Infidel Interview #100: Steevo Nuissier
First off, 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?
First I want to thank you for this interview.
I'm Steevo, I'm French, I live in Oxford. I was born in Paris , I moved to England to make some music. I have been in England for 17 years now. It's my second home. I still feel French but England brought me a lot. Most of my favourite bands are from England so it made sense to me to move over here.
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?
I have moved from London last November I had enough of living in London. I needed a change I have some friends that I live with now who are musicians too ( the members of the band Aquagirl ) they offered me to come and live in Oxford. I fell in love with Oxford, I m a fan of Lewis Carroll ( I studied philosophy, I loved the Logic courses, we used to study Lewis Carroll books they are amazing ), Philip Pullman books trilogy : The Northen lights/ The Subtle Knife/ The Amber Spyglass ( I wrote a Trilogy of songs, 1 song for each book on my first album " Back On Your Feet" ). I like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter so living in Oxford is an amazing scenery for me it, it reminds me all the time of all these great stories. I would love to make a video for my new song " The Death Of A Party" in Oxford. When I listen to it it reminds me when I'm walking in the streets of Oxford... Specially at night... Oh and I love Magic, Oxford is a magical place, there is a really special energy here...
What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?
I want to carry on experimenting with electronic music , working on sounds that we can't do with other instruments. Though putting an effect in an instrument is already making electronic music so there is a fine line between the two. I love mixing instruments and machines, computer but for me there all the same. I do not see the difference between putting some effect on a guitar and putting some effect on a keyboard/ computer... For me it s all about creating a sound then see where it takes me. And now with the technology it s amazing what you can do. I played some gigs playing sounds using my phone... it s a powerful phone though...
The interview continues after this video, and all other streaming and picture content hereafter...
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?
I have definitely made some progress but I have always loved singing, music. When I was a kid I used to make shows with my toys with vinyls of children songs. I have always had a inner world that keeps me away from the outside world. Playing music for me it s playing the music that I hear in my head. Musịc has definitely changed my life I usually introduce myself as a musician. I think the best thing for me is to channel this connection that we all have when we are listening or playing music. There is something mystical about music that is why I think there is music in any religion, people are singing when they are praying, it is about Harmony, finding yourself, being a human being. I find it amazing that anywhere in the world you will always find music in different forms.
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?
I usually write the bass lines then I try to find a singing melody, then the words that come with the melody. Or it s a beat. I read books and take notes, like for a title, or some lyrics. For " The Death Of A Party" I think that I found it in a book I wrote it in my note book and I knew that I would call a song like that one day. It takes me a while to finish a song, but the best part is the precise moment when I find the melody, the bass line. It feels like it has passed through me from somewhere, it is a strange feeling because I can feel it coming. I wish I could write songs everyday but it s not the case. I need to wait to have things happening in my life. Like the song " Filter" I wrote it when I was a cabin crew. I remember coming back from Tokyo, Prague, Vienna and adding some stuff to the song every time I was coming back home, I had all these noises, images, sounds in my head that was a great process. It takes me ages to write lyrics too because I need to have the melody in my head for a while first It is always in connection with what is going on in my life at the time when I write the lyrics. So most of my songs even if they have a universal meaning are usually a reference to someone I know. Like the " Death of A Party" it was about a conversation that I had with a friend who is schizophrenic, he was telling me that I was lucky to control myself mentally, as he could not. I told him that I totally understood what having some mental health issue was. At the end of the day what is being normal? Hence the lyrics : " Both side of sanity, both side of vanity". There s a fine line between being sane and insane for me. I do not look at the world we are living and find it sane. Not at all there are too many crazy things that are happening right now that should not. Not at these days and age,we should have learnt to accept each other differences but that is still not the case.
Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?
I did record a lot of my songs myself because I love to work on sounds, a lot of time a specific effect on the bass, the way I play it's how a song starts. But lately I decided to go back to a studio and get some sound engineers to help me get the sounds I m looking for. I m really happy with my last studio recordings : " The Death Of A Party " and " Emergency" 2 of the best songs I ever written. I don't want to write the same song over and over again which was what I felt in the past playing in a band. I m not interested in that for me I need to progress. That is why I love working with Kwesi, the cellist in " The Death Of A Party" as he has a classical training he makes me be more discipline and more careful on my technic. He gave me some tips for my singing too. Marc the guitarist has so many great input too that the three of us working well. I do not know how to read a music sheet but I write all my songs by hear, as I said I play what is in my head . We complete each other it is great.
