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Exponentia - Interview


Ludovic Dhenry is a French solo artist of many music projects and versatile talents. His musical opus is comprehensive, with 13 albums, an EP and another album on the way. His music career started with an electro gothic project Zauber in 2005. About five years later, he formated a single album project Eleventh Fear, followed by his most precious one: Exponentia, in September 2012. In 2015 another Ludovic's project arose, Résonance Magnétique, presenting industrial and gothic music with a haunted, dark, ghostly atmosphere. But Exponentia remained special to him for as he says: "it is really what I am internally". And he was willing to share with us some of his inwardness. For what I'm grateful to him, and because of what I invite you to read the interview.

Interview with: Ludovic Dhenry
Conducted and edited by: Jerneja

Jerneja: Hello Ludovic, I appreciate you took the time for this interview. You have been composing music since 2005, but I must admit I have just recently encountered your music project Exponentia. After I started digging further, I've realized how extensive opus you created with Exponentia. Besides, Exponentia is not your only music project. There are also: Résonance Magnétique, Zauber and Eleventh Fear. As I'm fascinated with your work, I am also astonished your music hasn't yet got all the attention it deserves. What do you think is the reason?
Ludovic: Thanks for the compliment. Without a label or distributor, it is very difficult to publicize a music project. Promoting an album is very expensive. I established the Neris Records label due to offer my albums also in CD format, but I don't have the financial means of the big established labels. In the past, I got label contracts in Germany to distribute an album, but it was asking for a lot of money. It was not possible for me. Besides, social networks such as Facebook, for example, block publications in people's news feed. You have to "sponsor - pay" for them to appear on people's Facebook. It doesn't help independent musicians. Added to this is the fact that people don't buy much music anymore. It has therefore become much more difficult for an independent artist to make himself known.

Jerneja: I know that Exponentia personifies you most, but let's give some attention to your other projects. What is the background, concept or perhaps even the purpose of each of them? And are they anyhow related to each other and/or to Exponentia?
Ludovic: Yes, Exponentia personifies me the most. I will develop this project more and more. Spend all my time and my creative energy on this one. All the projects are interrelated. I think you can hear similarities. It's the same atmosphere that I create but in different musical styles. The other projects are electronic. I especially like synthesizers, and I will integrate them into Exponentia with the upcoming album.

Jerneja: I have a feeling you would prefer to focus on Exponentia in this interview. So, let's do this. What does the name Exponentia present? I've only encountered the term "exponential", meaning sharp, fast expansion of things, or involving an exponent as a mathematical term.
Ludovic: When I started this project, someone close to me suggested me this band name because it corresponded to my state of mind. I wanted to create a lot of albums. I had many ideas which I wanted to realize with this project because it is in me, in my soul. The last syllable of the word "exponentiel" ("tiel" in French) has been modified with "tia", which gives a Latin sound and generates an old, classical and gothic side.

Jerneja: Would you tell me something about Exponentia's beginnings? It was founded in September 2012, when two of your other music projects have already been present. So, what was the reason you decided to create yet another project?
Ludovic: I wanted to create a gothic musical project, including classical music, very dark, in the goth musical style similar to Lacrimosa, Sopor Aeternus,... Why do I want to compose in this style? Because I have it in my soul and deep inside me. My other musical projects were in the electro goth style, so I had to create a new project because it didn't fit that musical style.

Jerneja: In about eight years, Exponentia produced five albums and one EP. Does each one of them only has its concept, or is there also some "mysterious" connection between them?
Ludovic: They are connected since each new album is the continuation of the previous one. I often tell myself that it's because I composed such and such an album that this one is as it is. It couldn't have been like this before. One thing brings another as it evolves. There is no mysterious connection between them but a continuation.

