Jean-Christophe : Hello LEF, nice to meet you in Strasbourg, first time here ?
LEF : Yes, it’s the first time in Strasbourg as O.R.k. and I’ve never played here with all my other projects so it is definitively my first time here.
Jean-Christophe : How is the tour going on ?
LEF : It’s doing great. The very first part of the tour was as headliners, few shows in Italy and then we joined The Pineapple Thief in Rome, Milan, Pratteln, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.
It’s complicated to find the perfect match in terms of music when you tour with other bands, but this works perfectly. We’re talking to each others, us and The Pineapple Thief, it’s a real good combo.
Jean-Christophe : With members coming from all around the world and from so differents bands such as King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Obake or Marta sui tubi, is O.R.k. still what we call a super group ?
LEF : It’s difficult to understand what a super group could mean now in this particular time. I would call us just a band. We know that King Crimson and Porcupine Tree get attention but it’s already our fourth european tour, we also toured in South America, it’s the third album in four years, so when you tour with the band and you spend a lot of time in the van as people together, you start developing another level of friendship. So if you called us like a super group I would see us like a side project. But it’s nothing like that, it’s a real band and we have plans for our future, we are constantly thinking about our next album even if we have just released the third one through Kscope. We are already making plans because we fell like a band and we love to spend time together so that’s the most important thing I guess.
Jean-Christophe : You’re going to play Ramagehead tonight, well I hope so, your third album released a few days ago. You’ve signed with a bigger label this time, does it mean that O.R.k. moves up a gear ?
LEF : Well hopefully (laughs). We loved working with Kscope. They’re really well organised, a really good name in the prog field, but not just in prog because we don’t really play prog music (laughs). I loved collaborating with Kscope, they’re really hard workers and passionate, that’s really important when you work in the music field. For us it’s definitely a step up. It was necessary to do something more that what we did in the past. What we did was perfectly fine, but now it was time to step up and to move forward and that’s what we are doing. Everything is more structured and organized, we’re following a precise plan for the future. And Kscope is part of our plan.
Jean-Christophe : For touring too ?
LEF : Yes, we are already planning another tour in november and december. We’re planning to tour in United States of America. A step after another, it’s important as a band to move together and to follow together the same path. If it was just a side project, we could just tour once and produce an album, just have fun together and that’s all.
We’re making plans, that’s the difference.
Jean-Christophe : On ‘Black Blooms’, Serj Tankian of System of a Down is singing with you. How did this collaboration started?
LEF : I did this record last year called Hypersomniac with Bill Laswell and a lot of guys from Norway like Kenneth Kapstad, the former drummer of Motorpsycho, Elvind Aaset and Nills Petter Molvaer. It was quite a huge bunch of cool guys ! I did this record and Bill wanted to pass the album to a few friends of him so he asked me : “Can I pass it to Serj ?” because he thought “You guys, you have a lot in common music wize”. And I answered “Yes of course !”. It goes without saying, I’ve been very proud of that. Bill passed the CD to Serj and two months later he got a call from him. He was really enthusiastic about our music, my voice and all the rest, so he checked my website and wanted to connect, so Bill ask me : “Would you be fine having Serj writing you a song ?”. I was a major fan of System Of a Down in the nineties so it was a big thing for me. So thanks to Bill, we got in touch and we started thinking to do some tracks together and finally, while we were recording our new album Ramagehead - all the new structure was already assembled - I just sent him the album and asked him just to give a listen and if there was something he wanted to do with me, it could be fine. He was totally humble, nethertheless he sold millions of records and he was still like one of us, like Pat and Colin when we’ve started our collaboration. With those guys, I was astonished how humble they could be, because they are just good workers, proud of what they do with their jobs but they don’t feel like gods. In Italy or maybe also in France, if you do kind of good in Youtube or if you have a lot of likes on Facebook, you start acting like a god because you have lots of followers, but that’s just crap you know, that’s not music, it’s just trying to become famous and it’s not what they are, it’s not what we are, it’s not what Serj is.