Do you consider yourself to be part of a particular sound or scene? What is your thoughts on the nature of genres and styles, and do you have any particular ones which you find to your enjoyment more, listening and/or production-wise?
Well It is always difficult for me to describe the music that I make. I'd rather make people listen to it. I do not want to be locked in a genre I did it with the last band I was playing with and that is how I ended up with all the songs I got now as there were not the " genre" that we were playing. In a way it was meant to happen because the music I make now is the music that I have always wanted to make. I think I could play in an alternative scene, an electronic scene , an acoustic scene, a gothic scene, a pop scene a rock scene, a world scene ... That is the great thing about my music: I have always people who come to me saying :" It s not the type of music that I usually listen to but I like it".
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?
Bands like The Cure, Joy Division, Dépêche Mode, Mylène Farmer, Serge Gainsbourg, The Velvet Underground and Nico , Etienne Daho, Portishead, Radiohead, Ladytron, Placebo, Edith Piaf, Goldfrapp, Les Rita Mitsouko, Grace Jones, Prince, Bowie, Dali s painting , surréalisme, Impressionisme , Dadaïsme . My music is my reflection on Life in general, the human interaction, my personal life. I studied philosophy I have learnt to accept that I am different that most people , I don't talk much, I listen, I learn, I observe and I think a lot.
When it comes to fan and critic feedback, how much do you take it to heart, and how much do you feel it evolves, pushes, or holds your sound in place? Do you feel that the personal response and interaction in the live environment and the subsequent positive press you've regarding both your live and recorded music has consciously encouraged you to do things a certain way?
I listen to what people tell me, I am a better singer now than when I started because I m listening to what people tell me. I have kind of found my voice but I also try to push my range. For me it is now more important to have a good recording of my songs to make them justice, and for the people who listen to them to enjoy them more. I guess I am learning to be more professional. The great thing is that I always got compliment from people who saw me live. I think that my voice is different and it gives a mystical atmosphere to the gigs. I feel comfortable on stage. Actually there are 2 places where I feel at ease and complete is on stage and on a tennis court. I love playing tennis. Actually both are pretty similar, it s about technic, timing, and being in the present. I love it. And I love to be better at it, I love learning new stuff, new technic, new skills and made them my own that is the best part of it.
If you could say there are underlying themes or messages that permeate throughout your discography, what would you say are the most important concepts and ideas you've tried to express throughout your artistic career, political, spiritual, or personal?
I make the music that I want to listen to, that I love. But the more I get people to listen to it and thanking me for it the more I understand that I am blessed to be able to make people feel good even if it is just the time of a song. There are two type of people in this world: the ones that are sending bad vibrations and the ones, like me, that are sending good vibrations. It is like a ceremony for me, trying to connect or reconnect people with being a human, we are a strange species at the same time Horrible and Beautiful. My album will be called " Angels and Demons"... The story of our lives: which side are we going to choose?
When it comes to your musical self and your real-world self, would you say that there is a separation? Do you find yourself getting into a character or mindset when you create, or do you find your music is a representation of your day to day self?
My music is me. I think that is why I do not talk too much, if you want to know me listen to my music that would give you an idea of who I am. There is no persona, I got my style of playing bass, my style of singing which ever song I will do that would always be me and I am really proud of that. I always tell to people listen to it ( my music) , like it or not it's fine. It's just music I can't be mad at someone who does not like it. But it is such a blessing to find people who like it because you know you made them feel good for few minute. And this is priceless.
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?
