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Infidel Interview #96: Father Artois

First of, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

Yes, we'll answer all of that. We currently live in Newport News, Virginia. Our names are Lance (25), James (28), and eventually Kristen (22).

How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?

Lance: It's not a bad place. We're all not from here, and we're all nomads, essentially. The local scene would require us to go out, so we're not at all influenced by them. I've been to a few shows, and it's all shoegaze, reggae, and blues kinda sounds. We're mainly influenced by ourselves, and I don't believe I have the temperament to really be influenced by anybody.

James: Newport is a nice place but very little music community, I would say that I create my own musical activity.

How do you and the rest of the band all meet? And was it easy to find and agree upon a sound that you could all work with?

Lance: We all met through our mutual employer. I knew he was a legendary guitarist, and that I'd be an idiot not to get him in my group. Our sound is based around the audience, kind of like a movie. A good film director films scenes with an audience in mind. Most creative decisions are based off of what emotion a person listening to it would have. So with any sound that's brought to the group's attention we ask ourselves, "What emotion am I supposed to be feeling?" If it's not a recognizable emotion, or you don't feel anything when listening to it, then it's not a good song.

James: My buddy Lance told me about his recording system and let me listen to some of his songs. They had a lot of synth and drums, sounded good to me but "I could do something with this", I thought. The sound we have is one that is combined from two different musical backgrounds from different parts of the country.

Interview continues after this video, and all pictures, videos, and streaming content thereafter...

What does Father Artois mean to you guys in 2017? And how does that compare to what the project meant to you guys when it was formed?

Lance: Well I first started Father Artois after a long drinking binge. I was really tired of drinking myself to oblivion all the time. I had been to rehab before and was sober for about 7 months, and the one thing that kept me being sober was having a creative outlet. The creative outlet then was writing, but the book I wrote had severe problems. So I gave up and got back into drinking, it was then one night I read an article about how Grimes started making music by using these music making apps. I downloaded the Demo, and was hooked ever since. Father Artois is essentially an amalgamation of theories I read in rehab, where in the 12 step program God/spirituality/religiousness is replaced by a substance, the substance here being alcohol. And basing it off of Stella Artois, gives it a more tongue n' cheek vaporwave/punk aesthetic of criticizing corportacracy. So back when it was formed it was just something to do to not kill myself. Now it's a fully formed band, with great guitars, beats, and everything.

James: What does Father Artois mean?

Are you musically self taught? Or have you had mentors along the way to help you develop?

Lance: Only youtube tutorials I've taught myself and James has really taught me a lot about music, I would say I've learned more from him than anyone else.

James: Self taught, been playing since I was about 12 years of age. No mentors, no teachers, just other people I jam with and types of music I listen to give my style.

What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?

Lance: I would say punk, post punk, british indie, vaporwave, witch house, and thrash metal. The bands that really struck a chord with me, well would be Kanye West, just because of the large vision he has with music, and how he just continuously innovates year after year. Also Grimes really struck a chord with me, and it was kind of like a eureka moment hearing her music, it wasn't complex, but it sounded amazing, and I just wanted to make something like that.

James: My father is the biggest influence in my life because he's the one who showed me what music is, like the classic bands from his youth, that set me on a path of wanting to understand how, who drove them to be who they are, and the theory behind it all. Also my love of art gave me a passion of the freedom in life, as in I can do anything with whatever. Any music that sounded goo to my ear inspired a path of musical aspirations.

When it comes to composing music, do you approach things with a clear vision in mind, or do you prefer to let songs feel themselves out? Do you have any particular techniques or tricks you use to keep yourself creative and consistent?

Lance: None of us really have a clear idea of what the song is going to be until it is finished. Each one is listening to a track, figuring what sounds good, what doesn't sound good etc. It's a lot of experimentation. Usually I lay down the beat, James lays out the guitar, and we build from there. For me personally it's always about building an environment. Even when I'm making music I like to visualize something and base a song around that visual. It could be watching a movie, and there's a deserted highway at night, and that image will pump me up enough to want to make a soundtrack that fits with that particular imagery.

James: I like to let things flow at first and then piece it together like cleaning a room you have to pull every out to know where it goes. To stay creative I like to free my mind with some laughter or listen to some music.

What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes? Do you see a spiritual connection to you art, or is it purely an emotional expression?

