by RS Frost
Finding comfort and inspiration in another dimension, enigmatic Frenchman Laurent Lunoir provides an in-depth discussion on his quest for love through sadness, the prison of this world and insight into ÖXXÖ XÖÖX and the secrets that dwell behind the music.
- Wild nature and its peace have always inspired me a lot. As a kid I used to spend a lot of time in the forest near my parent’s house; at that time I would express myself mostly via images, especially through drawing. I could spend hours lying down in that forest, listening to the silence, the quietness, the wind, the birds. Sometimes, I would fall asleep and imagine other realities with other colours, inhabited by very different creatures than those we know on Earth. I always had a special bond with forests and trees (which I exploit to make my albums, according to the sad law of matter and the Ouroboros where everything is exploited).
Was there anything in particular, that you are aware of, that incited or awakened this perception of alternate realities and deep connectedness with the natural world?
- By observing nature and reflecting upon what people I met would tell me, I realised this world is a sort of passage, a virtual reality, something harsh, an ordeal, a difficult stage to overcome. Much like a video game that you’re stuck playing, against your will. One where we have to play if we hope to escape.
I always sensed that my own dimension was lacking, as I felt deeply rooted melancholia within my heart and soul.
I’ve had the feeling that I didn’t belong to this world. I also remember a very distant past (or future), a period from another space and time that had nothing to do with this reality, with completely different paradigms. I also felt a sadness in my heart due to that absence, but also a joy of finding my fellows so we could eventually return home.
I always got the feeling that this world had something strange, bizarre, abnormal, that its principles and paradigms were totally absurd and insane. For example; entropy that applies everywhere, in every area. War in everything, for survival, so the Ouroboros can perpetuate itself and do its recycling job, inevitably. Gravity too, which seems to me like something keeping us enslaved on earth. Slaves that don’t acknowledge their own condition, nor the reason behind it. I always felt exterior to all that, this illusion never worked on me.
There is a huge “NO!” within me, written in letters of fire in my heart, but it’s not a “no” directed against divine laws, but actually quite the opposite. I have a warlike and revolted soul regarding all the basic principles of this ultra-violent universe. Paradigms that most people accept by listening to and believing the words of modern science gurus, who try to explain this reality but ultimately admit that they don’t know what matter really is. I think everyone feels that same unrest deep in their heart, telling us that this world is harsh, unbearable, demoniac and that we should flee it, tear ourselves away from it. But how to escape, knowing that fear, and our close ones, hold us back like jailers in a prison?
It is for these reasons that ÖXXÖ XÖÖX exists — it means to flip the six in a nine, it is the symbol of improvement, of the desire to become greater, stronger, purer and clearer, in order to become one day a blazing butterfly ready to fly towards new immaterial horizons. My art and my music are full of this, of a desire to break free from the darkness and the sub-luminous reality, matter as we know it, in which we struggle and suffocate.
Taking this information on board, how was it that you came to express this disconnectedness with what most people would accept as reality, and the strangeness of the world around you, through the audible art form of music?
- After a concert in a small music school in my village dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach (I was like, 12 years old), I felt something very particular that I had never felt before - a mix of sadness, euphoria and power, and I told myself inwardly, “That’s what I want to do!”, without really knowing what it meant. Then, when I was 16 years old, my mother offered me my first electric guitar. I used to be scolded because I spent my whole time playing it, night and day, without taking courses, just following my intuition. I started music with the clarinet at 13, I learned how to read sheet music quite early and I used that to learn the guitar alone. Later, I took courses and went to the ATLA School in Paris.
After that, it was all about experimenting, and it still is today. I think that what pushes me into making music is my inability to make myself clearly understood with words or human concepts that are way too simplistic, limiting, fragmentary and my clumsiness in using existing human languages. Human words aren’t enough to me. Music, on the other hand, provides particular and extremely deep emotions.
That’s also why I invented my own idiom with my own sounds - the new lexicon for the upcoming record includes nearly 550 words [which will be included in the print edition of this article], so it can resonate with the music and the visual aspect, in order to give birth to a total work of art.
But I can’t clearly answer that question for now, as it’s not really intellectual, it’s something intuitive that has to be followed and whose meaning could be understood only once the path has been taken, once the story has been written and finished.
I can only really answer your question once I’ll be done writing my story, so see you in 15 years!
Öxxö Xööx’s audible output is some of the most original and complex music I have ever come across. Although it rides heavily on almost operatic style vocals, baroque inspired structuring and technically dizzying drum compositions, I would still confidently attach the “metal” tag to both albums.
