Interview: Camecrude (experimental/noise/ambient)

Camecrude is the project of one Valentin Laborde ;a  truly unique artist whoa0304974417_16 blends elements of noise and folk using such things as a hurdy gurdy, a Lyra 8 synth and his voice.  His influences came from Drone, Darkwave, Folk, Harsh Noise, Dark ambient, Gregorian Songs… And especially the philosopher E.M. Cioran.  Camecrude’s latest release is Enclave I.  What makes these recordings really unique and intriguing are the manner in which they were composed.  Some of the tracks are full improvisations or some are entirely composed during Valentin’s bouts with insomnia.

We are very grateful to Valentin for his time in answering our interview.  Please note that at present, his album is available as a digital-only release.  However, tapes and special editions will soon be made available.

Could you give us a background/history and the meaning behind Camecrude’s name?

Camecrude is the name given to a legendary creature of the Pyrenees. It literally means “Raw Leg”. It has the aspect of a single leg with an eye on its knee. It reaches into the paths at nightfall and the poor people who come across its way are found dead. I have always been impressed by its myth, and as a child it was the pretext to go to sleep. Otherwise the Camecrude would come… As it were I guess it has preserved me from insomnia for a long time. Now I am the one who wanders at night.

When did you first become interested in the pessimist philosophy of Emil Cioran?

Thanks to the conversations I had with Victor Tuurngaq (from Cioran Records, Stase:Orgone). After several discussions I read Cioran and listened to harsh noise. It was during the beginning of a dark period. Cioran’s writings supported me, as he says : ‘(…) evil must be treated by an even greater evil’.

Why do you think that works of “pessimist” nature such as Cioran’s “The Trouble With Being Born” are so important historically?

I don’t have a general opinion about this. In a world of navel-gazing men, where übermensch far-fetched tales are invented, it is important to bring things back to their true nature. In my case, pessimism has became a concrete reality. Which lurks behind illusions or waves of hope. After so many bright gesticulations, it is a necessary split, generally more lucid than big hopes’ naivety. Also less painful, once the impostures revealed.

Why was it so important for you to record this album during your times of insomnia?

Because insomnia is a form of drama. A kind of fight that recurs every night, methodically. At night there is no one. Cold silence. When you lose sleep, it is a vertiginous fall, walls around you become a grave, the outside is a cemetery. You met an army of devils, and above all your own shadow. And if you manage to escape from these states, this is nothingness, loneliness. Which is certainly worse.

Recording this album during these precise moments is a saving crutch. I have dealt with these atmospheres of awakened death. Without knowing exactly where I was going. The landmarks change during insomnia, everything is different.
The album was initially born without any talk or aim, just soaked with nights of insomnia and Cioran readings. But other meanings came after.

What is the longest time period you have had no sleep and what were the effects on you?

I could not tell. But when nights are sleepless, nights become white, days become black. This is a new phenomenon for me. The period with the longest sleepless time ; I didn’t count. And counting is not that important, because time not passing by is precisely what it is about. Even an exhausted body can resist sleep. The biggest mistake is to fight against insomnia. By trying to push yourself to sleep. Insomnia always wins, and makes you pay for the affront by showing off the corpses of who or what caused the offense.
Its scope is capricious. Concretely I can find sleep at 2 pm and wake up at 4 pm. Falling asleep at dawn for a few hours only. Or not having any rest at all. Sometimes, luckily, finally a ‘normal’ sleep time, but always situated between the morning and the day. You come out of this sort of emtpy.  It is a catalyst for despair.

‘The connection between insomnia and despair is unbreakable. I believe that the complete loss of hope cannot be understood without the support of insomnia. Heaven and hell don’t present any other difference that the following one : you can sleep, in heaven, to your heart’s content ;  in hell, your never sleep. (…) It is impossible to love life when you cannot sleep.’ /  Cioran, On the Heights of Despair

Other than the insomnia, did you require any certain rituals or atmosphere for the composition or recording?

It takes place in the dark, barely enlightened. Generally in a drunkenness state. But not all the time. There was no need for something else, the heavy dizziness of sleepless nights is dense enough.  For Enclave I, I kept the first shots. It tends to lose it’s vitality when you try to record again, some landmarks try to arise and immediacy starts to get lost. The composition wasn’t very difficult, no complicated research, just letting the gnawing evil go. Turning the crank, turning the buttons, in order to survive to it. Therefore a kind of exorcism. At the beginning it is just improvisations of murders and sound vomit.

What musical artists and non-musical things have inspired your creativity?

I’ve listened to Rosa Crux and Throbbing Gristle a lot during the creation. Rosa Crux is one of the most influential bands concerning me. A lot of Harsh Noise dissolutions. Stravinsky, Gregorian chants. Artus -that must absolutely be listened to, this is by the way the band that gave me the desire to make music from the outset. The drone and noise aspects were an evidence, considering my practice of the traditional music of Gasconny; the way I learned music. Which I teach now.

