If you listen to London/Parisian post-punk act A VOID’s new single Stepping On Snails, you might find yourself luckier than you were before.
A VOID, a three-piece band that originates from Paris but have found themselves making music & thriving in the underground music scene in London, tends to create music that makes listeners have to really look at themselves in the mirror. Their latest track — the punchy, take-no-prisoners “Stepping On Snails” is proof of that. Serving as a metaphor for luck with an aim to spread a powerful message about acceptance of others and oneself, “Stepping On Snails” is about breaking free of any box that restricts you, whether that be from stress, other people’s opinions, and more.
1883 caught up with the band to chat about their new single, their musical journey, and more.
You released your debut EP “Roses as Insides” back in 2016 — how would you say you’ve grown and developed as an artist & songwriter between then and now?
Camille: A lot happened since we released that first EP, at that time the band had a different line up (different drummer and bass player). We recorded everything ourselves, with our own means, probably in like 7 different places. I think you can tell by listening to it that the songs aren’t all the way developed, and we’re very young musicians.
We started to play together with the current drummer Marie this same year (2016) which is also the year we moved to London together as a two-piece. Two years after, we released our first LP “Awkward And Devastated”. When we recorded it, Aaron (bassist) had been playing with us for about 7 months. From the moment the 3 of us were playing together, we knew there was something else happening. This first album, in which we’re still trying to figure our sound, I see as a premise for what was to come after.
We spent a lot more time on the tracks, paying attention to each little detail, our parts became more intricate. Each of us grew individually as well. We started of as this grungy/punkish bands but now, I don’t even know how to define our sound. A lot of artists remove their music online if they feel like it doesn’t represent them anymore but I think it’s interesting to see a band’s evolution, and myself as a listener I get upset if I really like a track by a band, even if it’s very raw, and then they remove it when they release something more “polished”. I believe it’s important to show where you’ve come from, and be proud of the journey.
Your new single is “Stepping On Snails,” what’s the meaning behind it and what inspired you to write & record it?
Camille: “Stepping On Snails” is one of these songs that came together really quickly. I probably wrote the whole thing in 2/3 days. One night on my way home, I had the misfortune to step on 3 of these poor creatures in a row, and complained out loud. A stranger behind me replied “it’s for good luck!”. I had never heard this one before. Maybe he made that up, because I still can’t find anything about this anywhere ahah! A few days after, remembering that phrase, I plugged my electric guitar and came up with the opening riff. The rest just followed. This song is about having purpose, and going against the current in a world filled with stress and where everyone is comparing themselves to each other.
Was there something that you learned about yourself while writing “Stepping On Snails”?
Camille: I wrote this song at a key moment of my life where I started to detach myself as an individual, and realized what it was like to be a part of a community. We’re going through similar yet different hardships and the most important thing to remember is that everyone is going through it, its a common journey we’re engaging in together. The goal is to ”expand our safe space to the universe” as the lyrics say, “our” meaning everyone else’s’ who shares this mindset, and wants to feel welcome and heard, and safe.
Everything we feel is valid, and it’s not because you acknowledge anyone else’s’ troubles that it makes yours any less important. In a lot of my songs, I use of the pronoun “you”, but it can also apply to me in a way. I think we’re constantly projecting how we feel, when I put an injunction such as “Accept your fails, don’t get too stuck”/”cut it off before it messes you up” Im also addressing myself as a reminder, as well as the listener.
When choosing to release a certain song, how do you know when it’s the one you want to release? Is it a feeling, the message in the track, or something else?
We talk about it together with the band, and it usually becomes obvious to everyone. Sometimes we realize that a certain track when we play it live, or play the recording to our friends, gets more attention than others. Some of them also have a catchphrase or a rhythm which is enticing. In some other cases, we get a lot of ideas and concepts for music videos (for example the No Rest video from our first album), but most of the time we all agree which songs are the strongest, not necessarily personal favourites (although.. they’re all our favourites) but the ones which a lyric or a riff which sticks in your head.
You’re always incredibly vulnerable and honest in your songwriting, is that something that comes naturally to you?
Camille: Writing songs has always been a very cathartic process for me, almost therapeutic. A lot of lyrics come from personal experiences. I see music as a healthy way to sublimate somber thoughts, raw emotion. Theres a known deep connection between emotional distress and artistry. I don’t like to say that you have to be in pain to write a good song, but most of my favourite tracks I wrote, I was in a dark place. Instead of lashing out on someone, shutting my brain with weed or alcohol or self harming, which would have been my ways to deal with those situations, I end up picking up a guitar, improvising lyrics, recording myself on the phone, listening back and everything is there. I have a lot of these raw recordings in my phone I often listen back to. Some of them have crying, screaming, voice breaking. I keep a lot of the raw improvised lyrics, which are a bit like automatic writing as I make them up as I sing. It could be me talking to myself, or whoever I would address in that moment. And this makes you understand a lot about yourself as well. Some songs I wrote, I didn’t understand the lyrics until way later.
