Dan: Hello Syrinx, thanks for doing this interview. How are you doing?
Benjamin: Very well, thank you!
Dan: From what I understand the band took its name from the Greek Myth of a nymph who was turned into reeds to escape from the god Pan’s amorous clutches (to put it mildly). Apparently Pan turned the reeds into a pan flute once he discovered what had happened. This certainly explains your beautifully haunting use of flutes! Are you guys a fan of Greek myth? Do you find it inspirational?
Philippe: Syrinx is the name given by Ancient Greeks to an entity – or a nymph – who existed long before them, and who was given several names in other civilisations. She is among the more than twenty nymphs serving Artemis (who will later be named Diane by the Romans). According to the Greeks, being the Music Godess is one of Artemis’ attributes. Syrinx’s talent allows her to impress upon us by means of vibrations yielded by the harmony of sounds. She is somewhat our muse, our source of inspiration.
Dan: Let’s talk abstract philosophy for a moment. Your first album is titled “Reification”, meaning “to bring into being or make concrete”, i.e., to make an idea physical. This is a perfect title for music in general, in my opinion: music is simply that, taking the idea of a sound and making it real. Yet at the same time, it remains an idea because it cannot be touched, even if it undeniably exists. Thus the title of your second album, “Qualia”, which is Latin for “What sort”. In my interpretation, you’re saying you’re bringing something abstract to concretion, yet its state is still impossible to define. Tell me your thoughts on this.
Dave: You are right of course, Reification could apply to any album, or any creation. Behind our trilogy (Reification, Qualia, and Exaptation) lies the connections between ideas and the fabrication of reality, and the fascinating process of the mind’s world leaking into reality. This is more applied philosophy if you wish . Concretely, it is always a struggle when it comes to finding a title for an album. As for the music, we try to avoid things that would connect too much the project with routine experience. We wish the music to be an adventure, and what’s best than providing titles for which no one has experiences (well, we did not), and for which one will be free to draw his/her personal landscape? Anyway, we were happy with Reification and Qualia, as they properly convey these perhaps unsettling feelings. Indeed, we see the album (and first song of the album) Reification as Syrinx’ message breaking into our reality. You can take that literally if you believe in a higher hierarchy of things and beings (very present in the mythical and esoteric texts that can be related to Syrinx, and on which we dwell on many titles in Reification), or as a pragmatic view of causes (mind’s state) and effects (a mp3 of Syrinx in your player . The album Qualia is about one’s mind’s states, and as you say, the maybe intrinsic impossibility to define properly what goes through the filter of our mind. None of us has a philosophical degree, so we may use slightly inappropriately these concepts, but they are interesting nonetheless. In Qualia, we interpret several texts/sources as the subjective view of other human beings (at different epochs) confronted to Syrinx, or to the spirit’s world. We may say that the trilogy is our own concretisation of a myth that evaded differently many people over the ages. Exaptation is the last piece of Syrinx’ message. It will partly concede that, all things considered, music, art, life… keeps repeating itself over and over. But this is not all, because as you go through, you change things around as much as they change you. In the process, the complexity of you “thinking the world” increases. Sometimes, it is for nothing, but more often it may bring you to a further level of understanding (you never know beforehand). That’s the spirit of our metamorphic music, that you can take as far as you wish to.
Dan: I clearly got carried away with those last two questions, but I certainly love both Greek myth and philosophy… Anyway, something simpler: how and when did the band form? Tell me something about how this occurred.
Dave: Syrinx really started in 1999. About the meeting… several guys in a room sharing some common interest, the will to try something different. To end up in the same room, that’s the tricky part maybe: call it destiny, sheer luck, Syrinx’s will, chaos, or good planning ahead After that, all you need is to let the music flow.
Dan: The music Syrinx makes is a delicate yet tumultuous blend of many different styles of progressive rock, and certainly plenty of other things. The end result is somewhat chaotic yet incredibly refined heavy jazz fusion. What are some of the influences of the band members that conspire together to create this musical blend?
Benjamin: The music in this project is directly connected with what Syrinx inspires us. But of course each one of us has his own references and influences: it goes from 70s progressive rock to classical music, pop music (a little!), traditional music… The musical ideas come easily and we have many “fragments” available, but putting all of them together, in order to obtain something that sounds cohesive to us, and performing it asks us a lot of work. Thus, we take a long time between each album, but it is the necessary time to make them as we want them.
Sam: We simply try to create music of our own, so we can’t really speak about “influences”. We all are very open minded concerning music (Inspiration doesn’t belong to a specific genre) so once again, humbly, we’re striving to be ourselves…
Dan: Tell me about some of the equipment you use for recording and playing live (if you do that).
Sam: the first demo has been recorded on a 16 tracks Roland digital recorder, the first album on a 24 tracks direct to disc (Roland VS2480), and the second album on 2 coupled VS 2480 and a computer. The main concern is the gigantic number of elements Philippe is playing on (drums). Luckily, we own the recording equipment (thanks mum!) which allows us to take as long as it takes to get things “right” on the album. Songs are very complex and we all are very compulsive concerning getting the best of ourselves. Recording is often where our wishes crashes into reality!
Benjamin: It takes years between each album, and in the meantime, audio equipments evolve a lot. So far, we did everything with our own equipment. We record every part separately, and sometimes, alone. The mixing has been done through a pair of Roland VS-2480, but we have to discuss this point anew for the next album! For the keyboards, I find virtual synths to be very useful to get richer sounds and for a better blend into the mix, but to play live I prefer to rely on “solid” keys only!
Dan: I believe you mentioned to me that you have a third album in the works – anything to say about that?
Sam: Due to personal commitments, we haven’t been able to play much in 2009/2010. Luckily, things have changed and now, ⅔ of “Exaptation” is now written. We’ll use voices a bit more on this album. As we are becoming somewhat better musicians and better human beings, this album will hopefully reflect more beauty. Complex beauty as always! As a matter of fact, I think we’re just happy to play music that is far from everything else that can be heard. We’re “different”, and that’s a big achievement I think in the present days.
Dan: Ever been offered to play at any major prog rock festivals? I’d love to see you guys in the States sometime, perhaps at NEARFest.
Benjamin: To be honest, we’d love to play live… but when you play such an “introspective” music in France, there are not so many opportunities! For other countries, it’s in general rarely possible to get a proper financial support despite the best will of some organisers. So we just decided some time ago not to lose money to play! For the time being, we spend all our efforts on writing and recording.
Sam: We played once in Paris for the Tritonales. We had to declined another invitation for the Prog’sud festival (France) due to the fact that the drum set was to big (true story). We would love to play in festivals, but as a sub-sub-sub genre of the “progressive” scene, we’re not organisers’ main priority I guess…
Dave: More to the point these last years, our lives were busy enough and our bank accounts empty enough to prevent us touring around the world! But this may change in the future, who knows? I’d love to share more of Syrinx’ music live, and playing at NEARfest would be great!
Dan: I think I’m out of questions, anything more to say?
Syrinx: Thank you for your interest in the band, thank you for all the Syrinx followers out there: “Elevez-vous au dessus de tout temps, devenez Aeon”!!