Zad Kokar, a meeting with GTAIE, between humour and fragility
di Giovanni Panetta
A monographic interview with Zad Kokar, about beginning as soloist to Strasbourg, styles and next news.

Zad Kokar

Zad Kokar, ph. Polaroïd Corp.

The most oblique DIY history path continues these days. Zad Kokar, Adrien Coquart‘s art name, keeps the flag flying with sharpy atonalities, non-euclidean shapes, and a dada imaginary. Following his experience with Soap, a trio from Paris which was characterized by rarefied math rock sonorities, with recurring experimental interludes, he moves his first step as a soloist to Strasbourg, in a new original and fervid form, which was associated with the La Grande Triple Alliance internationale de l’Est family, a musical movement that involves France and a part of Italy. Musician but a visual artist too, in the following interview Zad talked about his art and his recent course in a very enthusiastic way, where everything is a polychromed and noisy discovery.

Following our monographic conversation with Zad Kokar.

Let’s talk about your beginning. How was the initial idea for your music project? How your no wave-ish and dadaist sound was born?

“When I was a teenager I used to play in a grunge/math-rock band called Soap for a few years. Our mutual influences were The Melvins, Nirvana, Battles, The Buzzcocks, etc… Pretty early on, I had a little 4-tracks tape recorder at home, and as the “leader” of the band I spent lots of time composing songs in my bedroom. Most of these researches were meant to be later played as a whole with the band. Most of it were pretty classic rock songs. But I also started enjoying experimenting with the tape recording, and more and more i was recording weirder things for myself. I kept it a secret for a long time. I thought no-one would be interested to listen to these lo-fi songs and collages…

“Later on when I moved to Strasbourg, and  i met the brilliant people of La Grande Triple Alliance Internationale De L’Est. I was super curious and craving to discover new music, and they introduced me to many many bands! Some of them were pretty no-wave and raw soundings, and suddenly i realised that maybe some people might be interested to listen to my secret solo lo-fi recordings? It took me a few extra years to dare try a live version of my solo universe though…

“I think most of my no-wave sound comes from the fact that I chose to keep running my electric guitar through my 4-track which creates this particular distortion and gritty sound that I like. I also started to use weird tuning in order to create unusual songs and ambiances. After my first band, i was a bit fed up with the classic rock chords, i wanted to experiment more with dissonances…

“I would say the dadaist part comes from my free conception of how to build a song. I think i was really influenced by Oso El Roto and Régis Turner in that sense. They showed me that you define what will be the skeleton of a song, and you’re free to built this skeleton with very strange and unclassical elements if you want to. But i think I also always kept a rock element in my music. It’s not totally experimental, but not totally classic rock either. That why I think the no-wave scene of the 80s in New-York (then the later no-wave of Hanson Records, Siltbreeze, and Skin Graft) is what I feel the closest to sometimes.”

Indeed your music involves a certain weird esthetic, between geometric figures and an abstractist imaginary. Especially you are a graphic artist, which is similar to your videoclips and scenography in your live set. What does your art want to communicate through its extravagant expression?

“I’m drawing everyday, and I think it became hard for me at one point to keep this visual element away from the music. It’s part of the same brain and universe, and made possible by the same hands. There is a little bit of synesthesia involved and some sound/visual patterns connections for sure.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of the Residents, Devo and The Caroliners and having my own little costume was more and more attracting to me. Wearing it live was also a way to overcome my shyness onstage. Also i think it carries a certain type of humour and fragility, which balances the loud energic performance and makes it clear that it’s not about a macho-type of energy. But i’m also trying to keep the live-visual and costume part a bit minimalist. It has to be raw, spontaneous and simple like the music.”

Zad Kokar

Zad Kokar at Les Habitées Festival in Strasbourg, July 2022. Ph. Patrick Lambin.

You feel a part of La Grande Triple Alliance internationale de l’Est second/third generation (some of these are Delacave, Maria Violenza, Holiday Inn, etc…). Why this correspondence? There is a certain evolution with you, with your extremely plastic sonorities, and why this?

“At first the connection was geographical because I moved to Strasbourg in 2010, with no idea that I was moving to the beehive of this insane scene! Pretty fast I was going to as many shows as possible. People were super welcoming and I made some really good friends. Some of them were all also developing both a visual and sound universe (like Luca Retraite, Nico Baron and Geoffrey Kayser). Before i knew it, i was helping at show, practicing in the same space, drawing flyers, etc. It all started naturally… It felt like I had been waiting for this kind of communal and kindred spirit vibe for a very long time!

“I started playing music with some members of the GTAIE. And it gave me enough assurance to try to finally play solo, which i finally did around 2011/2012 (I think?). It took a few years of adjustments to feel comfortable with my live-set.

“Not so many bands of the GTAIE were playing with a costume, and I thought it could be my own little thing. A way to propose something else. Though I was highly influenced, I wanted to do something personal. Same with the lyrics, some bands were singing about daily misery, drugs, hard topics but with a dark and clever sense of humour and observation. They were doing it great, but I felt i couldn’t sing about these subjects. It would feel like i would be imitating and being dishonest to me. So I tried my own little alien topics. And to this day I feel I’m still learning how to write interesting lyrics haha. Which brings us back to the dadaist aspect: i realized you can really start with anything to develop and write some lyrics around it…”

Za Kokar

Zad Kokar drawning.

