A while ago, we contacted Les Acteurs de L’Ombre and Gérald, the label manager, took the time to answer our questions about this French label focused on black metal and extreme metal. At the end of the interview, you can see the links to their social media and their catalog where you will certainly find something to delight your ears! We previously published several interviews of bands related to Les Acteurs de L’Ombre like Hyrgal, Aorlhac and SETH.

First of all, who are you and what is your role within the label Les Acteurs de l’Ombre ?

Hello, I’m Gérald, manager of the label which I created in 2008.

Les Acteur de L'Ombre - INTERVIEW

Les Acteurs de l’Ombre, how did you choose this name?

I created Les Acteurs de L’Ombre in 2001 with 3 friends. I proposed this name at our first meeting. The idea was to find a name that reminds both the members of the underground scene and those who defend it in the shadows. A name that brings us together in our passion and our activism to defend the underground and bring it to life.

Can you tell us the story of the label?

Following a professional transfer in 2008, I had to leave the presidency of the association LES ACTEURS DE L’OMBRE created in 2001. I took the opportunity to launch the label independently from the association. I am a passionate of black metal since 94. Since then, I have never stopped investing in the scene, through bands, a fanzine, a webzine, an organization of concerts and festivals. In 2011, the show organization branch and the label were split into 2 different self-managed entities.

How does the current situation which put the world asleep affect the label?

We are impacted like everyone else in the music and entertainment industry. Everything is on standby, as if the world had fallen asleep. Besides the fact that physical distribution is almost at a standstill because the stores are closed, people are less ordering on the internet and I have learned that Amazon is currently pausing. Due to the cancellation of tours and festivals we will not be able to hold the stands as we should have done. This will generate a huge shortfall which jeopardizes the releases that follow the summer. We need to find a solution to generate enough cash so that we do not carry it over.

What are LADLO’s criteria concerning the bands that you integrate the label?

There are many criteria to consider, of course the artistic and musical quality of a band is the most determining thing. But we must have a global vision, because what has often made the difference for us is the seriousness or professionalism of the band combined with its motivation. The feeling in our exchanges is also particularly important. When a band comes to us showing a real willingness to collaborate with us while approaching our possible collaboration in a professional way, it lets us bring more credit to each submission. By that I mean, a band that comes with a concept and a successful graphic universe, a medium and long term vision of their career, a desire to play live with a real scenography and who know how to surround themselves with competent people to develop their art. The band must also agree to support us in promotion and to be available. On the contrary, we sometimes sign bands that need management, so we put them in contact with graphic designers, photographers, recording studios, bookers and we support them at different levels.

Is there a band in which you did not believe at the beginning but which surprised you during its evolution?

We do not collaborate with bands that propose us an album that we would not like, we believe in each release, including bands in our roster because we only commit to one album at a time. We are all volunteers and since our opinions all have the same weight, we choose our releases by voting by majority. Thus, some of us work on releases of which they are not particularly fans, but it turns out because, like our tastes, we produce very varied albums. However, it can happen that bands exceed our expectations in terms of reception and feedback from the public.

What are the 3 best releases this year from Les Acteurs de L’Ombre?

In my opinion, we propose a rather wide range of what we can find in extreme metal with a tendency to black metal and all of our releases deserve the same attention. I think there is something for almost everyone. I have the feeling that our catalogue offers quality and true diversity. This is the feedback we have received from people who follow us and who can buy our releases with their eyes closed. I have never regretted a choice of release, even old ones, because we lead the label with sincerity.

Also, I could not tell you that one release is better than another, they are all different, and I am proud of each of them. I took a long time to answer your interview since it was sent at the end of 2019, so I adapt my answer. Currently, we have 3 releases completed in 2020:

MONOLITHE, 8th album, “Okta Khora”, released January 31, 2020 (progressive doom metal)

SONS OF WANTED MAN, 1st album, “Kenoma”, released on February 7, 2020 (blackened post metal)

BORGNE, 9th album, “Y”, released on March 6, 2020 (industrial black metal)

And I’m blocking quite a bit on GRAVE CIRCLES “Tome II” album to come. GRAVE CIRCLES is one of our artists who remains the most faithful to the original style, without being limited to it. If it does not revolutionize the genre, it has found its identity through various influences. The result is a tortured black metal in the image of the themes addressed in the lyrics. An intense and varied album, with sometimes complex structures and brutal riffs, but also throbbing or melodic, with airy and occult atmospheres. An underground beast, creeping and dissonant, punctuated by an infallible drums and almost ritual incantations.

If you could change something in the music industry, what would it be and why?

I would say that it is a cog that has been made over time, that it is difficult to adapt, and also, that it tries to adapt as best as possible to the continual evolution of modes of communication and broadcasts. There would be lots of things to change because there are a lot of inequalities, but at our level, the problem that we regularly face is the problem of artists’ rights and their remuneration. Many of them are not SACEM affiliated, that can causes problems at certain levels, and on the contrary we have additional costs for those who are affiliated. It is not always obvious because we operate in total self-management, and the fact that we are not in the circuit, and do not benefit from the help and agreements with the different organizations, it represents a cost for us. Not to mention that artists who are novice have trouble recovering their rights due to their disorganization. And I am not even talking about ridiculous royalties on streaming …

Do you ever work with other labels? How are the relationships between the different French labels?

Yes, many times, but it has never been a good experience. Collaborating on a release implies a certain organization, rigor, and synchronization between the two labels. Unfortunately, things are such that the internal workings of each are not necessarily in adequacy and complicate the whole process. We often have bad surprises with poor workmanship depending on who managed what. And then, you have to agree on deals, visuals, media, merchandising, distribution … Always quite difficult.

The relationships between the French labels are pretty good, we give each other a helping hand, we also have fun together. We are not competitors and have known each other for a long time.

What are your expectations and goals for the coming year?

I just hope that we can continue our activity as long as possible with the same fervour. I dream of always more rewarding collaborations and memorable moments. Given the current economic situation, our priority is to find a way to be able to maintain the planned releases after the summer. We are currently thinking of alternatives, and are relaunching in these times of confinement, projects that have remained dormant for years. All that remains is to keep our faith and hope that we will at least partially make up for the deficit.

A last word for our readers?

Thank you and Metal Overload for your support. I just encourage the readers to come and have a look at our roster: https://ladlo.bandcamp.com I think our bands are still too largely unknown and yet very deserving.


Picture of Gérald by Thomas Orlanth

Want to know more about Les Acteurs de L’Ombre ?