Noblesse Oblige (Electro-Alternative Punk, FR, DE)
Autor: Richard Constantinidi
Etichete: Aleister Crowley, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Berlin, Charlotte Rampling, Der Räuber Und Der Prinz, Electro-alternative Punk, Femme Façade, France, Germany, Kenneth Anger, Night Train To Krakow, Noblesse Oblige, Sebastian Lee Philipp, Steppenwolf Music Prize Award, The Night Porter, Tropical Malady, Valerie Renay, Voodoo Literature
Currently Berlin based duo Noblesse Oblige was formed in London in 2004 by German songwriter/producer Sebastian Lee Philipp and French actress, singer and songwriter Valerie Renay.
Valerie Renay is a trained actress and has directed several theatre shows. She also starred in Edwin Brienen’s 2008 arthouse movie L’amour Toujours and regularly performs with the pseudonym of Femme Facade.
Sebastian Lee Philipp is a music producer with his own Berlin recording studio in which he records and produces artists and occasionally writes film soundtracks. He also makes music as half of Der Räuber und der Prinz.
CZB: Valerie. What’s your poison?
Valerie Renay (Noblesse Oblige): Sebastian!
CZB: Sebastian. What’s your poison?
Sebastian (Noblesse Oblige): It always depends on the phase of the moon…..
CZB: In what sense do you believe that Privilege Entails Responsibility in 2010?
Sebastian Lee Philipp (Noblesse Oblige): An expression like noblesse oblige feels to me like a nostalgic and romantic blast from the past. It feels comforting in 2010 that people ever came up with beautiful phrases like that.
CZB: Why do you believe Gothic Music works so well with Cabaret imagery?
Valerie (Noblesse Oblige): They are both very visual and expressive forms of style and when treated with respect they can indeed work wonderfully together, like Charlotte Rampling singing “Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte” in The Night Porter!
CZB: Why did you have to go into Exile to meet and record your debut album? How did you two meet?
Sebastian (Noblesse Oblige): I think we are both quite restless people who wanted to escape the conformities of our youth and we were both very attracted to London which at the time to both of us felt like the sort of clichee Mecca for music, parties, etc. So in a way, it’s no surprise we met there, at a masquerade ball, one cold November night, almost exactly 6 years ago.
CZB: Why did you make the move from London to Berlin? How do you believe that Berlin is WHERE IT’S AT in 2010 on an artistic level?
Sebastian (Noblesse Oblige): I think it’s important for every artist to move around, not to get too comfortable in one place, avoiding moving in circles. Berlin is a very young and dynamic city and this makes it a great place to be for artists from all over the world. That doesn’t mean it makes the Berlin Art any better than elsewhere, but the standard of living and the energy of the city are still very inspiring.
CZB: Your second album got you the Russian Steppenwolf Music Prize Award for “best foreign band” … how important is this for the band and why do you consider you got such a prize from Russia and not England, France or Germany ?
Sebastian (Noblesse Oblige): I think Russians and Eastern Europeans in general are much more open to different styles of music and sometimes I think they generally have a greater appreciation for Art in general, especially the kind that is not mainstream. I mean, this prize was called the Steppenwolf award. The fact it was named after the Hermann Hesse novel because in the eyes of the initiator of the award it is the book with the most passionate description of the power of music, says a lot about the artistic understanding of the curators of such an award.
CZB: Valery. The alter ego: Femme Façade. Describe Femme Façade to me, please.
Valerie (Noblesse Oblige): I write, direct and perform my solo theatre work under the name of Femme Façade. I tell very personal stories about intimate dreams, desire, fears and my vision of the world. I perform internationally at Theatre and Performance festivals.
CZB: Sebastian. Der Räuber und der Prinz. why did you feel this project was necessary for your artistic experience, besides Noblesse Oblige?
Sebastian: It is important for me to explore all my artistic possibilities. With DRUDP I work in ways that would not be possible with Noblesse Oblige and I feel that at the same time, the projects also influence each other. We are about to release our new single this month!
CZB: What made you feel the Malady? How did the Malady develop?
Sebastian: It all started with a Tarot project in London in 2008, just after we had released In Exile. Since then Aleister Crowley and Voodoo literature played a big role in our minds. We tried to explore all these spiritual and occult themes and we built it up to a concept theme for our album.
To me the word Malady symbolises a mental affliction, a haunting of a passionate nature.
The title was also inspired by Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film Tropical Malady which, in my opinion, expresses precisely this dreamlike ordeal.
CZB: You have been accused of offensive nonsense. What is Fashion Fascism metaphorically about?
Sebastian: It isn’t metaphorical. It’s literally a song about the Faschist nature of the fashion industry – it’s supposed to be a joke of course. We have been accused of offensive nonsense because the people who describe us that way have no sense of humour. Little did they know, they came up with a brilliant song name for us.
CZB: How do you feel about visiting Transylvania for the first time (27.NOV.2010, Booha Bar, Cluj-Napoca, Romania) and have you had a certain trip that inspired lyrics for one of your songs?
Valerie: My first and only trip to Krakow became Night Train To Krakow a song on our first album.
Visiting a place for the first time is always very exciting, I’m looking forward to meeting a new audience in Cluj!
Noblesse Oblige released their 3rd album Malady, an occult concept album that cites the visual mysticism of Kenneth Anger, Aleister Crowley’s storytelling, and the morbid melancholy of Christina Rossetti’s poetry.
The album is the conclusion of an exploration of the occult, initiated by the band’s involvement in Robert Pacitti’s 2009 London Spill Festival Tarot Deck project, for which Noblesse Oblige (in collaboration with photographer Manuel Vason) were asked to visualize their own interpretation of The Lovers Major Arcana card.
The album’s title, partly inspired by Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film Tropical Malady, is a modern day ghost story set in the jungles of Thailand. Valerie, who during her teenage years lived on the French Caribbean island of Martinique — one of the heartlands of voodoo practice — worked up her own memories of myths and stories told by the locals, including her voodoo priestess neighbour.
Fittingly, the production of the album also features several exotic ingredients such as timbales, kazoo and ukulele in continuation of the band’s use of world music sounds, mixed with their traditional blend of kitsch and new wave theatricality — for as dark its subject matter is, Malady contains some Noblesse Oblige’s most melodic and poppy moments yet.
The album artwork features photography made in collaboration with Bulgarian artist Kiril Bikov, who has relevantly captured Malady’s romantic gloom, incorporating all the elements referred to on the album.
Interview by: RiCo
First posted on 24.NOV.2010
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