Your main references are Butthole Surfers or the Skin Graft discography, as you reported in other interviews. What particularly appeals to you about these weird sonorities and what elements do you want to capture from them?

“I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of the whole Skin Graft discography. I think I’m especially attracted to the bands that has some sort of a chaotic energy. I love that here is space for accidents and mistakes. It’s energetic but slidy at the same time. And Skin Graft (or Siltbreeze and SS Records) released a lots of bands like that. They also started as a comics zine, that i can just totally relate to! It’s one of the label that made the link between the comics world and the weird experimental noise scene.

“Also the Skin Graft catalogue contains the precious secret that is Zeek Sheck. She developed this super weird noisy alien universe that I really love to dive in! Both sonically and visually it’s super tight together. I see a obvious connexion with The Residents.

“For the Butthole Surfers, I’m especially fan of their early stuff. I got particularly impressed by the craziness and unpredictability of their live shows. You never know what can happen next, and I like that! I like that live performances are built with a skeleton but everything around can be bent, modulated and destroyed depending on the energy of the specific moment.”

Zad Kokar drawing

Zad Kokar drawing.

Zad Kokar

Zad Kokar drawing.

Your poetry plays with politically uncorrected elements, in sound and vision like disturbing and oblique images and atonal sounds, and a polychromate landscape in every sense, unconventional in many music scenes around the world. But what is the origin of this fervid imaginary between black and white? What does your music and your art refer to?

“It’s a difficult question to answer. But I would say that it probably had to do with the way I perceived the world and reality. Different moments of your life felt like they had a different filters on them. Different geometrical figures seems to emerge from moment of your life. And you feel it really deep inside you, but it’s super hard to express or explain it. I think art is a good attempt to convey a little bit of these strange sensations. It’s a movement between what you perceived from the outside world, and what you bring outside from your inner world. So if you get some unconventional, complicated stimulis from the outside world, what you might create would probably integrate some unconventional sound elements I guess?”

Zad Kokar drawing

Zad Kokar drawing.

Zad Kokar drawing

Zad Kokar drawing.

Your guitar sound is quickly recognizable, and I can hear similarities with a certain twang effect. How do you reproduce this rounded and muffled timber?

“Most of the guitar sound comes from being played through saturated 4-track tape recorder. This in addition with the sharp sound of my Jaguar, plus a bit of delay and chorus is the recipe to my sound.

“Also an heavy use of bottleneck and vibrato bar. One song that totally blew my mind and was a major influence in the search and approach of my guitar sound is Orphan by Teenage Jesus & The Jerks. I think it’s pretty obvious when you listen to it.”

In May 2013 your split with Ventre De Biche (Luca Retraite) was released by this last one’s label, Maison De Retraite. Your contribution to this work is in the sign of distorted samples in a claustrophobic atmosphere (a significant example is the first track, Stan), with a corrosive execution of disordered guitar riffs and periodic and heavy patterns with metallic percussion, and La Pire Denrée Du Monde works in this way. The melodic, atonal lines recall those of post-punk literature, with an interesting elastic way, whereas tracks like Night Scratches (Power Of The) navigate with a sonic pattern, periodic in the main structure, and diversified in the details, with intense creative freedom. Le Tcherno (Ventre De Biche Cover) has a dilated form in vocal and synth lines, and Angstroms flow through its essential musical backbone with no principal instrumental track, only any percussive and electronic lines, and a digitally distorted voice. Perfect Devotion is a piece of free-ethereal music with main reverbed vocal lines, which exacerbates sonic chaos in cathartic points, and it’s accompanied by synthetical-instrumental sounds that are cosmic in your context. The Normal cover of Warm Leatherette is original in its chaotic and reverbed melodicism, where the more ordinary periodicity is altered interestingly with desecration, in a post-punk context too. So, how did this debut happen, and its various creativity, tentacular in its obscure and insalubrious diversification?

“I can’t believe it’s almost ten years since this tape got released. Ventre De Biche asked me to do this split-tape with him. I’m super grateful of his invitation because that’s how I started to get in the habit of releasing music. Before that I was a bit too shy. But Luca Retraite helped me to desacralized it. It’s just a tape after all! And there will always be a few weirdos on this planet interested in listening to it.

“If i remember well, i used a computer to record and to be able to have lots of tracks. So there is lots of overdubbing on this one.

“One of the rule that we decided together was to each do a cover version of the other project.

“Luca and I also did a few shows where we mixed our universes. We played one song of each project back and forth and added elements. Once Luca fell asleep on his keyboard during one of the song, with feedback of his delay pedal to the maximum. It made this super massive drone. It was pretty fun!”