There is an almost drowning characteristic to the layers of guitars present, and I can safely say that there are many “riffs” waiting to pounce at the unsuspecting listener from every angle.
I’m very curious as to whether there are any significant points of influence for this supersonic harum-scarum.
- None that belongs to this world! *laughs*
More seriously, I see my life as sort of a compromise or as a contract between me and the light (in my language, I use the word “Lïnï” or “Leïth” to name that primordial might that lies at the root of everything). The pact is this: I do my job as an artist in this reality and in counterpart; I don’t have to take care of the material side of things.
I know it’s a rather strange frame of mind, but it always works for me, it’s often a bit tenuous but it’s always okay. Thus, I have plenty of time, and from time to time I get work proposals that allow me to make some money in order to keep doing what I have to do down there. It works with trust, it’s simply a trial of faith, and I’ve been living that way for 13 years. I’m not saying it has been easy, but it has always brought me nice things, and my trust grows year after year. I always refused to have bread-and-butter work, in order to have my full time to developmy art, which is quite difficult in this world.
Aside from Öxxö Xööx, Laurent is also a long-time collaborator and vocalist for genre-hopping maniacs IGORRR, who have just finished up an extensive international tour.
On top of these two in-depth and time-consuming projects, Laurent has somehow found time to spread himself over an array of other bands.
- I had several bands, some still exist, others are dead.
In chronological order they are GED, BERSERKER, ALW, WHOURKR, LITURGY OF DECAY, GAIDJINN, MASTER BOOT RECORD (featured vocalist), RÏCÏNN, and also a couple of guest appearances here and there.
On both Öxxö Xööx albums, 2011’s ‘Rëvëürt’ and 2015’s ‘Nämïdäë’, Laurent is responsible for songwriting, lyrics, vocals - alongside Laure Le Prunenec (Igorrr, Rïcïnn) - and instrumental performances.
All lyrics are written partly in English and partly in a made-up language, the lexicon of which was previously mentioned. The band name is also derived from this lexicon.
- Öxxö Xööx thus means 69, symbolising, above all, the desire to transform the six (bad in us) into a nine (good in us), to stifle (or transform it into light) our black part in us, to turn our demon into an angel. It represents the opposing forces of the world, the eternal “recurrence”, and expresses a position facing the entropy present everywhere in the tangible universe. To break free from all forms of limitation and alienation.
The concept of the word Öxxö Xööx has several origins. It mixes the symbols of the yin and yang, the Ouroboros and the hexadecimal system (0110 = x6 1001 = x9), the “X”s standing for the “1”s, which puts yet a bigger stress on the opposition with the “O”. Each vowel (like in the lexicon) has a “¨” sign; it is also the symbol of the duality of this universe.
I asked Laurent, given his enthusiastic amount of involvement in various projects, and the amount of introspection that drives his creation, if he was able to recall any experiences surrounding his music that stood out as remarkable.
- In the context of creating an album, looking for the superhuman inward, my most memorable experiences have to do with positive energies that run through the being when a project, an artwork, or an album is done. It’s like the universe or this superior intelligence that accompanies you is congratulating you and thanking you. For live experiences, my best memories are when I sang in the arms of people.
When I’m not in gig periods, I live like a hermit, totally remote from civilisation, precisely to preserve myself from the fuss of the world that can easily paralyse the creative spirit that needs air, calm and wide open spaces to express itself fully.
I’m going to assume that this time isn’t spent in a city apartment.
- I went to live in south-western France near the ocean to create a very personal artistic work, a red album full of fire, which required a lot of effort regarding the concept and the lyrics. Now, I’m almost done.
As a musician, singer and songwriter with quite a broad stylistic output, I’d be interested in what comes out of your home stereo.
- I started listening to metal through NIRVANA and METALLICA, which is pretty typical. I’m just going to name singers, or else the list of my inspirational bands would be too long. Christian Vander, David Gilmour, Dave Brockie, Mike Patton, Brendan Perry, Peter Steele and very recently the singer TAMINO, who I can’t stop listening to.
In my opinion, there’s nothing as powerful as music; it can inspire in you the desire to burn the whole universe, to sacrifice yourself for the love of others, to protect the smallest, to cut your wrists for the love of God (or the Devil, according to your choice). I think it has the power to create a bond between different levels of consciousness.
