Annick Giroux is one of the most interesting personalities metal has to offer these days. Not only is she the vocalist of Cauchemar, who were one of Fenriz’s bands of the week in 2010, but she is also a world-travelling, fanzine-editing, hellbent-for-cooking workaholic in the name of metal. As we are always interested in what exciting people have to say, we asked her for an interview. Annick kindly answered our questions on the road somewhere between Bangalore and Delhi.
Empress: You have been on a trip around the world for a year now and you will go on travelling for another year. You quit your job, got rid of your flat and your belongings and left your old lives behind. Amazing! How long had you been planning to do that? And what is it you want to find on your journey?
Annick: Greetings! Yeah, it’s been a crazy trip so far… we experienced so many things in this amount of time, it’s just absolutely incredible. Me and my husband planned the whole thing a bit more than two years before our departure. My goals were to learn firsthand about different cultures, taste REAL food from everywhere, visit some mystical places and get a clearer image of what I want to do in the future. When you travel, you have SO much time to think about everything.
Empress: Do you already have plans for the time after your journey? Will you resume your old lives or start something completely new?
Annick: The big plan when we come back is to start an underground label. Profession-wise, I will work in graphic design for two or three years while saving all my money. When my husband and I have a satisfying amount of money, we’re going to go on a small Canada-USA 3-month trip by car, and then hopefully open a record shop! For my band, CAUCHEMAR, we plan on releasing a full-length next year – we already wrote about 7 songs for it while on the road. Beside that, I want to organize some festivals and shows, and perhaps take on some DJ gigs from time to time! People “warned” me I was going to be depressed when I’ll stop my travels… I don’t think I’ll have the time, haha!
Empress: How has travelling changed you?
Annick: I’m a very open minded person, but travelling made me see how many prejudices I still had about different countries and cultures. Now, I know that I cannot judge anything before experiencing it myself! I also learned about simple living. Having less things = having less worries. We’re definitely going to have a simple and small living space when we come back… but with a guest room for visitors, of course! And you can be absolutely happy without having a huge house, a car and a cell phone, you know!!
Empress: According to your blog your have a very cool and balanced mixture of touristy things, food experiences and local metal scenes. How big are the similarities or differences between the scenes? Or would you say that there is one big, connected and rather uniform “world scene”?
Annick: Every metal scene is very different actually, which is what makes local metal so unique. Some scenes are still quite young – like the Indian, Korean and Chinese metal scenes, and some are very old, like the Japanese, Peruvian and Argentinean scenes… so the local history of metal has a very big effect on what is happening now!
Then there are the local politics and cultures; for example, most Malaysian metalheads do not drink (Islamic country), and Colombia for example has a very violent political past. You also have the local economies; richer countries like Japan have better metal record shops than poorer countries like Bolivia. And finally, the postal system! Malaysia and Indonesian post workers often open packages, and if they see any satanic stuff, they confiscate it and the receiver is in big trouble… Colombian mail workers used to scratch satanic vinyls and then put them back into the record sleeves and ship them like that! That alone has a huge effect on local metalheads! Anyway, I think the gap between the metal scenes in each country I visited so far is really wide…
Empress: Was there a local scene somewhere you found very special in comparison to other scenes?
Annick: Perhaps the Thailand metal scene! I loved to watch how younger or less experienced metalheads greeted an elder one with an angelus salute (putting both hands together as a sign of respect). The underground metalheads there hold some kind of tiny market every Saturday night where they meet, trade and buy records, exchange information and drink beer in the open air. I thought it was quite different from anything. I wish I could have stayed there longer to experience it more, snif snif. But every scene has something that makes it special. I could go on and on for hours on this very interesting subject!
Empress: You were one of the headliners of the second Trendslaughterfest on January 29th 2012, in Bangalore, India. This is really a cool thing! What were your expectations before playing there?
Annick: I didn’t have too many expectations before the gig, really. Our band is so underground that I had no idea if people even knew about us there! I mean, we released a 5-song EP and we sing in French… hahaha. But actually, I was surprised on how many people knew about us in India – and how rich the local doom metal scene was!! We played in front of around 150 people, and they really reacted well to the gig. We even sold out of our CD’s before we even started playing! Amazing!!!
Empress: Your book „Hellbent for Cooking“ came out in 2009 and has been a real success – EVERYONE knows about it and loves the idea behind the book. How did you get the idea to write this book?