The following year (2014, for Petite Nature) there will be released your second work, Details, in the sign of dissonant obscure music. If there are atonal and elastically dilated sounds at the beginning (with the tracks Details and Pity & Affection), the cover of your national band Ah Kraken Gianna Michaels is powerful and aleatory at the same time, and in this sense the next song Non-Verbalité cancels any track of melody, replacing everything in an almost-chaotic abstractism. In addition, Le Voisin Mort is more cadenced in its minimal rhythmic structure, like a decadent funeral march in dark ambient. Ti Says Right! Has a tribal, paranoiac rhythm, with a legacy from soul/blues music (in a broad sense, but filtered in a punk way) in the vocal part. The atmosphere in Collie is rarefied and aleatory at the same time and in a caustic way, followed by a most similar chaoticity (but through a cadenced flow) in Compagnie D’Intimidation. Finally, the sound is more properly elastic, so we’ll see an even more fervid development in your sonic poetry. How did this musical policy happen with each of these cited elements?

“After releasing the tape with Luca, I felt more confortable about releasing some of the music that I’ve been discretly recording for years. Details is compilating songs from different periods, which explains the elastic and wide approach of aesthetics and sounds. It’s not totally a testimony of my live-show at this time (even though there is songs that I performed on stage at the time), but it’s a mix of my different persona: the shy bedroom Zad Kokar, and the more energic performer Zad Kokar. To this day I still think my tapes and releases this way: it’s not only my live-show duplicated on a physical support, but it’s more a little exploration of my universe with differents landscapes, moods, and patterns. I like to create some contrasts and have a diversity of sounds aesthetics.

“The AH KRAKEN cover shows the huge influence the GTAIE had on me at this moment. One of my regret was that they had already broken up when I arrived in Strasbourg. I never got a chance to see them live. And I spent the years after trying to collect some infos about their live shows. I especially like the story that they once performed in a laundrymat, and also in a super hot church where Nafi fainted while playing due to the extreme heat!”

In the tracks of CUL DE SAC (April 2014) a more abstractist attitude takes its little and curved space; the aleatory synth lines are more extemporaneous and poor in their structure, and plastic in their vivid fanaticism, where the human word is absent and in a broad manner their form is hieratic. In Le Roi Des Hypes a drum machine beats its rhythm in a wavering way, and aleatory synth chords flow in Frénétic Dancer. Atonal and disharmonic sounds appears in JEAN-LÉZARD EST PARMIS NOUS !!. Different synth or drum machine parts encounter a chaotic way in Le Neutre. Finally, the cover of Alain Kan, Heureusement Qu’en France On Ne Se Drogue Pas, is an elegant and almost baroque end in this album, with certain cosmic craftsmanship. Finally, how did these elements happen and its dominant minimalism?

“Another lesson that I learnt from the GTAIE is that you can really make a little album in just a few hours if you want to. I really loved this spontaneous aspect that reminds me of Jad Fair, Viper The Rapper, Oso El Roto, Dry Wud, etc…

“My sister visited me one week-end and we ended up drawing a lot and recording these fews songs. By the end of the weekend we had our little album. We put absolutely no pressure on us and we had a lot of fun doing it! It was great because it left a trace of this moment together.

“If I remember well I was rewatching this TV show from my childhood at the time. It’s called Le Maitres Des Sortilèges (Spellbinder) and it’s about parallel universes. It’s pretty cheap but also pretty strange and weird in some parts, which are qualities that i really enjoy! I’m not sure how much it influenced the album, but it’s certainly connected in my mind now.

“Garance, my sister, and I were always big fan of the french singer Alain Kan. So the idea of doing a cover came pretty fast to our minds. But if i remember well, this one was recorded a bit later during the summer in a cave in the South of France. Once again I think you can really hear the GTAIE influence with the distorted cheap synth, the monoton voices and gloomy beat. Even the original lyrics sounds a lots like some bands from the GTAIE!

“Later we recorded some more stuff with this project. We also intended to do a few live shows. But somehow our schedules didn’t matched and we haven’t released anything more or even did live-shows. But it’s still something that we talk about and might happen in a close future…”

Let’s talk about the split with the artist from Metz Klaus Legal (2015, Urin Gargarism Records); if the Klaus Legal’s track Noyade is more cadenced and beamed by dark lights, your contribution Faible is more chaotic and elastic, more sharpy and angular. By contrast, the sound of this track appears more rounded and the structure is more ordered than other tracks in your discography, in a certain sense it could seem an example of a post-punk hit song; indeed it’s like the lines and tonalities recall familiar structure with your dada hook, for examples like a piece of Gang of Four, The Pop Group and The Fall. Can you talk about how this collaboration happened, and why did those elements happen in your track?

“On this one again I was invited by my friend Pavel/Klaus Legal. Luca showed me how to release a tape, and now Pavel was showing me that you can also press some 7”! I was pretty impressed and once again really surprised by the simplicity of the process!

“This was the first time that I asked for external help to record. Sépi (Télédétente 666, Le Renard, Tobi Wolf) and Thierry Baumelle (Charnier, Année Zéro, La Course À La Mort) were helping me record my song at La Socopof (our basement practice space). It was great having some external views and approachs but also when I re-listen to it now I can see that i was a bit stiff and awkward. I think it obvious i was a bit impressed to have some others people in the recording room with me. And i didn’t allowed myself to experiment with recording technics like I was doing alone in my room. They knew what they were doing and I was trying to not waste their time. And in the end i think my performance of this song is little bit too cold (but it’s just my opinion). But i think it was good to do it this way, because having several people leading a recording session can also be problematic. So I trusted them, and the result is probably less introvert and more open and vulnerable to the outside world which i felt a bit weird about at the time…

“Pavel had recorded two songs, and he let me choose the one I prefer to press on the record!

