We are very happy to host an interview with Saigon Blue Rain, the Parisienne band that came as a pleasant surprise in the dark wave scene a few years ago. In Last Day Deaf we feel that, art mostly evolves in the underground or in the alternative scenes, and so you’ll find in here stuff that is honestly edging the genres and broadening the art of music into novelties. Saigon Blue Rain are refreshing, the dark wave mix is an interesting element in their music. A little cold, a little ether, are blending in without overthrowing ‘that wave’. So lay back, pour some red wine in your glass (recommended), put their latest ‘Noire Psyché’ on and read who they are…enjoy.
So, how did it all start? Can you give us the Saigon Blue Rain bio?
Before Saigon Blue Rain, Franck and I both had different musical projects that we were never really passionate about. Since we were quite frustrated by those musical failures and that we loved the same kind of music, we decided in trying to make something together, and this time, it was a revelation for us, we realised that the musical combination of the two of us was what we were looking for. At first, we’ve released an EP ‘Stupid Bitch Reject‘ at the end of 2012, then our first LP ‘What I don’t See‘ in 2014, followed by ‘Noire Psyché‘ at the beginning of this spring.
In order to give life to our work on stage, Gilles, our bass player, joined the band and we decided to hit the road. We’ve played a few gigs in Germany, UK, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherland, Czech Republic with good bands such as Soror Dolorosa, She Past Away, The Breath Of Life etc… and we’ll support The Beauty Of Gemina on their next fall tour.
The name of the group is a picture, what lies behind it?
Beside the fact that the 3 letters SBR is a kind of magical combination to us that brings us luck since the beginning, we’ve thought that Saigon Blue Rain sounded warm and cold at the same time, it definitely suited us as it goes well with our music. It also was a reference to this asian exoticism that crosses all the punk/post-punk movement in the lyrics, artworks, melodies or sonorities, like for example China Girl, Hong-Kong Garden, Japanese Whispers or even Indochine.
You come from France, a country that has a very strong tradition in cold wave, bands such as Norma Loy, Trisomie 21, Die Form, among others, that have influenced the genre a lot. How does this affect your music and your sound, considering that you are not a typical synth group.
We’ve listened to cold wave for a few years now so, logically, when something is a part of your life, it affects the process of composition and writing. At the beginning, our music had unquestionably taken its roots in this period and this genre but drawing from other universes and other times, ’cause our goal has never been to be a copy of these great bands you named. In the course of our compositions, we’ve tried to distant ourselves away from these roots to create our own sound and we hope that we’re making it.
On your FB page you define your music as ethereal wave, but on the other hand we listen to a blend that also consists of dark wave and sometimes it all ends up to a gothic atmosphere. Tell us about your influences and the songwriting procedure you follow.
Yes, unfortunately, bands always have to be put into boxes so we can’t escape from that rule either, we have to define our music so we finally chose the genre that currently suits to SBR the most but maybe, it will change again on the next album, who knows?
As we always say, we love so many different kinds of music that our influences are multiple. As a result, even if we are put in another genre of music by press people, our goal is not to make pure cold wave or ethereal wave, each time we compose a song, we just want to create a universe tinted with all the things we love and if we can share it with people, it’s a great satisfaction for us.
You also have another strong element in your art, the lyrics in your songs. Sometimes angry, sometimes sad, descriptive lyrics that match the music perfectly. What does really affect you as people and musicians, and what drives your writing of a song’s lyrics?
Ophelia: Indeed, I attached a special importance to the lyrics in our albums because I love poetry, to me, the sonority of words is never left at random. Words are like instruments, that bring rythms, emotions and feelings just through their music.
Their meaning are often the result of how the music inspires me. In some of our songs, my lyrics can be oriented towards esotericism, dream world, power of nature and beliefs but sometimes, it can be more realistic, dealing about personal issues, despair, eroticism, fears, tragic childhoods…
I believe that every musician breeds new ideas into music; some of them are kept in the drawer, and others may be deleted. Are SBR waiting for the perfect timing to make a new record, or is there always music in your heads that you save for a song or a later release?
To tell you the truth, there is never a perfect time to make a new record, both of us have regularly new ideas that come to us, at this moment, we catch anything to record, just take the guitar, the keyboard or use our voices before forgetting it.
Ophelia: Sometimes, it even happens when I’m on the train or anywhere else, as a result, I always have lots of material on my phone to enrich. When we have enough things to work on, we keep the best and put aside which is less sharp.
Your latest release, ‘Noire Psyché‘, sounds a little different than the 2014’s one ‘What I Don’t See’. What has evolved or occurred in your music, between these two years?
‘Noire Psyché‘ has been more intensive, we’ve been more critical with it . It was a real challenge for us to make it as good as the previous or even better. That’s why we’ve put more time aside to finish it and make it sound as we wanted.
Otherwise, it’s more introspective. What I don’t see was an ode to the immaterial things that surround us but ‘Noire Psyché‘ is kind of its opposite, an exposure of our feelings, souls and bodies.
In December 2014 you released a very good cover of Q-Lazzarus’ ‘Goodbye Horses’. What made you choose a song that has a completely different style than SBR’s one? Should we be expecting similar releases like that?
We’ve always loved this song and we found that it was more interesting to make a cover of something that people didn’t expect from us. We’ve often been advised to make covers of bands like All About Eve or Cocteau Twins but it would be too obvious. Furthermore, ‘Goodbye Horses‘ is a very catchy song, it’s always nice to see the audience dancing when we play it live.
We haven’t taken any time to think about other covers yet but if we do, you’ll be certainly surprised again.
Are SBR performing as a typical rock band? Do you use other forms of art, like projections or other installations to enhance you live shows, or is it enough for the band to get on stage and let the music trip your audience?
We’ve never used projections or stuff like that on stage ’cause it requires equipment that we don’t have at the moment. But we attach a lot of importance in the visual aspect of the band through our music videos, albums, artwork…
Each time we are on stage is an invitation to the dream, that’s what we want to offer to the audience. If people who come to listen to us, have the feeling to drop out of reality, then they will have caught the meaning of our musical universe.
‘Noire Psyché‘ has been out since March this year and it may be early to think about the next release, but what are the band’s plans? Are you thinking about hitting the road to support ‘Noire..’? Give us the news please!
Currently, we’re focusing essentially on ‘Noire Psyché‘ promotion and preparation of our next gigs. We’ve been invited to the next edition of Owl’s ‘N’ Bats Festival in Germany, where we’ll have the chance to share the stage with Clan Of Xymox. After another small gothic festival in York UK, we’ll support The Beauty Of Gemina on their fall tour through Germany. We’re very excited about all these things to come.
SBR sound refreshing dark wave and it is certainly not on purpose, but we are interested in sharing with Last Day Deaf’s readers your current playlists; what are the bands and other musicians that you are fond of today?
Our playlist is always changing but these days, we are very fond of rather recent bands like Still Corners, Chelsea Wolfe, Grimes, Lovelock, Sylvaine (Franck plays live guitar in this band in parallel with SBR).
Thank you very much for the interview, you can add anything you like.
Thank you for your interest in our band. We hope to get the chance to play in Greece soon to introduce our universe to the Greek audience ’cause our music is made to live on stage.
Photo credits: Marie-Line Pochet (main), Unknown (2nd one)