French experimental one-man-band netra has recently released its second album “Sørbyen”. This unique band that mixes ambient, trip-hop, depressive melancholic black metal and many other genres, seems to be at its peak. They exist since 2003, but it was 2010 when their debut album “Mélancolie Urbaine” was out and now they are back. So it seems the right moment to ask Steven Le Moan (the man behind netra) about his wonderful band.
- Hello Steven. Thank you for your willingness to answer my questions. It hasn’t been too long since the release of your new album. How is it going so far? Is the fans’ response and media feedback encouraging?
Hi! So far I think that the feedback is very encouraging!
- As far as I know, netra was formed back in 2003. Tell us a few words about the beginning of your band. What made you start? Have you ever played in any other group?
I started to write material for netra in 2003, that is correct. Although, I do not know if we can talk about a “formation” since I have always been the only person involved in it. Hard to say what made me start, maybe just the will to create, to convey my thoughts and emotions through some kind of artistic channel. My social awkwardness is probably a good reason as well! On the other hand, I also play the guitar and sing in a rock band called Stangala. It is a totally different business though, it has a lot more to do with Kyuss, Electric Wizard and that kind of heavy, drug-fueled, vintage shit. You can check out our first album on Solitude Productions as well as our videos, featuring vintage zombies and stuff!
- Searching in translators I saw that netra in Indonesian means “blind” or “eye”! Is this where you inspired your band’s name from, or is there anything else behind it?
Well, I did not even know about that! In Breton, a language from the westernmost region in France, netra means “nothing”. It is that simple.
- What is the main idea behind your band? Your music seems like an expression of your very personal emotions. Is there any other message you’d like to spread through your songs?
netra is something really personal of course, but not too much, otherwise there would be no point in sharing it! When it comes to city life, many feelings come to my mind, starting with a lack, some kind of absence. You see, I grew up in a small town, not far from the sea and beautiful forests. This feeling of being surrounded with places where nature still reigns is somehow anchored in me, and when you take it away from me, I tend to become scared, almost claustrophobic. More importantly, city life reminds me of the notion of fear. The fear of social interaction, of other people’s thoughts and judgement. The fear of being different, just as much as the fear of being like everybody else. The fear of embarrassment, boredom and loneliness. The fear of violence and all the horrors we see on the news. All these things are somehow part of the “message” I tend to include in netra’s music.
- You have combined various and theoretically incompatible styles in your albums. What made you experiment with all these genres? How difficult was to mix them and produce this very personal sound of yours? Especially since you compose and play everything in your albums.
It is all a matter of perspective I guess. I never had the intention to blend genres for the sake of being original. That being said, it is always a challenge to find the right sound, melody, lyrics to depict something as abstract as an emotions. Therefore it is necessary to remain open-minded in terms of music “styles” if you want to achieve this goal.
- In 2005 your demo “Emlazh” was out. Tell us a few words about this first effort? How different is it from your current sound?
Haha! Better not talk about that one. It was something extremely personal that should NEVER have gotten out of my head.
- Next year you released the second demo “Mélancolie Urbaine”. Are the songs different from the versions of your debut album?
Indeed! Back at this time, I was not yet thinking about an album. I figured after a while that I needed to bring the “Mélancolie Urbaine” to another level.
- For 4 years netra remained silent, until 2010 when you raised the interest of the Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records. Tell us a few words about this cooperation.
The co-operation is going very well I think. No pressure, plenty of freedom and understanding, what else do I need?
- The same year the full-length version of “Mélancolie Urbaine” was released. Tell us about this wonderful album and the concept behind it.
There is no particular concept behind this album, merely a contemplative view, my view on these deserts of concrete and asphalt called cities as well as a bunch of bad memories.
- Then you moved from your homeland France to Norway and specifically to the neighborhood of Sørbyen in Gjøvik. This change of landscape and lifestyle has obviously affected you, based on the name of your new album. Do you still live in Norway?
Not currently, I moved to Germany a couple of month ago, but I still have to go north every once in a while for my job.
- Can you tell us a few words about your new album “Sørbyen”? What are the differences from your previous works? How would you describe your music?
This new album can be seen as a kind of tribute to the time I spent in Gjøvik, but not only. There are a lot of things in “Sørbyen“, plenty of emotions, memories, good times, bad times, it’s a real slice of life.
- Is there any chance for your fans to see you on stage?
I do not think so. At least not in a foreseeable future.
- What are your music future plans? Has netra found its sound, or will we see different experiments from you in the future? Are you preparing anything new with netra, or any other project?
Hard to say. I hope that netra will keep evolving, but this is not really up to me as I am a slave to inspiration. And She comes rarely these days.
- Are there any bands that inspired you, or any new bands that you believe they worth our attention?
Manes! Listen to “Vilosophe” and forget about all the rest.
- Will netra remain a personal project, or do you think of expanding your band’s line-up?
Today I believe that it will remain that way.
- Thank you very much for your time. Last words are yours.
Thank you very much for your questions. Keep supporting Hypnotic Dirge records!