Band Spotlight: Zeal & Ardor

Once in a while, a band comes along and just blows you away – not like, ‘Oh this is awesome’-blows you away, but….’This is the best thing I’ve heard in the last however many thousands of years, and it’s gonna change how I feel about the day’-blows you away. Zeal & Ardor create next level sounds that blend black metal, blues and electronic music. Here, as part of our next Band Spotlight, we chat to the band’s mastermind, Manuel Gagneux about his ideas and inspirations.

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S] How are you today?

M] Hi there! I’m splendid!

S] How do you feel about the reception to Zeal & Ardor?

M] I’m overwhelmed by it. I didn’t make this thinking anyone would seriously listen to it, so this all seems fairly bizarre to me.

S] What’s fuelling your passions outside of music now, think people, places, and things for example?

My friends, and books. I’ve recently seen all the words in Finnegan’s Wake. I don’t think I can say I’ve read it. That wouldn’t really be the truth. I think it might be my favourite book now. It only makes sense if you read it out loud, so it’s a phonetic piece of literature. Bloody fantastic.

S] What have been some of the biggest challenges in pulling the project together?

I’d have to say getting enough material together to have a sufficient live show. Since the album is only 25 minutes long there’s a considerable incentive to have a set that’s up to snuff in longevity and quality.
It’s been kinda intense. Write, rehearse, repeat.

S] Similarly, what about some of your favourite experience in recording, and pulling it together?

I think I was giggling a lot while recording since I really do think it has some fun elements to it. Levity is an important thing to me.

S] ‘Children’s Summon’ is a great showcase for how diverse your sound is, what inspired that track?

I think there’s a lot of Wintersun in that track and also quite a bit of Yann Tiersen. It’s always hard to say what inspired me. I tend to rattle off cool groups and names, but the thing it came from is probably an ad or something silly like that, I just don’t really know where the idea really stems from.

S] Your art, and shows are very visual, and energetic, how important is the visual element of the band?

Very. I’m adamant about having a say in every visual aspect I have influence in. If it goes together well the visuals and the music can augment each other in striking ways. It would be a pity to waste an opportunity like that.

S] Would you say that Zeal & Ardor takes you out of your comfort zone, or pushes your boundaries at all, if so how?

It’s pretty close to my comfort zone. This started as a thing I did in my spare time. A pet project. So having this as a main thing right now is basically a dream!

Zeal & Ardor’s new album, ‘Devil Is Fine’ is out now. The band will play Camden’s Underworld on April 20 – tickets here

Dom Smith

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