L’Épée is a name that you will not yet be aware of, however by Monday 9th December this year, many people in Brighton and surrounding areas will be saying the word.
So that’s the EP out the way, but now there’s a full album on the horizon (out 6th September) called ‘Diabolique’, which will be available in ruby red vinyl amongst its formats. So let’s now learn about this new release and this mystery ‘supergroup’……
‘Diabolique’ was originally intended to be a solo album by actress Emmanuelle Seigner, to be composed by French band The Limiñanas and produced in Berlin by the American musician artist Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Instead a vision was born which was to upset these plans. A vision called L’Epée, which has produced a tour, an intense album, and some love letters moved by rock’n’roll, the music which saves lives.
The basis of many electric sounds is a beautiful old song, its name: Rock’n’Roll, with Capital Letters. It is pronounced Lou Reed yet speaks of a woman whose life was saved by rock’n’roll. This woman, like so many whose lives deviated in the dark and mysterious rock of Lou Reed, could be called Marie or Emmanuelle. It is around this axis of vitiated rock that Marie Limiñana and Emmanuelle Seigner found themselves as members of the gang-like group named L’Epée, which could make you want to cross the sidewalk. And there aren’t any in the group, with their dozens of guitars, who will say the opposite; they also fell into this toxic potion when they were younger. “I was 11 years old,” remembers Emmanuelle, who then relates to Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones as an alternative to Brel and the paternal Brassens. “I was a kid, I knew by heart all the names on the pockets of Stooges and Velvet,” continues Lionel Limiñana. “I love Lou Reed,” Anton Newcombe concludes. “And I hate him. How could he forgive his parents the electroshock cures they financed for supposedly curing him of rock’n’roll? I would have murdered them. And the doctor too. I chose freedom.” We are in the presence of people for whom Lou Reed counted.
We are not surprised that a song from the album ‘Diabolique’ de l’Epée is called ‘Lou’. However, the text of the great Bertrand Belin, one of three tracks on the album Suicide, retains its mystery using words from other New York myths, the New York Dolls.
But be reassured historians, if the Velvet Underground with its lacerated rock and darkness has served as cement for this international group, ‘Diabolique’ is anything but an album reserved for this genre. It is the work of a team, or rather a family, reunited without barriers, without artifice. It is referenced, but with humour, and distance. “It was funny to play with this mythology,” laughs Lionel. “I added a few nods to the music on which we all built ourselves.”
“It’s probably a thing of generation,” continues Emmanuelle Seigner. “We are all about the same age, this music made us, even saved us. When I was 16, well before becoming an actress or model, my dream was to rock. But what were my chances of meeting Lou Reed on my street? It’s a dream that never left me. And my musical experiences have brought me a lot in my life as an actress, a woman. Thanks to that, I am a much more relaxed actress. Playing in the cinema is so much easier than going on stage! It’s certain; it’s not the same luxury. But I love van life, being on tour, I prefer to eat triangular sandwiches with the band than to be at the Cannes Film Festival! “
All four agree that rock was a primordial, formative, founder in their lives. Each song on ‘Diabolique’ can be heard, any nostalgia drunk, as an intimate message of gratitude. “Without the record stores and booksellers from our childhood in Perpignan,” remembers Lionel, “life would have been very difficult. We were not formatted to play rugby.”
Same story, but in the other direction of the trans-Atlantic crossing, is the scholar Anton Newcombe. “Since I was a kid, I’ve been listening to French music … My passion was born with translations of Jacques Brel by singer and poet beat Rod Kuen. Then there was Gainsbourg, a genius, or artists like Françoise Hardy, Anna Karina, Polnareff, Antoine … A few years ago, for Musique de Film Imaginé, I invited the French Soko to the studio. She had never sung in French yet! His manager had left me some French albums, that’s how I discovered and loved The Limiñanas. What I like about them is that even if they love music like ‘Lords Of The New Church’, they dare to speak French, they do not deny themselves. I’m tired of explaining to French bands that they have no chance of singing like Oasis with a rotten accent. The other concern of many French artists is the overwhelming weight of the literary tradition, which pushes them to neglect music and melodies for privileged words. Pop is not Jean Cocteau. The Limiñanas have understood this, staying simple.”
It is this simplicity, this fluidity that is the genesis of ‘Diabolique’, the first album from L’Epée.
It all begins during the Gossip Girl series, when Emmanuelle Seigner hears a song which moves her. It is signed by The Limiñanas. She then looks through albums by the group, and falls in love. The actress, flush from two solo albums, and a collaboration with Ultra Orange, is in further need of music. An Inrocks reporter puts her in touch with The Limiñanas.
Surprised at the prospect of this possible collaboration, the actress, in full filming of a series in Lyon, enjoys her only free Saturday to jump on a plane at dawn in the direction of Cabestany, a village near Perpignan which serves as a base for The Limiñanas. Emmanuelle Seigner is treated to a guided tour of this place where music reigns without divide. Studio, guitars, bouzoukis, ukuleles, Moroccan basses, effects pedals, strange keyboards, oriental instruments and sonic gadgets occupy garage and ground floor. “We went out to eat pasta and take a walk on the beach,” recalls the singer. “We agreed on everything. I loved these people without the slightest doubt. It changed my Parisianism so much! “
The Limiñanas are by now finishing their 2018 album ‘Shadow People’. Emmanuel Seigner is immediately enlisted on the microphone for the title track that gives its name to the album. Soon, this duo in Perpignan begins the composition of the model for what would then be a new solo album by Emmanuelle Seigner. The Parisienne returned twice to Cabestany to record texts written by Bertrand Belin or Lionel Limiñana himself, and finally the album seems ready then, but their spirit still feels it is missing their third hand.
