[INTERVIEW] Isaac Delusion
We sat down on a hot summer evening in our temporary New York loft to Skype one of our favourite French bands, Isaac Delusion. Between the slight language barrier, questionable internet connection, and terrible quality of international Skype calls, we managed to chat to singer, Loic Fleury, about being inspired by travel, the French music scene, their new album, and the hurdles of breaking into the U.S. market.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! Are you in Paris at the moment?
I'm Jules' [from the band] neighbour. We are living in a little city very close to Paris; it's not in Paris, but it's about ten minutes away. It's really cool because it’s very quiet and it's very close. We just take the train and then we are in the centre of the city.
We love Paris. We met because we were housemates in London and we would always travel around Europe. We were there last year for Pitchfork Paris.
Ah yeah, I was there! It was really cool. Where are you living in New York?
Well we bought a one way flight here to travel. We're staying in Brooklyn at the moment, but Nicola is moving to San Francisco at the end of the month.
I love that place — San Francisco — it's my favourite city in the U.S.
Yes, it's beautiful, isn't it? Very European. Lauren's going to stay in New York.
Yes, New York is amazing also. We stayed for one month in Brooklyn, but I wish we could have stayed longer because I love that place.
You guys performed in New York didn't you?
Yeah, we did a little tour last year. We went to New York, Boston, Philly, San Francisco, and San Diego. It was really cool, but I wish we could come back this year.
Are you going to be releasing your album in the States soon? We can't get our hands on it over here!
Yeah, we are in discussion right now with our U.S. team. We think we are going to release an EP this summer with a few singles from the album and after, maybe in the fall, we are going to release the full album. It seems like in France everyone likes the album, but in the U.S. it doesn't seem to work as much. So we are a bit disappointed as we don't have any label deals. It's kind of complicated because maybe it’s not like the U.S.’s type of music. I mean, if you look at the type of bands that are getting quite big right now, like CHVRCHES and stuff, it’s really simple, really poppy, and not quite this mood. I don't know, we'll try later and maybe we'll release the album again.
Well, we've heard of you guys! Didn't you play SXSW?
Yeah, that's how we heard about you. Lauren downloaded this big compilation of music and heard your song, and everyone we've played it to is in love with it. So possibly you just need a good U.S. label or distributor.
Yeah, that’s the big step — finding the distributor. It's so hard when you are French because you are not in the territory and they are not into a lot of French music, so we have to find a way. We will take some time, but I really hope the album will be released soon.
Same here, we want to hear it!
I hope you can hear it soon! It's going to be released in Australia for sure, and in England, but I will tell you when it comes out in the U.S.
So we heard you and Jules met when you were 14?
Yeah, we were in college, no sorry, high school. We met at a party and became friends.
Did you guys instantly start talking about music and the genres you liked?
No no, the funny fact is we were not musicians at the time, just friends. It was later when we were like 19 and started getting interested in music. But before that we just went to parties and smoked some joints together.
And you guys were into completely different genres? You were more into folk and he was more into dance?
Ah, yeah! We are into completely different backgrounds. Jules is more into electro and hip hop music — he listens to a lot of world and African music — and I'm more into indie rock and folk and more emotional music, not based on the rhythm. So it makes a good mix.
Have you and Jules converted each other into the other genres?
Yeah, it’s cool. We listen to what the other is listening to. We are always making exchanges, and it's really interesting to try to understand the other influences of the guys in the band, because if you all listen to the same music it's kind of boring. It's something interesting when it's almost a conflict with our different backgrounds.
So you are a four-piece now?
Yeah, it was jut the two of us for the first gigs and then after we got a bassist called Nicolas. We needed him because we were thinking the music with just me and Jules was too, maybe too cheap? Just a voice and a computer. We were very uncomfortable being just two so we tried putting a bass in it, and the bassist Nicolas is great. He brings a lot of groove and a great energy. And then we decided to take another person, Bastion. He is the keyboardist and also plays guitar and percussion and all that stuff. He brings a lot of funky groove, not just drums but synthetic drums, and a lot of life and his own concepts. That's what we wanted — to be a real band.
Is your new album a completely new sound with the addition of Bastion?
There is new stuff and old stuff. There are some tracks we did at the beginning, like two years ago, and we worked on them a lot and they changed a lot, and we decided not to put them on the record. So there are some new songs that I wrote about a year ago and there is some old stuff. But the thing is that we recorded it last year in summer and it was released a couple of weeks ago, so it is one year old. It's not like new-new stuff; it's just an evolution of the band. And now we can say we have been having some new ideas.
