We’ve talked about friendship, life changes and side projects with Almeeva who just released his latest EP “To All My Friends”
Almeeva is a French electronic music producer whose music is reminiscent of a syncopated type of house music that is sometimes instrumental, sometimes led on by different voices. And although some people may think he has withdrawn from the music scene since the release of his EP “Unset” in 2017, it is far from being the case : Almeeva works on and with several other musical projects – the first one to come to mind being Kabbel, his pop alter ego – making him a rather prolific artist. Whether this Kabbel project has been cathartic to him or has instead fueled his inspiration, one thing remains certain : the diversity of his latest EP as Almeeva, entitled “To All My Friends” and which was released a few days ago, highlights some major life changes that the artist has undergone those past few months, starting with the decision to move to Sweden. We have celebrated this release with him by asking him a few questions !
1. Hello Almeeva ! Thank you for accepting to answer our questions today ! Before we dive in, can you briefly introduce yourself to those who don’t know you yet ?
Hello ! My name is Greg, and for the last ten years or so I have been trying to bring both hope and cinematography with my project Almeeva, and with my “Dance Music for Dreamers”. I also play in several bands, which you may have seen play live in a sweaty venue near you. I also help other artists turn their dream songs into reality.
2. You initiated your career as Almeeva with several EP releases ; before your latest release, in 2017, you have made public an EP called “Unset” which quickly became popular on the electronic music scene. If we put this EP in perspective with your recent release “To All My Friends” which we will talk about in a moment, “Unset” was a lot darker than the latter. What has inspired “Unset” by then ?
Between these 2 releases, there have been 4 years of intense and dizzying work on an album, which made me lose touch with reality, at all levels. This EP is largely a response to this troubled time. It was a kind of antidote, a way to find joy and pleasure in simplicity, and not to get lost in ambitions that are too big for me.
3. And generally speaking, what inspires you when you compose ?
Now, I try to be as open as possible to anything that comes up, and I try not filter out anything that can potentially inspire me, no matter the source or the situation. I’ll consider it as long as it “moves” me. It makes it hard for me to narrow it down really (laughs). Anything can be inspiring : a meeting, an artwork that I’ve seen in an exhibition, a movie, a track I’ve overheard at a party, a feeling that arises when visiting a place…
4. And before actually diving into your latest EP, I’ve read that your life has been filled with major life-changing events : you’ve moved to Sweden and you’ve partnered with a producer – which I will let you introduce to us – to build a recording studio. What made you choose Sweden, and where did this desire to invest in a home studio come from ?
I chose Sweden out of love : my partner has had a job opportunity there, and I simply followed him. But to be honest, life in Sweden is very nice, so the transition from Paris to Sweden was smooth. Then, I had the chance to meet a very talented producer that I had followed for years, named Christoffer Berg. He worked with The Knife, Fever Ray, Depeche Mode and Robyn, among others … and today he’s become a close friend, with whom I share a studio filled with incredible machines. His trust and help on my music clearly brought my faith back to life, at a time when I felt so lonely. Most of the songs on this EP were born in this studio, with the same will and innocence a beginner who does not yet know how to use their new toys very well. It’s a feeling I haven’t felt for a very long time. It made me realize the importance of having a sense of spontaneity in your work, which is quite hard when you make electronic music. And even more so when you are working alone. I’ve tried to make those moments of “spontaneous creation” and “happy accidents” happen more frequently ever since, rather than trying to perfect a track from the very start.
5. A few months ago, you unveiled your then upcoming EP with a track called “Ever Out Weatherall” ; it is the longest track of the EP. We get to hear, on top of these “signature” percussions that are to be found in almost all of your tracks, some instruments overlapping on electronic loops, allowing en energy build up to form. You dedicate this track to Andrew Weatherall : did you compose this track in order to “pay tribute” to him ? Or did you compose it before his death was announced ?
It’s a track that was close to being finalized right before his death. I really cared about this track, but I hadn’t released it. I actually dedicated it to him in reaction to his death, by immersing myself in all of his work, and more particularly the album of “The Asphodells” which I find to be absolutely fabulous. It gave me the courage to turn my vision into something, and not try to please anyone again. I released this track to say “thank you for supporting me”.
6. This track has been released with a music video on which you show backstage images of a tour that had you perform in China. Why did you decide to turn these images into a music video, and why did you associate them with that track specifically ?
