Quiet Human: Unspoiled spirit of a child
Апрель 13, 2017
Александра Афонина (4 статей)

Quiet Human: Unspoiled spirit of a child

Launching a new record label is uncommon nowadays, especially when you start by releasing a totally obscure French progressive rock act. However, Russian promoters Delta Mekong Concerts did not hesitate for a second, so impressed they were with the music. After listening to this debut release called “Leaders to the Starry Sky” we also got interested… in filling the gaps and learning more about this elusive project.

A quick web search on Quiet Human (with a little help of French-English Google Translate) produces results that are intriguing enough. The nickname of the project’s founder is Verdo, and his full name is Laurent Verdinot. He is a Marseilles-based multi-instrumentalist and is a part of many musical projects since 2001. For example, he is the bassist of a prog-thrash metal band Ninmah and a progmetal band On The Edge. One can also notice the project called Transplantation, labelled as “a parody of hopelessly dumb trve black metal” («une parodie de Trve Black Metal complètement débile») in Verdo’s discography. This shows Verdo certainly has a sense of humor, too. However, this is what we have been able to find out… and the rest is for Verdo himself to tell.

How do yourself define the style of Quiet Human?
I think Prog Rock is what qualifies the music best. A sort of mellow mix between Folk and Space Rock if you want to go into classifying further …

Could you tell a bit about yourself? Where do you come from musically, how did you start, and how and why did you arrive to where you are now? What is your creative background?
My parents used to live in London in the 70’s and they brought back Classic Rock with them. I was raised at the sound of Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Yes, Bowie, Queen… A true chance if you ask me! As a teenager I discovered Heavy Metal and I was hooked forever. I started to share music with some friends and soon we wanted to start a band. We managed to get our hands on some cheap electric guitars and amps and thus it began. Of course, the early days were terrible, but we had so much fun! I remember when we finished our first ever rehearsal! I was walking back home and I was like “Yeah Lady! I’m in a band now!” feeling like some hot rock star! I have played in many bands since that day, although I finally I discovered I did not really care for fame or success. This has never been my goal. What I love is making music, and that’s what I’ll do as long as I can, even if nobody’s listening. Quiet Human is exactly in this state of mind.

What are your favourite bands, singers, composers?
I love all sorts of music, from Opera to World Music, from Jazz Fusion to Death Metal… In fact it is easier to tell what I dislike: Radio crap, Hip Hop, modern RNB and stuff like that… and Latino music! Of course, I come from Rock and Metal, that’s what I am, and it’s what I love most. Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd are my all-times favourites but I also love obscure gems, stuff that most people don’t know and I like to keep secret. I guess for Quiet Human the influences were somewhere between Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Jethro Tull.

How have you moved from thrash to prog, and how do you manage to combine it now?
In fact, it depends on my mood. When I’m excited or pissed off, I naturally express stuff that fits for Metal. On the other hand, when I’m calm and meditative I come up with mellow and soft ideas. All the rest is just a matter of arrangements. Many songs off «Leaders To The Starry Skies» could have been stripped off arrangements like synths or choirs because the core was just one vocal melody and simple guitar chords. I could also have arranged some melodies to fit on a Metal release, just by quickening the tempo. I have enormous difficulties to stay focused on one single project because I have so many things to express, so many ideas to experiment. I just can’t understand people who always make the same kind of music, one album after another. I think they do it because it pays the bills, but it must be hard. I will probably never do that.

How did you come up with the idea to set up your own project Quiet Human? What is the goal here, if there is any? What were you planning to express through your music here?
You know, 99% of my daily musical entourage consists in typical metalheads. I’m one of them, and I love them all. But when it comes to the rehearsal room, it is kind of hard to find the good moment when everyone is OK for a soft acoustic song. It was easier to compile similar song ideas I had gathered on my side into a totally different project, whose purpose would be to express something different. That’s how the idea came. The goal was just to distinguish the mood of those songs from all the others you can hear on my other projects. We’re all music lovers and yes, even though we sometimes sing about epic battles or radical human emotions, we remain sensitive people. «Leaders To The Starry Skies» is what happens when metalheads play Prog Rock.

The cover of «Leaders To The Starry Skies» is the first thing that draws attention: very mellow, beautiful, intricate and dreamy. It does not resemble anything a metal or even prog album would typically have on its cover. Who made the design, and what’s the idea behind it?
I was looking for a real painting, not a computer stuff, so I browsed the internet and I found the works of Leszek Kostuj, a polish artist! His works absolutely blew my mind! I immediately knew I had found the perfect artist because his works, in my opinion, reflect perfectly this “childish” and ethereal approach I was trying to convey through the music. Also, the way he paints the eyes… Those eyes, they just look through us, straight at our souls and see exactly what we are, no matter what we try to hide, but without any judgement. The art was so awesome that I dared not spoil it with a band logo or an album title. The combination of this cover art, straight songwriting and mellow arrangement all contribute to make Leaders To The Starry Skies a sort of concept album on the paradoxal wisdom of childhood. Leszek is undoubtedly an awesome artist, a great guy and I encourage your readers to check his works. Please do!

