This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Please consider supporting this website by disabling your ad-blocker. This website does not use audio ads, pop-ups, or other annoyances. And please support Terra Relicta by giving a little donation if you can! Thank you!!!

Random album

The Hills Mover - Interview

Interview with: Grégoire Fray
Conducted by: Ines

Where there’s distortion and a massive flow or raw energy, then you can be certain there also has to be a realm of serenity to keep things in balance. Grégoire Fray, a talented musician, can easily portray both words, which can exist each for its own, but are everlastingly entwined. The creative force behind vegetal noise makers Thot took some time off from all the noise and decided to revive his old, acoustic project The Hills Mover. Recently he released an EP Dead Notes (you can read our review HERE), a six track poetic and tranquil odyssey through lands, mythology and personal struggles. Minimalistic approach to the music on Dead Notes is, however, anything but simplistic, as The Hills Mover’s music paints a wide array of emotions, while trying to find his place. Grégoire kindly took some time to give us some insight on the project, the story and inspiration behind it and also a glimpse what is coming next.

Ines: Hello Grégoire and again thank you for taking the time to do this interview. When we talked last year it was mostly about Thot, you had a new album coming out and you were touring, but now you're focused on an old project of yours, The Hills Mover. Your EP Dead Notes, came out just recently, but still this is quite an old project of yours, which you revived recently. Could you perhaps tell us where the idea for The Hills Mover came in the first place?
Grégoire: Hello Ines, it’s a pleasure to do this interview! Well, The Hills Mover is a project, which I started back in 2007; at the same time when I was composing the first notes of what became the album Obscured By The Wind by Thot. Some songs I was writing didn’t fit exactly with what I was trying to do with Thot. That’s how The Hills Mover was born, with the idea of playing songs in the simplest possible way.
Ines: Naturally I must ask why revive this project after so many years, what gave you the inspiration and drove you to bring it back to life and finally to release this EP?
Grégoire: Ever since 2007 I have been focused on Thot for 100% of my time. I produced two albums, several EPs, remixes, videos and booked our tours as well - among many other things. I put a lot of pressure on my shoulders, and as you can imagine, sometimes, you can lose your taste and pleasure of doing music. I think I’m kind of exhausted, and even if I already have many new ideas with Thot, I had to write songs for other purposes, like The Hills Mover.
Ines: Dead Notes seems quite a…. how should I put it, cold album title. Was there anything specific you wanted to state with the album title?
Grégoire: OK, I will try to explain this, but I must warn you: you have to know a bit of Thot’s discography to understand what I’m going to tell. The idea was to create a story, which links two of Thot’s releases: 2014’s The City That Disappears and 2012’s The Fall Of The Water Towers.  So, The Hills Mover leaves the city and is back to the land of the water towers, which fell ages ago. He wants to rebuild them, but he also needs to discover how to do it. The Dead Notes are the key to this quest.
Ines: A very interesting story behind it indeed. I remember you told me that you grew up mostly in the countryside and that nature was a big inspiration for what you write for Thot, so I couldn't helped noticing the very name The Hills Mover does also revolve around nature. Nonetheless, is there any other meaning behind this name?
Grégoire: Do you remember the song called "Moved Hills" in Thot’s 2011 album Obscured By The Wind? Well, The Hills Mover is the character of this song. He is maybe alter ego: capable of everything, like “moving mountains”. But in my countryside, there aren’t any mountains. Only hills.
Ines: The Hills Mover and Thot have quite some differences, but we can also draw some parallels – there's a strong atmosphere present in your music, no matter which project we take under the microscope. What would you say in your words would be the biggest difference between them and on the other hand also what would be the biggest similarity?
Grégoire: Like I’ve explained, the name The Hills Mover comes from the song "Moved Hills" by Thot. Also, there are many links between both narrative worlds. Although, if I would want to do an acoustic album with Thot, I think it would sound very different from what I do with The Hills Mover. I know it sounds obvious, but I’m pretty sure about that. I’m writing about different feelings in both projects. Thot is more a struggle between hope and anger, while The Hills Mover is more about poetry and melancholy. What do you think?

Ines: I can agree, the songs on Dead Notes are very poetic and sombre. Also, I love to see the dynamic flow and connection between both. We already talked in our previous interview what inspires to you to compose for Thot, but what about the influences behind The Hills Mover? Any particular ones you would say really inspire you when composing?
Grégoire: The entire EP was written between Poland, Czech Republic and Belgium and the travelling around those countries really had big influence on me. Also, there are references to the Slavic mythology – Vélès and Šiwa, who are both Slavic gods -, in Kundera writings (again)  and in Nick Cave’s latest works: Push the Sky Away and 20.000 Days On Earth.
Ines: Yes, it was actually very interesting to me to find Vélès and Šiwa in yours songs and of course as Slavic mythology was is also a part of Slovenian history I recognized them. Did you choose these two for a specific reason, because I can sense a sort of opposing force here, since Vélès was a god associated with underworld among other, and Šiwa on the other hand is the goddess of life and fertility?
Grégoire: I'm glad you noticed those names and origins. Actually, I wrote the song "Šiwa" for a woman I love. "Vélès" talks more about the duality I came to find in my own experiences.
Ines: Is there  any particular reason you found the influences and interest in Slavic mythology, concerning you are from Belgium and Slavic mythology was not a part of your country's history?
Grégoire: Actually I live in Belgium, but I'm French, I was raised in France until I was 20. But you’re right: the Slavic mythology is not part of France, neither Belgium. I've just started to learn about it, thanks to my many journeys across central Europe. I found it very interesting, since it's not particularly well known and is also very mysterious.
Ines: With The Hills Mover you also recorded and released a video for the song "Shape", which is a cover of My Brightest Diamond. Why choosing this particular song and also, what is the story behind the video?
Grégoire: I really love My Brightest Diamond’s latest album -  especially this particular song, which is great combination of complex rhythms, beautiful sound layers and emotional vocal performance by Shara Worden. The first time I have listened to this track, it kept playing in on repeat for hours. I really like the lyrics as well: they speak about shapes, shadows, ghosts… Somehow I felt related to them, because of some personal experiences. That’s why I’ve decided to make a video cover.
Ines: You also did some live shows with The Hills Mover and I know you are doing mostly small, intimate shows, which I imagine nicely capture the music's ambient. With Thot you also have a lot of visual effects, the videos on screen in the background; do you have the same visual concept that goes along The Hills Mover's live shows as well?
Grégoire: No, The Hills Mover shows are very simple so far. The idea is to bring a very raw experience trough the music and the performance. Lately I’ve played some shows without any amplification. That was an exciting experience because you have nothing to "protect" you from the audience, like a microphone and its stand. You're all naked but you have to give everything.
Ines:  Speaking of live shows, you're hitting the road again in September with Thot and you had two European tours last year, so what are your expectations for this year's live shows? Any new countries you want to or will visit coming up perhaps?
Grégoire: We're planning to bring a new live setup, some new material maybe. We'll be playing much more in Germany and I hope that we could play in Italy. I'm really excited about this project and I'm currently finishing booking the tour. Obviously, we are looking forward to be back in Slovenia!
Ines: And I am looking forward to seeing you perform again! Before we finish this up, just a quick message to your fans and our readers?
Grégoire: Dear fans, you are the rhythm, the hope and the answers. Thank you for your support and keep an eye on your mailbox (if you’re subscribed to our newsletter, if not, make sure to do so!), because we're going to throw something nice shortly!

The Hills Mover links: Facebook, Tumblr, Bandcamp