The non-musical elements which produced these sounds are the involuntary and permanent repetitions, of the moment when the shock related to a disillusion crashed into my life so hard that it completely altered it. Torture of the soul, madness, despair, etc. It is the origin of all of this. These sounds come from this, and from what it has unleashed. As if the event opened Pandora’s box inside. And the world has changed since then.

Can you talk about where some of the samples came from on this release?

The few samples come from Emil Cioran’s audio interviews. ‘L’Ombre de Soi’ (translated The Shadow of Self) is widely based on passages from ‘Petrushka’ : third tableau ‘The Moor’s Room’ by Stravinsky. Sampled, or reversed and drowned with reverb. I don’t like that kind of method, but I had to get out of my habits. In this track, the atmosphere created was lucid compared to the feeling. And a recording of buzzing flies on the last track.

Enclave I crosses lines of noise, experimental and other styles.  Can you talk about some of the instrumentation, hardware and software you used on this release?

Everything was realized with my electric hurdy gurdy (Artus model) created by the instrument maker Philippe Mousnier, and the various effect pedals associated. This instrument is able, without effort or exaggeration, to marry as well its natural noise as its sacred soundscapes related to the liturgical context of its father the Organistrum, which came before the organ.

There is also the infernal drone and noise generator that is the Lyra-8 synthesizer from Soma. And my voice, recorded with the zoom which was placed in different corners to take the acoustics into account. And sometimes a very cheap micro. Everything was recorded in my old house. With the help of the software Ableton Live. I also used my old piano, a guitar and a bass, but as a distant support to hold some frequencies up and bring other textures.

Enclave I almost implies there could be an Enclave II.  Is this in the plan and if so, what is your vision for this release?

This is the plan, and the rest is already underway. I have been digitally publishing solo creations for some years (before under “Neptun” which I had to stab in the back, the insomniac revelations are cruel !). When an “album” comes out, it means that it was finished a long time ago. And that it is time for me to get rid of it because I can’t take it anymore. The following one is already well advanced at the time of the publication.  ‘Enclave’ is the name I used to replace the word “album” under Camecrude.

What I can say about number two is that it is far from being finished, but that it relies on the witchcraft atmosphere of Béarn, of the Landes and of the Basque Country. In its black appearance.  Invocations, conjurations, spiritualism, pyres, etc. With the presence of a very special guest for me, on some tracks. We will see what comes out of it. When life loses its meaning, we must add some : magic attracted me. But the experience turns out to be nebulous and exhausting!

The other trigger is that I was invited by Simon Hervé to play my exorcism for the inauguration of the Wizarding State of the Pays du Mat, it was very inspiring and my double wizard nationality is on the verge of being materialized.  But currently I can’t say more about the next pieces. I don’t know yet whether I will give them potions to abort them, or whether I will inflict the disadvantage of being born on them…

Bandcamp notes that “occitan exorcisms” are included in this album.  What more can you tell us about that?

I have found in some books written collections of conjuration formulas in Occitan. I have found two fantastic ones really concentrated : ‘A l’endarrèr ço de maudit / No’m Prèni que lo benedit’ = Back what is cursed, I only take what is blessed. I decided to invert ‘Bless’ and ‘Cursed’ sometimes.  The other one, even more concentrated is, ‘Te dobti, Te redobti’. = I doubt you, I dread you. It spoke to me because I find in this a personal meaning in things to face. 

There is especially the idea of doubting dreaded things, and of fearing doubt. I also write my own exorcisms, also in Occitan, since I fight against demons that concern me.  Using Occitan was important. It is a regional language in France (my ancestors’ one) in the same way Basque, Breton, Corsican are. I had to use it because it is almost magical. It is still alive but in a state of survival. French is a language known in the world, yet it has slit the throat of the other languages spoken for millennia. Occitan used to cover half of the territory! Somehow it is a suffering language, there are a lot of reasons to use it.

What are your plans for 2019?

I have some fixed dates for Camecrude, including one that will occur in a festival well-known in France for its goth-ritual environment. But which I must keep secret until the program is finished.  The live music is very different from the album in its form, but identical in the background. This is 40 to 50 minutes of sound exorcism. Except that there is no question of staying in one’s place and conjuring evil. It is about falling into the depths, watching the devil in the eyes, and confronting it. It’s desperate, chaotic ; big room for improvisation. But the last minute still ends with a light breakthrough. But remember, it is only a farce, maybe an ultimate wince?

I play in many other projects and bands, in very different and varied aesthetics, also formations that mix disciplines (dance, theater, readings).But I never distort my palette!

Thanks for your time! 

Thanks for the interest

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