How did you pick the people for the project? Is it true that you all actually gathered by a coincidence?
Not entirely. JC Chicco, who plays drums, is my sort of musical counterpart – even though neither he nor I like to admit that! But the fact is that we’ve been making music together for more than 10 years now, in various projects, and he was the easiest and most logical choice for the drumming of the album. Max Segovia, who plays bass, is my oldest friend. We’ve know each other since we were kids, and it was my pleasure to have him play on this one! Bob Saliba, who contributes vocals and guitars, is one of the best musicians I know and a solid friend. He immediately agreed to be part of this project. In fact, he was the first to convince me to make it real. Only Lily Martinez I met by coincidence. I looked for a female vocalist as I thought a softer voice would fit great on this kind of music. I did not know anyone who could do it, so I put an advertisement on internet and she answered. I’m quite lucky to have met her. Her voice is not only wonderful, she’s also a gorgeous little lady! When she was recording her vocal lines, we were like “Come on Lily, put all your love and passion into it!”, and when she was over we almost had to change our underpants!

Our reviewer wrote that you «chose to go the path of stylization» and «filled it with music in a somehow naive art-rock «for everyone» style, the one that remains unchanged as a genre since 1970’s». Also, «InRock» defines your music as «prog created according to the British tradition rather than any other»… What can you say about that?
Surely «Leaders To The Starry Skies» reminds of traditional British Prog Rock. How could it be different? I’ve been listening to stuff like Camel, Caravan, Ye/s, Steve Hillage, and Gong for years! I admit that during the writing process, I tried to keep the shadow of 70’s British Prog Rock not too present, in order to save some originality. But it was sometimes too hard to resist! I just could not put some mellotron on this album for example. On the other hand, the addition of more modern samples and synths, almost with an Electro vibe, and of trippy bass lines, help the listener, in my opinion, to relate to more recent references. In conclusion, I’d say that it depends on which song you’re listening to, because one can find many other influences. Someone even mentioned Manowar!

What are the thoughts and ideas you tried to put in the album? Are those songs about love and space travel just about that, or is there some deeper meaning or message hiding there?
Yes, there are indeed different levels into this one! I thought nobody would see that!! The key to understand the first degree concept of the album is the title track: it tells the story of ancient souls in the body of children who have the magic to escape this world when they see its sorry nature. They just leave this world, vanish into some strange and foreign dimension, through time and space, unspoiled and virgin because you know: Finally, anywhere but here! All the album has this innocent, dreamy and almost childish feel. Children are just pure and immaculate love; how is it people change so much when grown up? That’s a question I am asking on this album. I wanted to express this innocence and purity without pathos and naïveté. That’s also why I wanted to keep the music quite simple, without complex structures or technical difficulties, to emphasize that point. Well…All this is the first degree… But! You mentioned earlier my twisted sense of humour… I like to ruin it all, and some songs have second degree readings. Take «Lady from the Stars» for example! You know what? It is actually the story of a strange guy who’s been abducted by aliens, got his ass raped in that spaceship and instead of being utterly traumatized, he just likes it and falls in love! I bet you didn’t see it coming when you read those lyrics!

By the way, why did you pick Delta Mekong concerts to release your first album? How did you find each other with DMC, and what do you expect from this collaboration?
What I love is making music. Not promoting it! I absolutely hate that and that’s why your readers won’t find much about my works on the web. If an opportunity arises by itself, then it’s OK, but I’m social network autist and I just won’t do it. I have friends who are good at it, and it works, but I feel like shit whenever I try to post something on Facebook or whatever. It is impossible that I spend my time on my computer trying to get some attention from a record company, begging to get some deal on ridiculous conditions. I don’t care about fame or success. If I remain one of the obscurest artists out there, I’m fine with it and I know many music lovers are in the same state of mind: We are the Elite! The guys at DMC understood that and they were the only ones who kept it simple and nonintrusive. They just contacted me and in minutes in was agreed. Neat and clean!

Your first album was published just last year, so it’s obviously too early to ask, but… what are your further plans for Quiet Human, and for your creative work in general?
I got tons of new material. I always write music so the main difficulty is to choose what to do next! My next one will be a grotesque and vicious Doom Metal concept album on UFO mythologies. I have 120 minutes of music, double LP-worth, each song focusing on a story related with extraterrestrial theories. People should hate it! I’m looking for a way to release it at maximum exposure with critically low budget. I also have new material for a new QH album, with an interesting concept, but the mood will be darker and hotter. I also have many happy folky songs in store, and so many full Metal songs that there could be 2 or 3 albums worth. The difficulty is to produce all this. I am mostly alone to fund those recordings, and as I make very little promotion I logically make very little profit to help fund future recordings… I accept it. The pace is slow, but the heart is deep. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

Did you have any gigs so far, and do you maybe plan to tour (and visit Russia, hopefully) as Quiet Human, or in some different entity?
It may seem strange for some of your readers coming from a “westerner”, but I f*cking love Russia! It is my favourite country in the world and I dream of visiting it! I wish I was Russian… Unfortunately, visiting your beautiful country doesn’t seem possible in the near future, whether as a band or as a tourist. The conditions of playing gigs have considerably deteriorated here in France since the last couple of years and it now seems almost impossible to make a single concert without losing considerable amounts of money. There’s also the fact that I won’t prostitute to play anywhere for anybody, and it does not help, as sometimes it seems like it is what is expected from musicians here… So we simply do not make concerts for the moment. We’re nonetheless looking for a way to keep things interesting and original and in time we will see how it can work. Who knows what tomorrow will look like? For now, I wish to respectfully thank you and your readers for your interest! Make love and Vive la Russie!

Interview — Aleksandra AFONINA
Intro, editing — Vladimir Impaler.

Александра Афонина

Александра Афонина