An Eagle In Your Mind – Being free is a state of mind

An Eagle In Your Mind Anxious Magazine
Koncert w klubie Desdemona/Gdynia, Fot. Kamil Milewski / Muzyczne Oko

Since its formation in 2016, the duet has trod the stages of Europe and Africa, from Lyon to Ankara via Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Morocco, Greece, Macedonia or even Kosovo. While this long-term journey allowed them to rub shoulders with various audiences, it was also an opportunity to develop a specific way of working together. As collectors of sounds, instruments and vintage gear, Raoul and Sophia record everything together. Bathed in this almost unreal traveling space-time, the recording phase has become a true lab for the duet. Sophia sings, does choirs and more choirs, inspired by Byzantine colours with psychedelic swirls, which she mixes with the sound of the harmonium and then superimposes indefinitely to create the ground layer for Raoul. He creates beats made of Berber percussion, shamanic drums, bells and charms. He is inspired by trance, he uses and abuses drones and analog delays. In short, this is craftsmanship, an endless back and forth between those two searching souls. On stage, thanks to programming and a substantial set of machines, everything is restored to exactness, with that extra soul that comes with the joy of sharing music and seeing your own horizons reflected in the eyes of the audience.

They enchanted us with their art at a concert at Desdemona in Gdynia, where they shared the stage with Hypnodrone Ensemble and Otay:onii (interview). Combining the sound of folk guitar and Indian harmonium with analogue percussion and vibrating drones. Above it all floats Sophia and her incredible voice. After such a performance, it couldn’t be more different, we had to invite them along with Przemek Król for an interview.

 Artur Mieczkowski

PaysageAEM1 NB© Pierre Jaffeux – Eidetic Studio
PaysageAEM1 NB© Pierre Jaffeux – Eidetic Studio

ANXIOUS: I am curious to know what you want to convey with the name of your project, An Eagle In Your Mind. A song with this title, by the band Boards of Canada, comes to mind. What meaning does it have for you, what message should it carry?

AN EAGLE IN YOUR MIND: Indeed this a tribute to Boards of Canada! There is no message behind this name, we just like the fact that this name sounds like a Haïku or a kind of magical formula!

ANXIOUS: Is it true that when you founded An Eagle In Your Mind you were not musicians, you didn’t know how to play? A very brave step. What prompted you to do that?

A.E.I.Y.M.: Yes it’s true, in part at least. In another life Raoul used to have a project of electronic music but nothing to get with guitar. Concerning Sophia she sometimes took part in very informal jam sessions which took place at night under a bridge near the faculty of philosophy where she studied.

When we met each other we decided to break up with society, to emancipate from the labor world. We just wanted to travel and to be free. For that we envisaged a lot of solutions including a fancy one ! It made us laugh today! We had thoughts about bringing back rugs from Iran to sell them in France ! Finally we lived in a campervan and we made a living with music.

ANXIOUS: Your first album ‘Outside’ also reflects your thought, your philosophy of creation. To what extent has your approach to making music changed since then? Relative to, for example, your latest album ‘Intersection’.

A.E.I.Y.M.: I think we are still in the same mood with our last Album. The game is still to do it  by ourselves, in a punk way, very freely. Our debut Album Outside was recorded in the campervan in Morocco desert. The last in France in the countryside, in a house we ended up renting. In between the first and the last we toured a lot. Maybe in the new one you can hear a maturity that the stage offered us but also a bit of anger that we get from trying to offer music while obviously the world does not care so much about that.

ANXIOUS: Your music is quite difficult to classify, even if one can find Blues or Country influences in it. Listening to your albums, one can feel that you don’t set boundaries within any genres, and at the same time it is very fluid and intuitive. Where do you personally place it?

A.E.I.Y.M.: We don’t know ! We are doing something weird by mixing so many things together but it doesn’t even sound like something weird ! I mean this is not experimental music, but at the same time there is no specific box for it. Hypnotic Folk, finally that’s the term we use.

ANXIOUS: By describing your music as “mystical” will I be far from the truth in this statement?

A.E.I.Y.M.: We are not against this qualification ! But this is a mystical close to earth, close to the ground, to the dust from the desert, to the tangible world. In a way there is something solar in our music!

ANXIOUS: Do you have a particular way of making music? Where do you get your inspiration from?

A.E.I.Y.M.: It all begins with improvisations that we do together. No special recipe, just to forget ourselves in sound.

ANXIOUS: You lead a nomadic lifestyle. Is this how you perceive ‘freedom’? – From the traditional way of life, its rigid and imposed social framework.

A.E.I.Y.M.: Being free is a state of mind we think. You can be nomadic and still dealing with problems that enslave you ! Being nomadic for us was just the beginning of the liberation process, which is also a never ending one. The problem we had was to work for a boss. So we resolved this problem.

ANXIOUS: “Intersection” is your new album. It is folk music for a people in the making, a people of migrants. (This is folk music for a people in the making, a people of migrants). A very interesting concept. I am eager to know your story, what you want to convey and maybe instill in the audience.

