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Q & A: JAZZ-METAL FROM THE MIDDLE AGES - INTRODUCING CKRAFT





PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.


Charles (the bandleader): Hi there, thanks for having us today!

We're CKRAFT, a five piece instrumental Jazz-Metal band, heavily influenced by melodies from Middle Ages.


CKRAFT is formed of Théo Nguyen Duc Long on tenor saxophone, Antoine Morisot on guitar, Marc Karapetian on bass, William Bur on drums. I play augmented accordion, which is an accordion with electronic sensors, allowing me to play synths directly on it!


TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM?


Charles: Our new album, also our first one, has been released a couple weeks ago, in June 2022.

The name is "Epic Discordant Vision" and it blends jazz and metal, with melodies from the Middle Ages (especially Gregorian chants). The band is fully instrumental (no singer) and the music is 100% original! You can check it out here: bfan.link/epic-discordant-vision-1



WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM?


Charles: I grew up listening to metal, it was the only music that would really make sense to me as a teenager. I'd spend hours listening to KoRn, Slipknot, and especially Gojira. Their album "The Link" really changed my perception of music and I still listen to it as an adult with the same passion and awe. Later in my formative years, I saw a jazz big band play live and I was blown away by the exuberant freedom that this music was projecting from the stage. Sooner or later I had to blend these genres!


CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?


Charles: I would sum it up as a banger! (laughing) More seriously, releasing this album is the first time in my life that I'm 100% happy artistically about one of my productions, without having to compromise whatsoever.


Our purpose was to make something that, in a fully instrumental setup, is looking to be as heavy as possible, while using these epic Gregorian melodies, and jazz-influenced harmonies, and create a space of discordant improvised sections for the "augmented accordion" and the saxophone.





WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?


Charles: I already mentioned Gojira's "The Link" that blew my mind as a kid, so I'll quote another record that I discovered a bit later but that is probably one of the CDs that I listened to the most in my entire life, that's Mr.Bungle's "California". The compositions, the arrangements, the production and the sound design were just incredible at that time, and are still incredible today. The way Mike Patton and his friends squash and mix together different genres of music with abrupt but brilliant transitions made so much sense to me, and I think really encouraged me to do my very own thing.


DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST?


Charles: Sure! I'm very fond of the video of our title track "Epic Discordant Vision": we played it on stage, the videographer just filmed us, edited the takes and added a few effects, and the result gives a very good point of view of what one of our shows looks and feels like. Check it out here: youtu.be/95hdZBMjouQ


WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?


Charles: I live in Paris so I go to museums a lot, I get to see very high end craftsmanship and fine arts on a regular basis, which deeply reach me and influence my compositional process!


DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?


Charles: I’m very often nervous before going on stage indeed, because I want the show to always be at its best, so that the audience can have the true CKRAFT experience.

How I deal with it, is to surround myself with people that I truly appreciate, and that I feel 100% confident to climb on stage with, after having made a long preparation and rehearsed everything extensively. Try to anticipate as much as possible and leave nothing to chance!


HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?


Charles: I met most of these lovely people in Paris’ national conservatory of music where we were studying at the same time, except William our drummer who was at Berklee. I had met him earlier in my formative years, in a conservatoire in Metz (eastern France) and, already back then, he struck me as someone who could just play anything. Combining him with my CNSM friends created the magic that I was looking for to execute this music!


HOW DO YOU WRITE? - DO YOU HAVE A KEY SONGWRITER, OR DO YOU ALL WORK TOGETHER?


Charles: I literally write everything down on paper, even the drums parts. Sometimes the idea starts from a riff or a rhythmic pattern that is looping in my head for too long, sometimes it's a melodic fragment from a medieval melody, and then it's all about developing and varying these elements.


When everything is written down and I'm sure of the tune's structure and intention, I bring it in rehearsal to my fellow band members and we craft the sound all together: they sometimes have suggestions to make some parts sound heavier. We spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room until we're happy to play a new tune on stage.


WHAT INSPIRES YOU?


Charles: What triggers the inspiration for me is to witness other bands playing a live show, or discover a record that I didn't know and have my mind blown, then I think "hey, I want to write crushing riffs as well" or "oh, if it was me, I would have done it like this or like that" etc. I tend to go out a lot to see bands play, it's an endless source of inspiration. This, and life events of course.


About another - non-musical - source of inspiration: I think musicians and composers are very similar with craftsmen, in the sense that we all use noble material - for us, the culture of jazz and that of metal for example - just like craftsmen would use different varieties of wood, minerals, etc. and create something unprecedented directly from these materials, combined with their art, their expertise and experience. That's why I named this band CKRAFT, along with the fact that "Kraft" in German, means strength/energy/force! And there you have it, a mixture of "craft" and "Kraft".


WHAT IS NEXT?

Charles: We're on the road as we speak, in Germany and mostly France for now, but hopefully more internationally in the future!

We’re also starting to work on new compositions, I definitely want to release several albums with this band over the years.


PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.


Charles: All the links are here: linktr.ee/ckraft.music

If we play in your town or release something new, the info will be in there.

Again thanks a lot for having us today, take care and see you next time!

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