In 1996, Will Z. began to work on his first concept album, dealing with themes of his life at this moment; then he forgot about it, composed another album, left unfinished, then another, and another…
The first Black Moon Tape album The Salvation Of Morgane collects all these puzzle pieces, put them together to tell a story, adding new songs and recent stories about musician’s life on the road.
The album features Pierre Vancraenenbroeck on Drums.
Tomatrax caught up with Will and Pierre to talk about their latest project.
You’ve embarked on your latest musical project, how did the band form?
Will Z.: The project started when I found, into a drawer of my Dad’s flat, an old recorder with some cassettes I did from 1996 to 2001. I had totally forgotten about these recordings of some moments of my life at that time, including a lot of early songs. My original idea was to rerecord some of these songs 20 years later to look back at the distance I had come since my teenage days. I started with Point, my very first song. I shared the result on Soundcloud and people loved it. Quickly, I decided to use the same concept for a full album.
Pierre: I was playing drums in a psychedelic band and at one of our countless rehearsals the organ player told me he had given my number to someone he knew and who needed a drummer, so Will called me and I did the session with him. I’m glad he did, it was a straight forward process. He called me, We rehearsed once or twice and then spent two days recording. Then he finished the album, we kept in touch and now I don’t play with the previous band, my main project is with Will !
Where did the name Black Moon Tape come from?
Will Z.: While I was working with Pierre on Black Moon Tape debut album, the studio where I recorded most of my previous musical projects (NoHype Studio) held a closing party. I brought a tape for the reel-to-reel machine to record one last song with my friends JP, Majnun and oG (from Cosmic Trip Machine). The tape was full of previous recordings so we erased them by recording over them. When we listened to the final result, we could still hear some tracks from the past. The mix between old and new sounds, past and present melted, gave me inspiration for the name of the band because it suited the project so well. I took “Black”, the first part of my first band name, when I was 17, and “Moon”, the second part of my second band name, when I was 19, put them together, adding the concept of tape. When you work with tapes, silence doesn’t exist. With computers, that’s a different story: you don’t erase a digital track, you delete it.
The debut album collects songs from over 20 years, what made you decide now was the time to compile them?
Will Z.: The Salvation Of Morgane is based mainly on songs I played with my first band when I was 17 but to complete the album I collected tracks from the last 20 years, composed at different stages of my life, exploring different moods and genres. I collected all these unfinished ideas to create something new and coherent and to be the musician and producer with whom I dreamed of working when I was a kid. It tells a story, my story. Just before writing the lyrics for The Salvation Of Morgane, I discovered a book about the schema therapy by Jeffrey E. Young. I thought it was time for me to be free and happy, so I had to wrestle with my childhood demons. I put a lot of myself into this album.
Was it hard to put together a record that included songs written at various stages of your life?
Will Z.: It wasn’t hard to put together all these musical pieces because we recorded every songs with Pierre in the same studio, with the same microphones and instruments, so it created a sound unity.
Pierre: For me there was no difference beetween the tunes, they were all new ! And to me they seemed to work together in a natural way. At first I didn’t even noticed they were from different moments in Will’s life. So I discovered, practiced and recorded them all in a really short period.
Are there any plans to out another record like this in 20 years time?
Will Z.: The Salvation Of Morgane is the first part of a trilogy, a past trilogy, about my years as a teenager. The second album will be related to my years as a young adult and my discovery of psychedelic rock. I’ll be back to my “roots”. The last opus will be based on three unfinished projects created when I was around twenty. I work on this trilogy to fill the gaps between 1996 and 2008. The beginning of my musical “carreer” starts with Lord Space Devil in 2008 but I played with lots of bands and recorded lots of demos before. This trilogy is like the prequel of Cosmic Trip Machine and my solo albums. After this, I don’t have any plans. When you work on an ambitious project like this one, it’s good to know there will be an end. I don’t know where I’ll be in 20 years.
What made you pick The Salvation Of Morgane as the project’s album’s title track?
Will Z.: The Salvation Of Morgane is a concept within the concept. It was one of my new songs I’m most proud of. That’s why this number became the title of the album. One day, I walked the streets of my town and I saw a young folk singer I knew performing in the rain with an audience of only two friends of her making video with their cell phones for her Facebook and a drunk homeless dancing. It was really sad. To say to the world she was an artist, she was ready to play anywhere and anytime. Sadly, lots of young musicians do the same. Recently, two members from a young psychedelic folk band sent me an email because they loved my solo album, 12 Visions. We exchanged a couple of messages and they explained to me they had to pay to release their album on a “reputed psychedelic label”, just to have the name of the label on their record. They did a tour in US and they had to pay for everything – flight tickets, instruments they rented there, car… – and they had to ask to people from audience for places to sleep, when they were on stage, during their concert. This is crazy! I used all these stories and mine to create Morgane, a girl who just wants to be an artist but the reality is like a tsunami which destroys all her dreams. Nowadays, many artists are Morgane. I am Morgane. And, if you were wondering, the words “We want to play, play, play, but we know we’ll have to pay, pay, pay” are real: a booking agent told me that, and she had dozens of bands in her roster.
