home pages journals contact friends


First off, how long have you all known each other and how did you all come to start playing music together?

M: We’ve met in 1997 in Paris. We were both students at this time. I was kinda nerd cause I was offered to go to some party the day we’ve met but declined, preferred to go watch a movie alone in the University’s library instead. That’s where I first saw Solange.

S: I thought he was strange….

M: Yeah, thank you! Anyway, we got in touch, saw each other more often then finally made out. I was really into music and I was really bothersome I think, always gibbering about this band or this one. But music was not the reason we were together. I was playing guitar for two years and Solange impressed me cause she was a classical trained musician (cello and piano), when I was barely able to play three chords…. So, we did not play together right away. Anyway, this year we hung around a little time with other musicians….

S: ...But did not feel comfortable playing with them, not being real friends, and we really sucked….

M: ...But the good part was that we discovered home recording and shit through them....

S: So, we bought ourselves a 4 tracks in may 1998 and we really started together as a band, began to compulsively record songs….

What were some of your earlier experiences writing and playing music, before Natural Snow Buildings? What was it that got you interested in it when you were younger?

M: As a teen I had no real musical culture, did not play any instrument, did not buy records, just watching crap music video on TV. I was more into comics and movies. I drew a little. And there was no music to discover at home, except those horrible French singers my mother used to listen to…. One day, my father bought a guitar, willing to learn but all I remember is him sitting in the living room, steady gaze, playing in a Jandek style a never-to-be-tuned instrument…. I’ve never touched it. But as I remember, younger I was fascinated with recording sounds, voices, anything that could be captured on tape. We did not have a VCR, so I taped movies on TV then played them in the dark over and over.... So I guess that was my first experience with sounds. Later I listened to some soundtracks but discovered rock only after I left my parents’ home. After high school, I kinda quit scholar system, work for several months in a supermarket. One of my co-worker was always talking to me about Neil Young and ‘60s-‘70s music but we’ve never actually listened to music together. I quit my job cause I made up my mind and wanted to go back to school just for the pleasure to open up to something. One day, I bought Neil Young cassettes and I just fell into it. It sounded completely alien to my ears and beautiful. At a period when the question of what to do with my life was becoming a crucial (and depressing) issue, I became completely obsessed with music, always on the go to discover new stuff. The next step was to find myself a guitar then learn with song books my favourites songs. I was pretty old when I did so (23) but I didn’t care. I had something to hang on to.

S: My father, was really into music, and still is. When my family had to move from Uruguay to Argentina then to France to escape the spreading dictatorship in South America in the ‘70s, one of the things he made sure was to bring his collection of vinyls and tapes. He was a huge Beattles fan, took care of a radio broadcast in the 1980s, played various instruments. So, that was a pretty good sonic environment to grow up in. Beside, I began to play music at 8. I went to the music academy of the little town my parents moved in to learn piano and cello. After high school, I received a grant to study extensively, quit my home, and eventually became sick of playing music this way, in a school frame, so I called it quit after two years and landed in University, kept playing music for myself.

What's the story behind the name, Natural Snow Buildings?

There’s no particular story behind the name. Just some words picked at random that sounded good to us, and brought some sweet associations to our mind….

Could you give us a quick discography of your works?

M: We self-released two cassettes in 1999 and 2000 (the first called “Witch-Season” and the second “Two Sides of a Horse”). In 2001, we recorded “Ghost Folks” that was released by Hinah in 2003. Then, we self-released a double CD called “The Winter Ray” (2004) in a very limited number (15 or something like that...). We moved from Paris to Vitré in 2004 and recorded what should become “The Dance of the Moon and the Sun” released in 2006. We began to record stuff each on his own during this period, wishing to play more simple stuff, Solange as Isengrind (one full-length called “Golestan”, 2007) and me as TwinSisterMoon (Two full-length: “When Stars Glide Through Solid” and “Levels and Crossings”, 2007). Now we are working or will work (for reissue and new recordings) with Tiliqua, Time-lag, UltraHardGel, 5ma, Digitalis, Akoustik Disease...and you can expect some more self-released stuff.

So Solange, would you say that your father has been one of your biggest influences? That's a really interesting story there...

No, just that I grew up in an environment where music was craved....

So what does inspire you?

