Clytem Scanning interview

Paris’ own Clytem Scanning, has a chat with SYS about her new LP and about what else she’s got going on:

Tell me about your new album Mirada Fuerte. How does it differ from your last one?
It is more aggressive, more insidious and darker. It was made in a shorter time, so it is more coherent, and I knew I wanted the music to sound less like “nice pop music”. I also think the influences of the first album have been erased. The musical style is still very close: the piling of sounds, the layers of synth melodies, the way the vocals develop in a song, but the main “spirit” is much different. It’s like I was totally trained for a fight or physically very in shape for a race… I felt very well writing the songs, singing, recording… The whole process was easy, which was not the case with the first one… Here I just knew what I wanted from the beginning (composition) to the end (master). There is also another slight difference: the lyrics. It was really important for me to tell a story and not only create an atmosphere with abstract words like in [previous album] Armada. I considered this task painful because I do not do it naturally… I had to force myself… but since I’ve been making music, this is the first time I am happy with the lyrics.

There is also less hope in Mirada Fuerte. It may be due to the fact that there is no musical collaboration and so there is no other human adding a sensitive touch to the music… Just me fighting…

Was it a conscious decision to make it so different or did it happen organically?
“Organically”? This album is mecanic… no organs in it, whatsoever. It is a machine that screams, gets softened temporarily and re-screams the second after…. Armada is a dead album now and I think I don’t even remember most of the lyrics in it… I wanted Mirada Fuerte to be different, I did it on purpose. I did it to start anew, to clean myself.

Where did you take inspiration from when writing/recording the album?
Most of the inspiration comes from Hijikata dance. I would sum up the influences in two distinct groups: the finnish music of Pan Sonic and Mika Vainio (although I think now that Mirada is very far from them..) and the Hiijikata butoh dance, which is definitely the prior influence. Three years ago I bought a DVD of the dance shows in the 70s and was totally excited by the sounds, the images, the whole ambiance. I was so deeply thrilled that it penetrated the first songs I did then and it never left me till the end of the album. Now I try to focus on other stuff but yes, Hijikata + Pan Sonic are the two main inspirations: agressivity, no compromise, dark and direct, guts and blood…

How do your songs come to you? Does a melody/lyric pop into your head while you’re walking down the street or do you sit down very focused and say “I’m going to write a song about this now”?
I finished writing the songs for Mirada last year, when Armada was released. I could have released it last year in fact except that I wanted coherent lyrics and a very good mix. The songwriting on the computers was very quick: I just had to sit down every day from 6pm to 3am at my desk and work, work, work and after few months, I had 12 correct songs. Melodies never pop into my head, and this way of composing never works with me. I turn my computer on, sit on my chair, open a new file in Live and just go. I did that every day without thinking too much. I work for other stuff during the day, often intellectual material, so you see, when I make music, I turn my brain off. I just go. It may sound stupid and it lacks romanticism but this is the way it works for me. On this album anyway.

I don’t believe in out-of-machine melodies. My melodies pop up facing the computer, with the micro on. Now I haven’t written new music for many months. I just have to finish my PhD and will make another album soon. No idea about it yet, just impressions. Well see… maybe experimental rumba? I am terribly anxious at the idea of not creating enough…

You always have very inventive video clips to accompany your songs. Do you enjoy making them and where do you get your ideas from?
Of course, I enjoy making the videos. They are part of the process and I feel more at ease with images. My day-to-day job deals with images all day long so I have no difficulty making videos and I like the way it works: first music with a specific timeline and then filing the timeline with sequences. I always have great fun doing it! Contrary to music, images come when I walk, swim, smoke, eat… I have tons of ideas and keep very, very few of them for different reasons, most of them are very pragmatic: I do not have the money, I do not have a team, I do not have space. All my videos are made on my own, with a very very low budget of 0 euros.

Will you be playing any live shows soon?
I don’t think so. Well I shouldn’t say that because it is definitely not good for promotion. I say: “Listen to me music but don’t expect me to play it live!” This is not very professional because most of the bands now play their music live to sell their merch and it has become the only way to make a living with music and to diffuse it basically. So it is a bit arrogant to say that. But the fact is that I don’t think I like playing live anymore. I have done that for many years with previous bands but I don’t think it pleases me now: it is tiring, it takes a lot of time and energy because I am on my own. I have started to make a list of positive and negative points. There are tons of positive aspects: the joy of singing, the very loud sound, the audience responding, the perspiration and physicality on stage, the moment before going on stage… but I counted more negative points at the end: the travel, the preparation, the time of waiting (I hate waiting!), the group (I love loneliness), the repetition, the process (soundcheck – wait – dinner – wait – live – drink – sleep). I am not really into getting on well with people at a bar with a beer… so I get bored after a certain time. If I had a real band with real musicians with a live-set completely under control and a tour manager dealing everything for me, well, then, maybe I would change my mind about it, but it is not the case and it will never be, I guess.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2012 and 2013?
2012 is almost over and my planning is almost done: release of the album, promotion, and tons of videos. I have already done two videos: one for Dawn be Gone and another for Doll Dance. I plan to make three or four before Christmas if I have the time. I would like also to re-install my studio in my apartment to start with a new plan for the third album. I have also re-arranged lately my whole collection of cds and re-discovered stuff that I thought was lost like Soundtrack of Can or Rever or Larsen… There are simple pleasures of life!

Basically: 2013 = start a new album / PhD / make videos for Mirada Fuerte.
But for the time being = promotion / release of the album / videos for Gibasa, Mélasse, and I Am Gold.

Which means still a lot of time on my computer, alone in the dark….

a bientôt.


Interview by Bobby Townsend. Clytem Scanning’s second album, Mirada Fuerte, is released in November. You should totally follow her on Facebook and check out her new videos at her website too.