Boolfight: An Interview
Can you please introduce and tell us more about the band?
Kelvin Manu: Boolfight started after a couple of years spent in Northern California, about ten years ago. I was a little disappointed with the local indie rock scene at the time, which had become way too “heavy rock”, and not indie enough, to my taste at least. So I left and came back to Europe. Soon after, I started working in Paris on something different with Antoine Augier, who had also recently spent some time in CA. The idea of the project – which then became Boolfight – was to push more towards indie pop and the French Touch. After that, we were lucky enough to interact with new and inspiring people on each Boolfight release, and the band’s sound gradually evolved towards edgier, more hypnotic tunes, integrating more electronic components. On our last album Feral, for example, we worked happily together with Nicolas Fromageau (M83, Team Ghost) on the production of the album. Long-time collaborator Pierre Blanc, as well as Clement Chappert, co-wrote some tracks. And Benjamin Mandeau (Prince Miiaou) also had a substantial influence on the sound of the album.
What’s the story behind your stage name?
KM: We had a very geeky upbringing, heavily influenced by science and computer high-tech. The word ‘bool’ actually comes from a mathematical context, where the only elements that exist are ‘true’ or ‘false’, which translates in computer language to ‘0’ or ‘1’. This concept has been the foundation of all the modern digital technologies, and seems to confirm another foundation of our modern civilization: Pythagoras famously saying “Everything is number”. However, our reality simply cannot be summarized with a mere sequence numbers, zeroes and ones. In that respect, the meaning of ‘boolfight’ can be described as an allegory about the modern human condition. That is: the conflict of human nature (being alive, rather complex and able to adapt) versus digitalism and societal systems, which too easily end up driving towards over-simplification, out-of-touch abstraction and rigidity.
Who are your musical influences?
KM: We obviously have a pretty wide of range indie rock influences, among which post punk, new wave, shoegaze, dream pop, and we typically mention a number of seminal bands in these genres, such as Talking Heads, Joy Division, Television, Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine, or Cocteau Twins. But more and more, we blend in our electronic music influences, bringing in elements of the clubbing music we enjoy (minimal, deep house), and inspiration from pioneers like Kraftwerk or more recent bands like LCD Soundsystem. I was personally brought up on classical music, and I can’t deny it also has an influence on what I come up with musically. Currently, my personal hero is Caribou: it seems like these days, I can’t keep the albums Swim and Andorra out of my stereo for long.
“All In” – can you talk to us more about the track?
KM: The track came up as a primarily electronic piece that got somehow beaten up into being indie rock. The bass line drive is daringly 90s dance, but associated with a simple drum beat, a guitar harmonic and a couple of vintage analog synths, it steers away from the potentially cheap aspect of that musical genre. The vocals then top that with anthem-like lyrics about boldness being the only way to go. Daring? Check it out for yourself.
What’s the concept behind the video?
KM: The video is a little bit mysterious because it is so minimalistic: no colors, nothing but a couple of hands that move around. But in my opinion, the result is very theatrical and symbolic, with scenes that evoke conflict, love, or sensuality. All of it in a pretty weird way of course, inserted in a context that seems like switching channels on an old black and white TV set with typical 4:3 format and bad reception.
“Feral” – How was the recording and writing process?
KM: Most of the tracks were written during two intense non-stop sessions at my place, each lasting several days in a row – until you drop dead basically. After that, the basic material was there, and we could concentrate on refining and enriching the sound. Actually, very few elements originating from these sessions had to be re-recorded in the studio. I like this creative process in that it is a good compromise between a raw intention and the possibilities offered by post-processing.
How did you come up with the title?
KM: The title actually comes from the creative process we used: non-stop sessions where tracks evolve freely, mostly from scratch. And then trying to keep as much as possible from the rawness of this outcome in the final sound. This rawness has a wild, untamed aspect to it, which is well embodied by the word ‘feral’.
Where does the inspiration for the lyrics and songs come from?
KM: The process of writing lyrics is quite special for me. Basically, I’m thinking about potential new lyrics 24/7. I try to always keep a pen and notebook handy (in case of emergency I use my smartphone) to note down words on the fly as they come when I’m struck by something I experience in everyday life. It’s paramount for me to note these things down right on the spot, with as much freshness as possible, because that’s the kind of base material I need to fuel songs with the level of energy I’m looking for.
What’s next for Boolfight? Any plans to tour throughout Canada, North America, the world?
KM: Eventually yes, but not just yet. To be honest, Feral was not written with live performance in mind in the forefront – contrary to some other releases from Boolfight, such as Multiple Devils for instance. This does not mean that you’ll never see Feral tracks performed live, but it will certainly take some time to develop a live show that I’m happy with, with these songs. And actually, this is not the top priority for me just now because I’m working on a variety of other projects, including a new album, and this is taking too much of my time to tour extensively right now. In fact, I’m quite excited about this new album I’m currently working on: it will tap into a different creative process and, as I recently moved to Berlin, it is bound to take some new inspiration from the very lively electronic music scene we enjoy around here.