We caught up with Parisian Shoegaze act Pencey Sloe while in Paris this past Autumn to discuss their brilliant debut LP Don’t Believe, Watch Out, which was released in September through Alcest’s label Prophecy Productions.
During the interview, we discussed the band’s inception, the evolution of singer-guitarist Diane Pellotieri’s songwriting, and more.
We were also treated to blissfully stripped-down versions of the album tracks”All Okay”, and “It Follows”.
I started writing my first songs in my living room a little over 4 years ago. I was bored and I had guitars and gear (which wasn’t mine) for recording in my place. I thought it would be fun to write a song to kill time, everything was slow during that time in my life – and suddenly, everything became faster. I was not really supposed to fall into this trap but then it happened…
I sent my music to someone who was knowing Clement and Valentin, and then they proposed that we should do something with it. Clement and Valentin had been playing and creating music for a long time so I knew who and under what conditions I was going to venture. It became a safe and familial environment, something new in my life, I was glad that I did not neglect the opportunity to open myself up to that new experience.
One day we received an e-mail from Rayshele Teige of Prophecy Productions. She wrote that she heard us on an internet radio station while driving in her car, that she loved our sound. The first few minutes we thought it was a joke, something not real. I went to the label’s web site to checked their artists. I seen Alcest. That’s when I realized that this could be serious. After some exchanges with Rayshele, we thought that it would be best to meet Neige, to ask about the label, for he lived in our city, Paris. He & I spoke at length, he told us many good things. Since then, he has been watching out for us. Rayshele Teige and Neige from Alcest are two very important meetings for the creation of this album.
Shoegaze and Blackmetal?
It’s not too surprising to me that the two genres Shoegaze and Black metal can mix. When we take a closer look, we notice that these are styles emerged at about the same time, in the late 80s & early 90s. Despite obvious differences, there are many similarities in living the music. Black Metal and Shoegaze treat melancholy, sadness and sometimes have meditative virtues due to dark, luminous and ambient sounds – whether in music or imagery. Today we draw from the past and merge everything we loved being as a kid. As that music is accessible over the years, it allows us to expand our curiosity and our musical culture. This gives birth to certain subgenres, even if some of them are still obscure.
I do not identify with a post-metal scene at all. Simply because I’ve no conscious influence of metal music. The comparison to shoegaze is more obvious, even if once again it’s not really done on purpose on my behalf.
There was no clear influence, rather, I could speak on 90’s music as an influence in general. Pencey Sloe’s music so far is a mixture between us three bandmates that was done naturally …Not only UK / shoegaze music we enjoy, but also, for example, the American blues culture, which would also be a large part of our influences.
Favourite Shoegaze Artists:
It’s quite difficult to choose a favorite artists because they are all very different. Shoegaze is such a varied genre, however, if I had to choose one, it would be The Jesus and Mary Chain because it’s the one that allowed me to dig and find every other shoegaze band – They clearly opened my mind.
Evolution Since First EP:
Everything changed since our EP in 2017 for I was able to grow during that time. The tracks on the EP are the first songs that I composed while I was not yet totally comfortable with writing and playing. Taking time to write a proper album has allowed me to improve and gain confidence since then. Clément and Valentin taught me a lot while being indispensable support during the EP and the new album. They allowed the songs to take on a more beautiful and real direction. After the EP, everything became again a discovery, everything became more serious, more scary. Today, it’s easier and more obvious to write, yet I try not to understand exactly what I’m doing. I want to keep my naivety.
Song Writing such as in “Lust for Dead”:
I usually use the same approach for all songs. I do not leave much space for reflection, I prefer to look closely forward to see where it leads me. If I have a too precise idea, I can not really do it. In the song ‘Lust for Dead’, I realized that it was confronting something hard with brightness, with the way the chorus flies away. That’s what we all worked on, to strengthen and support these aspects.
The Song and Video for “All Ok”:
The actor and the aesthetics in “All Ok” are representing how we try to live, by creating personalities, we erase who we are to try to build a new «us» in order to be better appreciated, loved and respected. We forget ourselves and we fade away, but it’s not so bad because everyone is doing the same. You never know who the people really are. But maybe because you want to change, it works out?
The “All OK” song and video is precisely this feeling – that today, we have to be better, we dream of being someone else, a better version of ourselves. Some people think that they should be different than they are, so they try, and that makes them happy. And yet, it’s very frustrating and sad that people are not self-sufficient. It’s my personal observation, maybe I’m wrong.
Where propaganda is everywhere, anyone can believe everything, many do not think for themselves. “Don’t Believe, Watch Out” is a way to tell oneself that one must be suspicious of one’s own desires and passions, towards oneself. It’s cool to dream and to have a purpose, but the fall is painful. It is not at all pessimistic, but realistic. Everyone makes us believe things and then shoots glitter in our faces, so you have to keep your feet on the ground. It’s good to believe in things but keep in mind we live in reality.
Recording the Album:
The album came alive in the most beautiful, magical and quiet place, somewhere lost in France, in the countryside. We did not see many humans for days, which was and is very stimulating and perfect [environment] to create to.
Evoking captivating aural pleasures and sonic daydreams in the vein of luminaries such as Slowdive, Low, Chelsea Wolfe, or Esben and the Witch, Don’t Believe, Watch Out is definitely one of the most lovely shoegaze records to come out in 2019.