“It was the one and only time I released a 7”.

Travail Rythmique X Zad Kokar by Zad Kokar (2017, Travail Rythmique), Union Electrique and with the Les Combi Beyaz collaboration, reproduces eclectic sounds, between drone music, sampling music, free improvisation and elements of dancefloor sonorities onto the end. Travail Rythmique is a collectif from Strasbourg mixes in its efforts techno sounds with a DIY experimental attitude; here is interesting how it’s possible to combine in one instance diversified musical shapes in a renewed and interesting way. How did this collaboration happen and its fervid craftsmanship?

“This one is totally a UFO in my discography. At the time i had my back-up band Les Combi Beyaz (which consisted of just my friend and roomate Arthur Raby at this moment) and we got asked to do this crazy project of playing live underground in an old mine and record it! Travail Rythmique were more into techno and electronic music, but we also met on an experimental field.

“We all went there and spent the day underground. It was cold and wet and part of the floor was flooded. It was already hard to bring the all the gear to the “room” where we were supposed to play. We set up some sort of a stable stage, just next to a gigantic hole. And we play our set, trying to adapt to the massive reverberation of the cave. The recording was done in a radio style, so the Travail Rythmique crew were walking in the cave when we were playing you can hear us close or in the distance depending on where they were with the microphones.

“When we got out of the cave at the end of the day we all got a cold and got extremely exhausted. It was an intense adventure!

“I think Travail Rythmique idea was to do a super strange and unexpected collaboration and that’s why they asked us. We were also really close friends, and volunteering at the same DIY venue.”

In another release, Les 3 Gueules Au Matin Du Monde (2018, Animal Biscuit, Et Mon Cul C’est Du Tofu?, Indian Redhead, Petite Nature, POUeT! Schallplatten, Urin Gargarism Records), the rhythmic structures are more suspended and broadly baroque, which involves the listener with a meditated diversification. Since that, your sound learns a peculiar maturity and originality and takes its place and interesting caustic plasticity in the experimental approach. The rhythmic creativity is dominant more than ever in Le Pire Denrée Du Monde, in the sign of a pop idea in a brutal structure. Fauché Dans La Fleur De L’Âge is more elastically punkish in its melodic/harmonic structure, and an obscure, cosmic atmosphere in the synth sound appears creepy and naïf, in its chaotic minimalism, in Voler La Monnaie Sur Dix. In Les Trois Gueules Au Matin Du Monde the periodic and minimal pattern of drums is enriched by alterations from its equilibrium condition, where several beats overlap with an almost-psychedelic form, with its annoying, atonal atmosphere; parallelly, Somnolence & Demi-Molle is more vital in its diversified patterns and elastic in its noise melodic approach. Strange Face uses massive electronic lines, with more analogic creativity. There is also a version of Pity & Affection, completely different from the original track, which is crazily faithful more than ever in the context of the album. How did this version happen and the experimental approach in this work?

“By the time of this release, we had been touring a lots as a duo with my friend Arthur on percussions and trumpet. And the idea of trying to record something close to our live performance was more and more present. Gaël who plays in Bonne Humeur Provisoire and runs the label Animal Biscuit told us that he would be interested in releasing something like that. That’s the sparkle that initiated the recording session. Once again we worked with the duo of Thierry Baumelle and Sépi and the recordings took place in our own underground practice-space called La Socopof. Not been the only performer helped me relaxed a lot. The presence of Arthur maintained some of the fun from our live shows and i wasn’t feeling so uptight and impressed by the recording process. I feel we managed to find the right balance on these sessions between catching a live-energy and overdubbing weird sounds on top of it. From the very start we wanted something close to what we could do live, but also feel free to experiment with the studio possibilities. It was a good compromise. That’s why the version of Pity & Affection here is different from the bedroom version from the previous tape.

“I wanted to catch some of the chaotic energy and happy mistakes from the shows, and we try to record in just a few afternoons and not do too many recording of the same song. I was also really into some Beat Happening records at the time, especially the song Down At The Sea and we kept Arthur off-beat mistakes on drums. I like beats that naively goes a bit off the tracks sometimes and I’m glad Arthur agreed to keep those cute mistakes.

“The song Les Trois Gueules Au Matin Du Monde was showing my love for weirder and more ambient things at the time. The main influences for this song were Nekrophile Rekords from Vienna, the japanese video-games composer Koji Kondo (especially his weird Zelda soundtracks, like the Temple of Forest song from the Ocarina Of Time Game), and the geological time spiral which really obsessed me at the time (and you can find on the artwork on the record). I wanted to have this song on the album because it was often left out of the live shows. I wanted to assume this part of the band personality here. We were a rock band, but also into lots of others things! If i remember well you can also find a different version of this song on one of my solo tape.”

