French interview with the band Saint Mars for Rictus Info
English translation :
Saint Mars, atmospheric
Tuesday 26 June 2018, by Tanja Matic
New outfit Saint Mars, a collaboration between Swiss, English and American musicians, is really worth looking into. Their “Ocean Blues” EP, released in 2017 and featuring 4 tracks ("Ocean Blues", "Boys Never Cry", "A Love Impossible", "Broken Prophecy"), is a delicious blend of atmospheric vibe, experimental rock and hypnotic guitars accompanied by the mysterious voice of Marc Darcange. Saint Mars was born after a meeting between the founder Marc Darcange and Angelo Bruschini, guitarist of the Bristol-based band Massive Attack. The English press gave a light on the band at several occasions over the last months.
Their first single, "Ocean Blues" addressed the subject of childhood bullying. For this track, the band has released a quite astonishing video clip, showing a young boy chased by frightening shadows for the most part of the song. On April 28th, a brand new song, "Somewhere Somebody", was released on the web. Performed by the young Ohio native Tryzdin Grubbs, it has a deapful meaning and was followed by a new animated video clip based on Tryzdin’s own bullying experience.
Many thanks to Marc and Tryzdin who heartfully agreed to answer our questions:
Interview with Marc Darcange :
TM: Marc, what is the meaning of the name “Saint Mars” and why did you choose it for the band ?
MD: It's a rather unheard story...in the beginning, the band was called "We Make Storm" and was supposed to sound much heavier. The track "Broken Prophecy", on our first EP, is from that era! Then, from "Ocean Blues", I felt the need to find another name reflecting in a better way the double origin of the band, both English and French. At that time, I was reading the French comics series "Max et Lilli" by Dominique de Saint Mars to my young daughter every evening.
The name "Saint Mars" became an obvious choice for me because the words exist in both languages and have the same meaning. "Saint Mars" also takes us back to the Baroque era whose influence on our music contributes to our originality according to the press. That name also projects us into the future by reference to the planet Mars and all that Sci-Fi imagery arising from it. This double nature is the central feature of the band, since we take our influences from both the past and a form of anticipation. For me, both are linked because time is not as linear as we might think... Saint Mars is an intergenerational and trans-temporal entity!
TM: During a Massive Attack concert, you met their guitarist Angelo Bruschini, who currently plays for Saint Mars. Can you
tell us about the artistic direction of the band’s music and your collaboration with Angelo but also with the other musicians of the band ?
MD: Yes...that’s really "Ocean Blues" that started it all: for the first time, I was writing music that reflected perfectly who I truly was without censoring myself emotionally and without worrying about the opinions of others. I really think that when your approach is sincere, you end up meeting the right people... and it is precisely at this moment that Angelo showed up, thanks to two mutual friends, Neil Davidge (former producer of Massive Attack) and his girlfriend. It was Neil who suggested that I play my music to Angelo.
I contacted him and he just said "Mate, your music is interesting, come on, send me the tracks and I'll try to do something with it". That was it...Massive Attack's guitarist...I couldn't believe it! Then I met a Welsh guy, Nathaniel Shelley (aka Jason X, former leader of Transposer), with whom things quickly worked out well and who writes a lot for the band...then Californian lyricist Britt Warner (October's Child), who co-wrote the lyrics of "Ocean Blues", "Boys Never Cry" and "Somewhere Somebody"... Our first album “Celesteville” will be a concept album about the story of a young boy victim of school bullying. At some point, I thought that having a young singer who would cross the whole album playing this bullied schoolboy would give more authenticity to our music and more originality too...As I couldn't find anyone where I lived, I started looking on Youtube...and the first video that showed up was that kid from Columbus in Ohio, with a weird name, Tryzdin, who sang Adele...