Do you find that having them on board brings something to the band? Or do you still write for them and have control over what they play?
Yeah, the interesting part with the album was we didn't really have any communication — everyone was free to bring what they wanted to bring and nobody would be a control freak about the song. We just felt free to bring ideas and start making the cake with different ingredients. It was a big inspiration to explore all the sounds and it was a big experiment.
Were some songs written in the studio?
Yeah, there were one or two songs written in the studio — "Children of the Night" and the other is an acoustic song called "If I Fall." But the thing is, I have a friend who was sending me lyrics and when we were in the studio, we had two tracks that we were unsure of. So we just got rid of them and replaced them with two new songs that we wrote in the studio. I like the feeling of just doing something really fast. If you think about it, it was made in just two days and will stay in the album forever.
I guess one of the reasons we love your music so much is because it resembles this nostalgic feeling about travel, and we are a travelling music blog, so it resonates well with us. Is there a place in particular that you've travelled to that you think has influenced your music, or is it constant?
Travel is a big influence for us. We like to include a little bit of each country we've been to. For example, there are a lot of Indian and Asian inspired songs on the album because I was travelling in Asia for two months, and after we went on this India tour which also influenced a lot of feelings and atmosphere in the album. Also the title song of the album is about childhood — a child opening his eyes and discovering the world for the first time. It's kind of the same when you travel. It's the same feeling when you are discovering a new country or a culture, and it's like you are a child and you are discovering the world, you know?
Yeah, we don't ever stop travelling because we'll go crazy if we do.
Yeah, I can't do it so much anymore because I had a baby two weeks ago.
Oh wow, congratulations!
So I encourage you guys to travel while you can before you have babies!
Another thing we were going to ask is, outside of making music, what are your other interests or hobbies?
I'm doing a lot of sports, because being a musician is a lot of pressure and sometimes you stay in the same place for so many hours. It's not really healthy to be on tour — you just eat sandwiches and stuff, it's not very healthy for your body. And to be sitting for five hours in one place, you know what it’s like travelling all the time. So I'm doing sports to make me feel good in my skin. I'm going swimming once a day, doing kung-fu. I was learning it from a master in China last year.
I guess we're curious to know as a musician what you think about the Paris or French music scene. Is it inspiring to you?
Yeah sure, in France and Paris there are lots of good bands. It's good being near the city because there is a lot of activity, but sometimes it is hard to find something really interesting because there is just so much stuff. But there is a lot of creativity in pop and indie rock and it's like a new style of music. There is a new energy. I look to myself sometimes, as a reflection, because I sing in English. Paris is a very romantic city and everyone wants to hear French, you know, everyone says French is the most romantic language in the world. But I write in English. I don't know why, I listen to a lot of English music.
Have you ever written any songs in French?
Yeah, I wrote one song for the album actually but it didn't really fit with the rest of the tracks. So we just put it at the back and maybe we will use it soon, but it's different. It's not really the same feeling. It's very hard to make pop music in French because French is very literal. In English you can talk about nothing; you can make nonsense with your words and it works because it's musical. But in French everything is, you mean what you mean, you know? It’s very hard to be poetic.
Are there any bands that you're listening to at the moment or that you'd suggest us listening to?
Right now? I like Jungle, have you heard of them?
Yes, we love Jungle! We just saw them live — they were incredible!
Yeah, the last gig we did we played some of their tracks actually. There are a lot of other bands I like but I don't remember right now.
Yeah, it was last Saturday night. We were in Brooklyn walking along the street going to markets and we were just about to head home when our friend texted us and said, "Come to this unmarked warehouse, this band called Jungle are playing a free show." So we turned around and ran back. It was such a New York moment for us. They were incredible!
I guess our last question is, do you guys have any plans to come back to America?
Yeah, we hope so. We were basically planning to come out for CMJ in October, but it's getting a bit complicated because, as I explained, we haven't found a label or record deal yet. We will come back for sure but we're just not sure when yet.
Isaac Delusion's album is not yet available in the U.S., but those lucky international readers can purchase it via Cracki Records and on iTunes. For those of us here in the States, we will just have to suffice with the three singles they've released so far: "Children Of The Night", "She Pretends", and "Pandora's Box". Here's to hoping we'll be seeing them in October.