1.- The interviewee
Best known as Spiky, Guillaume Muller is the mysterious genius behind master works like Paleblack and Carnival Symposium. He is not only well known within the French Steampunk community, but also internationally due to his creations and collaborations with artists such as G. D. Falksen. Cinema, videogames, music… are you ready to discover Spiky’s world? Follow us!
2.- ‘Rock, Orchestral and Steampunk’
Q.- Spiky, we are very pleased to welcome you to our series of brief interviews because we do admire your creative activity. We discovered you by listening to Carnival Symposium, but Paleblack was the trigger. Are you satisfied with the feedback you have received about this outstanding music video (and making-of) so far?
Guillaume Muller (GM).- We are rather satisfied of the result (as technicians). Despite the budget we had, we managed to get a professional result which is not that easy, especially when you are shooting such elements. You have to shoot in a limited time because of the renting, the weather (night cycle), the stamina of the actress, the temperature of the bath, the electric charge, etc…. The feedback we had was very good so it was worth the time and the implication of all the team and the musicians! We really felt it like living an adventure on a difficult project and we often laugh about the rough times and anecdotes.
Q.- Paleblack is among the works we have chosen for our post series ‘A Singular Soundtrack’ and, in fact, it is quite cinematographic. You have experience in this field… what makes it so attractive for you? May we expect any new collaboration soon?
GM.- Visually I find the colors and the lights very attractive : Using a lot of brown elements is never making it dark and don’t sacrifice deepness. I am especially in love of those « slow-motion brownished » sequences because I think it is what describe my music the best and there are no coincidences as I was in charge of the accessories in this scene (so I basically put what I wanted to see here). I have new projects in mind and the team I am gathering is still not really defined so I can’t really say more regarding a new collaboration.
Q.- Youngness has not been an obstacle for your artistic activity to date, including participations in films and videogames. Would you tell us a bit about your background and education?
GM.- I was born in 1988 and I am still into my studies (despite some Wikipedia rumors saying I am in my thirties!) : I am finishing a master degree in sound engineering and my ultimate goal is to work as a sound designer in a videogame company (which is already happening partially). I don’t want to make music as a job, I want to create sounds, find a global aesthetic, and integrate this into the game. So for now music is a personal project, a hobby.
Before this, I completed an associate degree to be a sound technician and younger, I made years of music theory, trumpet and piano at the conservatorium. I played in bands as a guitarist and pianist and performed with them in countless gigs… well, to be brief, I have a very diverse experience as a musician and I try to learn a lot whenever I am in contact with musical elements but I am much more interested in the sound itself.
Q.- Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Rammstein, Manson, Bob & Barn, Tom Waits… your influences are really eclectic: tell us more about them, please.
GM.- I will have to update that information, my tastes are much more eclectic actually ! Björk was saying that music is not about genre but it’s all about sincerity : it’s perfectly translating how I feel regarding music as I am not arrested on any kinds. It’s all about what is really good, the atmosphere, the texture … music is like life, with high and low, it’s dynamic. If you restrain yourself to a few genre (which used to be my kind 10 years ago) you deprive yourself of astounding listening experiences. On a more professional point of view I would say that I never met any good and creative artists that was listening to a single genre (even if you can still have your favourites genre of course!).
Q.- Your bio at Reverbnation goes ‘Spiky is Rock, Orchestral, and Steampunk’. Ambitious, but accurate. Why Steampunk?
GM.- Defining Steampunk music is indeed very hard. It is not a peculiar genre that can easily be defined like Rock / Reggae etc … but is the result of an ambiance, an atmosphere, a spirit, sometime it’s lifted up by colors, lyrics, sound or visual. There are a lot of industrial/fantastic/steampunk elements in my works (depending which one of course it can vary) but the Steampunk component can be found in many ways. If I only had to talk about the sound aspect, I would say that the sound itself is typically DIY (“Do it yourself”) with heteroclyte and vintage elements (Ribbons and Tube microphones and preamp, letting the sound flow through vinyls or analog plugs to give a specific musical color etc …). Sometime I even create specific hardware or modify them so I can get a propper texture, this is the case for the voice on Paleblack for example. I am looking forward to push this aspect in my work more and more. Also, the editing (with samples of gears, clock and hundreds of element) can help to render and give a Steampunk color to the music.