I find it great to have Internet now as anyone in any country can listen to my music. I would rather have people working with me to promote my music. If anyone knows a good agent send her/him my way! My song " Filter" has just been licensed by an American company that put music in commercial, films, shops, bars, events. It is a great way to get my music played and to people to listen to it. But as I said I did not planned to make music in solo I just ended up with all these songs that were not suitable for my last band. But that was great because I wrote these songs not thinking about playing them live so I was totally free to try different sounds, effects... But now I thinking Mmmm how am I going to play this song or that song. That is why I am so happy to have Marc playing guitar and Kwesi on cello there are giving an other layer on the songs it is amazing and people are already responding well. Like doing this interview for instance it's a nice reward.
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?
Moving to Oxford was a great move for me to get myself focused on the music . The vibes, the energy are not as negative as in London. It is a bowl of fresh air great for the mind. That is why there is this line in " The Death Of A Party" : " Face forward, focused be accurate ..." it is like a self motivation, a mantra. I put the blinkers on and focus on my music and not letting anyone slowing me down anymore which was the case in the past.
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?
I think that it is a enjoyable experience to see us live specially with Marc on guitar and Kwesi on cello a lot of people told me that we have something special, something different. I take a live show like a ceremony, create an atmosphere that is why I use sounds in between sounds, and Kwesi has written some preludes on cello to play in between the songs, to keep the atmosphere going . It is like a procession. We are going to have a live session on Facebook on 2nd of December. I m thrilled by the fact that anyone anywhere in the world will be able to see it! Welcome in 2017! That is what technology is about! My music is a mix of retro mixed with new sounds and technology.
When it comes to performing, what are your favorite sort of venues to play in, and what are your favorite areas to tour? If you could tour with any other band in the world who would it be and why? What are some of your favorite memories of touring?
I have not been touring yet. That is why I choose to have a solo career now. Before with my band it was impossible to get everyone motivated to go touring. Now even if I am on my own I can play anywhere. I plan to play more oversea next year. But first we have to finish to record my album " Angels and Demons". Our next gig is going to be on 2nd of December in London as I explained before, it is a special live recording I have in mind different type of gigs! My ultimate venue would be to play in a Roman antic theater... Kwesi has just played some gigs at the Royal Albert Hall this summer for the BBC Prams, he has also played for the Olympic ceremony in London : I m so proud to play with someone who played in these iconic events.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
People jealousy and people lack of motivation and people who are overrating themselves. I do not think that you need to be that talented to be successful, just listening to most of the singers/ artists these days I found them boring. But they have people working for them, an amazing budget, a lot of people are from rich family or background. I think that to make it to need to work hard, It is a passion for me but writing songs it is just a side of the story there are so many other things that you need to care about. I m lucky that I am also an artist so I can design the covers or backdrops for our show. Marc like to do visual and it is something that we are going to work on more. Kwesi loves to paint. I am blessed to know some really talented photograph like Laurent Compagnon who took the picture of us Three that I am using for " The Death Of A Party".
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?
No for now I am just focusing on my solo career.
This summer I released a cover of Dépêche Mode : " Behind The Wheel" for the " Unmute " compilation, a compilation to celebrates the artists on Mute Records. That was great to do the compilation is free to download and they are some really good covers. Check it out!
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?
The Cure of Course! Mylène Farmer, Portishead, Radiohead, Air, Dépêche Mode, Grace Jones , Etienne Daho, Catherine Ringer ( from Les Rita Mitsouko), Ladytron, Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails, Cake, Placebo, Calexico, Goldfrapp ( their last album is what I m listening to the most at the moment, I absolutely love Alison Goldfrapp!), Muse, Madonna, Gary Numan, Björk ... That is probably the list of the artists that I am listening to the most.
What sort of new bands have come out in recent years that have caught your attention? Is there any bands out there you see yourself, or would like to, remix or collaborate with in the future?
I like the French band La Femme, but I haven't listen to them too much, Lescop is nice I like his stuff. And that would be it. I haven't listen to a new track recently that made me feel that way. Hopefully I will.
Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?
I love playing tennis, I feel complete on a tennis court it s like playing music : that s me I doit because I love it. I spend hours training but because it s a passion I love it.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
Thank you for taking the time to read this I hope that it is giving you a better idea of who I am... But the most important for me it is that you listen to my music and that you like it and that it makes you feel good. Keep in touch, follow me, share my music, download it. There is more to come keep in touch.
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