M: Music is a constant source of inspiration, books too, horror movies (song “The Vampire of Suburbia” is inspired by G. Romero’s “Martin”…see it! see it!), ghost stories, strange religious customs I read about.... I don’t know, there’s so much things that could trigger the whole creative process....

S: ...Any self-released CD-R with gorgeous artwork I can put my hands on…. Comic books too (Crumb, Jaime Hernandez, Julie Doucet…), and drawings in general.... Music, a walk in the woods….

And speaking of inspiration, I would like to talk a little about the artwork and packaging you all create. For me, the way these beautiful, limited releases look and feel really enhances the overall experience of the album. How much work goes into these ideas, and do you all always collaborate on them and work out how the art and packaging relates to the music itself? Or does it vary by release?

S: Thank you! We think it is very important to have something to look at and even to touch when you’re listening to music. It’s a lot of work, but a decent amount of as long as it’s limited to 30. And when it’s limited you can add some extras like hand drawings that’ll make each copy unique. The creation of the layout is the most difficult part in the artwork, how to make it happen at home with a regular printer, a scanner and a computer. Then to assemble the whole thing. Even in a limited quantity, it’s always time-consuming. But it’s worth doing it when you see the result. As for the ideas behind the art, and for all the releases we’ve done, our collaboration on artwork is pretty loose so is finally the relation between music and artworks. Some links are obvious (duality of the moon and the sun, circular figures for “The Dance of the Moon and the Sun”), others are more obscure (the rabbit on first TwinSisterMoon cover)….

M: ...But the most important is to have something that will catch your eye and imagination. Before making any sense in relation with the music, I mean. Music and artwork relate cause they may share the same source of inspiration…. And it’s also a way to show what inspired the music…. At one point artwork tends to develop independently from music…. But I guess that in the end some sort of continuity between music and artwork can be drawn. Anyway, that’s what we hope…. And if it does not happen, artwork is still a part of the spell….

Something we've discussed in personal emails before, but that I think would be interesting to others, is the artwork for the latest Twinsistermoon album, "Levels and Crossings." Can you all talk a little bit about how you discovered some of the Aztec codices and how these and other ideas lead to the creation of the absolutely stunning artwork? And also, Mehdi, is there a relation to these ideas and inspirations behind the artwork that also tie into the ideas and themes of the album itself?

M: We just got interested in native American cultures many years ago, so I guess Mesoamerican codices are just a case study in this interest on Indians’ vision of the universe. And we’re just very fond of folklore.... It’s pretty normal the whole thing takes possession of our artwork and music.... For “Levels and Crossings”, the choice of a general form for the packaging came first, we just found those accordion style card in a store.... We were searching for something different for the packaging of our two next releases, they were not very expensive so we began to think about making something out of those things. Solange was reading books on Aztec civilization at this time and she drew the image we used as a cover. I was flipping through her notebooks and I found the drawings and I was like “I want this one”.... The tongue-tied animal/man is a classic theme in native American culture: at the moment you went through initiation which involved most of the time long ritual fast, you shall not speak about the nature of your guardian spirit or you’ll lose the benefit of it, it will make you an ideal target for sorcery attacks.... That’s the theme behind “Scaffold”. The choice of this particular drawings as cover lead to the inside illustrations.... The panels, each depicting an illustration of a sort of initiation stage by an animal came to our mind because of the accordion-style cards, like a scroll given to an initiate as a map, of what he’ll have to expect in front of those animal divinities, different stages of symbolic death, before being reborn through the mouth of a celestial snake.... We planned to insert some text in the drawings but finally decided not to do so...just let the drawings speak for themselves.... The title “Levels and Crossings” is taken from a book on Central Europe witchcraft I was reading…so I guess all those combined factors drove the whole creation of the art. There are other themes too, from doppelganger warning you about sad events to come to the ability of witches to make themselves so small they could pass through keyholes....

What effect did moving to Vitre from Paris have on you all artistically? Do you feel any influence from the environment in which you live?

M: A good effect. We found in the town things we were looking for years: a space devoted to music in our home where we can play music without angry neighbors pounding at our door, a thing we couldn’t afford to have in Paris; a necessary isolation to create; ghostly woods all around; a medieval castle and everything dead at 6 and a half PM each day.... It gives you the feeling of living in an abandoned city.... It surely influenced us in some ways....

Any closing comments?

Thank you so much for reading, and listening!