Vision Eternel Interview for The Spill Magazine
Vision Eternel has a new interview feature running over at The Spill Magazine thanks to journalist Aaron Badgley. Badgley had previously reviewed Vision Eternel’s new concept extended play For Farewell Of Nostalgia, also for The Spill Magazine. The interview, conducted on February 11, 2021, covers Vision Eternel’s tradition for Valentine’s Day releases and exclusives as well as some background information on the band and future plans. A highly-edited version of the interview can be read here.
Since the unedited version was never hosted online, the full interview is now presented here for archival purposes:
-What are the origins of Vision Eternel? Where did the name come from?
Vision Eternel started in January 2007. I was not planning to start a new band or musical project; it was not a deliberate idea. I was having a difficult time recovering from a past relationship; it had been many months and I still could not get over an ex-girlfriend. One night, I was sitting in my then newly-built recording studio, Mortified Studios, which was located in an annex to my parents’ house in Edison, New Jersey. I was holding one of my guitars and I began to fiddle around with it, not playing anything in particular, just letting my emotions take over the movement of my fingers. I had no genre, style or direction in mind, no one that I was trying to copy or sound like. I was simply playing notes that sounded beautiful to my ears and echoed what my heart was feeling.
Since I was already in my studio, I quickly recorded that new song; it later took on the title Love Within Beauty. That was the first Vision Eternel song. But I had no immediate plan for this recorded piece. It was very beautiful and emotional but it had little connection to any of my other bands and it was too short to be released on its own. It felt more like an interlude; something to be used between other songs.
Things began taking shape a couple of nights later while I was sitting in bed playing with another one of my guitars. I found myself in the same mood and allowed my fingers to again play uninhibitedly. This resulted with another very short, beautiful song and I rushed down to my studio to record it, switching to the same guitar that had been used to record the first song. This second song later took on the title Love Within Isolation.
It was only once these two pieces were together that I began to see the potential of a full release in this style of music. I wound up composing and recording four more songs within a few weeks and that became the band’s first six-song concept extended play Seul Dans L’obsession. During the writing and recording of these additional songs, I quickly developed the concept of the extended play. Since I had written these songs during bouts of extreme depression about a certain girl, this extended play would be dedicated to the memory of our relationship. It would document it. Each song on the release was titled after a different phase of our lives together, from meeting her to losing her, and having to live through that loss. The concept went even deeper: taking the first letter from each song title spelled out her name:
Love Within Beauty
Love Within Restriction
Love Within Autumn
Love Within Narcosis
Love Within Delirium
Love Within Isolation;
her name was Brandi.
Since this was a concept extended play about love, I decided to release it on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2007. The first release came together very quickly, within less than a month, and I also filmed a music video for the single Love Within Narcosis. In May of that year, I began composing the band’s sophomore concept extended play, which was eventually released in early 2008 as Un Automne En Solitude. With that second release, Vision Eternel introduced the greater story-line concept; a concept bridging multiple releases together into a continuous narrative. Seul Dans L’obsession had introduced the “Boy finds girl, boy loses girl” theme; with Un Automne En Solitude, the story-line expanded to “Boy finds girl, boy loses girl. Boy finds girl again, boy loses girl again.” Much later on, I realized that this story-line paralleled my favourite film, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which I had been watching repeatedly during that period of my life.
That greater story-line concept continued through all future Vision Eternel concept extended plays: Abondance De Périls, released in 2010, The Last Great Torch Song, released in 2012, and For Farewell Of Nostalgia, released in 2020. The 2015-released concept extended play Echoes From Forgotten Hearts was originally composed and recorded as a soundtrack to a short film, so it did not technically fall within that greater story-line.
With regards to naming this new project in 2007, half of it was intentional, the other half imposed. At the time, I was part of a music collective named Triskalyon. The purpose of Triskalyon was originally to bring together like-minded black metal musicians from different parts of the world and to help each other out with different phases of creating a release. Each member of the collective had different skills and we all respected and admired each other. If one person lacked a drummer for his release, then another member would fill that position. If artwork was needed, one of the members could provide that. If lyrics or vocals were lacking, someone could help out. At least, that was the idea once it was started.
The members of Triskalyon also co-founded the record label Mortification Records, which was intended to be operated as a collective as well. Everyone would help to finance each release, and since it was likely that several members of the collective had contributed to the release in some way, then it would have made sense that we all help in the promotion and distribution of the material. It was a wonderful idea but it unfortunately fell apart quickly and only a select few of its members ended up actively composing, recording and releasing material.
