Belgian metal ain’t nothing like Belgian chocolate. Were one is highly regarded the other has almost fallen back into the unknown. But there are hopes for the Belgian metal scene. SAILLE being one example. Dennie answered my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
In the beginning I thought that a keyboard in black metal was a strange choice of instrument but bands like Dimmu Borgir and Limbonic Art has proven me wrong. When did in your opinion the keyboard become an accepted instrument in black metal?
-I’m going to be completely honest, in most cases I absolutely hate keyboards in (black) metal, There are tons of bands with a certain potential that are reduced to fairytale-music because they had to include fun and/or way-too-technical keyboard parts or they had to give keyboard a more prominent role than it deserves. It’s simply overkill and one of the reason many people consider most symphonic black metal as a cancer to the genre, me being one of them by the way.
But I have to admit, there are bands that succeed in throwing in keyboard as a harmonic part of the whole and that know how to add to the atmosphere of their songs.
I’m not going claim we belong in one group or the other, it’s not up to us to judge ourselves, but we try to be a part of the second group.
What is black metal to you? What is the ultimate definition of black metal?
-Saille has 6 different individuals with 6 different backgrounds, so I find it hard to give an ultimate definition of black metal that’s supported by the entire band. But I believe that transferring certain emotions and an atmosphere of unease is very important to our music and shows. A pretty broad description, but I don’t want to start lying about how we hold non-conformism as the most important factor of the band, simply because it isn’t true. For me personally it isn’t always easy. I know that as a front-man I have the most important contact with the crowd, but like I said, Saille’s 6 different individuals, so I don’t think my usual “fuck you”-attitude would be very welcome. Neither would it fit Saille’s style. So I try to adjust. A little.
Belgium used to have some great metal acts when I grew up in the 80s but then nothing. What is it like to be a metal band in Belgium?
-The last few years have been pretty quiet, Up to ’07-’08 there was a very active scene and you would have 2/3 great gigs a weekend, but the last few years things have been going downhill. Decreasing visitor-rates, less bands, fewer shows and lower quality, A phenomenon that can be seen elsewhere in Europe too, I guess. Metal isn’t dead, I’m not saying that, but I’ve got the feeling that the sudden ultra-popularization combined with the lazy internet-behavior of the new generation has put a chokehold on the underground.
But there’s still talent and bands/organizers that deserve the attention. Also we still play great shows and there’s often an enthusiastic crowd, so that’s all that matters now. Things will change for the better again, it just needs time.
What kind of music scene is there in Belgium? I would imagine it is a lot of techno and trance stuff that still rules the charts there.
-I honestly have no idea, the only radio I listen to are the ones that don’t involve themselves with that kind of crap. Don’t get me wrong, I have a broad taste in music and can even appreciate some techno and trance, but chart-material usually isn’t the pick of the genre-specific litter so rarely worth listening to.
When you come from a country that doesn’t really make that great of an impact on an international scene what does that do to a band’s determination to make it?
-“Take it as it comes”. We don’t have the determination to make it, we have the determination to do the best we can and to push our own boundaries in order to grow in an organic way. And I believe that’s an important and fundamental difference. You have dozens of bands that try to ‘make it’ and adapt their music according to what’s hip or might be well-appreciated by the crowd, but that’s not our way of writing and performing. On our albums and our gigs we try to project an honest picture of what Saille is. If we can’t make our impact on the international scene this way, so be it.
What kind of respond did you get to your first album? What did people think of it?
-Responses were crazy. People were praising Saille as of we were the next big thing in the universe and the album has an average review-rating of well over 85 percent. What might be even more important is that we got bigger opportunities, like playing a gig on Graspop Metal Meeting, the biggest metalfestival in Belgium, quite something for a band with a 1 year live reputation.
How will you build on that response with this new album? How does it follow on the debut album?
-Like I said, we’re trying to push our own boundaries. We’re not making calculated moves after we received and interpreted feedback. If people like it, they like it. If not… too bad.
The changes compared to the debut are mainly us growing as a full band and trying to involve more of that band and their ideas in the writing-process. To my opinion we’ve succeeded in this, so I believe ‘Ritu’ is an even better harvest on an already fertile soil.
When you write a new album how much of a band effort is it? How much do one person have to steer the ship for it to not sink?
-Saille and it’s debut used to be mainly Dries’ project, but ‘Ritu’ has been the work of the entire band. The writing-process mainly happened over the internet (since most of us have some basic recording material) and choices were made by us reaching consensus. I realize most bands need that ‘one strong person’, and I’ve experienced first hand that more than one alpha-male can lead to internal struggles, but I’m happy to say that Saille works as a democracy. And since this way is the right way for us I can’t imagine changing that any time soon.
When you play gigs as a black metal band how important is the surroundings/settings? Does it even matter to you guys where and when you play?
-Surroundings/settings certainly do matter, just imagine us playing a show in front of Cinderella’s castle? When we get an opportunity to play we always consider the pros and cons of said show without trying to be arrogant bastards. There are certain factors that just have to be right, for example, it should be possible to have a decent sound and leave a good impression with the crowd. When that’s impossible we won’t play, because nobody, neither band nor crowd, would find any satisfaction in it. But in the end we’re not that hard to satisfy and if there’s a problem we’ll look for a solution.
What would you like for the future to bring to you?
-In short: safety on the road, cool gigs and a third album. And more interesting interviews like this one! I like it when I’m not being asked the standard questions and thank you for that!