« Egonomy »
Sortie le 8 Septembre
Distiller Records/ Modulor
“An oyster came to me in a dream,” Max Tribeche, singer and songwriter of Holy Oysters, will tell you, a glint in his eye and a smile playing around his lips. “I almost drowned in a wave and the oyster came to me in this kind of coma state and explained to me about a civilisation, like, ages ago, when there were five different holy oysters…”
Are you still with us? These oysters were like Gods, all thinking they were the highest power and fighting against each other before they learned that they were stronger together, reaching a higher level, “a nirvana or something.” “So the oyster told me ‘Okay I can bring you back to your life, but there’s just one condition – you have to spread the word of the Holy Oysters’.”
After designing a symbol for each Oyster and handing them out to his four bandmates, Max’s band finally had a name and a direction, of sorts – admittedly it required a little bit of convincing before everyone was on board. “I guess I had to explain it a couple of times,” Max laughs. “But you can take it like a joke or just take it seriously… but no, really, please don’t take it too seriously.”
Oysters or no, the band have formed a tight bond. Like so many acts, it began as one project around three years ago and morphed into a new one as members came and went. The five current members met randomly, through friends and random ads. Max met guitarist Akim Bertault in a bar “and just said, ‘Hey man, do you want to be in a band?’”, while drummer Antonin Violot was a message board find. Martin Lefebvre, on keyboards, is Max’s roommate and bassist Quentin Rochas was a friend of Antonin ’s. Everyone in the band but Max is a classically trained musician, with several members attending CMDL Didier Lockwood’s jazz school. Everything is performed live. “There’s no backing tracks. If we raise our hands in the air then there’s no sound coming, there’s no concert,” Max says.
Together they create summery, funk-laden jams, their obvious love of dreamy psychedelia enhanced by influences as far and wide as EDM (in the structure of sweet interlude Meanders), the 90s RnB beat of closing track Drifts or Just So You Know’s vocal flow, thanks to Max’s teenage penchant for Justin Timberlake, N.E.R.D. and All Saints. Holy Oysters’ nine-track EP Egonomy is not about mystical molluscs but a journey through the heart and mind by way of laid-back grooves and good-time beats that gradually pitch down and further downwards, ending on a frequency that the human ear cannot even hear. “It never stops,” Max says of the EP, which is meant to be listened to from track one to nine. “Everything is modulating from song to song in this kind of constant flow.”
The record’s chilled vibe belies the “weird year” that underpinned his songwriting, something you’ll find clues and hints to in his lyrics. “The lyrics are all kind of dark,” he says, serious for a moment as he reflects on a year when his self-view was shaken by a break-up, by the lingering effects of a family bereavement and by the stop-start nature of his music career. “I wanted to make that contrast with feel-good music, trying to push towards something positive and to go forward.
“I was really feeling like every day was just fighting against myself, just waking up and hating myself. Every time something was starting, suddenly a few weeks later everything came crashing down again and again, it kept happening. And so I was like ‘Is it ever going to end?’” he remembers. “And that’s something that I say a lot in the EP. This EP is like a big question mark, just trying to figure out what the hell is going on.” It’s a question mark that he offers the listener using lyrics at once personal to him but ambiguous enough for anyone to bring their own feelings and experiences to.
The EP is also laced with riddles and enigmas, sly winks to friends and puzzles for the listener to solve. The titular opening track begins with the sharp dots and dashes of Morse code, tapping out a message that you won’t receive unless you care to decipher it. “In a way, it’s really futuristic,” Max says of his brief obsession with communications that work without words. “But it’s existed since forever – Native American smoke signals, Morse code, semaphore – I think it’s a fascinating way to communicate.” Smoke signals and semaphore wouldn’t add much to the record aurally, but the graphic nature of Morse code also made a bold statement both in Holy Oysters’ lyric videos and EP artwork that echoes some of the musical decisions the band made. “On the back cover, everything is translated into Morse code. It gives it this weird, graphic unstructured feeling which is also a feeling you can get from the EP on some interludes – unstructured beeps and glitches and stuff just floating around.”
But as seriously as the band takes their creative process, the aim of the game is to have fun and moonwalk those issues out. Recording Egonomy, they threw impromptu listening parties as each track was finished, unintentionally focus-grouping them in real time, while Holy Oysters’ live shows “always have to be a party,” Max says. “You give a lot of energy and you get some back too. We have a lot of fun.”
“The idea behind the concept is to give an eclectic message of peace and unity,” he concludes. “We try not to take it too seriously – just have fun on stage, have a good time, not be too ‘Ahh, introspection, oh yeah’.” The word of the Holy Oysters is coming: are you ready?