Jean-Christophe : If I’m right, Ramagehead talks about our society and the new media, what is your perception of this strange world we are living in now ?
LEF : Yes, as you say, we live in a strange world, a particularly complicated time and we can’t definitively hate in general internet and the technology because our band works because of the internet. We record our albums remotely, we have time to meet up, in particular for Ramagehead we had time, Colin and I, we met Pat when he was traveling through Italy with Stick Men but generally we need internet to collaborate across the miles so we can’t definitively see it like just a terrible evil. It’s part of our society and we can cope with that, we can do better because of internet, but I feel the internet and the technology are somehow dangerously becoming part of our bodies as well, our perceptions, the way we think, the way we feel is completely changed because of internet, because of social media. So that’s kind of terrifying, it’s spooky.
Probably, we don’t really talk about particular matters in our lyrics, we prefer to leave space for the mind to interpret trip, make people think, we are not telling the story, we try to create through our music and words a vision, a scenario but it depends on who is listening to interpret the scenario. Definitely one of our mood was influenced by the social media, for example I made that animated video for ‘Kneel to nothing’. I wanted to highlight the problems that been constantly connected can bring to our lives was part of the concept. But it wasn’t just that, if you know what I mean. Social media and the to be problem connected to the technology are part of our concept but that’s even more.
Jean-Christophe : Short titles, short albums.
LEF : Yeah (laughs).
Jean-Christophe : You’re far away from the prog model. How could you define your music ?
LEF : How could YOU define our music ?
Jean-Christophe : Me ? Impossible !
LEF : (laughs) Thanks so much, I like it, Impossible that’s a good genre (laughs).
Impossible is the perfect definition, I like it, I’ll use it, you should copyright it (laughs). I don’t like our music to be seen like just prog or alternative rock. That’s probably something journalists do just because the people who read their reviews want to know what they’re going to read. But it isn’t our problem. It’s not like, when we compose new music, we don’t really think “ok this should sound like this, or this” or “this should be in this style”. We try to express our feelings and thoughts the shortess, the quickest, the strongest way as possible. So we leave a lot of space to the improvisation and we try not to overproduce our albums because we want to keep the emotional part of the music. That must arrive as it is, as we feel it, so it arrives at our audience as we perceive it. We don’t want to sound like prog or alternative music, we want it to sound honest.
Jean-Christophe : Does your work in cinema have an influence on O.R.k. music and how ?
LEF : Well, working in the cinema field makes you probably have a wider vision, so composing music is part of wider vision. You keep that vision also when you work on your other musical projects like O.R.k.. You try to transform that vision to your band and the music you do with your band. You’re not thinking just in terms of notes, chords and melodies, it’s more than that. When we compose music, we try to transfer our thoughts and feelings into the instruments.
The cinema. Yes, it helps a lot. I like to score music for movies because it kind of urges me to follow certain directions. I can’t just follow my instincts. You can’t do that because there’s a director, you have to follow what he wants to do. It helps also to follow a certain path and helps you to stay focused on what you are doing. I think it helps me to write music in a more focused way.
Jean-Christophe : A last question a stupid one.
LEF : I like stupid questions (laughs), they are my favorites ones (laughs).
Jean-Christophe : What is the meaning of the name of the band, O.R.k. ?
LEF : I can’t really give it away explanation (laughs). The name is O dot R dot K dot. Well it’s a long story. Carmelo, our guitar player and I were discussing about the band and it was the very beginning of our story. So we started drinking and musing and at a certain point, when we were really drunk, Carmelo, abruptly, very serious said : “I’ve seen a documentary yesterday. It was about whales and orcs. They just wait for fishes and they grab them, it’s a very pragmatic way of living, and I like it”. I answered “I like it too, we should use that concept for a coming band”. So we started wondering “What about Killer Whales ?”, “No it’s too metal”, “What about orc ?”, but we were really drunk so we just wrote down “O.R.k.” and I passed it to the other guys and they loved it so…(laughs)
Jean-Christophe : Thanks a lot LEF
LEF : Thank you !
Rédigé par Jean-Christophe le 31/03/2019