Other artistic and heterodox intuitions arise in the next record, which is Moon & Earth Collapsed On This Day (2019, Urin Gargarism Records, Petite Nature), a compilation with tracks from the period 2010-2015, and with a theatrical attitude, in a spontaneous way in its goal, but very efficient. If tracks like Betax Sonax are more classic in their melodic approach, Transit Dans L’Existence results claustrophobic and scratching in an almost-punk sense and minimal in aleatory and entangled patterns and guitar riffs, and is completely out of every scheme with its tribal and futuristic rhythm. At the beginning of B side, Cathédrâle Du Pendu, with an obscure and cosmic atmosphere, is an ethereal and synthetic experiment with a krautrock legacy, and Weird Stuff On V.H.S. has a martial cadence in its rhythmic patterns, whereas the melodic and timbral part is an atonally elastic and grotesque entity. Time-Bending Machine is passed through a periodic, dissonant guitar riff into a discordant harmony with other guitar dubs and a mechanical voice. At the end, Retenez-lui La Tête, C’est Son Tour! Flows into exotic harmony and rhythm, in your broadly psychedelic craftsmanship, between library references and a more lighting Africanism. Moreover, the record is enriched by two covers, which are Warm Leatherette (The Normal), this last with more jangling and distorted craftsmanship, and Jordan, Minnesota (Big Black) which is abstract in its more rarefied and wavering idea, so completely different than the original. Anyway, how did these elements happen? How was the idea to release these recordings born?

“Another tape that compiled songs recorded at home at different time of my life. I was trying to release some of my older stuff, so I can make space for new things. To this day I still have lots of old recordings unreleased, not all of them are worth it. But at the time of this tape I thought I should maybe release the best one to make space. That’s why there wasn’t so much new songs of the tape, I mean the time of recording and releasing the tape were pretty distant. For me it was a bit like going back to this universe that I had a bit forgotten about. It felt like a weird planet now, where the language sounded weird even for me. Hence the illustration of the cover. I like when you can forget about what you record and then it felt like an alien is trying to tell you something when you hear the song again in the future. That’s really something I’m looking for and that’s why I’m not listening to my old releases so much. It’s also a way to use my memory, and let it difform and reshape the song, which give space for new versions if I want to play it live or re-record it one day. I think memory and difformation are really important. I’m always thinking about the time before internet, and how you can’t reproduce exactly what you like in a live-show or a song that you saw or hear just once. You had to use your memory and wonder what had such a big impact on you and that you want to carry into your own creation? I think it was probably pretty important during the first punk shows. You saw the Sex Pistols and they blow your mind, but they don’t have a record that you can study yet. So you try to remember what you liked about them: “OK, they were loud. They played fast. They have a confrontational approach. Etc…”. And then with these elements in mind you try your own things, but as hard as you’re trying to do the same thing there is still a difformative process that will lead to something specific and new.

“I’m trying to keep a bit of this evolutive process toward my songs. It’s like each song has its personality, and sometimes they’re happy, something grumpy, etc. They doesn’t have to sound and be the same all the time! I know that Nirvana sounds pretty “classic” now compared to lots of others bands, but when you watched their live shows you really see that. A song like “Lithium” for example is never played played exactly twice the same. It’s different everytime depending on the energy of the evening. You can even found some purposely fucked-up version of the song, and i think it’s great to allowed such a wide range in the interpretation of the same song!

“So I don’t know, maybe my Big Black cover was approached with the same difformative process in mind. It’s one of my favorite band, and I wasn’t sure I could compete with the nasty guitar sound of Albini. I wanted to keep the creepy part of the song, so i tried to carry this aspect with my vocals and a very minimalist background. I think I was also influence by Whitehouse at the time, and all the distorted power-electronics treatment of the human voice.

“And since I love looking for contrast, that’s why i enjoyed having a strange uplifting synth song like Retenez-lui La Tête, C’est Son Tour! co-living next to the creepy Big Black cover! I love albums that shows very different type of music and succeeded somehow to maintain a unity, like a planet with very different landscapes. Visually it can be compared to the work of Gary Panter which I really love and goes in so many unexpected directions! Musically I would say that Flagellation, the unique album of The Just Measurers, had a big impact on me at this moment for this exact reason. It’s going in so many different territories but the whole thing makes sense (just like the heterogenous discography of Jim Welton).

“On the other hand, i really love some album that have a very strict and unique sound, which is the total opposite of what I previously said, haha. So I guess my own aesthetic is a bit in between: i freely bring elements from different zones, but the way I organize and record them probably wrapped them into a layer of homogeneity.”

