Friday, 18 October 2013



Music connects us to all forms of knowledge and I make the most of the opportunities that artists present me with in order to decode new mind-expanding points of intersection.  In my honest and free quest within the underground, I find the unpredictable and viral nature of this kind of communication platform (interviews with actual content, rather than shallow marketing ploys) very intriguing and its challenges fulfilling. Disparate – even opposite - perspectives are more stimulating and enriching than uniformity of ideas and taste, and the fact that people do and can change their mind on a subject (and even ideal), is proof that we are constantly assimilating new notions, making progress towards a deeper level of wisdom, individually and collectively. This great, spontaneous (although brief, due to a terrible telephone line) chat with Selim Lemouchi is something I had been seeking out for some time, but I have to say that I was particularly lucky in catching him during a powerful time of change. I have had close contact with people cultivating all forms and shades spirituality since my early childhood therefore it is almost second nature for me to perceive the strong aura of a soul in search of personal enlightenment. A brief eye contact with Selim some time ago was enough to feel a tremendous inner force at work, and I was eager to have an intellectual exchange that went beyond the actual personal beliefs but, instead, would highlight crucial junctions within a turbulent, determined human journey. I was lucky enough to be granted my wish and it was indeed extremely interesting to hear the great guitarist speak of the great life-boost that newly found artistic freedom can provide. Selim’s journey with The Devil’s Blood came to an end last year, and here we find him as a brand new artist whose music feels as refreshing and energetic as the man himself!
Now, this is inspiring…

Spontaneity and instinct seem to be central to your way of being, and so is the concept of Fire, metaphor of your after-death yearnings. Were you also born under an astrological sign dominated by the fire element? 

No, I am Cancer actually. I follow astrology in a very superficial way, but I read that Cancerians go through a lot of struggles in their lives and I feel quite comfortable with that symbology.

I view cutting one’s hair as a very ritualistic act meaning regeneration: were the shaven head and the beautiful photo at the back of the new “Mens Animas Corpus” EP where you vigorously emerge from water, stressing that idea?

Yes, last December I went through totally unexpected, strange and very powerful experiences and that were very much the start of a cleansing era, with an extremely emotional rebirth coming from the sudden death of certain things. During the passage between the new phase and the old one I felt very vibrant, virile and energetic, because the 7 year old ritual I went through with The Devil’s Blood came to this ironic, perfect and totally unpredictable end. There were so many things happening at once, so many events interlocked with one another that materialized into a funeral that meant change. So from then to now, it feels like a very strange, dreamy yet very energizing experience: I felt thrilled that I was not meant to follow on the same things but to open up a new chapter, a new future!

…I can hear water splashing, Selim…

I am with my dog in a big field and he is playing in the water. It’s sunny and warm, this feels very nice…

I like the fact that you have a close relationship with an animal; it is a very important part of my life too… Sharing your life with an animal puts you in touch with something we have lost…

For me personally, the relationship I have with my dog is beyond anything I have ever experienced with a human. Right now he is sensing that, while I am talking to you, my attention is waning, so he is jumping all over me… It’s quite scary sometimes, but it is a really, really tight connection what I have with him. There is a lot of love but also something else that is not quite “human” if you know what I mean, and I connect very deeply with that state, strangely enough.

Your music is very appealing, seductive, orgasmic, and with Selim Lemouchi &His Enemies you seem to shows a freer approach that is incredibly genuine, fresh and powerful. Did you feel that The Devil’s Blood was beginning to lack some spontaneity? The fact that TDB’s last statement, Tabula Rasa, is effectively a demo presenting honest and genuine pre-production music, seems to fit perfectly as bridge across this new regeneration phase. Is that a coincidence?

There is never such thing as a coincidence! The reason why we used the demos for the album rather than record something new for the last The Devil’s Blood is simply because it would have been wrong in so many ways, last but not least having people coming together to record something that no longer existed. That would have been unconceivable, totally against what I stand for as an artist and as a musician. It is after all the very last thing we did as TDB, and that should be respected for what it is. I read a comment of an American writer who argued that we did what we did as a calculating way to get out of a recording contract, and that really put some venom in my blood as it was a totally disrespectful way to interpret my decision. 

I actually interpreted the decision to put out the demos as an act of integrity on your behalf that speaks volumes on your honesty. 

Well some people have no experience in their own life that someone can be so honest and genuine, so they don’t believe what they see: it is a cynical point of view but it is unfortunately true.

I was one of the many fans who were sad not to see TDB at Roadburn. I am sure that many would have probably chosen to “strategically” split-up on a high note after playing at such prestigious event…

Well, as I said about the album, once my sister Farida and I knew that TDB was no more, we closed the chapter for good. We will always be very attached to the band, but we will never play one of their songs again. We just can’t!

You described one of your first gigs as SL& as: “one of the best performances of my life”, and you have previously stated that you “care about having some kind of interaction, some kind of impact on people. I would like people to be a bit confused afterwards or a bit undone, a bit emotional, you know”. Playing in an informal situation in front of your faithful fans, who came to Holland from all over Europe (I was one of them but a French air strike made me miss my flight to Holland), must have been simply exhilarating!

