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Mils - Interview

Interview with: Mils (Olivier, Ben, Josephine, Tristan)
Conducted by: T.V.

French, Swedish and Swiss musical collaboration under the name Mils has caused quite a lot of stir in the alternative music scene with their amazing debut album Man Is A Lonely Soldier. An album that hosted renowned vocalists such as Benjamin from Sybreed and Steve from This Misery Garden who contributed on two fantastic songs. Four guys and two girls did an interesting and enjoyable experiment with combining several musical genres into one hell of a flowing music. It's almost impossible to describe what they are doing but for sure is that in their songs you'll find elements from classic rock, metal, gothic, trip hop, industrial, new wave, even blues and pop. Isa (vocals), Josephine (lyrics), Tristan (guitars), Olivier (keys), John (bass) and Ben (drums) are the names of responsible musicians for a fresh breeze on the scene. Much more about them can be found in the interview which was kindly answered by Olivier, Ben, Josephine and Tristan.

T.V.: You guys and girls came from different parts of Europe. How did you found each other and started everything?
Tristan:
Let’s say that fate does things well! Olivier and I are originally  from Montpellier. Joséphine is born in Sweden and after a few years in the Arabian desert, she ended up in Montpellier for her law studies. That’s where it all started. 
Olivier: From the beginning, we realized we had the same music inspirations and our passion for music made us start composing and writing together. After several line ups, we met Isabelle, Ben and John and then everything went quite fast! With the new members of the group, we wanted to record our titles quickly. That’s when we started to wonder where to record our music.
T.V.: Debut album Man Is A Lonely Soldier is just released, how are you satisfied with the final result?
Ben: I think that the main objective is attained, which was to build a consistent universe despite the multiple influences according to each song. I knew Drop (who produced the album) for years, and I suggested him to the band because I thought that he was the perfect guy to help the band to shape its identity. I wasn't expecting something else, but obviously if we take a step back, certainly that we could have done few things differently.
Tristan: That's right, Ben was really inspired to suggest us the Downtone studio because the final product sounds exactly as we expected.
T.V.: Man Is A Lonely Soldier is quite a meaningful title. What exactly do you want to express with it?
Josephine: We are all quite lonely but we want to believe that deep inside, everyone has the force to struggle when life is tough."Light for people" is a good illustration of the title. It’s a mix of humility to life, man’s inner reflexion, his search for answers and his force to fight… As we use to say, a bit of darkness with a happy end.
T.V.: There are many different genres mixed in your music, so I believe that each one of you is influenced by different music...
Ben: Everyone in the band has his own influence but as a matter of fact there are many connexions between each one of us, I remember the first time I met Olivier we realized that we had the exact same rock& metal influences (Paradise Lost, Depeche Mode, Killing Joke, etc...) and moreover the exact same favorite albums. And it was not innocent if I suggested John as a bassist when the band was looking for someone, I knew that his metal influences with bands like Katatonia, Dark Tranquility... he should be the perfect guy to do the job. Obviously most of us recognized the importance of a band like Rammstein as an influence, even if we didn't produce the same “metal” as they do. In my opinion the most true rock'n'roll guy is Tristan, he has a lot of rock'n' roll books in his bookcase, Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd etc... Finally Isabelle is certainly the band member with the most different influences, ‘cause she comes from a more jazzy universe, and that approach contributes to make the band sound different and unique.
T.V.: How did you got in contact with Benjamin from Sybreed and Steve from This Misery Garden who contributed with vocals on two songs and certainly brought a lot dynamics in it?
Ben: I met Benjamin in Switzerland many years ago when I was touring with my electro punk band WÄKS. Our sound engineer was Drop the Sybreed's guitarist and songwriter, the same who produced Man Is A Lonely Soldier at the Downtone studio in Geneva, so I knew both of them and the connection was obvious, we were going to produced the album with Drop so why don't proposed Benjamin as a guest on "King In Love"? I knew that he loved this kind of music and should be interested by the project. Then about Steve, thanks to Drop, we were looking for another guest on this second “male” song, as we produced the disk in Switzerland, why don't find another swiss guy to sing this second song? The fact is that it was also easier to work with singers who had already worked with Drop at the Downtone studio, to be sure to take the best of their potential in a really short time.

