Last we heard from Rennes, France’s Maria False, they had just released their ‘Spots and Lines in a Frame’ EP in June of 2013, to critical acclaim. It’s been quiet ever since. Now, on the eve of their excellent When LP (released 4 May on A Quick One Records), we needed to catch up with the lads, figure out what’s up. Yann and Bernard took a few moments to brief us on what’s going on, and clue us in as to how they achieve their incredible and otherworldly sonic esthetic. Behind the singles “Shoot It”, “Head”, “Blossom”, and the woozy title track, it seems Maria False are finally positioned to conquer Europe in the name of glorious shoegaze. So say we all.
DKFM: Where has Maria False been these last two years? Vacationing?
Bernard: Two years, really ? Well, we like to take the time it needs. Time is not a problem, we like to work like that, without any pressure. We are all involved in different other projects or bands and it takes a lot of our time too but we have always worked like that with Maria False, slowly and with each other only. We can say that we are free.
DKFM: This new album is your most confident, consistently tuneful work to date. Even your more experimental title track is pure bliss. Tell us about the process of making this, your second full LP?
Yann: We were all at an evening barbecue, we ended ‘Spots and Lines in a Frame’, and we were talking about the next issue. Maybe some of us were almost drunk, I don’t remember but I showed a photo I had taken, it was a sort of pond, a swamp, something dirty but very graphic. That was that, the image of the sound we were all interested in, something warm, organic, dirty, shifting and moving. Everything came easily then, we just had to make the sound of that dirty pool. We have kept this image on the release cover, we have tried many other pictures but at the end, that was obviously the good one.
DKFM: What would you say has influenced your sound at this point? Are there still some bands you’re able to cite as references for your sonic blueprint?
Bernard: Influences are not exactly what we try to have. If we can do a sound, we do it, if it sounds like another or not, doesn’t matter. We have a vague idea of what we want to get but we never know exactly how we’re going to get it, we always need to try, it is very experimental. But we can cite Phil Spector: if one piano doesn’t sound enough, take 10!
There is no publicly available sneak preview of a track from the album When. Satisfy yourself with a sample of the Maria False sound from their previous EP, ‘Spots and Lines in a Frame’.
DKFM: What kinds of equipment (pedals, effects) do you use to capture that incredible sound?
Yann: Many effects in chains are used for guitars and bass, with big vintage amps, played very loud. We play together a concrete wall basement with a pretty harsh sound and place a lot of mics in different spots of the area to capture the first sound. That gives a paste we work after by adding solo parts where it needs. Sometimes all parts are clean re-recorded but something always remains from this paste, the deep background you can hear in the tracks. A lot of things are re-amped also, to have more thickness. Then, at the end of the mix, we used a tape recorder for the post-production, to get a warmer and softer sound, following our idea of the swamp again. We were looking for the “wow” sound these machines can give too, a tape speed variation default. We fixed weights on the borders of the reels to get a shift, but that was moving too steadily and not playing with the songs, really. So we directly put our hands on the reels, like brakes, to change the reel speed while songs were turning, like scratchers with records in a way. We had this waving sound. It’s funny to see that this wow distortion was something that everyone was trying to avoid at the time tape recorders were used in music studios. We use them as real music instruments, that use your hands, your ears and a playing technique.
DKFM: Yann, you split time between THREE terrific bands. How do you manage to keep it all together?
Yann: It’s easy, organisation, creation, and good friends…
DKFM: Any plans to tour behind the new album?
Yann: We hope so! We are searching for good venues! If you have any plans…
DKFM: What’s next for you? Surely we won’t have to wait another two years for new music?
Bernard: We have some ideas, it could go fast to get them out or not, you never know.