Annick: I was surprised at how successful it became, and people are still talking about it these days… haha! It’s pretty insane! I got the idea on a Sunday morning, still hungover from a night of drinking. It happened when I was walking with my boyfriend (now husband) to go hunt for records and used cook books. See, when I am hungover, I LOVE cracking stupid jokes and I have some very strange ideas… so I said as a kind of joke, “Hey, I should ask metal bands for their favourite recipes and make a book out of it”! And then as the day went on, I kind of thought about it more, and it became quite clear that it was a great idea!
Annick: I sent most of them an e-mail with my request, but a few requests were done by snail mail. I basically asked them for a recipe that reflected either their country or their band.
Empress: Do you in some way see a relation between cooking and metal?
Annick: I see many relations between cooking/food and metal. Metalheads in general like their metal to be of good quality, and it is the same thing with their food. Metal is influenced by the local cultures, and so is the food. Metalheads generally spend a large amount of money on their metal habit, so cooking saves money! And really, food is just always there in our lives, just like metal. Eating and drinking is always a good excuse for exchanging metal information and ideas.
Empress: Are you planning to write a sequel of your book with the recipes you gathered on your journey?
Annick: Good question! I’m thinking more and more of doing a sequel, but not with the recipes I gathered myself. I mean, the first “Hellbent…” is missing so many kickass food countries like Peru, India, Thailand… it’s blasphemous! I want to somehow combine my journey with recipes… talk about the countries we visited and include bands that I’ve met and that come from those places. Anyway, it’s just a thought for now, but hopefully it’s going to become reality.
Empress: I really love the Cauchemar-EP „La Vierge Noire“, especially for the beauty of the song writing and the unpretentious sound. Will there be a new Cauchemar-release soon? Are you planning to make a whole album this time?
Annick: Thank you, I’m very happy you like the EP so much. We are also very satisfied about the overall sound – our goal was to have an overall timeless organic and live feel and I think we achieved it for this album! We are definitely going to do a full length, like I mentioned earlier. Perhaps we will record a 7″ while touring Europe, but I’m not sure at 100% about it yet.
Empress: You will be touring Europe in April in May. A couple of gigs have been confirmed, for example the Keep it True – congrats! What are you especially looking forward to?
Annick: Yeah!! The Keep it True gig will be fucking insane!!!! Actually, we already have 19 shows confirmed, which is absolutely crazy! We’re also playing Heavy Days in Doomtown (Denmark), and Muskelrock (Sweden) as well as gigs in Germany, England, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. I’m really looking forward to meeting like-minded people, see kickass bands, eat good food and as weird as it sounds, I’m totally looking forward to blasting music in the tour van and headbanging my way across Europe!!! Hahaha! I’m already thinking of albums for that.
Empress: You used to be the chief editor of the Morbid Tales fanzine. On the website you state that there will be no follow-up of the last issue #6 which came out in 2009. Will you stick to that or is there a future for Morbid Tales?
Annick: Yeah, that didn’t last too long haha, I have already started working on Morbid Tales #7. Oops, I forgot to mention it earlier in my next plans!! I already have a few interviews and I will include a record shopping guide for all the countries that I have visited. Should be good!
Empress: When you are at home, you play an active role in so many parts of the scene – editing a fanzine, booking shows, working for Nuclear War Now!, writing Hellbent for Cooking, being a Metal DJ, and of course singing in Cauchemar. How do you organise yourself to manage all that?
Annick: I don’t know haha, many sleepless nights! I actually am a woman of plans, I cannot live without doing something interesting. If I don’t do anything, I just rot in front of the TV and become lazy and useless, which is no fun at all. I think the hardest in all of these things was Morbid Tales #6, I developed a weird anxiety/stress problem while working on it. I had a due-date (I organized a show for the release) and still had half of the zine to do… so I worked on it relentlessly. For some reason, I clenched my jaw hard and grit my teeth every time I was working on it… it hurt so much I had to put that fucking numbing baby gel thing on my gums so I won’t feel anything anymore! It took about a year to go away after that. Fucking crazy! But now I will take more my time for the next issue. Hehe. But besides that, the rest went very well. Working for NWN! Prods was really fun, plus I’d get free records in the mail all the time! And of course, doing DJing was cool because it cut the week in half (I DJed every Wednesday from 9PM to 3AM, but then had to get up at 7AM the same day). I really miss doing that. Doing “Hellbent for Cooking” totally fucked up my social life; I had none for 6 months. I wrote to bands, got the recipes, edited them, went food hunting, cooked the food (sometimes more than once if I fucked it up or if the recipe was wrong), photographed everything, then put the results in a layout that I designed. Then I wrote biographies (some were written by Ian, my editor) and that was it! 6 months gone! It was a lot of work, but so much fun. The hardest thing was to deal with the timing of the sunset… (!) Since I have no professional photo studio or anything, I took 90% of my photos outside, on my balcony. That meant I had to rush home from work, cook the recipe, and then take a photo of it before the sun set down. Luckily it was summertime, or else I could not have done it! Of course, I cooked a shitload during the weekends. And as for Cauchemar, we worked on writing the songs for a long time, since 2007 actually. We had to develop our own writing style (myself and the guitarist/my husband write all the songs together), and went through many musicians before finding the present line-up. We have now been writing new songs in rehearsal studios all over the world, and it just flows so naturally now. I’m really excited to lay the drums and bass on those! We’re going to play four of them on tour.