One of the ideas that came from Triskalyon was to name each of the members’ solo projects Vision something. The goal was to unify all of the solo projects and for them to be easily identified as Visions since they were from one person’s point of view. Some of the solo projects were Vision Pariah, Vision Sufferance, Vision Solitude and Vision Lunar. As Vision Eternel was started as a solo project (I later recruited a handful of band members), the word vision needed to be used, and I was happy to use it. I chose the name Vision Eternel because it represented the way that I felt at the time and the theme that I had documented on the debut release: the eternality of recovering from a break-up. The thought that these memories would stay with me forever.
The original spelling of the band’s name was Vision Éternel, with an acute accent over the capital E. I deliberately misspelled the word Éternel, resulting with a word half-way between the English eternal and the French éternelle (because vision is feminine in French). This was done so that anyone looking up the band name on Google would, hopefully, view relevant results. The accent over the E proved to be troublesome over the years, with people trying to pronounce it in French while it was always intended to be pronounced in English as Vision Eternal. It also caused broken URLs, dead links, having to customize fonts for artworks and a confusion since none of the logos utilized the accent. So in 2018, I officially corrected the band’s name to Vision Eternel (without an accent).
-Valentine’s Day is coming and Vision Eternel has a treat for fans? What is it? How did that tradition start?
Vision Eternel is offering a free Valentine’s Day exclusive: a b-side titled Moments Of Nostalgia (Acoustic Backing Version).
Valentine’s Day has always been an important date for the band since our releases revolve around heartbreak. February 14, 2021 marks the fourteen-year anniversary of Vision Eternel’s debut extended play Seul Dans L’obsession, the twelve-year anniversary of the Japanese compilation An Anthology Of Past Misfortunes and the six-year anniversary of the extended play Echoes From Forgotten Hearts. It is also the second year in a row for which artist Rain Frances provides an original charcoal drawing to accompany the Valentine’s Day exclusive treat.
I always made it a goal to release new Vision Eternel material on Valentine’s Day but a lot of the time, the deadline was missed and a release was pushed back to March 14th, or April 14th. I try to at least have the 14th of a month lined up for a release. For example, Vision Eternel’s latest release, For Farewell Of Nostalgia, was released on September 14, 2020. Over the years, I became more and more disappointed with missing a Valentine’s Day release date and I began to offer Vision Eternel fans a special treat to make up for it, or to tie them over until the release date.
Vision Eternel does not have a new release to put out on Valentine’s Day 2021, but I still wanted to highlight the date. Therefore, Vision Eternel is offering an unreleased take from the For Farewell Of Nostalgia re-recording session: Moments Of Nostalgia (Acoustic Backing Version). Parts of this song were recorded during a series of acoustic guitar sessions that took place at Mortified Studios between November 5–11, 2019. None of the acoustic material from those sessions has been released yet so this is somewhat of a premiere!
The song Moments Of Nostalgia, which closes the concept extended play For Farewell Of Nostalgia, was originally envisioned with a rhythm acoustic guitar track slowly building up in the background. Not unlike one heard on David Bowie’s song Space Oddity. I spent a week tracking with two different acoustic guitars at Mortified Studios; one was a twelve-string acoustic guitar, the other a six-string acoustic guitar. During those recording sessions, many new ideas flourished, such as recording acoustic versions of each of the four songs from the extended play, as well as acoustic b-sides. Plans were considered for an acoustic companion extended play and for the release of a single for the song Moments Of Intimacy, which would have included several different versions of the composition packaged in a slimline jewel case.
Unfortunately, the acoustic sessions were problematic. After days of unsuccessful mixing sessions, the acoustic parts on Moments Of Nostalgia were re-recorded with an electric guitar and plans of releasing the acoustic material was shelved.
The working version of Moments Of Nostalgia, with its acoustic guitar backing track, was re-discovered in late 2020 while trying to choose a song to give fans on Valentine’s Day 2021. I was surprised by how good it was and how much I was able to enjoy it. In hindsight, the mixing was not as bad as it had seemed at the time. I also noticed that this version features different effects over the ending of the song; effects that were phased out during the electric guitar re-recording session. It offers a different perspective and mood to the song, yet since this was an unfinished version, it does not feature any bass or eBow, as the completed song did on the extended play.
-What is your creative process?
My creative process for Vision Eternel is rather solitary. I tend to isolate myself in my studio for periods of time when I get the urge to compose and record new music and I associate with even less people than I normally do. I am a bit of a hermit to begin with so being by myself to work on my art is very fulfilling.
Specifically with Vision Eternel, I also make it a point not to listen to music while I compose or record new material because I want it to come from within me, not from outside sources and influences. The influences are therefore not direct but more so from my subconscious; things that I may have heard repeatedly over the years or from tiny portions of melodies heard in passing or from my past. Vision Eternel is very much emotion-based, not genre or style-based. It honours a deeply rooted ongoing depression and nostalgic memories rather than being attracted to specific trends in music. By that I mean that I follow my heart and the composing, recording and mixing is entirely controlled by how I feel, not by what others, in any genre, are doing.
