For Amentia, music is a surge of emotions. Building on their classical training and many years of jazz practice in Strasbourg respectively as pianist and percussionist, Raphaël & Etienne leap into electronica to form Amentia, a duo revealing a passion for mesmerizing melodies and old school synths. Experimenting in different genres, they have stood out several times for their remarkable work. ‘Miracle d’Hwange’ released on Sol Selectas in 2017 or ‘Serpent’, released on 2016 on German label Amselcom are few of these examples.
After a break of about a year and a half, the duo has made its come back in 2020, aiming to reconnect with their instrument practice and with a strong will of breaking free from club composition conventions. It is also from this time on that they reshaped their live act, including a real hybrid drum kit to the performance in addition to a double keyboard set up. Their electronica infused EP ‘Aitnema’ released this summer on Art Vibes or their latest and very first independent EP ‘Jazzmentia’ in a shimmering jazztronica mood are perfectly illustrating this new direction, as much as their new track ‘Cameleon’, opening the latest compilation of London base label ‘Everything Will be OK’.
We caught up with Amentia to talk about their latest musical projects.
Electronic Groove: Hello Etienne & Raphael, thanks for your time today. Can you tell us the story behind ‘Caméléon’ and how you produced it?
Amentia: Hello, before everything, thanks for the interview! ‘Caméléon’ (chameleon in french) was made in two steps. We didn’t think at all about the symbolism of the chameleon in the first place. We wanted to do something more minimalistic but we got carried away and so the last part of the track evolved into something daring and cheerful at the end. We also created this track with the idea of initiating a playful way to interact with the listeners. It drives them from a serious and linear atmosphere to finally surprise them during the break with something much more childish, fun, and emotional. We find this duality interesting and it resonates with how we imagine a chameleon: a being who adapts and changes to blend in with its environment but can also suddenly display eccentric colors. Somehow, we all tend to adapt and normalize our thoughts in order to fit with our environment, but doing as we wish is often more satisfying once the fear of risks is overcome.
EG: How this collaboration with ‘Everything will be OK’ started and why it important for you to keep releasing on compilations?
Amentia: It all started some years ago talking with Vali Stanescu, about doing a release for them. We kept in contact from time to time and finally found a track that could fit the label identity. It is important for us to build a connexion with the label beforehand so we are exactly in the same mood! Releasing music for friends or as self-release is what we aim to do more and more. It’s just much more fun! Compilations are a great way to put out tracks in a more relaxed approach. It can lead to interesting sounds without having to worry about keeping the same style or story on several tracks as you would do for a whole EP, LP, or album.
EG: Many of your productions are named after animals: ‘Orca’, ‘Toucan’, ‘Serpent” (to name a few) and now ‘Cameleon’. Why animals are a recurrent theme for you and how they are linked to the productions themselves?
Amentia: We like naming tracks this way because it’s just a good way to reflect the visual representation of it. ‘Orca’, ‘Serpent’, ‘Cameleon’, ‘Toucan’, all of them illustrate an animal’s journey or at least how we imagine it. Nature, in general, is what inspires us the most, and a lot of our productions are connected to it.
EG: You have been playing around with very different genres since your comeback this year. Starting from electronica with your EP ‘Aitnema’, then experimenting with electronic jazz fusion on your latest EP’Jazzmentia’, to now ‘Cameleon’ in a more organic house approach as we used to know you. Can you explain to us how to properly define Amentia’s style?
Amentia: Amentia is simply a combination of many different facets like we have in our own personality. It would be sad to just stick to one genre and put a limitation on our work. We love to experiment and to push our creativity to different horizons. It’s a fun challenge that keeps us inspired over the years.
“Nature, in general, is what inspires us the most”
EG: We heard you have been working on a new live act set up, can you tell us more about it? How it is different from what you did before your break?
Amentia: As our music evolves, our live act should too. That’s why we wanted to be able to focus more on our instruments and we added a full drum for Etienne and 2 synths for Raphael. In the end, what is important is to keep it exciting, challenging for ourselves and give the best possible show when people come to listen to us (One day soon again we hope!). Drums are for this reason one of the best tools on stage because you can really feel the dynamic changes in the music. Moreover, the idea was to allow Etienne to finally have space in our act as he was previously limited with only the Roland pad. On the other side, using 2 synths allow Raphael to really play around different sound at the same time. On stage, those instruments have a different relation and impact on the audience. On top of that electronic music brings us so many possible live act combinations, it’s infinite!
EG: Finally, can you let us know about your plans and upcoming releases?
Amentia: We have another independent release coming out in February we are really excited about. It is a very intimate work of ours called ‘La Nuit’ (Night in French). It’s the kind of track that doesn’t necessarily make you want to dance, but it gives you a nostalgic happy mood. Like the “saudade” of Portuguese music, it’s an emotion try to express often in our sound. We will also have another release with Cafe de Anatolia label called ‘Leviante’. Billy Esteban is an amazing guitarist, so we wanted for sure to connect with him and collaborate for future projects. Finally, we have a release for Sol Selectas we are looking forward too, ‘La Renaissance du Serpent’. It’s always great to work with Sabo, boss of the label, he always pushes us to our best. Keep an eye open for that one!
Amentia’s ‘Cameleon’ is now available via Everything Will Be OK. Stream and buy here.