In King Arthur's Times...

Interview with Neoclassical-music-artist Eric Roger from Gae Bolg

This interview as conducted via Email by Marcus Stiglegger in May 2005.

1. Could you please comment on the basic concept of Gae Bolg - especially on the mythical background of the name and its context for your work?

Gaë Bolg is not a concept. It’s me, or a part of me, or a deformation of what I’m, or of what I could be… The name in itself also reflect this idea, or lack of idea (depend of the interpretation, of the day, and of what you’ve drunk before)…

2. Gae Bolg mainly focusses on ancient topics on mythical and historical aspects. Do you see this in a context pointing to the present - therefore being a kind of timeless idea - or is this an attempt in escapism and fantasy-roleplay?

Being a timeless fool in our real world seems to be a good rule for Gaë Bolg…

3. Your early CDs show a good sense of humor, while the new CD is more serious, varied, even dark. How important is the humorous aspect for you?

How is it possible today to be completely serious with music?
Some of people in this world have to fight against oppressors, for their liberty, or died of hungriness, or of horrible illness. Some others have lost an arm, or a foot, or have been tortured, just because their ideas or religion are different, or just because of the colour of their skin, or of the origin of their birth.
In the same time, we live (more or less) comfortably in our little easy lives (a lot of people have not this chance, even in our countries), in our little democracies, who work (more or less) correctly in comparison to many other governments. And for our pleasure, because it’s finally just a pleasure, or just a noisy expression of our own ego, we do music, what is, in our world, simply a luxe! We can put a certain content in it, or not, but the action of this content on the rest of the planet is anyway very limited, not to say null. The seriousness of this pseudo-intellectual industrial-darkfolk scene, as for many people who pretend to do “avant-garde” art, is really ridiculous and just look like childish masturbation… For the people who really want to change things in this world, instead of speaking with empty words, they can engage themselves in the “confédération paysanne” (of José Bové), Attac (for the Tobin tax), diverse green associations, or things in the same range...

4. What are your influences besides mythical sources - music, films, art in general?

My principal sources of inspiration are, in complete disorder:

Music: Stockhausen, The Residents, Pärt, Art Bears, Steve Reich, Cabaret Voltaire, Cage, Morton Feldman, Fred Frith, The Lounge Lizards, Aulis Sallinen, Univers Zero, Bax, Psychic TV, Takemitsu, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Renaldo and the loaf, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Henry Cow.

Film: Greenaway, Herzog, Burton, Kaurismaki, Klapisch, Tati, Monty Python.

Books: Paasilina, Eco, Bukovsky, Nothomb.

Painting: Klimt, Kokoschka, Matta, Ciurlionis, Bacon, Bosch, Brueghel, Münch.

Most of this people have, I think, not only a strong personality, but also what we can call “a vision”. Something related to mysticism. Or better say, a life with no frontier between their art and their life… I feel me very close to that (despite the fact that I’ve not their genius!), more than to any mythical source…

5. You use a lot of different instruments and sounds. How many people are involved in your band? To what degree is Gae Bolg a 'studio band' - and how do you transfer this concept on the stage?

The Church of Fand is, amongst all, a big family and work a bit like a hip hop collective: everybody have his own abilities, wishes and projects (musical or not) and help the others in the realisation of theirs.
About Gaë Bolg specifically, I’m the only responsible of the music, especially in studio (despite some friends who are playing some instruments I’m not able to play), but Gaë Bolg live is something different and is more a show than a pure concert, due to the real involvement of the others (musically and visually) and can not be considered as only a “transfer of the studio”.

6.You played as a member of the british neo-folk-band Sol Invictus. How did you come to know Tony Wakeford? How were your experiences on the recent tour which seemed to be overshadowed by a lot of misunderstanding and diffamation?

I met him around some years ago through Yann Farcy of the French label Noise Museum, who organised at the time a very nice festival in Nevers. Tony needed for the concert someone to do orchestrations, arrangements, scores and organising rehearsals with classical musicians, what I did. It was the beginning of an around 10 years collaboration.
About the recent tour, it was a bit strange. Musically speaking, it was very satisfying, the new line up worked very well I think. About all the rest… well… what can I say… So many things are to considerate…
On one side, I definitely don’t understand the fact of “doing denunciation”, which has more to do with the attitude of the “collaborators” during the WWII than with the attitude of people who pretend to defend democracy.
In the other side, I absolutely agree that people have definitely the right to protest, especially with a scene which is well known to vehicle many dodgy ideas, topics, imagery and ambiguity and which seems to be a good place for the rebirth of ideas we would like to see definitely engraved in the past. Personally speaking, I don’t want to have anything to do with right wing, fascism or all this form of stinky ideas and smelly ambiguity, and I absolutely understand that some people protest against bands which can defend those ideas, or who’re hidden in the shadow of ambiguity. I just think that Tony is not the good target and that anyway “denunciation” is not a democratic attitude!!! Personally, if I think that a band is dodgy, I just boycott it!!!

7. For a tribute to Sol Invictus you covered "Death of the West" in a very monumental way - do you consider this a kind of parody?

I’m clearly a humanist and a pacifist. I strongly believe that the future of human race is in friendship and exchanges between all the different cultures and people of the world, and not in ultra-liberalism, individualism, extremism and nationalism of any sort. This is what I’ve tried to transcribe in this “free interpretation” of this song, more than anything parodic.

8. You recently decided to skip a performance at the very recommended Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig.Could you comment on the reasons for this decision?

Many reasons conduct me to take this decision. The first one was the unacceptable contract I received!!! I never seen that before!!!
The second reason is linked to the first one: many unanswered questions (about by example such important things like technical list and soundcheck), we’d to pay 1 night of hotel, and despite we were not paid for playing (we just recover our transport fares), we should have to pay to sale our own merchandising at the end of our concert!!!
If it has been only that, It should have been an enough good reason to not play.
But it was another reason, which is probably the most important to my eyes, and it’s related to what I said earlier in this interview: I don’t want to be programmed with bands which could vehicle a certain ambiguity, or who sign on labels which could vehicle ideas or ambiguity not conform to my opinions and ethic.

9. How important is a political aspect for your work? Do you think art and politics should be held separately?

Personally, I don’t want to mix art and politics. You can just find in my music a certain background of humanism and ecology, but it’s again just a personal attitude and a reflect of what I am, and absolutely not a dogma.

10. Are you in contact with your fans? What kind of reactions do you get?

Some of my supporters seem to be at least as mad as me! It’s good to see that I’m not alone!!!

11. What are your future plans?

Actually, we’re rehearsing for some live dates next October. I’ve begin to work on a new Gaë Bolg album temporary called “Requiem”. I will also finish soon “Le cri”, the next Seven Pines cd. Not to mention a new project with Karl Blake... Very few time for sleeping in fact!!!

Thanks for your ansers and all the best for your future plans.