In the record End All Toxic Relationship To Now (published in 2020, by Petite Nature and Urin Gargarism Records, during the early pandemic period, indeed the donations for the album were offered as financial help for those difficult times) confirms another time your artistic policy, but certain and more meditated craftsmanship is dominant, with monotonous and tribal patterns, even more, peculiar dissonances, and intelligent vitality. The first track, or titletrack, and The Guy Who Gives The Answers are two occasions to handle freely traditional dark sounds and other music elements, but originally. I Miss You is abstract and droning with a suspended and caustic atmosphere, in which appears a cosmic interlude with creepy vocal parts and chaotic guitar riffs. In Time At Home Alone Secretly Watching Home Alone doesn’t miss rarefaction with a bare rhythm which is enriched originally by sampled parts with drums sound (an interesting doubled-faced element, less explored until now). And, another time, RolodeX is cadenced in the rhythmic patterns, which appear elastically distorted in vocal and synth parts. Other tracks like Les Limaces and Je Rêve Plusieurs Fois De La Même Maison Hantée, Sans Comprendre Pourquoi are ethereal and caustic in their massive and physical sonorities. Otherwise, La Ligne De Radium is more cosmic and essential with an essential drum machine and nightmarish synth riffs. There is an evolution in your poetry, and here your dadaist approach shows a personal identity, with energetic and expressionist craftsmanship, in the sign of a plastic dark sound. How do this record and those artistic choices happen? What were the crucial elements in your poetry?

“I started recording the songs on this album a bit before covid strikes. The album was all ready to be released then happen the first quarantine and the world suddenly changed so much! I decided to released the songs online and like most musicians and bands at this moment I enjoyed the Bandcamp Fridays. Then the physical tape release was delayed to spring when we were able to print it in risography at my friend Pierre Faedi/Gargarismes workshop.

“If the previous tape was a compilation of older things, for this one i wanted to keep the same contrasted approach with wide landscapes of songs but with newer recordings. I kept on experimenting with what I can record. I didn’t try to stick to the “no-wave” element necessarly, but instead challenge myself to record in different ways. For example, I tried to capture some smoother sounds. When I play live, the energic element is put up-front, but I want to keep the liberty to explore some quieter things on my recordings too.

“For the first time I used a sample from another song on the beat of Time At Home Alone Secretly Watching Home Alone. I took it from this obscure hip-hop band called Hawd Gankstuh Rappuhs Emsees Wid Ghatz who I’m a big fan of! It’s sort of an hommage, and a way to include them into my little universe. They become allies in my music world. I thought that was also quite funny to confront their obscene universe to the child movie “Home Alone”, even if i’m the only one aware of it.

“This is maybe bringing some answers to the question of my element of poetry, which i would say is really wide and both serious and naive at the same time. I love to use my tentacles and grab real elements from different horizons and pop culture (like Macauley Culkin, Zoe Lund, Andy Moor from The Ex) and difform them into my personal, synesthetic and abstract way of building things. I guess you can maybe say that it’s a dadaist or surrealistic approach, but i’m always curious to discover what will appear from the unexpected association of two distant elements. I think most of my poetry comes from this excitement.

“The title of the album was my friendly advice to all the listeners. Of course it’s easier to say than to do!”

Another selection from the quarantine period is A Bad Placed Assurance (2020, Petite Nature), a compilation of old recordings (of 2009-2012 years). The track called “‘¶¶ØØ{{{ŸŸŸ»»»ØØ]]]” is structured in two parallel parts; the rhythm of the drum machine, monotonous and cheap in its timber, and the rest of the voices which develop in a centrifugal sense through vocal improvisations and structured to neat instances. Hitting the Wall, a cover of the self-titled The Cows track from the fourth album Peacetika, is shaped to the image of a barber quartet song, with a noise side which consists of a shouted vocal part, in the sign of the mentioned origin. Otherwise, other tracks, like A.D., describe a plastic, distorted sonic landscape with drum machines and sharp guitar riffs, where the distortions instill claustrophobic feelings and, at the same time, that plastic shapes reflect the polychromed colors and creativity which characterize your poetry to the best. Some patterns with diversified cadencies characterize Le Message Est Bien Passé, and a similar anti-symmetric periodicity in a lo-fi sense appears in Is Swigger Right?. In the end, Spirale Des Âges Géologiques is a conclusion in a cosmic sense, immersed in its general disharmony between an electronic, distorted drone and ukulele-like sounds. Can you talk about the main elements, cited or not, of this album?

“As the quarantine was still going on, so did the Bandcamp Fridays. As I needed money, I decided to keep digging my hardwares and choose a few old songs to release. That’s how this album was born. It didn’t get a physical release. The title was a bit of a joke about how I felt much more self-assured in sometimes an arrogant and ridiculous way at the time of these recordings. Haha I was much younger and felt a bit like I knew everything. So I’m making fun of my younger me in a gentle way.

“¶¶ØØ{{{ŸŸŸ»»»ØØ]]] is a bit of a mystery. I don’t remember where or when I recorded it. Recently I started playing a live version of it. And the more I play it, the more different from the original it’s getting. As I said before, the song is developing its own personality and it seems it has more to say. Maybe i will record a different version!

“I still like this cover from The Cows. I had fun recording it super fast! Just like the Big Black cover i wanted to be really minimalist, that’s why I used just one loop which i sing on top of.

“Spirales Des Ages Géologiques shows my fascination for the immensity of the universe and time. It’s a cosmic element that comes back a lot in my universe.  It was also one of the first time that i tried to record something calmer. I remember at the time I was using a balalaïka, and I wanted to build my whole solo-project and live-shows around. That’s why I have lots of recordings where you can hear this instrument. It was just for a moment, because quickly I felt it was too restrictive and I went back to guitar and others instruments really fast after.