Jerneja: You are preparing a new album with Exponentia, which will be released later this year. Can you already reveal some details about it like title, concept, perhaps some novelty in a musical approach,...
Ludovic: I haven't chosen the title of the album yet.  On the other hand, all the lyrics are written, and the songs are named. Yes, there will be a novelty in the musical approach. I can reveal that the new album will include a large share of synthesizer to create an atmosphere by maintaining the resemblance to the previous album regarding acoustic drums and guitars and the symphony orchestra instruments, of course. I'm going to program dark soundscapes, electro sequences and use drum machines with distortions and filters. As in my project Résonance Magnétique. I like synthesizers, and I want to integrate them in a very present way in Exponentia. Before starting to compose, I worked on it for several months in preproduction. On the sound of other instruments also, acoustic drums will sound heavier on this record. Due to requests for the album to be available in CD format, which I receive now and there, the new album will be released on CD via my label Neris Records, though in small series! I'm seizing the opportunity to thank everyone who bought my music lately. It is thanks to you that this is possible for 2021.


Jerneja: Tell me something about the process of creating your music...
Ludovic: When I start working on a new album, I always start by thinking about the sound of it, the general atmosphere, but also concerning the musical language and the instruments that I will choose. I like to define in advance how the album will be. I want each of my albums to sound their own because, in my opinion, an album is that. And when I work on a new record, well, it's a new one, not just the same as the year before. It's really exciting to create all of this. First, I write all the lyrics and structure them for the songs. Then I take a few days off and start to compose and record the songs. The orchestral part is being composed simultaneously with all the other instruments, including the vocals (the vocals will then be erased and re-recorded for the final version). I very often start by writing for the orchestra. When a first version is recorded, I have an overview, and then I continue to work on the arrangement and the orchestration to polish the whole. After that, I record the vocals for the final version. When all the titles are recorded on audio tracks, I do the mixing. And then the mastering. Then comes the stage of working on the album cover (I start working on this while recording), making the press book, contacting a CD pressing factory due to promoting the album,... I have just realized how much work I still have to do. Hmmm, I need two coffees!

Jerneja: Besides synthesizer, what other instruments do you play?
Ludovic: The instruments I play are the virtual instruments of my Reason Studio 10 and other VST plug-ins or Rack Extensions. I am not an instrumentalist; I do not play instruments. But I am a composer who composes music for all of them. Each instrument has its peculiarities, and I had to learn to compose for each one. My scores are composed, and then it is not the musician who plays, but my virtual musical instruments in my Reason. You need to know every virtual instrument to program it properly so that it reproduces as much as a human instrumentalist. That’s really exciting, too. I love these musical instruments.
 
Jerneja: Where does Exponentia get the inspiration in a musical as well as lyrical sense?
Ludovic: I am inspired by German gothic music and by classical and baroque music. These are music that I listen to a lot. Fantasy and adventure novels also inspire me.

Jerneja: You said Exponentia was your most personal project, but on the other hand, it is all about versatile entities "telling their stories". I suppose they are incorporated thoughts/feelings of yours...
Ludovic: Unconsciously, they might be, but that is not the goal. These little stories in this fantasy world are imaginary. There is no connection with reality. It is my most personal project - in the sense that it corresponds to what I have in my soul. That is to say to create gothic music in a fantasy universe.

Jerneja: What do you search for or find in these imaginary worlds?
Ludovic: I want to create in music what I am. I like gothic music and fantasy worlds. Bringing the two together, writing gothic music in a fantasy world, that's what I want to do in my life. I find the two complement each other well. What do I find there? A sense of well-being there, I am in my place. To me, it is a necessity and satisfaction to create Exponentia. Almost every day I work on this musical project, I live in this imaginary world. I prefer it to the real world. And then, when I'm not composing for Exponentia, I'm still in virtual worlds because I'm a big adventure RPG video game player. As I said, I live in a fantasy world. I never go to the so-called "real" world. I find no satisfaction there. I prefer to stay at home, in these worlds.

