And we’re back! We’re starting 2023 with an interview of the French band Oïkoumen. Learn more about their story and the release of their debut album thanks to Laura, singer and songwriter of the band!
Picture by Daniel Hempel
Hey Oïkoumen! For those who might discover your band via this interview, would you mind introducing yourselves and your sound?
Hello! Glad to talk with you about our band Oïkoumen which is a metal band from France founded in 2017. We actually live around Paris and we are, for now, 3 musicians in the project. Elie is co-founder, composer and guitar player for the band and I, Laura, am also co-founder, singer and songwriter. Then, Yael joined in 2018 as the bass player and synths programmer. Our music has strong symphonic roots, but we also have some prog elements in it. We let the listener the mission to pigeonhole us! Anyway, we want our sound to fit what we want to say, so we take inspiration from different styles (from Nightwish to Jinjer, Gravity to Pink Floyd, Meshugah to Within Temptation…).
How did you come up with your band’s name?
First, when we were only two in the project, we wanted to talk about historical themes from all around the world, so it was accurate to choose this name (let’s specify that we met at university of History). Then, we changed our direction to more contemporary themes… and it still fits! Oïkoumen comes from a greek word (oïkoumene) that refers to the known and the habitable world. It is also a notion related to mankind and its relationship with its environment. It hints at what we’re all part of but also points all that we still have to discover.
You’ve released, back in November 2022, your debut album. How long have you worked on it? I heard that it took you two to three years to release it.
You’ve heard right! In these years, we dealed with the composition process but also what’s needed to produce the album by ourselves. So we had to build a little network to find the right people! We met other bands, we found someone for the mix (this part was very hard and we had 3 tries before we found the right one), someone able to record the drums (and Clément Deny did it perfectly!), someone for the visuals etc. etc. And of course, all the administrative stuffs that take a lot of time. Now, here we are and that’s a beautiful feeling.
How would you describe your writing process for this record?
Chaotic. Elie did it all alone and he was in a difficult personal life context so we are really happy he could make it. He composed alone, I’m just here to give ideas and direction but he is the one in charge of the scores! To give more precisions, when we make songs, I give a main direction or subject. Then, Elie writes a first draft and we agree on everything. I write the lyrics and he ends the song. But well, it’s not the only rule. Sometimes, his riffs give me ideas, sometimes, he wants to talk about a specific theme… We discuss a lot during this process and we always try new methods!
Is there one song that, according to you, best reflects the overall spirit of this album?
Burnout! It’s the song that makes the best link between the first part of the album which has a stressed and breathless atmosphere, and the second part which is more epic and unifying.
Any funny stories to share from your recording sessions?
Now we can laugh about it but at the time it wasn’t funny: we had to record it several times because of all the production issues we went through. We had at least 3 recording sessions: the bass and the guitars were recorded at home but for the vocals… It was too loud to record it at home (the neighbors tried to kill me so to speak), so I went to a studio… But then, I had to do it again in my new apartment after work when the neighbors were out… And after, only after all that, Elie built an isolated room for all the future records!
Please describe the artwork of your EP. What’s the meaning behind this visual?
For the artwork we only had one instruction: we wanted it to be inspired by the carcinogenic symbol. It had to be refined, green and clear. Then, the artist (Chromatorium) made the rest and he created a kind of mascot with this girl which is also on our t-shirts!
To end this interview, please share with us your upcoming projects (shows, music…)!
Another album is being written with few singles and special songs for 2023. We are also preparing a show for January in Paris and we hope to find more than one. And because it’s not easy to be efficient when you are alone with your project, we want to find people to help it grow (a label for example, a drummer, a booker, a manager even !).