Mu­si­cal mas­ter­mind Gau­tier Serre ush­ers us into his weird world of Balkan beats, an­cient harp­si­chords and, er, mu­si­cal chick­ens.

Could Igorrr be the weird­est metal band ever? The brain­child of French mu­si­cian Gau­tier Serre, they mash gen­res to­gether to make a dis­ori­en­tat­ingly heavy noise. Plus, one of their mem­bers is a chicken

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Ask Igorrr mas­ter­mind Gau­tier Serre what he was like as a child, and he’ll pause, be­fore phon­ing his mum.

“She says that I was al­ways very cu­ri­ous, think­ing about many ex­is­ten­tial things like life and death,” he re­lays. “I was al­ways ask­ing many ques­tions. She also says that I didn’t re­ally fit into the rules of school and so­ci­ety – I was more like an out­sider.”

That out­sider think­ing is stamped all over Igorrr. Formed in the early 2000s as an elec­tronic-ori­en­tated project that’s grad­u­ally be­come heav­ier, ev­ery­thing about Gau­tier’s vi­sion is quirky, from his fu­sion of ex­treme metal, opera and gypsy jazz to the bat­shit track ti­tles and the im­agery you see on th­ese pages. On songs like the glitchy Spaghetti For­ever, he’s not so much mess­ing with con­ven­tions as shred­ding them in a pasta ma­chine.

“When I was a teenager, I was look­ing for a band far away from the hor­ri­bly bor­ing main­stream mu­sic on TV and ra­dio,” ex­plains the multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist. “I couldn’t find any­thing like that, so I wrote the mu­sic I wanted to lis­ten to. I love metal, baroque, elec­tronic and tra­di­tional Balkan mu­sic, and I wanted to have it all in one place, with­out seg­re­ga­tion.”

His jour­ney be­gan back in those in­quis­i­tive child­hood days in Bre­tagne, north west France, when he’d mess around with syn­the­sis­ers and old tape recorders, be­fore mov­ing onto drums, piano and gui­tars. He played in death metal and elec­tronic bands, but felt con­strained by their lim­its: he needed to be let off the leash.

“Igorrr was the place I could re­ally ex­press my­self with­out re­stric­tion,” he states.

Let­ting his freak flag fly, he set about cre­at­ing his own in­ven­tive sonic world, in­flu­enced by the com­po­si­tions of Chopin and Bach as much as Can­ni­bal Corpse and Meshug­gah. As we talk to­day, Cra­dle Of Filth and Ro­mani singer Gabi Lunc˘a are play­ing in the back­ground. So per­sonal is the project that it’s even named af­ter his beloved de­ceased ger­bil. Wait, what?

“I called her Igor be­cause she was all black and hunch­backed, so she looked a bit like the Igor from Franken­stein,” he says. “I was sad she died, so I took her name just to make her alive some­how. I added the ex­tra ‘r’s, just be­cause.”

That ‘just be­cause’ is a driv­ing force be­hind how Gau­tier works – as well as his love for an­i­mals. He’s writ­ten two songs with the help of his chicken, Pa­trick. Af­ter sprin­kling bird­seed out on a mini piano, he let him peck the keys and then ar­ranged the mu­sic around him. Be­cause why not? My Chicken’s Sym­phony and Chicken Sonata are strangely com­pelling pieces. “I was try­ing to find har­mony in chaos,” he ex­plains.

‘Har­mony in chaos’ could eas­ily be the tagline for Igorrr’s lat­est al­bum and third full-length,

Sav­age Si­nu­soid. To make the out­landish ideas in his head to life come jerk­ing to life, Gau­tier en­listed 20 guest mu­si­cians from five coun­tries, span­ning the harp­si­chord, clas­si­cal gui­tar, ac­cor­dion, sax­o­phone, sitar, strings and piano. At the core are his long-time col­lab­o­ra­tors and com­pa­tri­ots, vo­cal­ists Laure Le Prunenec and Lau­rent Lunoir, plus drum­mer Syl­vain Bou­vier. From the metal world, May­hem’s Te­loch plays a hulk­ingly heavy riff on Viande, while Cat­tle De­cap­i­ta­tion front­man Travis

Ryan lends his throat to A pop at ho­di­a­phul atop ho­bie( which ap­par­ently means the fear of be­ing con­sti­pated), Che­val (Horse) and Robert. Oh, and there’s the odd cluck from

Pa­trick, too…

De­spite hav­ing soft­ware at his dis­posal, Gau­tier was de­ter­mined to record real peo­ple play­ing real in­stru­ments, to cap­ture their “orig­i­nal spirit”.