Lance: I would say Godlessness, not in a conventional sense, but more of a Nietzsche kind of sense. There are severe problems in our society, that aren't really seen as problems. There is general malaise in society, a lack of agency. There's no great struggle, no great upheaval, or nothing to really fight for. Everybody has their price to sell out their values and belief systems, and what's terrifying is that we find is that people will sell everything they stand for just to be plugged into that opiate drip that the Matrix provides. The themes that give me energy is attacking the superficial sell outs, who are put on a pedestal because they represent, this sexless, thoughtless, bland, corporate nutcase whose sole goal is to make other people as sexless, thoughtless, bland, and corporate as they are.

James: Rock, Blues, Jazz, video game music, and classical music are the main themes that inspire me. I like these because they make my soul brighten and escape this body.

Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual? If so, if how what would you say are your strongest/most important views and/or causes?

Lance: I would say I'm both political, and spiritual. I just want to be left alone, to do my own thing without someone breathing down my neck. I don't want to add or subtract from society as it stands, I want to build my own. Start all over.

James: Neither because I don't focus on that stuff, I'm more of a here and now kind of dude.

So much has been said, and it sometimes feel that every word combination has every been taken. As a lyricist myself I know the pain of how hard it can be to articulate something in a way that is both engaging to the audience and uniquely artist. How do you find inspiration for your lyrical poetry?

Lance: I focus more on the visual aspect of the lyrics, rather than how it sounds phonetically. So sometimes it's finding the melody, sometimes it's having the image and making the melody fit the image.

James: If it needs words the words will just show up.

Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?

Lance: We try to release a new track every two weeks, but it is daunting. That along with our work schedules makes it pretty challenging, but you just have to be obsessive about it all.

James: Set the time aside for these things.

For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?

Lance: I would say more thematic, and presentation oriented. The medium, and context that art is presented can be just as impactful as the art itself.

James:I would let the music, the band, audience, and environment become one living environment.

What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?

Lance: Soon we will be finished with our album and will be putting it on spotify, and bandcamp. We'll revamp a lot of old songs, put out some new ones that we've been sitting on for awhile. It will be really good, and a lot of people may be surprised by it.

James: More technical style, advanced techniques, and more bandmates.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

Lance: Mainly promotion, and the learning curve that comes with making music.

James: A lack of direction, self doubt, money, and confidence.

Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy?

Lance: We do it all of ourselves. Managing the online world is just like anything else anybody does in social media. Give compliments, tell stories, be aware of how you come off, and once two people like you then it's far easier to get two more people to like you. It's just like having a tinder, or an instagram. You gotta make people interested in you.

James: My buddy Lance is very good at promotion and showed me a few tricks and methods.

Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity?

Lance: No other musical projects, but we are bringing in two more people, Kristen, and James' brother.

James: Just a few in the making which still need some time, and I'm bringing my brother into the band.

If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?

Lance: David Bowie, he's my idol, and I think what draws me to him is his openness with music. He kept pushing the boundaries of his sound, and his image, and never stayed static.

James: Jimi Hendrix because of his unique way of playing and Jimmy Page because of his vast knowledge of music and range.

Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?

Lance: I'm a bit of a foodie, I really like going out to new places and trying all different types of foods. Mostly I just read books, news articles, theories, etc. and that's what I spend most of my day doing.

James: Painting and drawing are some of my passions.

In an industry that is driven by sales, and consumerism, what are your thoughts on digital downloads (legal and illegal)? Do you feel that streaming and digital download stores aid the accessibility of music? How bout music piracy? It obviously hurts sales in some regards, but it also boosts the access and distribution of the release which could lead to potential fans who do come to shows, buy physical copies of music, and get merchandise? Do you feel there would be enough turn around in that sort of system or are you firmly against file sharing?

Lance: I think the industry is based off of a dying model. I would say that music is going to go the same route as movies, which means corporate tie ins, product placement, sponsorships, and shit like that. Merchandise will probably be more important than actual album sales, and I think that illegal downloads are here to stay. There's nothing you can do about it, so you can either cry of spilled milk, or adapt and make a new business model.

James: I believe in a free sample, if they like it they'll come back for more.

Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

Lance: Enjoy your freedom.

James: Good luck!

Catch all of their tracks for free streaming on their official Soundcloud:

And watch their videos on their official YouTube:

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