After watching two of his videos, I quickly knew that would be him and no one else because all others I was listening to seemed tasteless by comparison! I finally got in touch with Tryzdin and his mother and flew to Columbus to record him with a really basic set up. We were supposed to do only one track together but I came back with 6 songs recorded, including "Somewhere, Somebody", our first single with him which was released in May. And we haven't stopped since then...we’ve made more than 10 tracks together now! My encounter with Tryzdin had a considerable impact on the artistic direction of the band. Tryzdin will indeed perform several songs of the album. Having such a young singer (he wasn't even 13 when I recorded the first songs with him) is a pretty uncommon approach....I can’t remember (apart from a few sporadic collaborations like Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall"), having witnessed such a thing on such a large scale in an adult rock band. It was risky and there will certainly be people saying, "Wait, what are you doing with a child? Rhymes or lullabies? Have you lost your mind? "...but that’s even better if we disturb…Saint Mars is not meant to be consensual! I was also worried about the reaction of the other members of the band, but Tryzdin has been well received and his talent quickly recognised. Angelo, in particular, loves Tryzdin and he is also convinced of his great potential. No wonder because Tryzdin is honestly not a ordinary child...At 13, he already has his own identity and his own universe. The only comparison that comes to mind is Björk, not because he sounds like her but because he is able like her to deliver that kind of raw emotion without filter and without refraining himself. So he has already reached a point to where many adults will never get...
TM: Bullying is a hot topic right now. What can you say about it ?
MD: It all started with "Ocean Blues" once again...the theme of the song (a young schoolboy being called a "big whale" who ends up turning into a real whale) came to me spontaneously. The song was originally entitled "Piggy the Whale". Then I watched a tragic documentary about a 13-year-old schoolboy in France who had been the victim of school bullying and ended up committing suicide. It had a huge impact on me and I felt the need to make a whole album out of it. I confess I was also a victim of bullying at school at different times during my childhood. I started in the worst possible way, harassed by my own teacher. Then I had some very hard times mixed up with school phobia.
Childhood can be a difficult time...you are totally dependent on adults: if something turns bad at school, you can't just resign like an adult would...you can hardly escape your condition and it's often difficult to talk about it because the suffering can be so intense. The problem is often minimized by adults, who think it's all just childish bickering. Wrong…Because for the most sensitive ones, it may even have fatal consequences as in the case of this young French boy! The most incredible thing is when I chose Tryzdin, I had no idea he was also being bullied at school. His parents finally took him out of public school in the United States because of this. I only learned about it later, but it made our approach even more meaningful. Then strangely, "Ocean Blues" became his favourite song. He sings it beautifully and we'll bring it out as a single with him. For me, it's as if the character I had imagined for this song materialized in flesh and blood. Or as if he was already there, in a way, when I wrote the song... A sort of modern fairy tale like "Pinocchio"! But with Saint Mars, we often live in a distorted reality...
TM: What are your future plans and wishes for the band? Any concerts or touring ?
MD: We do have a lot! First of all, we are going to finish our album, Celesteville, which should be released at the end of the year. Then our future singles: first the new version of "Ocean Blues" by Tryzdin. Then a new single, "The Pacific State", with another special guest, Jethro "Alonestar" Sheeran, rapper from Bristol, with a video clip that will be shot in the Swiss Alps this summer. The tour should follow at the end of the year. But I would like this to be done according to a particular concept close to a musical. The theme and story behind the album would be totally suitable for such a concept. And with Tryzdin, we have the singer of our dreams: he’s also an excellent and totally credible actor since he has also been a victim of school bullying. This is an ambitious project, but when I see what we have done in the last six months, nothing is impossible!
Interview with Tryzdin Grubbs :
TM: Could you tell us about your meeting and collaboration with Saint Mars ?
TG: Meeting with Saint Mars is really a dream come true. Because for a long time I've been wanting to spread awareness about bullying and share my story and they have made that possible.
TM: How have things evolved around you since you decided to talk about your (bullying) experience through music ?
TG: The thing that has evolved since "somewhere, somebody" was released is the bullying. The bowling has died down and I also received messages everyday saying that people are touched by the song.
TM: What are your wishes for the future ?
TG: My wishes for the future are to create a foundation where the world is so hurtful. And to get the word out there that bullying is not right. I also want to continue working with Saint Mars and continue spreading awareness about bullying and other causes, such as suicide awareness and down syndrome.
Interview by Tanja Matic for Rictus Info