What was the inspiration behind the album’s cover?
Will Z.: From my point of view, music and words are more powerful than visual. The idea behind the cover was to translate this feeling. We used the typewriter from The Writer song to design it. The result is reminiscent of Double White Album by the Beatles and The Wall by Pink Floyd, two major influences here, so it fits perfectly with the concept.
You’ve also put out several solo records, how does being in a band compare with performing on your own?
Will Z.: The Salvation Of Morgane was intended to be my seventh solo album but quickly it became a band effort. I believe in Kala, the Hindu view of time. Time is not a line going into one direction but is a circle. Regarding my music, Lord Space Devil Trilogy with Cosmic Trip Machine was my first circle. I reached the end of that circle when I worked on The Book Of AM and Intxixu albums with Leslie, Carmeta, Juan and Daevid. I discovered it was the kind of music I wanted to play at that time, but felt it would be a solo adventure. Five years and six albums later, I was no longer interested in using the same “voice / acoustic guitar / synth / glissando guitar” formula to record intimate indie folk albums. I wanted to go electric, so I removed (almost) every acoustic guitars takes during the recording process of The Salvation Of Morgane. For the first time, I used drum machines combined or not with drums played by Pierre. With all these changes, the sound was totally different from my previous albums. The approach was totally different too because we worked, rehearsed and recorded the basic tracks of the album together as a team. When I record a solo album, I play an acoustic guitar or a percussion or a synth and I add overdubs until the song is finished. Here, all drums and bass were recorded live in the studio, in one take. Soon after, I worked on overdubs and I told Pierre about my decision to have the album out not under my name but under a band identity and he totally agreed. Black Moon Tape was born.
Given you’re from Belgium why do you sing in English?
Will Z.: I sing in English because, from my point of view, I don’t think French is a language for singing rock music. It is a beautiful language when it is written and read but if I sing “en français” it sounds like shit. I grew up with music of Beatles, Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, The Who… That’s why English language is my natural choice.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Will Z.: Sometimes, I listen to some extracts of my music and it’s like to see an old photo book. I remember what I thought, people who were around and I why it was important to record this song at that moment. Sometimes, my son asks me to play the “green vinyl” (= The Curse Of Lord Space Devil), the “red one” (= 12 Visions), the “little disguised Dad” (= Dark Tales) or to see the “video with three Dads” (= video of Point). It’s fun to see my music through his eyes. Most of the time, when an album is over, I know it so well, I don’t feel the need to listen to it. When I work on a project, I listen to it again and again and again. I change things and check it again and again. It’s too much but there is no escape: when you are your own producer, everything needs to be perfect.
Pierre: I do, to see if what I’m doing sucks or not [laughs] !! It mainly helps me to improve myself as a drummer and musician, but there are also tunes from the album that I’ll put really loud and dance too all by myself, like I would actually do with my favorite records.
What other music do you listen to?
Will Z.: There are lots of great bands and musicians today. You probably will not hear about them on radio or magazines. You will have to do your own investigation. Check bands you know, read about them, their influences, other musicians inspired by them which lead you to another, go to Bandcamp to discover labels or artists… And there are always the “classic” psychedelic artists I love since a long time. Some of them had only one single out during the late sixties, some of them are famous, some of them are completely unknown. They are all important artists of my Pantheon. It doesn’t matter if they are Ramases, Beatles or Druid Chase.
Pierre: I grew up with punk and garage rock. When I started thinking about studying music more deeply I entered the conservatorium in a jazz department, and I really like it, latelly I’m into some avant garde artists like guitar player Bill Frisell and drummer Joey Baron. I also listen to classic Hip Hop… and to Rock’n Roll obviously.
Now that the album is out what do you have planned next?
Pierre: Will and I are going to Berlin in February to record our second album. We go there because some aficionados have created an analog studio ! With old microphones and tape recorders and everything, that should be really exciting !
Will Z.: In February 2018, we’ll record the second part of the Black Moon Tape trilogy in Lightning Recorders, a studio using only 1950´s and 1960´s recording equipment in Berlin. I made this choice because I wanted to have a special vintage sound on tape for the second one. Lightning Recorders looks like a magical place, lost in time and space. This new album will be Black Moon Tape’s “nuggets”. I need to be immerged into the sound of my favourite albums. The only way to do that is to use this kind of equipment. I wanted to face a challenge too. It’s easy to go to a studio in your town. You come and you know exactly where you will plug your bass and how the session will go. Here, it’s about taking a risk. The songs will be recorded live with few overdubs in a place we don’t know at all. I hope this adventure will step us outside of our comfort zone and we will hit the right note and go somewhere else.
Check out the Open your eyes Facebook page (Black Moon Tape’s record label) to find out more!