In very brief summary, it is able to create a link between different realities, different lights, vibrations, energies, etc. It allows one to express subtle and complex emotions that can’t be transcribed into words. It allows connection of earth to heaven (or to hell, according to your choice). It is simply magic.
Having toured all over the world and been subjected to the music industry and adjacent lifestyle it postulates, what are your impressions of how music is consumed, and what this will look like moving forward?
- What I regret is the “mass consumption” side of bands in big festivals, even if it is of course very pleasant to play there (sad dualist setting of matter, which the Taoists call the yin and yang opposition). But I always enjoy playing in less usual, smaller places daring to be different.
I went to metal music for the love of its rebellious spirit and for its tendency to defy every kind of alienation, via the music but also the texts for a couple of intelligent bands. Now, I think everyone is copying each other a bit, and that this type of music is going round in circles. It is not as free as it was, it has been classified, arranged, we have to make the metal sign (which is not one, by the way) and move in a certain way.
It became codified and lost the original freedom that defined it. It’s probably necessary to create a new movement, a new path to musical freedom. I think it comes from the fact that very few people take the time for a real introspection and search, which is long and can sometimes take years. Our society doesn’t allow us to do that anymore, and when you try to do that, you are considered as an outsider or an eccentric guy, which is rather depreciating, as it undermines you in a way.
I have the impression that our era made people lose sight of this relationship to the sacred within, no one has the patience anymore. There was a time when mankind used to work on constructions that could take centuries to be achieved, only for a superior intelligence’s sake, by faith.
I think it’s a shame that the human spirit lost the way to its inner paradise, its own creative path which is different for each individual. There is such pressure and such foolishness outside of that; I think the modern human being doesn’t even dare to be himself anymore.
A few years ago, I worked in the conception and development of electronic systems for the industry. I was carving out a good place for myself in this field, and at that point, I realised that my artistic side was significantly declining because of lack of time. Unfortunately, you can’t have fingers in too many pies. For this reason, I decided to stop working and to commit to art, and first, to music.
I went through very tough periods where I would work 16 hours a day to produce music, then graphic design, to invent new techniques to create sculptures and stage costumes, receiving no recognition for any of this from social organisations.
I remember the appointments with the social worker, who would advise me to find a real job, to which I would reply that my job was to make art and that it’s this capitalist system that is rotten. I always refused to use that precious time for anything other than art, I take it as a trial of faith, a sort of test. Guided by something superior that is there and takes notes regarding our choices and our ability to resist darkness, evil and the temptation to take the easy way out.
My whole life is a kind of mystical quest to find a way to tear myself away from matter, from the tangible world, from every kind of alienation, from limitation. I chose to look up, I do what I have to do, it’s as simple as that.
The greatest trick of what we usually call “the Devil” is to persuade us that he does not exist. This is a quote from Baudelaire. He is “the God of this world’, such a world has in no way been created by a loving God, one should just observe the natural laws to witness violence and wildness (and of course beauty, it’s a world where beauty and ugliness equally share the living creature’s kingdom). I think the Devil is the tool of light, it uses it to challenge us, to trial our ability to resist and revolt against evil.
Everything I make in art conveys the desire to escape this demoniac world, the desire to purify myself, to improve. To become a phoenix that could be great, luminous enough, and to earn the right to come out of this material cell, of this big dodgy video game.
With a long touring season behind you, and the third Öxxö Xööx album ahead, what are your plans for now? I’m going to take a guess that it involves seclusion and a substantially low populace.
- Inevitably a change of state, of world, of dimension, since everything is subservient to entropy in this lowly world, and everything will end one day to recycle in matter or go to new intangible horizons.
On a more “down-to-earth” note, I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know exactly where I want to go and what I want to do within the next 15 years.
15 is the number of years I will need to say what I have to say to this tridimensional reality and do what I have to do artistically with the people that care about me and that want to look in the same direction as me. I hope that, meanwhile, I’ll be doing some nice artistic collaborating, full of love and power.
Only time will tell.
This article is an excerpt of the full interview conducted, which further explores the importance of creative isolation, the impact that a society built on instant gratification has on art as a whole, and the fable of Joe Duplantier.
The full interview is available in the print edition of Inner Missive #2, alongside discussions with THY DARKENED SHADE, WOLCENSMEN, THE ANTICHRIST IMPERIUM, ART AS CATHARSIS, ALTARS, GRIFT, ALTARAGE, ADRIAN BAXTER, PRIMITIVE MAN, COSMIC PUTREFACTION, EMYN MUIL, GIGAN, BYRDI, SLUDGE and ULCERATE.