“The notes could have been made elec­tron­i­cally, but the sound and emo­tional charge wouldn’t have been the same,” he ex­plains. “I used a 17th-cen­tury harp­si­chord, recorded with very mod­ern mi­cro­phones, to make the in­stru­ment fit the big sound of mod­ern death metal while still keep­ing

“I TOOK MY DEAD GER­BIL’S NAME”

GAU­TIER WANTED TO KEEP HIS BELOVED PET’S NAME ALIVE…

its ori­gin. It’s the same with ba­si­cally all the in­stru­ments on this al­bum. It would have been pretty cheap with plug-ins, but the live feel­ing on this al­bum made the mu­sic stronger.”

Gau­tier has synaes­the­sia, mean­ing that he sees the tracks as paint­ings, and has a clear vi­sion about how to put them to­gether. To get the best from his guests, he oc­ca­sion­ally tricks them into singing or play­ing parts they weren’t ex­pect­ing, like a ge­nius pup­pet master ma­nip­u­lat­ing the ef­fects on his sonic can­vas.

“I some­times play the wrong in­stru­men­tal on the head­phones of the in­stru­men­tal­ist on pur­pose, in or­der to in­flu­ence the colour of the way they play or sing – some­times to make it stronger, some­times lighter,” he re­veals. “It makes the con­trast between the dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal styles clearer.”

Sav­age Si­nu­soid is cer­tainly a sound clash, nip­ping at the heels of the tech metal scene. Prob­lème d’emo­tion is a mourn­ful, mov­ing, string-laden song that comes across like the sound­track to rainy scenes in French art­house cin­ema, while Che­val mar­ries tum­bling ac­cor­dion parts with sav­age screams. Va Te Foutre feels like be­ing thrown into a worm­hole and hear­ing mys­te­ri­ous uni­verses rush by, while in­stru­ments fly out and col­lide with your head. Deep­en­ing this sense of dis­ori­en­ta­tion, the record’s vo­cals are non­sen­si­cal, ris­ing and fall­ing with­out form­ing any words of this earth.

“The singers have their own lan­guage that they cre­ated some years ago, and to be hon­est, I have no idea what they’re singing about!” he con­fesses. “In Igorrr,

I’m us­ing the voice as an in­stru­ment, so I care only of the mu­si­cal mean­ing of the sound. I want the lan­guage to be some­thing which speaks straight to the heart, with­out any in­tel­lec­tual pol­lu­tion.”

It’s im­pos­si­ble to glean spe­cific mean­ings from the ob­tuse songti­tles – some of the older gems in­clude Half A Pony, Moldy Eye and Lul­laby For A Fat Jel­ly­fish – but they likely make sense to Gau­tier’s wired mind. He re­veals that Sav­age Si­nu­soid’s third track, Hu­mous, where Balkan ac­cor­dion melodies meet chip­tunes, is linked to an al­to­gether more or­di­nary, non-mu­si­cal pas­sion. “I used to work in a res­tau­rant to pay for my first bits of au­dio gear, years ago. I’ve still got this love for cook­ing, and I very much love Mediter­ranean food!”

Now signed to a metal la­bel and with their ducks (or should that be chick­ens?) in a row, Gau­tier’s hop­ing Igorrr will cap­ture peo­ple’s imag­i­na­tions. In April, they played at the Metal

Oper’Art fes­ti­val at the pres­ti­gious

Opéra Na­tional Du Rhin in Stras­bourg, France. With its gilded in­te­rior, it wasn’t a typ­i­cal set­ting for a metal show. “The place was beau­ti­ful and Laure’s voice sounded great, but the soft sound and the red seats were not suited to such strong mu­sic!” he laughs. When they come to the UK’s more con­ven­tional venues this month, you can ex­pect “eclec­tic and loud mu­sic in your face for one hour”.

Beyond that, it’s sure to be a show­case of Gau­tier’s beau­ti­ful, if enig­matic, freak­i­ness. Ask what goes on in­side his brain, and he’ll sim­ply chuckle and re­fer you to the three ob­scure ‘mak­ing of’ videos for Sav­age Si­nu­soid on YouTube. They fea­ture dis­jointed stu­dio footage, his mo­hawked pi­anist Ben­jamin play­ing in a pink tutu, and lots of star turns from Pa­trick. “That’s why we do mu­sic,” he con­cludes. “To ex­press in art what can­not be said in words.”

Twis­ter gets re­ally out

of hand chez Igorrr

“the sIngers cre­ated theIr own lan­guage!”

RATHER THAN WRIT­ING LYRICS, GAU­TIER PREFERS TO USE THE VOICE AS AN IN­STRU­MENT

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