Interview with Grimlin

We took the time to ask Grimlin a few questions to celebrate the release of his new darksynth masterpiece : Dark Desires.

Check out the interview!

Headphones For Robots: Who is Grimlin? What would you like to read on your epitaph?

Grimlin: Well, the right question should be: who is the guy behind this name? Because Grimlin is nobody, believe me. We all can be a Grimlin. This is only a kind of therapy to silence this little guy on my shoulder, this dark passenger who is leaving me, each time, in a mess of emotions.

I’ve been searching for many years some answers, I always have been curious about obscure things, which led me to experiment and spend nights in some of the weirdest places.

I‘m not saying that i believe in ghosts or whatever. (and despite the appearances, I’m not a satanist either ! haha ) I’m an atheist which is playing a character. But the fact is that I’ve seen quite a few strange phenomena in the paranormal field that science would have a hard time to explain. So this music project is a way to exorcise these memories, in order to have a balanced life, and to close my eyes at night, which is a quite difficult task.

The name Grimlin itself has been chosen as a reference to the Italian Progressive Rock band called Goblin (because I’m a huge fan of the Italian splatter cinema, of some directors such as Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and this band has contributed a lot to the genre with their amazing music). The second reference is about the movie from Joe Dante “Gremlins”, I feel like I’m a bit a Gremlin sometimes. After midnight if you feed me with some synths, i become a night creature who plays with his old analog instruments…

Considering the epitaph, this is something i should hurry to think about. Death always strikes when we least expect it… But hey, what if we are already dead inside ?

What i want to be written on my block of stone is what Serge Gainsbourg always thought during his life. I’d like people to know that “Grimlin had composed until decomposition”.

Like Serge, I will go to the end of this destructive logic. My main difference with him, is that me, I have quit smoking…

HFR: How did you start making music? What are your main musical and non musical influences?

G: I start playing with sounds since I was little. My father was a collector of many types of instruments. Mostly guitars, saxophones, toy synths. I start making music non-seriously with my best friend Jean-Michel, maybe around 14 years-old.

At this time Da Funk from Daft Punk had just came out. It was very new and we were crazy about these new sounds, we absolutely wanted to reproduce them with our own equipment (A casio keyboard and some home made drum sticks for the percussions…haha).

When you’re young you don’t have the patience. You want everything and you want it now.

So you made things in a hurry, you don’t take the time to learn (And anyway, your ego will tell you that you don’t need to haha). So it ended each time in something we believed it was good but in reality it was a mess of noise (in other words a big shit that only our grand-parents liked). This was one of the best periods of my life, actually, because the main goal here was not to make very good music of course, the most important thing was to share your passion with people who were important to you. This is a way to spend some time together and enjoy the present moment.

My main musical influences come from movies, some dark 70s shows and Giallos. John Carpenter’s movies of course. And for the modern side : Justice.

There is also the music of Wojciech Kilar for the Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola. This one is the perfect example of conditioning before composing. I watched this movie so many times. But each time, the music puts myself into the right darkest mindset to compose. It’s all about mindset and the right feelings. If I force myself to come up with something dark, it will never happen. Forcing yourself to do something is not the right thing to do, of course, you have to be honest with yourself. It’s like you want to make creepy music but you are not even a true fan of horror movies.

I am a huge fan of horror movies, they rocked me since my childhood. I even was born at the 1st of November (Day of the Dead !), in the Black Forest area in Germany ( a place where the witches met to make their worship). There is also all that haunting folklore, and of course these Grimm tales (another reference about my name haha). For me the paranormal is normal, this is my main source of inspiration.

I can be inspired after watching a movie, or a picture. It can be from my memories. It also can be after a nightmare, I often wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly, like possessed I have a melody in mind, nothing else. (this last case happens to me many times).

HFR: You have just released Dark Desires with 13 new tracks. What was your approach to composing this album?

G: I had many approaches for Dark Desires. The main idea was to do something offbeat for Valentine’s day. It’s like celebrating Halloween for Christmas.

But at the end, this is not completely offbeat, each one of us can celebrate Valentine day at his own manner.

Not to mention the aggressive side with the fat beats, the distortion etc… There is a very melancholic vibe behind it. Regular love stories aren’t interesting, I mean ok they were happy, had many children ok cool what else ? This is something you won’t remember…

Except if you’re a fan of Disney. In this huge theme which is love, I am interested in the darkest parts.. You know, when Juliet wakes up, and stabs herself when she understands Romeo just died. This is the kind of love story you will remember, because there is a strong meaning behind this act, it will make you think a lot for sure.

The main theme revolves around the love / death comparison. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has described this feeling of death with his last words: “The taste of death is upon my lips, i feel something that is not of this earth”.


HFR: What are your Dark Desires?

G: They are so dark that I now have to look for some light so as not to let them burn me. I have a few things to resolve in my uninteresting life right now! (but I won’t talk about them here otherwise you should rename your website Headphones for Psychos haha).

So once I will get rid of these inner demons, I’ll go to some Asian hidden island to take some rest. To do some scuba diving (one of my other passions)… I like to scuba dive at night. This is like floating on space.

You forget everything, this is another world. You just hear the sound of your breathing and the silent screams of your teammate being eaten by a shark. So romantic.

HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? What are your favorite instruments? Do you play the slap bass?

G: My go-to equipment are both Hard and Softsynths. I use a Minilogue and an Oberheim OB-6 for the first ideas, then I mix the sounds with some VSTs (virtual instruments) such as Serum, the Korg Legacy, FM-8… I have so many ways to do. My favourite instrument right now is the synthesizer. The OB-6 is great. It might change it in the near future…

For all my guitar parts, including the slap bass, it’s always a huge amount of work and heavy processing. I play the electric guitar but my skills aren’t perfect, so I prefer to mix the real instrument with some samples I record or I play in slow motion in order to re-sample it for later. For a simple slap, I prefer to use the keyboard and some VSTs that Iasat like if it was the real thing, with a nice amp, distortion etc…

HFR: Will you perform your tracks live?

G: Until now I only did Dj sets. The live shows are very new to me, I still have much to learn!

But this is a very exciting experience.

Step by step i want to incorporate some keyboard playing in the future. I’m planning to use the Korg Minilogue in my sets, this is a very little powerful synth with an amazing sound. I only need to train because composing in intimacy and playing in front of people are not the same… I don’t get naked as easily haha!

HFR: Do you have other projects?

G: I have a few other projects indeed. I’m working on an EP for Halloween (a Love song this time maybe ? haha). My other serious project is about photography, I’m a huge fan of Sir Simon Marsden and his Black and White photography. I have learned his infrared techniques and when I find time to travel, I usually go to some famous or infamous haunted places, it can be ruins, castles, churches… I like to talk with people to know the history of the place, and I take photos.

This other project is called Haunted Visions. You can have a preview of my work on instagram here : @haunted_visions

HFR: Last words?

G: Yes it was my last words. Now I am going to jump through this window…

It was nice talking with you. Thanks for allowing me to do this interview !


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