 

T.V.: Have you already performed live as Mils?
Tristan: Yes of course and it’s always a real pleasure and satisfaction for us. Sometimes it happens that what works in studio works less on scene. That’s not the case ! We think that the communication with the public works really well and that every time the feedback is good.
Olivier: That’s true and we have to say that for the scene we have recruited to great musicians, Arnaud for the song, and Guillaume for baritone guitar. Thank’s to them the sound of our concerts is more heavy and profound. That gives us a real powerful sound that is perfect for live.
T.V.: Can you tell me something about yours pre-Mils era? In which bands/projects you guys played before?
Josephine: I was more of a classic musician, studying the flute at the royal music school of Stockholm, then playing in small local bands and orchestras where I lived in France. I was grown up with classic musicians and used to attend only classic concerts and operas as a child. I switched to writing music rather than playing when I grew older and discovered electronic music in France.
Olivier: I was part of two groups influenced by Black and Death Metal. My job was sort of reduced at the synth to intros. That’s where my interest for composition grew. And that happened when CUBASE arrived. The piano then the MAO giving me faboulous possibilities and much more independence.
Tristan: For me, after finish my studies at the French "Conservatoire supérieur de Musique" I started to be part of several rock groups in Montpellier with friends. We essentially played well known rock music and had a lot of fun. The idea at that time was above all "big sound" and "big guitar solos". With Mils I appreciated working on composing and focusing on the right note at the right time. With Mils, we all agreed from the start that we wanted to work on the quality and not the quantity.
Ben: I have been playing and touring with many rock/electro/trip hop/metal bands for about ten years. My main experience was touring with the electro punk band WÄKS, we played in many great festivals in Europe, sharing the stage with great bands and artists like Soulfly, Serj Tankian, Dagoba, Punish Yourself, T.Raumschmiere... Finally Mils is more or less a kind of mix of every band I played in before!
T.V.: Your first album was released through Dooweet Records, how are you satisfied with their job?
Josephine: We were very enthusiastic right from the start when we met Dooweet Records. They liked our music and believed in Mils as soon as we met. When you want to promote a group, that's the most important thing. To believe in a project and feel it. Dooweet Records got in to it and we are really happy with the promotion. We've got several articles, critics, and our fans are from all parts of the world thanks to Dooweet Records. That's precisely what we wanted.
Tristan: I agree with Jo. You have to be surrounded by people who can come with a real added value if you want a project to survive and expand. Dooweet Records has lived up to our expectations. They have a very professionnal and pragmatic attitude and know what artists need. I hope our collaboration will last for long.
Ben: We are lucky to have them by our sides, we were looking for people who could help us in our promotional needs and they are actually doing it very very well! Thanks To Christophe and all the Dooweet's crew!!
T.V.: Are you already working on something new? When can we expect a new album?
Olivier: We are working on our second album that will be an EP. That size obliges us to concentrate the talents, and multiply the artistic partnerships. For example, we would like to introduce a pianist in certain songs. The idea is to write 5 or 6 songs with different sounds. Wandering through the world and taking it right in the face during 30 minutes is an idea I really like.
Tristan: Yes, we’re working on an EP because we want a shorter size that’s going to be even more effective. That size of album forces us to consider every title as a complete work in itself. In this case, as Olivier says, we must ask ourselves every time: are we going in the right direction? To aswer that question will be our job.
T.V.: Who's the most responsible person for your musical output?
Olivier: I would say it’s Tristan our guitar who is, above being an inspired artist, is a  rigourous manager. He’s the chief of the family.
Tristan: Thank you Olivier. As Dark Vador could have said here: "I’m your father". More seriously, we are all individually responsible of our project, the bad and the good. Everyone brings his knowledge to the group. What makes me happy today is that I can seriously say each person is the right person at the right place.
T.V.: Which album is in your music player playing mostly in the last time?
Josephine: The Wall with Roger Waters, piano concerto n°5 by Beethoven "The emperor" performed by Hélène Grimaud and of course the Swedish radio to keep being updated!
Olivier: Hurry up we are dreaming: M83, Requiem Mozart,...
Tristan: At the moment, it’s often In requiem by Paradise Lost. But the good oldies are never far: The Beatles, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd,... For me everything comes from there.
Ben: I'm always looking for new bands or new albums, whatever the type of music is. These days my playlist involve Biffy Clyro - Opposites (huge !!), Puscifer - Conditions Of My Parole, Katatonia - Viva Emptiness (back to the origins!), La Femme - Psycho Tropical Berlin (Incredible french band!), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Live From KCRW, A Perfect Circle - Live Stone & Echo, Korn - The Paradigm Shift, Electro Deluxe - Home (huge french jazz/funk band), The Soft Moon - Zeros, and many more!
T.V.: Can you explain me the meaning of bands name Mils? How did you came up with it?
Josephine: Mils comes from Man Is A Lonely Soldier, I think it came naturally after a while when we discovered that our music was a mix of different music types, a reflection on life with it's dark and light sides. Man Is A Lonely Soldier is also the name of our first album. It was obvious for us that the first album should have the same name as the meaning of Mils. Somewhere, it's a description of life.
Olivier: To complete what Jo says, our music is introspective and is therefore written for everyone, with everyday life’s or metaphysical worries. We consider that each individual is a soldier having to face, on his own, his own existence. It makes him affective or touching according to the context.
T.V.: Have you thought about doing a video clip for any of the songs from your album?
Josephine: We have thought of doing one of our video clips in Sweden. There are beautiful landscapes up there, that represent in a way the image of the lonely soldier we ofter refer to. Although, we have ideas of doing video clips in France as well. What we really want, above the place, is a professional enthusiastic team to work with.
Olivier: It’s true that our music could inspire video clips in Europe. For example, "Neon Life" is influenced by the hot quarters in Bruxelles, the dryness of Aragon’s land in Spain inspired "Miracle". If we would do a video clip right now, it would be for "King In Love". It would also be a wink to "Enjoy The Silence" by Depeche Mode.
T.V.: Which song from "Man Is A Lonely Soldier" is your favourite and why?
Olivier: My favourite song is "80’s Child" not because it’s only synth and that I need noone but because it evokes everything I felt and discovered in my childhood thanks to TV and video games. In addition, Isa is faboulous on this song.
Tristan: I never can tell which of the songs is my favorite. They all reflect very different atmospheres and all correpond to different emotions I can feel in my daily life. One day it’s "Straight On", the next, "Light For People" or "In The Name Of..." As all of our titles represent an emotion that we all have felt and is part of our daily struggle.
Ben: "Straight On", because first of all, it is a powerfull rock song, it reminds me a good period of Paradise Lost. And it was also the first demo song that I have ever recorded with Mils behind my drumkit.
Josephine: I am a bit like Tristan on this one. It depends what mood I am in. I have a special feeling for In the name of as it is our homage to all the families who suffered on the 11th of September, and a title we wanted to create to prevent us from forgetting.

