Interview: Celeste

Our music remains very dark and aggressive, but not in the same way as on our previous albums.

Celeste have been releasing mesmerising music since their recorded debut on 2006s Pessimiste(s) EP and show no signs of delivering nothing less ever since. Their latest album Assassine(s) is another masterclass in hypnotic and heavy music and Gavin Brown caught up with Celeste guitarist Guillaume Rieth to hear all about Assassine(s) and its creation as well as how the band’s sound has constantly evolved over the years.

E&D: Your new album Assassine(s) is out now. Are you excited getting it out there for listeners to absorb?  

Guillaume: Assassine(s) was released on January 28th and the first feedback has been very positive. Each album release is an important step in a band’s life. But we expected this one to be so even more because we challenged ourselves so much around the composition of this album. So we’ve been really looking forward to discovering how people will react to our new songs.

E&D: How did the creation and recording of the album go?

Guillaume: Until this album, we were used to thinking about our music collectively, but due to the pandemic we were forced to understand our creative process in a new way, in an individual sense. 80% of Assasine(s)’ songs were composed during the first lockdown, so we were each at home with our laptop and music software. Being alone has allowed us to each come up with new ideas, to dare and to follow our own desires. When you’re alone, you’re not exposed to the immediate judgments there could be in a rehearsal room when you’re sharing guitar riffs for a new song. You have more time to develop your ideas and to share something more accurate to your intention. We also did pre-production for the first time, so we have never been so prepared before going into the studio.

E&D: What has the reaction to the new material been like so far?

Guillaume: As I mentioned, the reactions have been generally very positive. Without denying our identity we really wanted to reinvent our music, whether in the writing of the melodies or in the style of production. Through the first reviews from journalists or comments from our fans, we rather feel a certain enthusiasm for the risks we took on this album. So that’s pretty rewarding.

E&D: It has been five years since your last album Infidèle(s). How has the sound of Celeste evolved in that period?

Guillaume: We have made our music more accessible, richer and more complex at the same time. Previously we had never gone so far in the harmonisation of the guitars, the arrangements, or even in the rhythmic patterns. Our music remains very dark and aggressive, but not in the same way as on our previous albums. For example, there is no longer any dissonance. We have incorporated new shades of black that make Assassine(s) an album marked by a deep melancholy but also sadness and despair.


E&D: You have just released a striking video for the album track ‘Le Cœur Noir Charbon’. Can you tell us a bit about the song and the video and what its themes are?

Guillaume: ‘Le Cœur Noir Charbon’ is a very special song because it is the final chapter of Assassine(s) and also the longest track on the album. It navigates between black metal, post-rock and post-hardcore sounds. This piece is very progressive, and you can feel a real tension that lasts several minutes, until a grandiloquent and crushing finale which offers a deliverance. This song is very important to us and we have put a lot of ambition into it. Also for the first time our music welcomed a female voice with guest singer Emily Marks, and we also added a guitar sample composed by Katsuta from Heaven In Her Arms. The video was directed by the talented Gregoire Orio with a black and white aesthetic reminiscent of our album covers. Visually this video is very intense. Regarding the themes covered, we prefer that everyone has a free interpretation of our images, our texts, and our music.

E&D: You’re also about to release a video for the song ‘Elle Se Répète Froidement’. Can you tell us a bit about that one?

Guillaume: This video is the 4th from this album. It was directed by two friends of ours, Xavier and Hervé Métral. They worked so hard and spent so many hours on it. It was crazy, but in the end we are very proud of the aesthetics of this video. It recalls in a certain way the live experience of Celeste with the black and red duotone, and a stroboscopic editing on certain parts.

E&D: Have you got plans to bring all the videos together as one long form piece of work?

Guillaume: In a few weeks we will release a 3rd clip directed by Gregoire Orio which will complete a triptych with the 2 others video clips he made for us ( ‘Des Torrents De Coups’ and ‘Le Coeur Noir Charbon’). But we have not planned to edit the 3 videos to create a long form piece. And the videos for ‘Des Tes Yeux Bleux Perlés’ and ‘Elle Se Répète Froidement’ have a wholly different aesthetic and are clearly detached from the other three.

E&D: Do you feel that music videos and their visual impact are still an important way of getting your music across?

Guillaume: In the past we did not feel very comfortable with this medium so we had rather left it aside. But it is a creative format we have learned to appreciate and which complements our band’s universe. Putting our music into images brings even more depth to our work and certainly provides even stronger emotions.

E&D: What are some of the most impressive music videos ever made?

Guillaume: Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been really impressed by a music video. Since I don’t watch them very often, I’m pretty sure that I missed some very good ones but mostly it leaves me indifferent.

E&D: The band’s mix of black metal, sludge/doom and post-hardcore is immense. Did you always want to incorporate elements of those different sounds into your music?

Guillaume: We always have wanted to offer unique music, which breaks free from genres and codes. I think that’s why people use so many labels to describe our music. Actually what interests us most is to explore darkness in all its forms. Obviously we have been influenced by different styles of extreme music that we appreciate, and from which we extracted what interested us the most. But it was very spontaneous and certainly not done consciously like a “musical recipe”.

E&D: Assassine(s) is your first album on your new label Nuclear Blast. How is life on the label and how did you come to join the label?

Guillaume: It is a real pleasure to collaborate with the Nuclear Blast teams. They have welcomed us warmly, and we feel they are very concerned with our project. We didn’t really know what to expect from joining such a big house, especially since we are a small group, on the scale of this label. But we don’t feel considered as such at all and it’s nice to feel truly supported.

E&D: You are touring with Conjurer soon. Are you looking forward to that and getting out on the road again?

Guillaume: Oh yes, we are so excited! The studio, the rehearsals, the music videos, the photoshoots, the interviews are very cool, but what we prefer the most is still being on the road together, playing in front of a crowd each night. We have sorely missed the live experience for the past 2 years. We hope that a lot of people and fans will be there. And then we are really delighted to share the stage with such a good band as Conjurer!

E&D: How do you feel that the material from Assassine(s) will translate in a live environment?

Guillaume: These new songs have required a lot of work from us to play them live, and we are still working out the final details. But we are quite confident and we can’t wait to share this with our audience.

E&D: What are your touring plans after that tour, for the summer and beyond?

Guillaume: For the moment we have some festivals booked but nothing more, and there are several touring plans, but nothing 100% confirmed so too early to tell.

E&D: How was the experience of playing the Soulcrusher Festival late last year?

Guillaume: It was a great feeling to be able to get back on stage after so many months without concerts. But it was stressful because we had very little time to settle in, do the soundcheck, etc, and then we also had a lot of small technical problems. So it’s definitely not our best gig, but it was still very satisfying.

E&D: What have been some of your favourite live shows that Celeste have played and what made them so memorable?

Guillaume: I have 2 gigs in mind. One of our first concerts in Russia in 2009, in Moscow. We were playing a floor show, and the audience was so excited that it was a real struggle to be able to play guitar. It was super intense. An incredible atmosphere that I will alway keep in mind. The second was at Motocultor in 2018. We had the chance to play at night at this big festival. The tent was packed, the sound was huge. In short, all the best conditions were met for it to be perfect.

E&D: What have been some of the highlights in your time with Celeste so far?

Guillaume: One of my best memories was at Hellfest 2018 on the Valley Stage. I still remember the feeling of going on stage and being cheered loudly by 8000 people. It was totally crazy. And otherwise, all the stupid things we did in our hotel rooms since we have been touring with the band. With Johan we form an evil duo but I won’t say more!

Pin It on Pinterest