Delighted by the recent collaboration with Anton Newcombe on the album ‘Shadow People’, The Limiñanas contacted him in Berlin where he’d installed his Cobra studio. Now nothing is going as planned. The American, best known for the psychedelic rock of his band The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the movie ‘Dig!’ which is dedicated to him, falls in love with the songs that Lionel sends him.
Immediately, Emmanuelle, Marie and Lionel fly to Berlin to meet him. By the time they arrive, he has already added guitars, mellotron, solos and his witchcraft titles. In Berlin Anton has rebuilt his legendary wall of sound, a mixture of which he owns from copyrights of acoustics to the Byrds and frenzied electricity, diverted from psychedelia. Then everyone goes back to their work, touring or filming, until Emmanuelle Seigner receives a letter from Newcombe: “I had a vision, we made a group of four and we called it L’Epée”. The Parisienne is delighted: “I like the Warrior sound of the name. I prefer this a hundred times, rather under a group name than mine! This is only logical after the involvement of everyone. The Group spirit of a team always attracted me, I like the idea of sharing. I was not happy with my solo albums, I’m excited about the upcoming tour.”
Immediately, the French are seduced by this name, its visual and evocative power, which the American chose in their language. L’Epée, it serves to ennoble as to cut the heads: this ambiguity delights them. “We still do not know why he chose this name,” laughs Limiñanas again. When asked to explain his dream, Anton Newcombe gets away with a spin of which he has the secret: “I saw a double-edged sword, if I may say, on the one hand, it can free you. On the other, she cuts you in pieces … I’m not very fond of the text explanations, but I probably thought about my song Silent Stream, “The truth will set you free / In pieces you shall be” will liberate you. It is therefore the Sword that will free you!”
Picking up the pace, L’Epée then becomes of itself a separate identity, with a vast tour starting in September. “Everything came together naturally,” says Lionel. “Emmanuelle wanted everything except a smooth record, and it is finally, a rough, dark piece. I feel like I hear a mix between Jesus & Mary Chain and what we loved in France in the ’60s, things like Ronnie Bird.” Based on their conversations, the lyrics chiselled by Lionel are a staged fantasy version of Emmanuelle Seigner, an adventurer, a petrol light. This is confirmed by the singer who says “This recording took place completely organically; it grew spontaneously, and was friendly. Without the slightest bullshit. The songs were written in relation to Lionel’s vision of me. The mixture between playful and darker parts defines me perfectly.”
In Berlin the atmosphere is also playful. In a feverish but joyful bidding the group piled on the guitar tracks in the studio, the electric layers, until losing count, so much so that they are considering having more guitarists on stage. It must be said that the electric guitar remains as precious a tool of craftsman as much as an object of fascination among the members of the group. “It’s a sacred thing,” said Lionel. “My holy trinity is the electric guitar, the fuzz pedal and the reverb.” “I would dream to play like them” fantasises Emmanuelle Seigner. “My thing is really not a folk album or piano-voice. I need fuzz. I think it’s so sexy, this sound.” If he’s already dreaming of recording a sequel to ‘Diabolique’, Anton imagines it, but willingly without the unlimited strata of guitars, “For me, they are mostly a working tool. My thing is not playing the rock star with my guitars, but using them to communicate. They are so oddly tuned that I’m not even sure I’m playing an electric guitar anymore.”
He admits to liking the vast and dark facets, close to the music of film, in the writing of The Limiñanas. That’s good, Lionel’s eyes shine when he evokes this darkness that affects many titles of ‘Diabolique’, “Anton and I love melancholic sounds, serious guitars or minor chords, we get along like thieves at a fair on this subject.”
From complete immersion in this Berlin studio experience Emmanuelle Seigner has not yet returned. “It was crazy. Anton spends his life listening to the BBC and suddenly he gets up, grabs his guitar and plays amazing stuff. Then he comes back to the couch and hands over again to the BBC! He works with impulses. He is gifted, never laborious or academic. I’m so glad I did not make a solo album. It’s been a long time since I was looking for a band like this that understands me without calculation.”
Formerly, Anton Newcombe once set up the mysterious label ‘Committee for Keeping Music Evil’, which can perhaps be translated as ‘The Committee for the Safeguarding of Diabolic Music’. It was Anton Newcombe who, taking up the vision, decided on the title of the album L’Epée: ‘Diabolique’. We could not dream of a better committee to offer all our sympathy to the devil.
The tracklisting for ‘Diabolique’ reads:
1. Une Lune étrange
4. La Brigade Des Maléfices
5. On Dansait avec elle
6. Ghost Rider
8. Springfield 61
9. Un Rituel Inhabituel
10. Last Picture Show
Order your copy of ‘Diabolique’ HERE.
On 6th May 2018 the Brighton & Hove News Music Team were fortunate to catch The Limiñanas live at the Hope & Ruin – read our report HERE.
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