 

T.V.: That should be it. Last words are yours... and thank you for answering to this interview!
Olivier:
I only have one thing to say, long live Mils. The meetings, the exchanges that we have made during the recording session in Geneva or on scene, show us that we must more than ever continue our project. Music first comes from inside, and when it is shared, produced and released does not belong to us anymore: I think that is a beautiful idea.
Tristan: I agree. Long life for Mils and music in general. Everyday, the music gives us the opportunity in an exceptionnal way, the possibility to express our ideas, our envies, our feelings, even anger, as in our song "In The Name Of". For this song for example, we wanted to make a homage to the victims who surrendered in the twin tours on the 11th of September. This event is a tragedy that marked everyone of us on this earth for different reasons. There is no political or religious interest in this song, just human beings who felt empathy for the victims and who asked themselves: in the name of what? That’s why we like music, it’s about sharing between humans, it gives us this extraordinary chance to express our feelings, this inner fight.
Josephine: Absolutely. Stendahl said it almost as well as Tristan: "Good Music does not fool you, and goes deep inside the soul searching for the sadness that devestates you." Let’s go for good music !
Ben: I look forward to be on stage again with Mils, we ain't only a good studio band, we can also rock any stage!! Hope to see you there guys!! Can't wait to meet and discuss with everyone who loves the band!

Mils articles: Man Is A Lonely Soldier review

Mils links: Official website, Facebook, MySpace