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Interview with CKRAFT
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Charles (CKRAFT's bandleader): Hi there Volatile Weekly, thanks for having us today!
To reply your question, it's all my granny's fault! She had an old accordion gathering dust in her attic and one day she literally put it on my lap. I lived in a village in eastern France in Alsace where there's a strong accordion tradition, I took a few community lessons with an old guy there, that's how it all started! And now here I am, blending jazz and metal in my band CKRAFT. What were the odds?
If I hadn't gotten into playing music, I think I would be doing another music or arts related job, probably on the production or press side. Music is just too important for me that I can't picture my life outside of it!
-What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Oh, a lot of things! When I'm not playing, I'm working on finding new concerts and later collaborations to put in my agenda, as well as all the promotion side of this business, which sometimes takes more than half of my working time actually. Replying interviews is included, and it's always a great pleasure and honour when people I never met want to talk about my projects!
About another non-musical source of inspiration: I think musicians and composers are very similar with craftsmen, in the sense that we all use noble material - for us, the culture of jazz and that of metal for example - just like craftsmen would use different varieties of wood, minerals, etc. and create something unprecedented directly from these materials, combined with their art, their expertise and experience. That's why I named this band CKRAFT, along with the fact that "Kraft" in German, means strength/energy/force! And there you have it, a mixture of "craft" and "Kraft".
Craft is one main influence for me: I live in Paris so I go to museums a lot, and I get to see very high end craftsmanship on a regular basis, which deeply reaches me and influences me in my compositional process!
-How long has your band been around?
I've had the Jazz and Metal ideas in my head for quite a long time, but I only found the right people to execute them around 2020. That, and the fact that COVID completely wiped out my agenda and I finally had time to write my music properly.
We released our first single "Drowning Tree" in February 2021, so we could say that our history truly starts at that moment?
-Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
The band started in Metz (eastern France) but is now based in Paris, where the experimental music scene is just crazy! I think this free-minded spirit that this city has, of putting no limits to your creative ideas, probably influenced me to produce and release my first album with CKRAFT without any kind of artistic compromise.
Also all the museums and the high craftsmanship and artistry available, that I mentioned two questions ago already!
-How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Oops, same here, I think I might already have replied to this question, three questions ago! It's the mixture of craft (craftsmanship) and Kraft (German for strength, force)!
-Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Last year we played for about 1'000 people, they came to see the artists we were supporting: Roberto Fonseca and Makaya McCraven, that are both more on the jazz side. The festival was "Nancy Jazz Pulsations" and the (seated!) audience wasn't expecting to see Jazz-Metal at all, so we were really anxious about their reaction! In the end it turns out that they were all standing, shouting and applauding us. And it was officially our first concert as well! An unforgettable memory to see all these people stand up and cheer.
-What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
We played in a club once in Paris, called "La Gare", it's an old train station that they changed into a live music venue, playing every night from 21:00-00:00 and expanding in a night club from 00:00-05:00. The audience there is just fire and it's opened 365 days per year. Do go there if you're in Paris.
I would like this band to play in all the big concert halls possible in Europe and UK... But on a more near future I'd say Opera Bastille in Paris! We might have an opportunity to showcase our music there soon actually, let's see how it goes! I'd also like this band to play in venues in which it's not expected, and to be able to do it in a National Opera would be a complete badassery!
-If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Our bassist Marc Karapetian happens to play regularly with Tigran Hamasyan, a famous Armenian jazz pianist that is also digging into jazz-metal. If he invites me on stage one day, I'll be a happy man! His compositions are nuts. If I have to describe it shortly: you want to headbang but don't know where. A bit like Meshuggah actually! But with Armenian melodies on top.
-What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I really don't feel entitled to give advice to anyone, but I guess if it was my younger self I would tell him that absolutely no one is going to magically discover him one day, that he has to put all his efforts into genuinely making his own music and putting it out there, that practising his instrument isn't everything. I would tell him about marketing and press relations... and he would certainly brush me off! Haha
-If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
It seems that I already replied this in the last question?
-Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I love all the tracks on our first album (CKRAFT 'Epic Discordant Vision': bfan.link/epic-discordant-vision-1) but I'd say the first one, called "The Loudest Victim", means a lot to me because it's the first jazz-metal composition that I ever made.
-Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favourite thing is when we have new songs and we're in the process of working on them in the rehearsal room. It's so exciting to witness the sound and the compositions take shape, work on the details... I'll stop talking now otherwise I'll say my craftsmanship story again!
We're not yet at a stage of fame that people would come and request songs from us during concerts, but "The Loudest Victim" had a lot of streams, more than all the other tracks combined actually! It's indubitably one of our fans' favourite track.
-What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I literally write everything down on paper, even the drums parts. Sometimes the idea starts from a riff or a rhythmic pattern that is looping in my head for too long, sometimes it's a melodic fragment of one medieval melody, and then it's all about developing and varying these elements.
When everything is written down and I'm sure of the tune's structure and intention, I bring it in rehearsal to my fellow band members and we craft the sound all together: they sometimes have suggestions to make some parts sound heavier, which I'm always happy to apply! We spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room until we're happy to play a new tune on stage.
What triggers the inspiration for me is to witness other bands playing a live show, or discover a record that I didn't know and have my mind blown, then I think "hey, I want to write crushing riffs as well" or "oh, if it was me, I would have done it like this or like that" etc. That's why I tend to go out a lot to see bands play, it's an endless source of inspiration. This, and life events of course.
-What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I think of each tune as an epic story that has to be told as loud as possible. To me, this music talks about the violence of men and nature, and embrace them as an endless source of inspiration.
-Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
This question makes me realise we're a very healthy and easy going bunch of friends actually! I can't think of any major disagreement within this band. I'm taking the full leadership regarding a lot of things, and I feel that the others trust me and are willing to help as much as possible because they've seen that so far, things are working smoothly in CKRAFT. But maybe I'm wrong and they're secretly planning to bury me alive... who knows?
-What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We're on the road as we speak! Check out our tour dates on our socials!
We're also working on new tunes and plan to record new music, probably sometime next year.
Our first album is available on streaming platforms, on BandCamp, as well as in CDs and the best way to stay connected with us would be to follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram. In any case, we're always keeping this following link updated with all the latest releases and events to come: linktr.ee/ckraft.music
Again thanks a lot for having us today!