Interview with VORTEX
VORTEX answers by Dany Levesque, guitar player, and founder.
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
● After a brief hockey career, I started playing the guitar, only for fun and because I’m a huge fan of music in general. But you meet people who have the same passion and get together with your instruments and after a while, you want to find a drummer to jam Slayer and Pantera songs. Like many musicians, my first band was playing covers in clubs but nowadays my interest and motivation are 100% driven by the magic of creating original songs and playing them live for our fans. I don’t have any interest in playing something else than originals, the creation process, the studio work, or playing our own songs live on stage, that’s what’s interesting to me. There is nothing as much satisfying as creating something original from scratch with people that you love and have a musical connection with.
● If I wasn’t a musician I would just train more. I already train a lot, it’s in my DNA, but if I had more time, I would train way more. I’m into endurance sports like jogging, swimming, and roller skating.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
● When I’m not playing music, taking care of Vortex business, or training, I like to read or listen to podcasts about science and health in general. I’m into physics, not that I know a lot about it, but I try educating myself by reading or listening to podcasts that are understandable for someone who’s not schooled in that field. Many of our lyrics are influenced by science, psychology, or history. Also, it will sound strange, but a lot of my musical ideas come when I’m running long distances. I get into a sort of trance and if I put my attention on finding song ideas, they come up easily, it’s kind of like meditating. My conscious mind shoots off and my unconscious becomes more accessible resulting in more creativity, I think it is what some other artists attain with drugs.
How long has your band been around?
● We’ve been together for 8 years now. On June 9 we are releasing our third album, it’s called The Future Remains in Oblivion. We released our first record in 2016 and the second one in 2018. We have played more than 250 live shows until now.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
● We live in cold northeastern Quebec, Canada. In the province of Quebec, the scene is not as strong as it used to be but it’s one of the strongest in Canada. There are about 50 bands producing albums and playing live on a regular basis, most of them are great and very professional. The fans are still showing up to the shows, but the crowd is smaller and getting older and older. Some kids still listen to Metal but nowadays more of them listen to mainstream and hip-hop. Our hometown is called Rimouski, in the ’90s and early 2000’s it was the Canadian capital of Death Metal, all the big bands came to our town, and local bands were huge, our town has a great tradition in Death Metal and it has shaped our tastes in music and our writing of course.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
● We come from a French part of Canada; I wanted a band name that worked in French as well as in English. At the time I was looking for a name I was reading a lot about science, especially about Physics, general relativity, black holes, all that kind of stuff. That’s how the name came to me, an interest in physics and the need for a bilingual name.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
● In late 2022/early 2023 we played with AETERNAM on The Canadian Symphonic Assault tour. It was great, we had a lot of people showing up to the shows. We are good friends with AETERNAM and like us they have orchestrations, so our two bands fit well together.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
● We haven’t toured Europe yet and this is one of our goals for the next year or two.
The 70 000 tons of metal would be great too. There are many great mid-size underground venues that we have played in the past, but just to name a few we really like L’Anti in Quebec City and Le Petit Campus and Le Piranha in Montreal.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
● Depeche Mode and Hans Zimmer, I love them. But more seriously, I would choose Shadow of Intent, Lorna Shore, and Septicflesh.
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 played about 500 shows in my life and had stage fright for about the first 200. Now that I’m used to it, I’m not afraid of playing live anymore unless I feel the band and/or myself are not ready for it. For me, it all comes down to being well-prepared as a musician and as a band. Also, I’m much more confident if I warm up correctly, I play for about half an hour before going on stage. So, my advice would be to make sure your individual chops are at their best, rehearse your live set with the band exactly like you will perform it on stage, and make sure you are all warmed up. It’s hard to play well when there are technical issues during a live show, so I always go over all the details; are the in-ears and wireless systems working, are amps working normally and at the correct volume, are cabs connected, are we earing the orchestrations and clicks? I check everything so when it’s time to go onstage we can focus on the performance and nothing else.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
● Right from the start I should have gotten a teacher who knew about the style of music I wanted to play. If I had started with the right technique and the right practice habits, I would have saved at least 10 years to get to where I am now. Also, stop losing your time with people who don’t have the motivation and the commitment to be in a serious band, I lost years trying to get my old bands going and most of the time it didn’t work because one or two of the band members were slowing us down like chains at our feet.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
● When no more words will be heard, the last song from our new record. This one is an example of a song written in my head without an instrument while jogging. I find it to be a challenge to write death metal stuff that has melody and feel, this one has it all. It’s heavy but the melody and the orchestra are just extraordinary. I also like the lyrics very much, they are philosophical, asking what is the place and importance of mankind in the Universe?
Which songs are your favorite to play, and which get requested the most?
● Most of the songs from our new album, The Future Remains in Oblivion. They are melodic/orchestral but very aggressive and some of them have a black metal influence. Our goal was to create songs that would have a greater impact on our live show, aggressive songs work well live. We feel the album is a good combination of aggression/melody, and ugliness/beauty. The album is just coming out so I don’t know which songs the fans will like the most. On our previous records, three songs are a must, Lighthouse, At War, and Strategy of Terror.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
● Our new album and the 2 previous ones are conceptual. First, we find an idea for a good story, it’s got to be related to an interesting matter that we find worth talking about. Second, we write a rough storyline with the chapters that will become individual songs. Third, we write the music and lyrics for each song. Before writing a song, we talk about the feeling that the music must have to fit what is happening in that specific part of our story. Our writing process is diversified, sometimes the orchestra is the backbone of the song and sometimes it’s added once the drums and guitars are all written. Sometimes one or two of us will write an entire song by ourselves and some other times we write together in our rehearsal room. All the band members participate at different degrees in the writing process, it helps a lot when you don’t want to always sound the same. A lot of people don’t really care about the lyrics but to us, writing a good story and having to fit the music to it is a good way of pushing our creativity. We like to write music with a specific goal in mind. Our process is not just to find good riffs and put drums over it, it is more about the feeling that each song needs, and we always look at the big picture when writing individual parts.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
● I try to write lyrics that give a little something to think about, It’s often questions that I raise through a story.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
● It‘s important to talk about the future of the band, you need a long-term vision and make sure everyone is on the same page. Are all members motivated, mobilized, and ready to do what it takes to attain the goals you have set? All issues including members' availabilities, touring and financial capacities, etc. must be discussed and the goals agreed upon. Sometimes one or two guys will leave the ship because it’s not going where they want, and you better do that before it’s too late and too many things are engaged.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
● We are releasing The Future Remains in Oblivion on June 9, the same day we are playing The Gaspesian Metal Fest in Quebec. For the rest of 2023, we are going to play a lot in Canada with AETERNAM for the second leg of the Symphonic Assault tour and for some other shows with Strigampire who just won the Canadian Wacken Battle of the Bands. Our goal for 2024 is to tour Europe. Watch our social, many shows will be announced soon.
Thank you for your interest in Vortex. This Linktree will give you all the links to our social media, videos, music, web page, etc.
Linktree - https://linktr.ee/vortexband
Music Video - First Blood -