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lesfleursdumal2011_04Interview with

Axel Grim of Les Fleurs Du Mal

LES FELURS DU MAL are a new Goth band hailing from Sweden. We've had the chance to discuss with Axel Grim the differences between Baudelaire and Östergren, the Red Emma and Kropotkin, Goth music and Nordic winters and what else? About the band and its music!

Reflections Of Darkness (RoD): Much to my surprise the name of the band wasn’t after Baudelaire’s book but out of Klas Östergren’s novels. Baudelaire unleashed a tremendous attack on morals, religion and the bourgeoisie and was prosecuted for it. On the other hand Östergren seems to describe a climate of fear and of insanity during the last years of the Cold War and was glorified by the Swedish status quo. At the end, which stance and perspective you believe suits the aims of the band more accurately?
lesfleursdumal2011_02Axel Grim (Axel): For me it’s a somewhat film noir, Graham Greene, Raymond Chandler-esque thing. Both Klas Östergren and Baudelaire deals with the less attractive sides of human existence. What’s underneath a well polished surface of hypocritical, bourgeoisie life in old Charles version, and working class representatives come petty political elite in Klas Östergren’s case. I’m naturally inclined to lean towards Östergren, Baudelaire was a spoiled brat. I like Östergren’s political undertones and continue in that tradition. You can see how high my horse is. It’s the first question and I’m slipping out of the saddle already. How’s this going to end?

RoD: The emblem of the band is a rose and a gun into a gear. This brings to my mind Emma Goldman’s quote “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution”. What does that mean to you, should music be part of politics or far away from it?
Axel: It depends what you mean by politics. If you mean being part of the parliamentary charade, musicians with heart and brain should definitely stay away. However the way modern life is organized, there is no steering around politics. Regarding Emma Goldman, it’s not a statement against revolution, but one that doesn’t allow women to dance and publicly enjoy themselves whilst making it. I hold Red-Emma in high regard, however the theme of the emblem stems from her fellow anarchist Kropotkin actually. I just can’t stop trying to assert myself, can I?

RoD: I’ve read that this CD is the first part of a trilogy. Can you tell us about the large-scale concept? The ideas musically and lyrically as well behind this entire trilogy and how have they developed and crystallised?
lesfleursdumal2011_01Axel: I don’t think the EP’s will differ so much music wise. They are supposed to be a microcosm of our musical range, if ever so limited. The EP’s will however differ in lyrical themes. The plan is to do one about alienation and the way out of it and one about, god forgive, love. Now I don’t consider it to be that large scale really. I think it is my view of the band that is perhaps a bit over the top. In my view we will go on producing records and some will be EP’s, some will be full length. At the moment most of our efforts are concentrated on a full length album.

RoD: Can you describe us the main issues that were behind the lyrics and the concept of this CD?
Axel: ”I” is about being lost and slipping further away. Not being able to sort one self out, lacking the adequate tools, if you like. It reflects my own mental state at the time I wrote the lyrics. It’s also about dealing with a feeling of not belonging. I know from you review that I’m now at the deep end of our plunge pool, but I really think most people want to belong. I’m not into biologics but I do believe we are herd animals. Being cast out is not a comfortable feeling.

RoD: The music of LES FELURS DU MAL, in your first CD has this nostalgic tone for the late 70’s, early 80’s with references to the Joy Division, The Cure and Sisters of Mercy. What makes this period musically speaking so appealing?
Axel: It’s good. Not as many loose fangs.

RoD: You’ve said that your sound owes much to the opinions and vision of your brother [August Grim], if he was out of equation, do you think your sound would differ very much?
lesfleursdumal2011_03Axel: It would probably be more nostalgic. We have sort of a dialectic working relationship. I’m pulling backwards and he forwards. It would probably be less interesting and definitely of a lesser production quality.

RoD: Lyrically as well the school of Joy Division which emphasised introspection is dominant in your CD. Some might say that you cannot find peace by avoiding life. What are your thoughts on that?
Axel: ”Some” are right, you can’t. Maybe I’m not articulate enough but it’s actually what ”I” is about. Perhaps it’s buried too deep. On the vinyl soon to be released we will have the full lyrics to ponder over, if anybody should think it’s worth it.

RoD: I was reading in an older interview of yours that in this era that glorifies success the retreat to the self, to become a “nobody” can be a solution. Don’t you think that stating that poses a contradiction since you are a member of a band signed by a big label, which wants to approach the public by its ideas and music?
Axel: The quotation marks flanking ”nobody” is in this case very important. It has nothing to do with retreating to the self but to stick with your own kind, or class if that’s got any significance to anybody these days, and not let someone else, or other class, dictate the rules. Dig where you stand, like. We are not signed to a major label, by the way. The record is on our own label Malicious Release. We do, however, want to get our message across and we have a distribution relationship with Echozone. I seriously doubt you would ever have heard us if we hadn’t. We have complete artistic control and no money, just like all those suffering artist we aspire to be.

RoD: Your photos accompanying this interview, for example, seem to draw inspiration from the “Dark City”, is this intended and if so, why do you find it inspiring and which elements? If your inspiration comes from elsewhere else, what is it?
lesfleursdumal2011_05Axel: If you mean any of the films, I wouldn’t know. But I definitely draw inspiration from the dark sides of urban life. Another film noir thing, I guess. I’m born into the city, and it tears you down, but I couldn’t live anywhere else but in it. Natural beauty can be… beautiful, especially the Scottish Highlands, but it makes me restless. It’s in the cities where it’s ”happening.”

RoD: When Scandinavians produce something darker, a lot of people are tempted to put it down to harshness of Nordic winters. How much of a misconception or truth is it, does it reflect in your work in your opinion?
Axel: Winters here are hellish. It’s not a coincidence that in northern mythology hell was a dark freezing place. But nauseating pointless references aside, in my case I think it has more to do with the harshness of society rather than of nature. We have central heating, double glazing and electricity in this part of Europe. Besides during summer it’s  the opposite, light almost all the time. I would think coastal climate is just as depressing.

RoD: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans at this point?
Axel: We’ve got fans? Wow, I might want to rephrase the part about success. I’m too flattered to think of anything meaningful.

RoD: Thank you very much for taking time to answer these questions!

Pictures by Jose Figueroa

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