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Alcest's Neige: The 10 Records That Changed My Life

Alcest's visionary and frontman has a rummage through his vast record collection

With their mesmerising blend of shoegaze, black metal and post-rock, Alcest are one of the most progressive and dynamic bands in modern metal. Releasing their debut album ten years ago as a solo project from frontman Neige, Alcest has morphed into a wider project, with last year's Kodama album making it to #22 in Metal Hammer's Albums Of 2016. Drawing from countless artistic influences, Alcest's beautiful yet haunting sound is largely the product of Neige's passion for ingesting music from across the musical spectrum.

We sat down with the frontman to talk about the records that changed his life for the better.

The first album I ever bought was…

Michael Jackson – Dangerous (Epic, 1991)

“I’m a big Michael Jackson fan, but this is not the best album – I love his earlier records. This guy was something special, he was more than the average ‘good singer’, he was kind of a genius. I think I heard him on the radio or TV when I was super-young, and then I got the CD.”

My favourite album artwork is…

Emperor – In The Nightside Eclipse (Candlelight, 1994)

“I love black metal but I’m very specific. The good thing about this record and cover is that what you see on the picture is exactly what you have in mind when you hear the music. It’s got a dark fantasy landscape but it’s not cheesy, it has a lot of Gustave Dore inspiration, and it really translates into picture what the music is. The Alcest record Écailles de Lune has a bit of the same approach where what you see is supposed to represent what you hear. Of course everyone is free to imagine what you want, I’m not forcing anyone to have pictures in their mind, I just like to show what I have in my mind.”

The album I want to be remembered for is…

Alcest – Souvenirs d'un autre monde (Prophecy Productions, 2007)

“I don’t think we have one record that everyone likes the most. As far as I’m concerned I have a very deep attachment to the first one because I did everything myself when I was super-young. The approach was very genuine and I have a very good memory from this time. The concept of the record was super pure, it was from a spiritual experience that I had.”

The album that reminds me of school is…

Nirvana – Nevermind (DGC, 1991)

“I went from grunge to black metal directly. I skipped the heavy metal stuff, when I heard heavy metal I was like ‘What the fuck is that? It’s so cheesy and dated.’ I was having arguments with the more heavy metal guys because I thought, and still think, that Nirvana has more balls than heavy metal. I don’t care about Kurt Cobain and I don’t listen to the lyrics, for me the genius of Nirvana is their ability to compose extremely well-written songs that are also super-simple. As a composer I would dream to create a song like Nirvana did. Everyone can play it, everyone can sing it, and it’s still a great song.”

The album that broke my heart is…

Hammock – Departure Songs (Hammock Music, 2012)

“The album broke my heart in a positive way, it made me feel really intense emotions. It’s super-emotional music. I listen to this music a lot when I’m on tour because it calms me down and makes me feel good inside. It’s kind of sad but it’s also uplifting; it’s very metal and has this huge sound that’s a bit shoegazey. They’re probably big Slowdive fans.”

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The album I wish I’d made is…

The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (Virgin, 1993)

“It’s my favourite record of all time. The songwriting is exceptional, the songs are so complex, the guitar-lines are incredible. It’s the first record I heard that had so many major chords; it has this summery, happy feel that unlocked something in my mind. I thought heavy music had to be dark and angry, but what I hear in this record is the most ecstatic sound. I got very inspired by this record, especially for the first album. I tried major chords myself after hearing this.”

The most underrated album is…

The Chameleons – Script Of The Bridge (Statik, 1983)

“They’re from Manchester and just as good as anyone else in the post-punk scene, and they never got the success they deserved. They had songs that were just as good as The Cure or U2. They influenced a lot of the first Interpol record and they don’t get enough credit for that. They looked like crap, they had crap covers, and they didn’t fit the codes of the genre. They had these new-age proggy covers with pastel colours, which I personally like, and for promo pictures they didn’t make much effort. ”

The album I want played at my funeral is…

Explosions In The Sky – The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place (Temporary Residence, 2003)

“I love the song Your Hand In Mine by Explosions In The Sky. It has this very romantic, bittersweet feel. I like Explosions In The Sky a lot, they had a big influence on my sound too. I’m very sensitive for the melodies in a band, some people are sensitive to the sounds, but to me it’s the songwriting core that is important to me. A good song can be played in any way – on guitar or piano, amplified or not, with pedals or without – and that’s the philosophy I try to apply to our music.”

The album that inspires me the most is…

Grimes – Visions (4AD, 2012)

“It inspired me for Kodama but in a very indirect way. I’m a huge Grimes fan; it's the best stuff I’ve heard in the past five or six years. She’s a nerd, just like me. I love her sound, I love her future pop universe. Her voice reminds me of Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins but in a more modern way, and a more DIY way. She’s making her own cover art too – there’s no better person to make cover art than the musician themselves.”

A kid asks me what metal is. I give them a copy of…

Metallica – Ride The Lightning (Megaforce, 1984)

“I only discovered this album one year ago ha ha! I used to hate Metallica before, I never got into that sound, I was like ‘Why the fuck am I not liking Metallica? Everyone likes this band.’ Then I heard Ride The Lightning in the car and it was really good. I listened to it many times and I loved the proggy approach they have of mixing very calm parts then bringing in super heavy riffs. The way the album flows is perfect. I like Master Of Puppets too, but I don’t think it’s as good, it’s less dynamic.


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