The most talented people are frequently the most humble. Dehn Sora (Treha Sektori, Throane, also a part of Ovtrenoir and Sembler Deah with Colin H. Van Eeckhout and Mathieu Vandekerckhove from Amenra) is utterly beautiful - aurally, visually and personally. I had an honour to invite Dehn Sora to participate at TEDxBrussels 2018 event as a new media artist. In less than 8 weeks Dehn Sora produced an eerie video and soundtrack under the theme of 'Brave New World' (A. Huxley). I also asked Vincent about his own future visions, battles and artistic endeavours.
First, I’d like to talk about your work as a media artist. Could you tell us a bit more about what your everyday job involves?
I'm an Art Director in a creative studio specialised in video mapping and visual installations. Working for a large range of clients, from corporate to cultural, mostly for events. That's a pretty engaging work, brain is working all day long. It makes me explore different universes and visual problematics that I must dive into. I'm pretty new in this kind of work. I used to work in an agency that was focused on cinema designs but for print use. Now I have to work with motion. So I'm learning everyday, new ways of thinking, new techniques.
You did artwork for Amenra, Jarboe and Father Murphy, CHVE and Scott Kelly, Deathspell Omega and more… It is not an easy task to deliver the band’s “message/meaning” through the artwork. How do you approach each band/musician/release? Do you come up with the concept yourself or work with a given one?
Every collaboration has its own story. Sometimes artists have a strong idea of what they want to achieve. I become the hands that shape the idea. And sometimes artists give me total freedom. So we talk, they give me material so I can understand them and find the right way to express their feelings. There can be a lot of communication, or almost none. Trying to shoot right. Each collaboration is a different way of working. Trying again every time. There's a part of digging into the personality. I mostly ask for some lyrics, some samples of their upcoming works. And I go. I dig, in a personality that's not in front of me. I try to fit the skin... I'm more seeking for a collaboration than a commissioned work. More and more. For example, when I work with Blut Aus Nord, it can start with a commission for a release. Then, I go for some ideas, and he [Vindsval] shapes music around. Or recently, he asked me something a bit particular. With a special oriented feel. Few weeks later I came up with something totally different from what he asked. Because that was what I'd felt, so I modelled it and showed it, specifying that's it's totally off from what we had talked about. He felt it too, so he shaped a new approach for that release. This is why I like to work with bands. For the connection. Not that I can or want to be a member of the band, but I love to work hard for humbly pushing and being a part of their histories.
Who are you planning to work with artwork-wise in future?
There are a few projects in progress. But I feel lately that I need to focus on more personal projects. I don't want to do artworks without being 100% into it. I want to be able to be fully dedicated to a project. And lately I've been a bit overcharged, and really hate that feeling of not being able to give my full energy to the projects I've been asked to work for. And I hate being late! So I'm focusing on artworks for bands, labels I've already worked with for the moment... But I still have a long list, which is growing everyday, on artists I'd love to collaborate with.
In a Throane song, I've wrote “We said goodbye to our nerves. We never knew how to be peaceful”. That's something I've only recently accepted. I always fight, because as far as I remember, I live with a constant anxiety. Everything is a battle.
There are moments in your music that speak about death and decay. Your visuals can also be morbid. In ‘real life’ are you an optimist or a pessimist? What’s your philosophy?
I'd say I'm an optimist for others and a pessimistic person for myself. If someone is having a rough time, I always seek the bright side for them. Pointing out what's good before pointing the negative sides. But that is totally the opposite when it comes to myself. I only see what's wrong, never feel satisfaction, a “never good enough” sensation. A mindless detail can fuck a lot of my enthusiasm. But I know how to deal with it.
But mostly, I never give up. I don't know if it's my philosophy, more than a fact which I accepted. I feel that I'm in a constant struggle. To be honest, I don't really know what it is to be “good”. I'm always concerned. Always thinking. In a Throane song, I've wrote “We said goodbye to our nerves. We never knew how to be peaceful”. That's something I've only recently accepted. Probably when I wrote this. I always fight, because as far as I remember, I live with a constant anxiety. Everything is a battle, even simple situations, and I always go for it.
I kind of feel I'm forever an outcast, an outsider. I'm always somewhere in between. It's pretty clear when it comes to music. I never fitted any scene, genre, whatever. Too ambient, too boring, not enough this or that. When I'm booked for a show with Treha Sektori, it's pretty obvious. I mostly open for bands that are totally the opposite. But that's the way I like it. Not fitting. Having bad comments because I was not enough this genre, too much this feel. And positive ones because I was this or that.
“Brave new world” inspired me in its French translation. “Le Meilleur des Mondes” - “The best of the worlds”. I wanted it as a breath, pretty open. Somewhere on a hill, on a high raised block, where we can watch everything transforming, not trying to control.