Jerneja: So, is it pointless to ask you about planning live gigs after this pandemic is over? You used to perform, though. Any special memory you don't mind sharing with us?
Ludovic: Indeed, I do not plan to play in concert. The reason is that to play very regularly, in a professional way, you must have the chance to sign a contract with an agency of concert promoters. I did not have access to this. So I played concerts without an agency, a few in Belgium, France, England and Switzerland, but very rarely. I did not have the opportunity to play regularly. It was becoming very difficult to find concerts in the first place. So I decided to focus on the studio. Yes, of course, my first concert, in 2005. At the time, I had not released an album yet. I only had a demo of my music project Zauber. The track "Euphoria" which was regularly broadcasting as a DJ set in goth clubs in Belgium, especially in the famous club (The Steeple in Waregem), subsequently, a concert organizer offered to play in concert in the goth club "Au Coquin" in Belgium. I went very often to gothic evenings in these places. I was young. My song was included in DJ sets with other gothic bands that I love and then played in a concert. This adventure left me with lasting memories.

Jerneja: It is no mystery you have your concept of what gothic music should be... What lacks the genre as such, and what is your point of view?
Ludovic: Yes, that's right, I think some bands create dark and alternative music, but not gothic. Because we do not feel these emotions and this special gothic atmosphere. Fortunately, there are a few goth bands. But there aren't many, which is a shame. My point of view is that, in my opinion, gothic music is not defined by the musical instruments that are used, nor by its musical style. (Unlike metal or techno, for example, where you must use saturated electric guitars and synthesizers). Namely, gothic is defined by the particular emotions that we feel while listening to it. This can be achieved by using any musical instrument and in different musical styles (electro, classical, rock...). It is my point of view, my opinion, my way of feeling things. I respect other points of view, and I understand that other people feel differently.

Jerneja: Most of Exponentia's lyrics is written in the German language, though you are a Frenchman. So, why the German language better suits Exponentia? And, do you first write lyrics in the French language, or they appear in your mind already in the German language?
Ludovic: Each language has its musicality. The same lyrics sang up in French, for example, don't sound the same in German. The whole mood of the song transforms. It is for this reason that I sing in German. I like the musicality of the German language. I write the lyrics in the French language, then translate and organize them, and rework certain words of the text so that the whole is "musical".

Jerneja: Regarding Exponentia and all your other musical projects, you do everything yourself - from the idea to the final form. After the music is composed and recorded, what is that you enjoy most in this process, and what least?
Ludovic: It is a great satisfaction to do all the steps yourself. Have an idea during pre-production and carry it out step by step. See it come to life. The pre-production, writing the lyrics, the composition, arrangement, sound design, recording, mixing, mastering, album cover and all the label part, the contact with the factory of CD manufacturing, promotion, press contacts, DJs, and music sales. I like all the steps, but what I like best are the composition and mixing...
Jerneja: Considering the photos, you share your living space with quite a motley crew of animals. How do they affect your work, and how do they get along with each other in the first place?
Ludovic: In the past, for years, I had rats. They are wonderful animals, very affectionate and intelligent. I remember giving them a bit of my brioche every morning, so they ate breakfast with me. Animals bring good humour. In that sense, they positively affect my work. I also had a rabbit and a German shepherd, and they got along very well together! They are dead, it's sad. At the moment I have a small dog and a black cat.

Jerneja: In the conclusion of this interview, would you like to share something with Terra Relicta readers?
Ludovic: Do not hesitate to subscribe (follow) to Exponentia's Bandcamp page. In this way, you will automatically receive an email when a new album is released, which is the best way to get informed about Exponentia's productions. Bandcamp is the website where you can discover, listen to, buy my music (on CD and digital).

Thank you, Ludovic. I'll be waiting on your upcoming album.

Exponentia discography:
- Allein (2012)
- Sadness (2013)
- Ghost (2014)
- Abend (2016)
- Du Wirst Sein [EP] (2020)
- Tränen Des Leidens (2020)

Exponentia links: Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube.

Résonance Magnétique links: Facebook, Bandcamp.
Eleventh Fear links: Facebook, Bandcamp.
Zauber links: Facebook, Bandcamp.

Neris Records link: Facebook.

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