But as Steampunk is not restricted to Orchestral music (which is my field), you can recycle old blues/jazz music with a modern component (Caravan Palace), use poliphonic voices (Steam Powered Giraffe), focus on a more tribal universe (Abney Park), or get a “Wild Wild West” Western aspect (The Cog Is Dead) … Those are basic examples (and it’s a quick overview and quickly said) but that explain why Steampunk music is so hard to define : It is because it is so vast than it cannot be properly defined, it is not only music, and usually those artists have much more to offer than only music. See that as a component, not as a specific genre.
Q.- Besides Steampunk, we are beginning to explore the path of Steamgoth. Has anyone told you that the dark and industrial atmosphere of your music makes it quite Steamgoth?
GM.- Probably but it wasn’t massive comments and I do not know so much about it.
Q.- Your album Carnival Symposium was created and promoted in partnership with the French Steampunk community. We assume that you are an active member of this scene, would you tell us a bit about the French Steampunk?
GM.- To say the least, I am a moderator of the sound and music section of the French Steampunk forum and I made a list of all the Steampunk bands (wich a link to the concerning topic on the forum of course) here, so it is up to date and sorted by “Steampunkness”, countries, and genre. Recently we organized the Steam tour in France which was a giant Steampunk event travelling from towns to towns and as I was in charge of the musical aspect and programmation in Marseille. I love the Steampunk community despite the fact I do not have enough time to go to events :(.
Q.- Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Boucheron, Mauboussin, Fouquet… there is no need to say that French culture has something to tell regarding jewelry. Do you think that French Steampunks will make the most of this tradition in order to design distinctive Steampunk jewelry?
GM.- I am not sure if the tradition is playing a lot on this one, but Steampunk naturally converge to DIY (« do it yourself ») so everyone can be tempted to creation. I think we will see a lot more creatives jewelry that are dealing with Steampunk.
Q.- In any case, how would you describe Steampunk jewelry?
GM.- I think it is more about the way the matters are being used more than the matters themselves but starting with bronze/copper and leather is (in my opinion) already a good start. Classy, retro/vintage and unique/rare at the same time with the proper matters would be a good recipe for Steampunk jewelry. There are some « codes » in place that will of course need to be broken with time.
Q.- Do you think that men’s jewelry should receive more attention?
GM.- Aside from watches or some necklaces and braces, men’s jewelry are underated so I clearly think it should receive more attention but that has to go with our time.
Q.- Most of us have some jewelry pieces with a special meaning. Do you have any jewel that you would label as ‘Steampunk’ that you are specially fond of?
GM.- A few month ago I felt on this website, they are making jewels that have the chemical form of molecules and that is definitely exciting my scientific part. Aside from the traditional cogs I think this kind of jewelry have a original and scientific side that can slightly be related to Steampunk (depending of the matters, the colors etc …). As a matter of fact, the inside of the Carnival Symposium booklet is featuring a chemical form as well.
Q.- As a creator, what challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face? Do you have any piece of advice for jewelers like us?
GM.- I would say that the designers have to think about the way to suggest Steampunk and be subtle about it, so this is basically a creativity issue. There is definitely a “Just glue some gears on it and call it Steampunk” effect to avoid.
Q.- Thank you so much for your time and kind attention, Spiky. We look forward to discovering your next projects!
* All images courtesy of Guillaume Muller.
Disclaimer.- The opinions or statements expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of Decimononic.
3.- Next interviewee!
On the 15th of November we are publishing the interview for Austin Sirkin, a scholar and writer who has been studying the Steampunk movement for nearly a decade, and is one of the world’s leading experts on it. His work can be found in various blogs around the internet, as well as in the recent anthology Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution.
Remember that all the published interviews are available for your delight: ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with…’ the brief interviews series by Decimononic.