At Hellfest 2019, I had the opportunity to meet Simon and Alex, respectively guitarist and bass player in the French black metal band Aorlhac. They explain a little the concept of Aorlhac, a band that makes us travel in Occitan lands to discovers its darkest and sordid stories on a black metal background.

First of all, can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what is your job in Aorlhac?

Alex: I’m Alex, the band’s bassist since 2012.

Simon: I am Simon, guitarist and singer since last November. And to resituate you. We do not pronounce “Aorlhac” but “Auriac”  from the Occitan.

And what does “Aorlhac” mean?

Simon: Very simply, it is the Occitan name of the city of Aurillac in Cantal in Auvergne.

And, is that where you come from?

Alex: It’s more or less the birthplace of the band in the sense that the original members of the band come from there. The members come from Cantal, a region in the center of France.

And why did you choose the theme of Occitan?

Simon: Occitan is the theme of legends around Cantal and more generally Occitania. That comes from the passion of the founding members. There were three founding members at the beginning. In the current line up, there are only two of them who are NKS the guitarist composer and Spellbound, the singer. It was a passion they had around legends and stories. They were people who liked the place they came from and who liked to know what had happened before and who liked to dig into obscure legends. They were passionate about black metal, passionate about the history of the region and Occitania in general, so it became obvious for them to mix these two worlds black metal and all the legends that turn around. It gives rise to a lot of research in books, not Wikipedia. Spellbound has read a lot of books and has done a lot of research on this subject. There are certain legends that are quite unknown even locally. “Les méfaits de Mornac” for example, is a song that appears on the latest album “L’esprit des vents” and I come from the place where Mornac did his misdeeds but I had never heard about it. We look for more particular, more unknown things and finally, these are the most interesting.

On the Facebook page, you define yourself as a group “turned to the past”. Is this the past you refer to through Occitan legends or the past in general?

Alex: It’s a general passion but in the band, there is still a fairly focused story, quite local. It really comes from a passion of the original members who had the idea to develop this story and this past.

Simon: There is not a rejection of the present world. But there is an awareness of decadence. There is some form of rejection of the modern world but it is weighted. There is not necessarily a desire to return to that time but behind it is true that it is a bit of an ode to the old days. So “resolutely turned to the past” as it says, yes but in a certain way.

Let us now talk about your latest album “L’esprit des vents”.

Simon: The feedback has been very, very good. At the level of history that revolves around the album, we remain anchored in Occitan legends. So in fact, everything revolves around this universe of legends and we have a song in particular called “L’ora es venguda”. It is a song that is sung in Occitan and that speaks of freedom in general which is the libertad, an old song in Occitan. So Occitan and its legends that’s the theme of Aorlhac and it will remain the theme of Aorlhac.

Alex: The reception was excellent thanks to our label “Les Acteurs de l’ombre”. We are talking about us everywhere. We have a visual that has pleased.

Simon: Visual that pleased and that was done by Stan W Decker who is an artist from our region. It must be said that this album is the result of long years of work. In Aorlhac, there was a big break between 2012 and 2018, the day of the release of the album. So, it’s an album that has been really matured, thoughtful and well thought out in terms of composition, production or distribution thanks to Les Acteurs de l’ombre.

Alex: Now, the trilogy of the winds, it is finished. So on the next album, we will discuss what we will do. And if we target local legends just as much as now or if we expand a little more the concept or if we go elsewhere. Apparently we should not go too far from the original concept otherwise it would distort the identity of the band.

How do you feel about your concert at Hellfest today?

Simon: The 10 minutes before were very complicated. I would say that the four days before were very complicated. I did not sleep that week. Otherwise, knowing that we are a fairly recent live band since we started again in 2018, there was a lot of stress too. Finally, we did not even have a dozen dates to our credit with the line up as it is today and make a date like the Hellfest in these conditions in front of so many people it was impressive.

So, we had really prepared this concert. The result of all this, what it comes out in any case is a lot of satisfaction. In the life of musician, I think that there are very little, especially when doing black metal, opportunities to live something like that and we can never thank enough Les Acteurs de l’ombre for their accompaniment in all this.

Alex: And maybe it’s one of the biggest scenes we’ll ever do. I don’t know.

Simon: Let’s say that it makes you want to do more and more.

Alex: Until then it’s really the biggest experience we’ve had in our musicians’ lives.

What’s next for 2019 ?

Simon: The answer is pretty clear, it’s concerts, it’s continuing to defend “L’esprit des vents” and the old albums because as we said, we’re a fairly recent live band.

After we have a project, an album to come in which all the current members would be more or less involved in terms of composition. But for now the leitmotiv is live, live and live. We have dates scheduled for the end of the year and early next year. The goal is to defend what we do in concert, the best we can.

I leave you the last word of the interview.

Simon: I have a piece of advice to give, get off the beaten track of what you listen to, get out of the mainstream. Discover the small record companies. Learn and live your passion. You will always find things and pearls to listen to. Thank you for reading us. Thanks to you for interviewing us and giving us this attention. Learn to think outside the box when looking for music and want new sensations. Make yourself happy that’s all that matters.

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