Collaboration is an essential ingredient of this open trio’s creative approach, forming a recurring theme in Hifiklub’s extensive discography and filmography.
Based in Toulon, the hyperactive experimental rock band offer a diverse ever-evolving catalog that now boasts over 150 artist collaborations since they started in 2006.
Everything that the French avant-garde trio has released was a blown mind. We talked to Hifiklub about their latest release “Scorpklub I & II”, collabs, and many other related topics.
Hi! For the start, can you briefly introduce your project and when or where it was founded? Who was involved?
We had access to the oldest part of Toulon’s art museum, where we live in the south of France. Our goal was to continue our artistic exchanges with James Kerr, which began 5 years ago for Hifiklub‘s 10-year anniversary. James transformed the original paintings into contemporary animated videos and Hifiklub was in charge of the soundtrack for the animations.
As always, Hifiklub wished to work in collaboration, randomly this time, on the musical side of the project, by inviting Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crookek Vultures, Eleven) and Iggor Cavalera (Cavalera Conspiracy, Petbrick, founding member of Sepultura).
When creating a musical project, the name is usually more essential than everything else. Was the name “Hifiklub” already on your mind, or did you have to sift through a number of possibilities before settling on the best one?! Does Hifiklub have any hidden meaning?
We like to define ourselves as an open group, an open trio. Our entire discography, made up of more than 20 albums now, was produced in collaboration. The name of the band appeared in a very obvious way when we started in 2006. A clear idea of a ”club”, with permanent and occasional members. We never had the slightest hesitation about the name, it seemed so obvious, like a summary of our artistic approach on a formal level.
Our music, our open trio, is an episode with constant twists.
What would you say about your music to someone who has never heard it before?
A permanent renewal! For curious and open-minded people! Our music, our open trio, is an episode with constant twists. Because – or thanks, I should say – of the collaborative approach, our discography constantly offers surprises, from one album to another.
To love our music, you have to love getting lost and not expecting anything in particular when an album comes out. It’s ok not to like one of our albums, but you’ll love the next one ah! We did so many different things, from desert rock to weird pop, from improvised music to contemporary music, from field recording to spoken words or electronic music, and traditional music.
What were the main creative challenges you had to face? How have they changed over time?
First of all, it is always important to establish a favorable context for the creation, of every collaborative situation. It’s not that simple to set up and we put a lot of energy into ensuring that our collaborations systematically run as smoothly as possible. It remains a permanent challenge.
On a more creative side, it’s always important not to get overwhelmed by your emotions in front of a guest musician who potentially has had an influence on your life as a musician… or to be intimidated by the musical abilities and knowledge of the guests. You have to know how to trace your own path, with your own abilities, while listening to the other. It’s a permanent creative challenge. Humility must be content.
The challenge always consists in knowing how to move forward with our own means by leaving a door open to the guest to allow him to fit into our music and our compositions. Listening to, interacting with, and respecting our guests are elements common to all our projects, since our creation. It never changed.
Please tell us a little bit about your latest album, “ScorpKlub I & II”. What is the message you’re trying to convey with this release?
This release is “just” the audio side of a larger, visual, project that is a way of discovering or rediscovering pictorial works from very ancient times, dating back to the 16th century for some. It is a musical creation in front of the videos, or sometimes the opposite, a visual creation while listening to the music we specifically recorded for James Kerr.
When it comes to producing new music / lyrics, where do you find inspiration? In other words, what was the source of inspiration for your most recent album “ScorpKlub I & II”?
The original paintings, have in themselves a great darkness, chilling depth… or sometimes even, conversely, a weird or somewhat offbeat side which has enabled us to offer more danceable and strange sounds.
Which song is unquestionably your favorite from “ScorpKlub I & II”? Why?
I would say ‘Bed Dance’ on “ScorpKLub I” and ‘Make Up’ on “ScorpKlub II”. Supa catchy and direct but completely different musically speaking: fucked up heavy rock on one side, weird electronic heavy pop on the other side.
What can you tell us about the collaborations on this new material? For example, how did things work with Iggor Cavalera?
Worked so easily and well. We love to invite musicians to let them play things that the public doesn’t always know about them. Iggor is known to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of metal. I guess fewer people know that today he is a very interesting and active figure in electronic and experimental music.
Same thing with Alain, an old and close friend now. People know him is rock, structured, projects with QOTSA, Lanegan, or his own band Eleven, but he’s also a fantastic improviser and traditional musician, able to go into very (very!) unexpected fields.
What role does experimentation play in a band’s success? Do you like pushing your own musical boundaries if they exist?
We have extremely broad musical tastes, and we’re curious about any kind of music, really. In terms of texture and arrangement, we always like to experiment and try new sound palettes. This is often the role of the guitar in our latest productions.
Jean-Loup Faurat (Hifiklub permanent member) is a guitarist for whom sound research is very important. From a more rhythmic point of view, bass and drums, however, we like to maintain a certain pulsation and melodic sense, which has a more sensitive and spontaneous approach than an experimental one. In any case, one of our originalities remains the experimentation with structures and formats.
Do you believe it’s difficult to come up with something unique that sets you apart from other bands / projects nowadays?
There are so many releases every day. The role of blogs and journalists is essential in this jungle. More than ever I would say. It has always been very difficult to come up with something unique, it’s not especially from today I think. I mean, did we know before Hendrix that we could play the guitar like this?
What are the main aims and objectives for Hifiklub in the future?
To keep our rhythm of album releases, several each year. It’s important to us. We constantly want to create new opportunities and exchange more than ever with musicians who will lead us to unexplored musical territories for us. Creation remains what drives us on a daily basis. Next stop, Chicago in October, with Steve Albini on board.
Photos: (c) Alexandre Minard
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