Your film was screened at TEDxBrussels event under the theme ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley. How do you relate the video with the theme? What is the story you are trying to tell?
What I wanted to express in the video, is witnessing the fall of the man that tried to dominate. I felt it as a contemplative way of watching a fall. And how it turns into something new. “Brave new world” inspired me in its French translation actually. “Le Meilleur des Mondes” - “The best of the worlds”. I wanted it as a breath, pretty open. Somewhere on a hill, on a high raised block, where we can watch everything transforming, not trying to control.
What’s your own vision or predictions for the Earth and humanity in, let’s say, 50 years?
I actually don't want to think about it too much. Your question reminds me a curious feeling I had couple of years ago. It was a massive sport game period. An evening of the finale match. When the game ended, I was smoking a cigarette by my window, and people in the streets were yelling. I thought these were victory shouts, but I quickly realised, people were arguing from window to window. Insulting each other because some supporters won, others lost. It escalated to one guy throwing his furniture from his window, complaining his team lost. Other people started to throw their things at each other from their windows. I switched from laughing to some kind of social angst. People were fighting without any purpose, any goal. I was submerged by the feeling that they are probably so sad and lost that they needed a click for expressing it. But without being face to face. Tears came to me. I felt that all this anger was directed to the wrong direction. I felt no judgement at all... But yes, all of this was towards a wrong direction, all of this anger probably will not be driven towards a good direction in the future.
If something cracks under my feet, there will be a room for it on a release.
You have so many endeavours and different sonic ‘faces’ - Treha Sektori, Sembler Deah, Ovtrenoir and Throane… From dark ambient to post-metal… What can we expect from each of your musical project in the nearest future?
I don't make plans in general. I let things come to me. I just feel changes are coming, mostly for Treha Sektori. I feel that it will transform into something more than an album release. More like a project in a “larger” sense, connected to different mediums.
Treha is the struggle. It's my personality, the prism I see the life through. I've been thinking on moving from the album format, this is what appealed to me. More of a cross-media approach. So, I'll keep on trying, and working hard. Let things to come. Life will be the engine. If something cracks under my feet, there will be a room for it on a release.
I still have few collaborations in the works, in mind, a new score with Claudio Marino with whom I worked on his two previous documentaries.
I'm lonely with what I carry, I can't ask for even close ones to carry it for me.
The second album ‘Plus une main à mordre’ by Throane got hugely positive feedback from critics. Yet you haven’t played the album live too many times. Can we expect a tour?
Some plans are being discussed, but I don't feel that Throane will play live a lot. I wanted to experience that on stage, it appealed, so I took the advantage of being invited to play. But I don't make plans so far. I just want to do something good on stage. Pushing me. I’ve always felt totally naked alone on stage with Treha Sektori. With Throane, it drives me so nervous, it's more than being naked. Even if I feel surrounded. I'm lonely with what I carry, I can't ask for even close ones to carry it for me. But there's the will of working hard on getting it live. To give the project another facet.
artwork by Dehn Sora
Could you tell us more about musicians that are involved in Throane and perform with you live?
Three of them are the members of Ovtrenoir, a band I play with. A project that William Lacalmontie has grown few years ago. He became one of the most important people in my life, when we started to work together with Treha Sektori. Having him on my side on stage, is something that I really appreciate. He's a talented man, musically and visually, we support each other, we can talk with no words. They are the people that want to challenge themselves... The other guitarist is the son of the man that is on the first album's cover, makes a lot of sense having him on my side on stage.
I can hear a bit of influence of Godflesh in ‘Plus une main à mordre’? Am I right?
Probably, I grew up with Pure and Streetcleaner. One of my first musical knock was “Mighty trust Crusher”, and I respect the work of Justin Broadrick a lot. His will to experiment and explore has been an engine in the past.
The cover of ‘Plus une main à mordre’ features your mother shaving her hair. How did you come up with the concept and got her to participate?
I wanted to have a woman on the cover, something ambiguous in what it evokes (shaving her head, for a woman particularly, can quickly evoke an abdication of a disease), but the original idea is rather a symbol of going to battle. To have no hair that would blind you, no hair that can be caught during the fight. I had several rejections from some mature women, to whom the symbol of the disease resonated too much, and who did not want to see themselves in such a way. My mother was recovering after a heavy operation, which had weakened her psychologically and physically for months. And she volunteered to do it. I never imagined she would agree to do it. She always looks concerned, worried, and in the end, she looks rather serene in the photo. It makes more sense to have her on a cover than anyone else. A matter of good timing, and she could inject some of what I inject in Throane. A bit a liberation.