Empress: At Empress we are interested in the role women play in the rock & metal scene – do you ever think about what it means to be a woman in a largely male dominated scene? Is that of any importance for what you do?
Annick: I never think of myself being different from the guys, really. Where I come from, there are almost as many women as men in the scene. In fact, I’ve seen some gigs where the women are the ones headbanging in front of the stage! Haha! So that kind of question always surprises me… but then again I don’t know the situation in Europe.
Empress: Why are there still comparatively few women active in metal, at least on stage?
Annick: I know many female musicians but I think women are not naturally keen on learning instruments. I don’t know why. Perhaps they are more interested in socializing or something! Personally, I have learned to play guitar at an early age, and then switched to bass when I was 12 years old. As for female vocalists – most female vocals in Black and Death metal (except for bands like BESTIAL HOLOCAUST and NOVEMBER GRIEF for example) don’t sound good at all. If the front woman sounds good and doesn’t dress like a stupid slut, then I’m all up for it!!! I think female vocals sound much better in traditional Doom Metal and Heavy Metal.
Empress: Thank you so much for taking the time! Any last words?
Annick: Hey, thank you for writing such a kickass and interesting interview! I hope I didn’t bore you with my answers, haha! Thanks for all and keep up the great work with Empress!
Annick runs a blog about her travels: Into the Void
Cauchemar will be touring Europe in April/ May:
Fri, Apr 20 Berlin GERMANY Blackland8:00pmw/Evil Spirit
Wed, Apr 25 Nürnberg, GERMANY Kunstverein8:00pmw/Cosmic Wasteland
Fri, Apr 27 Lauda-Königshofen, GERMANY Keep it True 1512:00pm
Tue, May 01 Leipzig, GERMANY Black Label9:00pmw/Black Salvation
Thu, May 03 Copenhagen, DENMARK Heavy Days in Doomtown9:00pm
Fri, May04 London, ENGLAND The Old Blue Last9:00pmw/Amulet
Fri, May 11Brussels, BELGIUM D.N.A9:00pm
Sun, May 13 Valenciennes, FRANCE Long Live Metal!!!! VI3:00pmIgelrock w/Delirium Tremens, Warhammer, Necrowretch, Gae Bolga, The Bottle Doom Lazy Band
Sun, May 13 Paris, FRANCE Le Klub9:00pmw/Children of Doom
Wed, May 16 Rennes, FRANCE Mondo Bizarro9:00pmw/Children of Doom
Fri, May 18 Toulouse, FRANCE TBD8:00pmw/Nuit Noire + Goat River
Sat, May 19 Torreilles, FRANCE Le Bistroquet9:00pm
Sun, May 20 Barcelona, SPAIN El Prat De Llobregat9:00pmw/Atonement
Mon, May 21 Marseille, FRANCE L’Enthropy8:00pmw/Super Timor
Tue, May 22 Lyon, FRANCE TBD8:00pmw/Sanctuaire
Wed, May 23 Lausanne, SUISSE Base Bar8:00pmw/Sanctuaire
Fri, May 25 Bologna, ITALY Atlantide8:00pmw/Embers
Sat, May 26 Bergamo, ITALY Live Keller9:00pm +w/Black Oath Caronte
Thu, May 31 Alvesta, Sweden Muskelrock 2012 – Blädinge Tyrolen4:00pmw/Grim Reaper, Hell, Enforcer, Acid King
If not otherwise mentioned, the copyright for all pictures in this article belongs to Annick Giroux.