You’re from Paris and now live in London — how has living in these two places shaped you as artists and songwriter?
Camille: In both Paris and London, you meet such a diverse range of people. It’s not only the international diversity but also a genuine mix of people of different backgrounds. I think because these are both metropoles, intermingling all kinds of people and broadening your mind. Moving to London has been a big step as it’s known to be the capital of rock music, and is rich in underground venues, bands, and the scene is constantly evolving. There are a lot of interesting artists here today bringing something new to the table and inspiring us to become better musicians. Being french, living in London also drastically improved my english, which makes it much more natural in terms of writing lyrics.
Your visuals are incredibly stunning. Are visuals something you come up with or think about when you’re writing your songs or is it something that you determine after?
Camille: Thank you!! The visuals appear after the song is written usually . The visual for our first album “Awkward and Devastated” was an idea i’ve had for a long time and kept drawing obsessively. When we chose the name for the album, I thought about my little destroyed soft boiled egg and it applied to the title really well. When we decide on a title (or more like when the titles appear to us), the ideas for the artwork or videos are much clearer. The lyrics have a lot of metaphorical images in them too, which helps a lot with visuals.
What was it like coming up with the music video concept for “Stepping on Snails”?
We (Camille and Marie) came up with this concept during the first lockdown. When we listened to this song, we pictured ourselves running around everywhere, running from something. In the first chorus with the lyric “Joining the race despite the way is cursed”, this race we wanted to represent in the video, in which we’re escaping from a sort of hospital facility. In the beginning when we imagined the concept, we were picturing ourselves running away from the police in the streets, getting captured again and ending locked in this room. We also had an alternate ending. The scenario changed a lot over time, also considering the pandemic restrictions, and our small budget obviously. We drew the entire storyboard together, and when you look at the shots from the video, lots of them are almost identical to what we drew (great job team Aeris Houlihan and Tommy Keeling!!). For the snails shots, we ordered 48 live snails online (couldn’t order less than this for some weird reason). Aaron took care of them before and after the video before releasing them. I think they had a great time, as they were roaming on our faces and not hiding in their shells, and they even pooped on our cheeks many times as you can see if you zoom in the video!
If there were three artists you’d like to collaborate with, who would they be and why?
We’d love to tour with Citris, from NY, who is probably collectively our favourite band right now. We just wanna bang our heads to their set and scream our hearts out to their awesome tunes. We’d also like to tour with Black Country, New Road, and maybe teach them to onche onche ondulé a little bit more during their set, as it is our domain of predilection. There’s many artists we’d like to collab with, in different domains. It would be really nice to get a music video done with Charlotte Ercoli who is a young videographer and photographer from LA and has a particular aesthetic which would fit with our vibes really well. But for a band whose sound is constantly evolving, who knows what will influence our desired collaborations in the future. We individually have very different views on life, music and art. But collectively we strive to have the most fun and make powerful music that will influence and inspire musicians and artist all over their world.
After someone is done listening to your music, what do you hope they feel?
After listening to A VOID, we want you to feel empowered and chaotic. We hope you quit your job, tell your toxic friends or family to f*** off, that you realize you can do anything you want. We hope you smash your phones and tablets on the wall. We hope you go skip in the forest and speak to squirrels and flowers. That you move in a self sufficient farm with a community of people, grow your own vegetables, brew your own beer, start knitting or bee keeping, stop buying stuff you don’t need to make up for the lack of love in your life. We hope you feel like you have the power to change your views on where you stand currently in life no matter who or what it might affect. It’s a movement about freedom and striving to to be the best you. And if you’re already there, just enjoy this journey with us.
If there was something you could manifest this year, what would it be & why?
We hope that this year is the year where this whole scene gets a big spotlight on. It only needs one act to get the others to peak through. We know so many bands, all around the world who, like us, have been working super hard and making absolutely amazing music, writing masterpieces. But they’re not necessarily know that much about marketing, or don’t make music which is deemed commercial enough to catch the interest of major record labels/journalists. Today, the cream doesn’t rise to the top anymore. It’s a lot of who your friends are. But a lot of the artists who are pretty well known now will be forgotten in a few years. Most of our favourite bands have very few views or social media following, but when we play it to other people, they’re like “damn who’s this??”, when we go see them live, everyone jumps everywhere because the music is so good. This is all we can do for now, organically sharing each other’s work we enjoy, supporting each other. But hopefully next year we’ll have a massive gathering of all these artists and get more people to find out about this community and onche onche ondulé with us.
Stepping On Snails is out now.