helped by the videos, some people are impressed by the technical one man thing, being alone with all my stuffs, juggling with loopers and instruments, and all the drummers wanted to play with me, frustrated by the lack of drums J.
Do you have a most memorable show?
I don’t know, I have a lot of memorable show, as the best memorable moment, I had a lot of great times, For example In 2010, I played in Iceland, it was a great memory and a fantasy coming true, last year My first gig in Norway at ISFIT festival and in Poland in Lublin with the band ROSETTA, was so cool!! I enjoyed them so much. The thing also cool with Zero absolu is that with my technical stuffs, I can adapt my set list to different venues, and that I can play in so many different places, big venues, small ones, cultural places etc… it’s really nice.
How do you distribute your music? What’s your experience with labels? How would you change the current status of the music industry if you could?
I have small labels helping me, Humanist Recordsd with the vinyl forms and now Urgence Disk Records in Switzerland for “Autømn”. By the way most of time I distribute the music on my own, selling most of time on the Internet or at the end of the shows, as I told you it’s really difficult to find some distributers, when you’re not part of any scene, they barely see what’s the advantages are, most of time it’s like: “too hard, too soft, not so Hardcore etc…” well, I’m not so desperate about that, what I’m looking for now is more a tour booker, because I all do it on my own.
What I would change, is not about the labels, I think the majors are killing themselves, and it’s not a pity, as they didn’t wanted to support bands in development but creating buzz with “plastic” bands. The Indies labels do what they can.
What I would change maybe is more on the music scene, making the venues more places to make party, in France for example, the people goes to the concert as if they go to cinema or theatre, consuming a spectacle, there’s no fun, no party… so the kids rather go to night clubs listening to dumb electronic music. But I can’t blame them. For the government culture is public, partying is private. The venues have many difficulties because of neighborhood, and they are not helped by any politics etc…
What are you looking for this year? What would be the biggest milestone for you as a musician. Do you have one?
I want to find a tour booker!!! J I spend so much time doing this on my own, it’ll be so great. I hope to continue touring all over the world, in many different countries, developing the project, I have new ideas for new recordings, but the most important thing for me is still going on tour and to lose no money. I think like every alternative musician, I’d like to live with my music, but with this kind of project it’ll be difficult. But I will continue by the way.
Thank you! Is there anything you’d like to add?
Nope, I hope not to be too boring with this interview. Thanks to Idioteq, hope the best to your webzine. Cheers.