I used to be very strict with how I approached song writing and recording for Vision Eternel. I limited myself to a single electric guitar, tuned in a specific way. The first two extended plays were recorded with that guitar, and that initially established the “Vision Eternel sound”, which was partly due to the specific pickups on that instrument. Abondance De Périls and most of The Last Great Torch Song were recorded with a different guitar, in a different tuning. But that guitar also used the same pickups as the guitar used for the first two releases. On Abondance De Périls, I also began using an eBow, and on The Last Great Torch Song I began incorporating bass. The Last Great Torch Song also introduced longer Vision Eternel songs; prior to that, all songs were very short, between one to two minutes in length and resulted with the extended plays lasting between ten to fifteen minutes.
Echoes From Forgotten Hearts was approached in a very different way because I was personally contacted to compose a soundtrack, not Vision Eternel. So I was able to write songs as freely as when I had first established Vision Eternel. It was only once the short film was shelved, and I decided to re-work the soundtrack into an extended play, that I affiliated it with Vision Eternel. I felt that the music most closely resembled what Vision Eternel was doing at that point.
By the time that I began composing new material for For Farewell Of Nostalgia, I had decided to end, or put under hiatus, all of my other bands in order to focus solely on Vision Eternel. It had always been my favourite and most personal band so it was easy to choose it over any of the others. That allowed me to incorporate different elements which I once reserved for other projects. For example, the longer, more hypnotic, repetitive codas were a staple of my band Soufferance. The layered instruments were things that I utilized in Citadel Swamp. And the emotional guitar leads were brought over from my work in Éphémère. I felt that I could finally incorporate the compositional things that I liked best from each of my bands, into the band which I liked best. So the material that appears on For Farewell Of Nostalgia is still very familiar in style and sound to existing Vision Eternel fans, but it probably also appeals to people who have enjoyed my work with other bands.
-What is next for Vision Eternel?
I spent nearly four years putting together Vision Eternel’s For Farewell Of Nostalgia so I really want to take the next year to fully promote it. I feel that it is still an unknown release; that people have not had a chance to hear it.
It has been released on compact disc through Somewherecold Records and on double-compact cassette through Geertruida; each comes with different exclusive bonus songs. There was also an early promotional compact disc made by Abridged Pause Recordings that comes with yet another exclusive bonus song.
My biggest goal right now is to see Vision Eternel’s For Farewell Of Nostalgia released on vinyl in 2021. I am trying to secure a record label deal for that. It would also come with an exclusive bonus song and I have plans to bundle it with some very special merchandise.
It might be quite a while before I get around to composing and recording new material for Vision Eternel. I tend to work a little slower than most bands that I have come across in the ambient genre. I really believe in quality over quantity, so as a rule, I do not rush out several Vision Eternel releases every year. Even if Vision Eternel is a studio band, I want each release to mean something so I try to space them out and promote them adequately. I have made the mistake, with some of my previous bands, of jumping to another release too quickly. By the time that one release was available to the public, I had already recorded two more that were awaiting a release date. That made it difficult to remain connected with the material being promoted because there was already newer content in mind. With Vision Eternel, I very much follow my own pace and do not adhere to industry standards or marketing tactics.
But I do have some ideas for future Vision Eternel releases. One of the plans discussed with a couple of record labels is to re-release Vision Eternel’s 2015 concept extended play Echoes For Forgotten Hearts as a deluxe edition. The release was originally composed and recorded as the soundtrack to a short film, but the movie was never completed. Instead of allowing the songs to remain unreleased, I went back to my studio to edit, re-mix and partly re-record the soundtrack and turn it into an extended play. The deluxe re-issue would feature both versions: the soundtrack version, which was never heard publicly, and a re-mastered version of the extended play version. It would also feature new artwork.
As for brand new Vision Eternel material… Immediately after completing the recording of For Farewell Of Nostalgia, I had a few ideas for new songs. These were songs, or ideas of songs, that came to me during the re-recording session of For Farewell Of Nostalgia (it was recorded twice) in October–November 2019. I did not want to distract myself from the principal release so I quickly recorded demos of those new songs in my studio and put them aside. Since I want to remain focused on the promotion of For Farewell Of Nostalgia, and see it through a vinyl release, I will not be revisiting those demos for at least a couple of years. So those demos may or may not be used when the next release comes around. I also have a few ideas for the theme and story-line of that next release, but that may all change by the time that it comes to completion, likely not before 2025!