With a second fantastic album, "The Obedience to Authority," coming a mere thirteen months after their self-titled debut, I thought it was time we caught up with Autokrator to find out some more about this French band that's currently amassing a significant following within the underground…
Interview by Trevor Proctor.
Hi, many thanks for taking the time for this interview, I’m sure it’s very busy for you at present. For those reading who may not be overly familiar with Autokrator could you please tell us about the group and its music?
Hi! I formed Autokrator in 2014 while working on the first album, which was first meant to be a N.K.V.D. album. So we released our first album last year released via Iron Bonehead Productions and Godz ov War Productions, and we re now releasing, one year later, our second album on Krucyator Productions and Godz ov War Productions. The line up is : David Bailey on vocals and me. We recorded the current album with a session drummer. We play some suffocating death metal, with an industrial touch.
What lyrical themes are central to Autokrator’s music and what relevance do they have for the band?
Our main theme is the dark side of human behaviour. On the first album we dealt with the worst Roman emperors, speaking of their vices. This album is about the submission to authority, based on Milgram's "the Obedience to Authority" experiment and The Brainwashing manual, written by Hubbard but based on a Lavrenti Beria conference.
Your debut self-titled album was first released independently on digital formats in March 2015 with an Iron Bonehead Productions digital release just over three weeks later. Since then it was released on cassette by Inferna Profundus Records, on 12” vinyl by Iron Bonehead Productions and CD versions by Godz of War / Third Eye Temple – were you surprised at the album getting so many physical releases from such high profile labels?
We were very lucky on the first record to work with Iron Bonehead and Godz ov War. Iron Bonehead's schedule for 2016 was full, so they can't release The Obedience to Authority on LP. The experience with G.O.W was amazing, that's why we kept on working with them, the album is a co release between them and my own brand new label Krucyator Productions.
The Autokrator debut created quite a stir in the underground on its release, were you surprised at the positive reaction it received and how happy was the band with the final recording?
Of course we were surprised to have such a good reaction. We were happy with the final recording, ift sounded like we wanted it to sound. We work year long on our records, so everything is established step by step, like if we were building our own house, brick after brick.
The debut featured a number of other musicians performing drums, samples and vocals but for the new album this was stripped back to two contributors, Loic and David – did this lengthen or complicate the recording process and how much did this process differ this time round?
On this record, I wanted to handle all the sampling parts. Brandon, who sang on four tracks on the first record, was a session singer and helped us to finish the first record. Oleg moved from his country, and won't be able to play the drums for a long time, so we had to find a session drummer, and we used the same process for this recording.
Loic, I’m aware David recorded The Obedience to Authority – how did it feel having assistance with this process when you’ve been so accustomed to recording everything yourself in the past?
David wasn't mentioned to have recorded his part, but he did do so on the first and second records.
David – you’ve been a member of Autokrator since its inception – have you both known each other for a long time and how did you first meet?
I've been in contact with Loic for more than two years, he contacted me after listening to a Bloodbath cover I did, and asked me to take part in the Autokrator project. As I liked the demo recording, I accepted this collaboration. I sang on four tracks on the first record, and have recorded all vocal parts on "The Obedience to Authority."
You were kind enough to send me the new album back in March and since then it’s had several listens and I’m very impressed with it, how satisfied are you with the final recording and are there any current plans for vinyl or cassette versions?
We are 110% happy with the final recording, we wouldn't have released it if we weren't. A tape version will be released by Stanley from Deaf Sparrow later this year. At the moment there are no concrete plans for a vinyl version.
Néstor Ávalos Zarate from Mexico created the cover art for both albums, how did he come to work with Autokrator and do you intend continuing this relationship for future releases?
Nestor's style is part of the Autokrator visual, so I hope we'll keep on working together. He's such a talented artist with an evil and unique style.
Loic, I’m aware you’re responsible for writing, mixing and mastering your music – what do you feel are the benefits of doing so yourself and does it bring much added pressure to the recording process?
To be honest, I couldn't let my music be recorded or mixed by someone else, I like to be part of the process all the way. I can create and modify step by step. I even did the layout of this album, to control all of the process, and also took part with the releasing. I worked on Autokrator music every day last year, it s a very long process. Recording in a studio would cost a huge amount of money. And honestly, which label would offer us some money to record?
I’m definitely not complaining but there were only thirteen months between albums – how did they come to be released so close together and can we hope to see a third album in a similar time frame?
I will take a couple of years' break before recording the third album. In fact, I didn't stop recording after the release of the first album, because I had ideas and other directions I wanted to take, so I took the decision not to stop.
Loic, you’re also responsible for N.K.V.D., a French Industrial Black Metal band – what led you to establish Autokrator when you already had an active band and what are the similarities between both?
The first album was created to be an N.K.V.D. album but knowing from the start that it would be very different, in term of sound and themes, I chose to release it under a different name. That's why both projects are so close as well. Autokrator is the death metal side of N.K.V.D.
Loic, aside from having a temporary vocalist you performed all instruments for N.K.V.D., do you feel you work and perform better on your own and did you record, mix and master all N.K.V.D. material?
Yes, the recording process is the same for N.K.V.D. and Autokrator, I don't know how to work any differently. The only difference is that with N.K.V.D I used a drum machine, but on the next album, I will maybe work with a drummer.
Do you intend keeping both bands active or is Autokrator now your main priority?
Both bands are currently active, the only difference is that I will do only one more album with N.K.V.D., before closing the chapter. Autokrator will stay active.
With Autokrator currently comprising two members will it ever be possible to see you perform live and if so, do you have anyone in mind to perform with the band?
I'm not against playing live, but I struggled all these years to find dedicated and skilled studio musicians, who are located all over the world; how could I get the same skilled and motivated musicians around me? If I had a 300 bpm blasting machine drummer living next to me, of course i would play live :-)
Underground metal has recently seen a massive rise in both popularity and productivity on a global scale – has the French underground benefited from this rise in popularity and are there many bands within the French underground you feel deserve a wider audience?
The French scene is following the same process as the international scene. I don't have French bands in mind that need a wider audience as all good French bands are well known.
Which bands have influenced Autokrator’s sound the most and are there any elements from those bands whose influence can be heard in your music?
The biggest influence we had is N.K.V.D. - nothing more, nothing less. Autokrator is the death metal version of N.K.V.D.
Which releases from 2015 did you enjoy most and what future releases are you looking forward to hearing in 2016?
From 2015 I love Abyssal, Deiphago, Kommandant, Ad Hominem, Cruciamentum, Adversarial, MGLA, Outre, Revenge, Archgoat, Infernal War, Pissgrave, Legion of Andromeda, Ævangelist, and Misþyrming new albums. Concerning 2016, I am looking forward to Paroxsihzem, Abhomine, Temple of Gnosis, Svartidaudi, Grave Miasma, Irkallian Oracle, Inverloch, Chthe'ilst and Altarage.
Last November Paris suffered harrowing terrorist attacks – how have these affected attitudes towards live music both in the city and throughout the country and do you think the attendance of concerts/gigs will suffer for the foreseeable future?
I was near an attack on the 13th of November, Rue de la Fontaine aux rois in Paris. People in Paris were suspicious the following months, but now they have came back to their usual routines. I left Paris in a move that was planned long before the attacks, so I can't tell you much more about routines etc, after that.
Loic, David I'd like to thank both of you very, very much for the interview, it's greatly appreciated at The Lair of Filth, thanks again and any closing words are yours......
Thank you for your interest in Autokrator.
Autokrator's excellent new album "The Obedience to Authority" is currently available from: