Hailing from Paris, Under the Skin is a new alternative rock band already beginning to turn heads and lure real attention. Consisting of Angie Joseph and Yann Brandon, the band released their first EP earlier this year, quickly stirring unsuspecting and eagerly receptive appetites to their refreshing sound. We had the pleasure of discovering more about the band and the creative forces behind it thanks to Angie, exploring its origins, that debut EP and much more…
Hi Angie and many thanks for sharing your time to talk with us.
Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?
HI! We are Under the Skin…A French alternative rock band based in Paris. This band is a duo fuelled by Yann and me. We have additional musicians on stage but we really create the songs together. We used to work together in another project before and when it stopped, we have started to work alone… Yann was making me listen to his songs and I was doing the same… one day we decided, as we love each other’s work, to work together again.
Have you been/are involved in other bands together or singularly before?
Yes, Yann has been in few bands before. I’m in different bands since I’m 16. But I was in the same band with Yann for 7 years (2007-2014). When this band (WISHES) split up, I didn’t want to join another band, never… I had enough! So I’ve started to work alone and tried to found my own sound. I needed to prove something to me. I didn’t wanted to be involved in something where you have to convince or to hear the opinion of 4 or 5 musicians. But Yann and me are very close friends, so naturally I made him listen to my songs, and he did the same… we have decided to work together because we wanted the same things and most of all, we knew what we didn’t want anymore. We compose each at home on the computer, we record a demo and then we meet to listen and choose what we like or not.
What inspired the band name?
I wanted something with a meaning and also a name composed, because …hey, why not? Yann wanted the same, that’s why I love to work with him. Most of the time we want the same things and we don’t even have to talk about it, some people think that we are clones.
We’ve chosen this name because we are convinced that ‘Under the skin’ we are all the same, we don’t really like labels. So let’s break the fences and just make music.
Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?
I don’t know if we can call it a specific idea but we wanted to make music in the most peaceful way possible… so from the creation of the band, to the songwriting process, we only do things if it’s cool and if we really love it. It’s easier because we are only 2 to decide… if it’s not 100% ok we don’t keep it. We never have a third person to choose between him and me. Maybe it’s something that our fans can feel… I don’t know. But we are more relaxed that’s obvious.
Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?
It’s too soon to tell… the only thing we know is that we have found our sound… we know how we want the drums or the guitars sound… same thing for the mix…etc.… but for the songs themselves, we have not explored all the things we wanted, we don’t want to stay in one direction so, it’s too soon to tell.
Have any changes that have occurred in your sound been more organic than you deliberately wanting to try new things?
I feel that we always want to try new things because we have not explored all the things we wanted to as I said before… there is so much we want to try, we got so many ideas that this organic movement is more the way we work in general than something we could force… Yann and I came from different music styles so both of our influences feeds us… this give us a ton of opportunity and the band is too new to know where we could go yet. Every time I try to compose a song and I think of the way I want it to sound, I end in a totally different style, so not really. We do what we love. And we let the magic happen.
You mentioned influences, are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?
We do have a wide range of inspiration, really different… I know that Yann really love bands like ‘Incubus’,‘Skunk Anansie’ or ‘Faith No More’, and I’ve heard people say that they can feel this but really as an influence and not like a copy or anything. It’s difficult to explain… We do have a lot of bands or artists in common but I do listen to more punk music or loud rock, not like metal bands or heavy bands but bands from the 90’s or 70’s, raw, simple and most of the time with a woman behind the mic… Yann listens to different stuff so when I bring an idea he‘s the one that “arranges” the song and when he brings a song I try to find something to make it sound “simpler” … so we really complete each other in the way we write music.
Is there a process which generally guides the writing of songs?
No there is not a process. We really have a total freedom in the songwriting. Sometimes Yann brings a riff or a full song (just music or melodies, not lyrics), sometimes it’s me… sometimes we’ve just got an idea for a chorus or a verse. But we record anything we’ve got. Guitars, basses and drums before we share it and our ideas are full… and then we choose, we rearrange it or we put it in the “ideas box” … that’s what I like with our process… there is no waste.
Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?
I write all the lyrics… I take inspiration from my life, the world, my feelings… sometimes it’s exaggerated sometimes not… Then I try to find a melody, record a first idea and make him listen… and we refine the melody together, but most of the time I speak with him about the idea of the lyrics and he’s agree …
Would you give us some background to your latest release?
Well, our latest release was also the first one. At the end of our previous band, we’ve been solicited separately by people who wanted to make music with us… for a song, a new project … some people were waiting and wanted to see what we were going to do after this stop. But we wanted to work without pressure so we didn’t tell that we were working together on something new. When nobody is waiting for you, you got all the time you need and no one interfere, or push you. We’ve worked on few songs and have recorded them. We’ve also worked on a video clip that we had made few months before the release, always in secret. We’ve opened a Facebook page without showing our identity… and we’ve started to share it and the whole thing came out at the same time. It was a pretty good idea because a lot of people were not waiting for anything and suddenly a new band was here with a full pack. It was also very exciting and scaring but we definitely don’t regret it. We really had amazing returns from people everywhere. Radios, webzines, from our fans from our previous band, our family, friends…
Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.
I would say… love, friendship, sadness, happiness, anger… feelings.
‘Ego‘ talks about all that people that need to have lights on them without doing nothing, most of the time they do it to feel surrounded but that kind of friendship is fake, and it never last and they ‘re alone at the end of the journey.
‘Fever’ is about a poisoned relationship where love and hate are equal… and your mind about to break…
‘Good enough‘ is about being present for someone as a friend…even if at the end we are the only one that decides to bounce back when it comes to a rough time that we live.
‘Witness’ is about one of my friends… it’s hard to see someone dealing with a pain and feeling helpless… only time can heal that kind of drama…
Do you enter the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or leave room to develop them as you record?
We go in studio with the songs done at 96% because of our way to work… so the only things we do in studio are some arrangements. We only record the drums and the voices… Everything else is already recorded at home… it’s faster.
Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?
We’ve got a pretty good team for the live side. All the musicians are really good and they are also good friends of us. We also have a wonderful light engineer that works with us for years now, Bertille Friedrich. She has a lot of ideas, she’s young and she’s definitely a band mate. I think that what you see on stage is as important as what you hear. We try to create a very personal environment and a full universe. Like a story.
It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it?
It’s really hard… we try to do everything ourselves… from the recording to the graphic designs and video clips… so it takes a lot of time. The good thing is that we have experience and competence… But I think there is not magical recipe except working hard, with passion and staying true. But if you’ve got the magic formula in your pocket, you have all my attention.
How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?
If social media and internet didn’t exist, our entire plan for the release of the band would have been screwed up. We work with it… it’s important to see social media as a platform that helps you to keep in touch with people… for a band… not when you need to find new friends 😉 but it also forces a band like us, to rethink the way we communicate… we must feed this media with anything we have because people behind their screens are starving and everything goes really fast… that’s a full time job… People that keep social media or internet aside, loose something important that could help them, I think.
Once again Angie, my big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?
Thank you for having us. We have recorded a new song called ‘State Of Mind‘… I think this song is a good cure to the mood of the dark days that we are all living all around the world…it makes you smiles, and makes you happy. We’re going to release also a new video for this song… So keep in touch! It’s going to be amazing!
We are going to work with our friends from the band ‘Dry Can’ for this video… Anne and Antoine are really good friends and they were already working with us on the video clip for the song ‘Fever’.
Pete RingMaster 07/12/2016
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