A.E.I.Y.M.: Indeed it is written in our official biography that we play folk music for people in the making. Finally this is the way we manage to define our music. We are feeling very close to folkloric / traditional music from all over the world. But we have grown up, in the age of globalization, in a world that has already forgotten its own music. For us it doesn’t make sense to pastich traditional music or to study ancient forms. We would like to assume this lack and make it a force. We integrate some traditional patterns, we play with traditional instruments but always in a free way and mixing music from different horizons. We have to invent the rule, and modern people have to invent themselves as a people. Music connects people together and helps to create new values.

ANXIOUS: You also have your solo projects. Can you tell us about these?

A.E.I.Y.M.: Yes. Sophia just released her debut solo album under the name of Sophia Djebel Rose. She plays guitar and sings, in french, some mystical poetry of her own. The same than for the duo, this is folk music but not really ! We can say “ avant garde folk”, may be  it’s close to the solo work of Nico, or to quote more actual artists close to Emma Ruth Rundle recent work. 

And Raoul under the name of Raoul Eden, plays instrumental acoustic guitar. His style is rooted in a primitive psychedelic blues open to the sounds of the Middle East, classical lyricism and Indian ragga.His guitar playing digs as much into repetitive and ecstatic structures as into quasi-improvised free forms. Maybe in between Jozef Van Wissem and Daniel Bachman.

ANXIOUS: How different is it from what you create in An Eagle In Your Mind?

A.E.I.Y.M.: Maybe this is more intimate. But An Eagle in your Mind was the laboratory in which we respectively cut our teeth.

An Eagle In Your Mind Anxious Magazine wywiad
Koncert w klubie Desdemona/Gdynia, Fot. Kamil Milewski / Muzyczne Oko

ANXIOUS: You tour not only in Europe but also in Africa. Is the African scene very different from the European one? How much interest is there in music that has elements of Western cultures in Africa? Are the audiences there bigger, more responsive to this type of art?

A.E.I.Y.M.: We played in North Africa, but we never been in sub saharan Africa. To be honnest we would like to and, as you, we are very curious about the audience there. Concerning North Africa, we felt something different from Europe. People are very enthusiastic about music. There is no judgment about the music you play, no boxes, music is music. People are quite young, these countries are much younger than our old Europe. Maybe this fact defines the specifical vibe we felt over there. Young people are hungry and open!

PaysageAEM1 NB© Pierre Jaffeux – Eidetic Studio

ANXIOUS: Do you play as a duo, or is there any limit to playing material live? To what extent do you allow yourselves to improvise on stage, or do you try to play material from your studio albums?

A.E.I.Y.M.: We always play as a duo ! Or to be exact the only member we played with is the computer ! This is a very cool member ! We do a lot of programmation with it, so we are able to reproduce the studio Album. But there is always room for some kind of interpretation and improvisation inside the bare structure of the laptop pattern. Sometimes we even improvise from a to z, when the public asks for more and we have already played all the titles of the album.

ANXIOUS: Do the places you travel to inspire you in any way? Do you have any favorite places that you like to return to?

A.E.I.Y.M.: We are inspired by landscapes and by light. Every place is inspiring. Maybe we are more into visiting new places than returning to places we’ve already been. We are curious about Finland and Norway, we have never been there!

ANXIOUS: Apparently you’ve converted a van into a recording studio – with such a nomadic lifestyle, it’s certainly quite a convenience if you’re close to the recording studio all the time – less chance of an interesting idea slipping away unrecorded in time. Do you miss any elements of a stationary studio when recording music in this way?

A.E.I.Y.M.: The funny fact in the campervan is that when you have installed the microphones and the instruments you can not move any more. You are not able to go to the tiny kitchen or to the bed ! So you have to record, this is the only option ! We used to record all the day long without eating ! Also it works with solar panels and there is no autonomy so you can not record at night and have to adopt the solar rhythm ! So yes, it’s a very specific rhythm, immersive and intensive. Concerning the gear we missed nothing. You can do great things with only a few elements of gear. Music is all about creativity.

ANXIOUS: What equipment do you use when recording? Does the process revolve around some sort of DAW or do you use more analogue ways?

A.E.I.Y.M.: Our studio set up is mainly focused on a hybridization between digital and analog systems. We are recording with a bunch of quality microphones mainly through handmade preamps made by a friend of ours (Yann Lu Audio) direct into ableton live. But we are using a lot of analog external effects such as tape echo and analog chorus and phaser. We are also using a lot of organs and analog synths through effects.

ANXIOUS: What are your immediate plans for both An Eagle In Your Mind and your projects?

A.E.I.Y.M.: Touring! With An Eagle in your Mind and also with our respective solo projects! Why not come again to Poland ? We liked the gig a lot thanks to Damian and No More Silence organization!

ANXIOUS: Thank you very much for the interview and the amazing concert in Gdynia. I hope to see you at the next one.

A.E.I.Y.M.: Thank you so much for your questions and for your presence at the concert!