Well thank you… I was really fantastic to share this experience with those who could make it.

I have noticed that you described this gig as a “performance” rather than a “ritual”… Does it mean that SL&HE will be a completely different project from TDB?

I really don’t know… I have so many different ideas, so many songs that I have already written and recorded on my home studio, so many songs that I have demoed on my mobile phone… I am really taking it day by day. I guess that calling that gig a “performance” rather than “ritual” was a way to be honest about where I am at in this moment in time, where things are still very much open. From a spiritual point of view this new path is not to be perceived to be the same as TDB was. So I am leaving it up to people whether they want to “ritualize” us or not… I no longer want the responsibility to put some kind of limitations onto people; I want to be free to experience music in a way that is not some sort of a cult.

I feel that you have reached a degree of personal freedom that is quite important at this stage of your life…

I think you are right, but you know, things change every day and we will have to see where this goes in the end. Musically speaking, we have recorded the drums for some material and we will soon record some guitars, so every day we complete new scenarios and take things as they come. These are very exciting times for art!

You also have a bunch of friends who come in and out to help in a very fluid way…

Oh yeah, people working for the benefit of music above anything else. All I need is for people to be pure in order to understand what music truly is and what sound truly can be… Basically NOT an ugly, hollow, commercial product, as music has become in the last few years: I don’t want to be part of that… I want to maintain as much independence as I can.

Do the people who play with you have to share your personal philosophy of life?

Not at all. No one has the same perception and idea on life; I do not believe like-minded people really exist. As long as my collaborators believe in what I do musically, that’s what matters. As far as the rest is concerned, if people believe in their own convictions, it’s up to them to feel or find out if they are in the right or the wrong place for themselves. This is one of the reasons why I don’t want to reveal too much about my personal ideas to the audience: it should be a game of hide & seek, and with my fellow musicians it is the same. You should love them, but you should also hate them a little bit, in the sense that it is very important to have a friendly relationship with them where there is also room for a bit of jealousy towards their art. That is what spurs you to try and sound better and better. Art and music have a very strong egomaniacal side to them, but that is a healthy thing because the artistic process must be a really hungry, ravenous one: nobody should feel ashamed to feel that way, as it is what makes you progress to be the best that you can. It’s never good to try and destroy the hunger, the satisfaction and the fire that consumes you as an artist, in fact you must take that in its purest and highest form, otherwise it’s not worth spending your time on!

Selim, you have a very beautiful, musical-sounding exotic name. I have lived outside my country of birth since I was very young, and I am used to being given an identity through my foreign name. People’s instinct of preservation makes them protective of their own territory, so they can be very suspicious and judgmental of “strangers”. How was it for you and your sister Farida to grow up in Holland, and has it influenced your world-views or affected your personality? Bad connotations aside, people making you feel “different” can work as a trigger for inner search by asking yourself who you truly are, which are your roots and so on…

Mmmmh, I guess having a different name made me weary of people… It made me very acutely aware of the strange and illogical reasoning behind a whole series of  behaviors, from racist to homophobic. You know, when I was very young I would go and play football with the other kids, and because the adults saw that I had a Muslim name they felt that they should force on us half-an-hour speech on the usual politically-correct stuff, you know what I mean… so it comes to a point when you really don’t want to hear these things anymore. At such young age one should just be able to take the ball and start playing. Not that I am prejudiced, because everybody, in their own way, is a racist or a fascist, but I think that you should be allowed to have an immediate reaction to things that are “different” from what you know and apply your immediate common sense to it. But a lot of people don’t, and that can be a little annoying. So I guess that growing up with my name, rather than being a shameful burden, it became something to carry with pride. 

In fact with the new project you didn’t even chose a fictictious artistic name…

Haha, I don’t think that I could have come up with something that would sound stranger that my own name! Also, choosing to use my own name in the new project makes some creative sense, as by using my real name I feel free to do whatever inspires me at a given time, whilst with a different, more topical name evoking a certain concept, you are constrained and tied to it as people expect a determined content from you. By choosing to play under my own name I made sure that people would not have any preconceived expectations from me.

Are you interested from a spiritual point of view in your ancient roots? Is there any wisdom or traditions from your family that have influenced you in some way?

I wouldn’t know… My mother is Dutch and she is an atheist, so it is unlikely that my spiritual path is the result of her influence. My father was Algerian but he left very early and his background is unknown to me. 

So you don’t feel the call of the genes…

Not at all! My sister Farida did go to Algeria several times to find out about that culture: she did al lot more research than I ever did as she felt far stronger about that culture than me. I know where the epicenter of my life is and I do not want to know too much about my past. I am as detached and far removed from the concept of tradition and heritage as one can be. To me it doesn’t make sense at all, it’s all about nationalism and I try to stay as far removed as possible from that stuff...


  1. Thank you, Emily. More on Selim will follow sometimes soon. He shall never be forgotten!


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