I have played this track live in various forms for 4 years, and so did I on this tour. The structure of the song is very narrative, you go from one atmosphere to another, you don’t really know where you are going, but when you have adapted to the new “environment” the track takes you to, you start to have fun there. This is exactly the feeling I had during this tour in China : not really knowing where we are or why we are there, but ending up finding your place in these different locations, and starting to like being there. It is a kind of an ode to surrender, because sometimes allowing yourself to go place you’ve never been make for unforgettable adventures.
“To all my friends, I wanna dance with you”
– Almeeva – “To All My Friends”
7. Another track that came out with a music video is “To All My Friends”. It is the second track (and the first EP) that you dedicate to someone, and here you dedicate it to your friends, to be more precise. What message are you conveying through this track ?
Above all, this track is a way of being honest, of proving that you can make really sincere music without having to compromise anything in your art. There is a double meaning to it, because even if the track is dedicated to my “real” friends, the idea of naming the whole EP that way seemed like a good way to sum up the fantasy that comes with electronic music in general : what is the ultimate goal of dance music, if not to gather and feel euphoric together ? In that sense, “To All My Friends” is also dedicated to the friends I haven’t met yet, and that I hope to meet on the road, in a venue or in a club.
8. That said, the track that has moved me the most in the EP is the one to be found at its very end : I’m talking about the dreamy one called “Slowly Fading”. Its arrhythmic intro captivates and intrigues its listener, and when the aerial voice of Pencey Sloe kicks in, it draws us right back to your very first tracks. I imagine that this track holds a special place in the EP’s tracklist : can you tell us more about the story behind this track ?
Thank you, especially because this is a very important track to me ! It’s been years since we first collabed, Diane and I. We have worked on several tracks together before, we could actually call them “ghost” tracks, because very few of them have been released yet… What Diane sings on “Slowly Fading” was meant for another track at first, a track that has changed tremendously since we have first recorded these vocals. I eventually didn’t keep anything of what I have composed first for it, except for her voice, which I found to be magnificent. The whole song was created in Christoffer’s studio, and you can actually hear us jamming together on it : he was trying to show me how his modular synth worked (to be honest, I still haven’t really understood it hahaha). It’s a song that really makes me feel good when I listen to it, and I think this is the first time I can say that about one of my own songs.
9. What some people don’t know is that alongside your Almeeva project, you also take care of another project called Kabbel – can you tell us a little more about this project ?
Kabbel is kind of my evil twin, living his dark pop dream away from the light, his head in a stroboscope and a smoke machine. It’s a project where I can focus on using my voice, not just as an instrument but actually as a singer, and explore more extreme aesthetics than with Almeeva. It’s a way of reconnecting with my indie / hardcore rock past, giving it a more modern touch. And above all, it allows me to be less schizophrenic with Almeeva : separating the 2 characters allows me to give them both more strength, rather than trying to tame either of them.
10. Will you keep your Kabbel side-project running now that you have put “Almeeva” back on track ?
Yes of course, the two projects will keep evolving alongside one another. I already have a lot of songs ready for the next Kabbel release, and I’m lucky to have a team helping me with future gigs.
11. Now that “To All My Friends” is out, what can we expect from you ? Live performances ? Remixes maybe ?
There are indeed remixes in the works ! Maybe a new music video too. But it all depends on other people, and I don’t want to force anything on them since I want it to be fun for everyone, so we’ll see. For now, I am finalizing a collab EP with a band called Toucan, which should release early next year, followed by a small collab tour around France. It will really be “Almeeva & Friends” for once !
12. And since our interview is coming to an end, I want to ask you one last question : is there an artist that you’re keeping an eye on lately, and why ?
My latest favorite band is an Italian-Belgian duo called Front De Cadeaux. Incredible name. They do what you could call “slow rave”, it’s very deep, very slow, very dark and very hypnotic. It had been a long time since I had discovered such an impressive sound. I can’t put specific words on it, but everything they do speaks to me a lot. I recommend listening first to the 3 “Supreme Rallentato” mixtapes, and then head on to the “Fabrizio Mammarella Reworks” remix EP.
As a music web writer for several years, I have developed a particularly devoted passion for electronic and alternative musics. From the ethereal melodies of Max Cooper to the introspective music and lyrics of Banks, my radar has me listening to the wide French and international independent music scene... all of this between communication plans for independent labels and artists !