“It’s hard for me to say more about most of these recordings, because I don’t really remember in which circumstances I recorded them…”

The next Super Metroïd Made Me Do It (2020, Petite Nature, Urin Gargarism Records) is in the sign of softer sonorities immersed in your ordinary chaotic background. In We Needs Squat is followed by the Sun Ra detachment, where cosmic sounds with a certain frequency and then interfering between them flow along the track. Éviter La Merde is characterized by a heavy and periodic rhythm and the typical sharp and atonal guitar riffs which appear as balance. But the influence of Sun Ra is more evident in Perfectionism Is A Virus From Outerspace, where the chorister part recalls several sung parts in the Afroamerican artist from Saturn, and not casually a partial citation appears to the title, but it doesn’t miss the label of your poetry, where the spatial theme encounters an elastic and less common creativity which is full of intuitions in small scales. And if the self-titled track is wavering, non-homogenous and atonal, there are traces of consonance and sunny melodies, but in a kraut sense; funk sounds with a math structure and ethereal psychedelia with synth lines permeate This Is Where I Want To Hide, and a weird and dissonant guitar pop inclination with a non-verbal cosmic alienation are the main characters in Angle Of Various Pictures On The Wall. This record has new elements, and they project your poetry in a new experimental direction, between the extremities of two polarities. Why these elements and this attitude?

“This album is the exact sequel to End All Toxic Relationships Now! in the sense that the idea and approach behind it is the same: experimenting and recording at home. Once again looking for contrast and make antagonist elements exist together. I kept challenging myself to see if I was capable to capture both super soft song and much more dissonant and abrasive ones.

“Everything on this album (which the only exception of Éviter La Merde) was recorded during lockdown when i was home alone. It’s 100% my covid album! Even the title refers to Super Metroïd which i finally succeed to finish during those moments of isolation. It’s another pop-culture element that seems to be really part of my poetic universe, just like Kirby that kept on appearing in my sketchbooks.

“The lockdowns were really weird moments. But in a weird way I feel a bit nostalgic from the first one. It was scary but at the same time I was one of the people who felt that capitalism will probably not survive it and it brought a lots of hope. It was this strange moment were everything slowed down. We suddenly had more time to do things, there was no more cars and traffic-jams, no fear of missing-out because nothing was happening. It relaxed the socially-awkward person that I am a lot haha! The whole world was on the same page. Of course that’s the best aspects of it, and there was lots of dark ones too. But I just feel it was an interesting moment to stop and think about how things could be done in a different way. I think most governments are too stuck in a old way of thinking and kind of missed this rare opportunity to change a few important things.

“I had the chance to borrow the crazy synthesizer of Slaylor Moon for this album. That’s why there is more synth-generated sounds on this album. With this articular one you can really goes super dissonant, which i really love of course! I want to thank her again for letting me use it!

“One important song of the album is Struggling DIY Venues Of The World which evokes the daily struggles of keeping an independent venue alive. It was particularly hard during the covid wave which brought lots of venues to disappeared. But more generally it’s describing how gentrification and the rise of rent are making it more and more difficult for these places to exists; how the volunteers are getting tired and some audiences are recreating a toxic consumer attitude towards live-shows… It’s a pity because you need these experimentations places. I’m worried that live-music will only exists in official venues with strict rules and unflexible programmation in the future. It’s hard to know precisely how it might evolve, especially with the unpredictable world situation, but I think there is still hope though!”

Si À 35 Ans Tu N'As Pas Vu d'OVNI Tu As Raté Ta Vie...

Si À 35 Ans Tu N’As Pas Vu d’OVNI Tu As Raté Ta Vie… (2021).

The intentions with Si À 35 Ans Tu N’As Pas Vu d’OVNI Tu As Raté Ta Vie… (2021, Petite Nature) are a little bit different. Along a massive-sounding direction, sonorities are more heterodox in the general background. The release spreads a cacophonic idea of music, but this time the lines are more minimal, essential and powerful at the same time. Ceiling Portal For A Trip has a percussive-noise structure and a micro-periodicity which characterizes its monotone and minimal rhythmic pattern. In Fifty Shades Of Leave Me Alone Please the progression of music is idiosyncratic and over-synchronized, playing a centripetal and rhythmic part and a noised and principal component. Scully is plastic harsh noise music with an electronic timber which describes a rounded pattern, in certain declinations smooth and with caustically elastic dilatations. The title track is characterized by a more ordered and familiar structure, even with the typical futuristic craftsmanship, and with a sung part with its rhythmic and chanting flowing. In Mulder a disorienting and distorted babbling recurs in the track in an up-and-down distribution of intensity and velocity. And in The Memes We Forget About And Discover Another Time there’s more powerfully organicity with buzzing and atonal sounds which are contrasts with the minimalist melodic part. How did the mentioned elements, the intensity of sounds and energies happen?

“Totally different approach for this one. I wanted to use the same sound and elements on every songs unlike what I did before. It was my own challenge, same recipe for all the songs: one beat, one synth-bass, vocals and the same fuzz guitar on every songs. I wanted to explore the fuzz pedal that my friend Noir Boy George/Triton 13 built!

“It’s both my X-Files album, with lots of references to UFOs, and my Brussels album (where i was a lot these last months). Each song is almost recorded in just one take and improvised: first idea to arrive and i press the record button and go with the flow. I wanted to have a few hardcore-noise songs and make them in a hurry! The sound is also a bit reminiscent of the one of my other project Sida, in which I play bass-synth. Since we haven’t been really active in a long time I started missing playing those big synth-basslines…

“One particularity of this album is the song Si À 35 Ans Tu N’As Pas Vu d’OVNI Tu As Raté Ta Vie because I really tried to focus some extra attention to the lyrics and challenge myself to sing in french which I’m not so comfortable doing. And for once i think it turned out okay! It’s drawing a weird personal and lyrical landscapes of my moment in Brussels in a pandemic time…”

Zad Kokar

Zad Kokar at Les Habitées Festival in Strasbourg, July 2022. Ph. Patrick Lambin.

In your last album, Mold Grows (2021, Petite Nature, Kaka Kids, 1000 balles, Animal Biscuit, Urin Gargarism Records, POUeT! Schallplatten), sonorities are more neat and periodic with the recurrent free craftsmanship. Indeed, if Time At Home Alone Secretly Watching Home Alone flows in a wavering way, the title track is more plastic and free in its melodic and rhythmic structure, in a polyrhythmic and harsh-noisy sense. Queer Shelter, the first track, is formed by an almost-constant drum machine combined with elastic and arlequinesque guitar riffs which are diversified in their several extemporaneous geometries. In Stuffed Room With No Air plays the same game, with a more incisive programmed pattern and stochastic feedbacks which elevate their level of expressive shapes along the course of the mentioned track, and Lourd La Première Fois has a diversified musical consistency, whereas appears fluid climaxes with different orders of scale. The form of Serotonine is more well-produced (in the DIY context) than the homonymous one in End All Toxic Relationship Now!, in the sense of a well-mixed sound, and organic in its abstract and baroque form, with a more meditative game of double voice in its realization. Thi Says Right has a rhythmic recurrent pattern in its course, whereas guitar and vocal parts flow in a diversified form as if there should be a musical narration of a story. Le Sourire Diabolique Du Monstre is divided into two instances, one more intensely chaotic and another one more rarefied, every time along a diversified sonic flow, and at a certain point until when a contemplative, noise moment prevails. How did this neatness and periodicity happen, which are associated with a more organicity of sounds, but without losing your ordinary and original expressivity?

“So this one was released during covid, but it was recorded before in 2019. I’m glad my friend Laura is on this recording! Once again we teamed up with the crew of Thierry Baumelle and Sépi for recording us. We did it in a new studio in Strasbourg called La Dreche. It’s located under a art supply shop, which for some reason feels pretty funny. It’s like we are recording this alien music under this clean, official and mainstream art place.

“This album features some songs that we had played live for a very long time, but didn’t had the chance to record together yet (or were left out of the previous LP). We went pretty fast to record this album because Laura lives in Montreal and couldn’t stay for very long. We started just after a tour in Europe so we were pretty comfortable performing this set.

“I remember one day when we were really focusing on the drum sound, then the electricity went out. We were so absorbed that we didn’t realized that it was raining a lot outside and that the studio was getting flooded! Fortunately, the friend who built the place anticipated this problem, and built it on a little stage so the water can flow under it.

“By the time of the recording, I think we got our minds blown by this band from Leeds called Guttersnipe. We became really close to them. They have this super intense set full of dissonances, energy and obnoxious insect and alien sounds! In a little way you can hear their influence on part of this album, especially on the song Mold Grows. This song is also drawing influences from the distant alien world of the book The Nightland from William Hope Hodgson. This book is far from being perfect (and unfortunately pretty sexist), but the descriptions of this cold unfriendly world had a big impact on me at the time. If you’re not familiar to this author, I would recommend starting with House On The Borderland first. Just like in the book, we tried to built it as a long journey through several scary alien landscapes. We were really trying to imagine some alien patterns, textures and organic sounds.

“I would say that compares to the previous LP this one is much darker. The alien presence is much scarier this time…

“Once again it was co-released with several different labels. We liked this system and it’s also an easy way to distribute the copies in different locations…”

Finally, can you talk about your tours around Europe? What will be your new releases and their associated style?

“For the close future, I will be releasing two solo tapes in September/October. One is called Les Pixels Colorés and will features several long home-recording songs with overdubbings. It has a wide variety of style, from pop to dark-ambient.

“The second one Do The Wrong Thing was made in a more spontaneous way and is more homogenous in its style. I recorded some songs in just one week and one take. The songs were little improvisations that I created and recorded at the same time. No overdubbing, no mixing, no mastering. haha! I made it last spring which was a difficult time emotionally and i had troubles focusing, so I wanted to do it more experimental and fast. My approach was inspired by Mik Quantius.

“I’m also going on a Switzerland/Italy in September, then probably a UK tour with the Combi Beyaz in November/December.”

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