Victor Sierra's Retrofuturistic Rock 'n' Roll
by Mark Rossmore
Join the adventure aboard the Hydrogen Queen.
March
13
2013
ARTIST PROFILE

Victor Sierra
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One of my favorite aspects of steampunk music is its ability to transport the listener to unique, far-off places. Hailing from France, the global sound of Victor Sierra's music is an instant passport to a unique vision of a retrofuturistic past. 

Its three members--multi-instrumentalist Commander Bob Eisenstein, vocalist Anouk, and synthesizer wrangler Big Machine--have certainly been busy. In the past couple of years they've crafted a full-length album, two EPs, and multiple collaborations, including a track for the popular web series Dirigible Days. Filled with instruments pulled from around the world and lyrics sung in a multitude of languages, one never knows where the next track will take you.

This Spring, their second full-length album arrives, a followup to their fantastic debut Electric Rain. They have an IndieGoGo fundraising effort in place to support its release.

 I was eager to speak with the band and learn about their history, creative process, and--of course--what they have in store for us this year!

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How long has Victor Sierra in existence? How did the band form?

Commander Bob: Anouk and I created Victor Sierra at the end of last century. We've had several other members in the band but nobody stayed basically because this is very demanding… Besides there has been this thing about getting that big "uchronic" picture of ours. It has been a long and painful process until Big Machine joined the band.

Anouk: I don't have any typical musical background except for an Edith Piaf cover called: "A quoi ça sert l'amour" performed with Steven Brown (Tuxedo Moon). I didn't know how to sing but I enjoyed doing it. My real musical story started when I met Bob, with Victor Sierra. I'm a one band singer.

Big Machine: I came late after the band was formed. But I brought some special industrial touches... And my madness. I'm an out of control androïd.

Some bands are steampunk by design. Others were doing their own thing and ended up being adopted by the steampunk community. Where does Victor Sierra fall?

Commander Bob: Somewhere between your two groups. When Big Machine joined the band 3 years ago, he told us about Steampunk. We had never heard of it before. So we googled it and all of a sudden we found out that we were not alone, at last… Everything seemed so familiar to us… The dystopia, the "uchronical" visions, the outfits and contraptions, the mix of genres… The encounter of romance and technology. Victor Sierra has been a steampunk band from the beginning without us being actually aware.

But I would like to mention that Dieselpunk does attract me, as well. That's how we came to create the Airship Hydrogen Queen--of which I'm the Commander! I would rather speak of retro-futrurism. It's yesterday's tomorrow.

Big Machine: Victor Sierra was a steampunk band. But they didn't know it... While listening to their stuff, some months after had I joined them, I told Bob :"Hey... All your music is a perfect definition of steampunk... " And the fans confirmed it.


Big Machine becoming one with his synths

What's your favorite part about the steampunk community?

Commander Bob: Tough question… There are so many aspects to talk about. Art, craft, contraptions, lifestyle… I would rather keep it general and express it in an abstract way: I've never met so many open-minded people. All of a sudden we were warmly welcomed to this fantastic world by our friends from Vernian Process, by the delicious Veronique Chevalier, by the highly talented Clockwork Dolls… and we met great people from everywhere, such as Dan Orlowitz (who manages Strange Artifact from Japan), Andrew Benjamin (from Hellblinki), and a certain Mark Rossmore (from Escape the Clouds)! 

The Steampunk community is richer than any other art community I happened to know in the past.

Anouk: All at once there were clothes, music, jewelery, a universe… At one point it was suggested we were SP. A click on Google to understand what it was about and we realized we were at the right place: home…

Big Machine: Most of them are nice, smart and very well-educated. Like rappers... But a little bit more... well...


Victor Sierra collaborating with the crew of the web series Dirigible Days.

Your new album is on the horizon, helped by an ongoing IndieGoGo campaign. What kind of themes and subject matter are you exploring for this release?

Commander Bob: Kind of secret for now.... Let's say that we explore retro-futuristic paths a bit further. We already performed some of our new songs on stage and it has been a big success. We still move full speed ahead aboard the airship Hydrogen Queen!

Let me add something about our Indiegogo project. We really offer a lot of things. Anouk has turned herself into a professional fashion designer these last years. Meaning that she sells her production. Everything is hand-made and very appreciated by all her customers. Have a look there:

You can even get "the whole thing" i.e: everything Victor Sierra offers (CDs, goodies, etc).

Your instrumentation has always been very worldly and eclectic. Ethnic instruments like saz blend with industrial synths and heavy guitar. What are the primary influences behind your sound?

Commander Bob: Another tough question… I would say that any powerful music or sound can influence me. It's got to have a strong aspect. Ever heard "Take the A Train" by Duke Ellington and his orchestra? Just listen to the unbelievable powerful trombones section in the intro… Man, it hits you right in the chest… I should invite them to perform aboard the Hydrogen Queen. And that's right, in our world no one ever dies. 

I'm influenced by everything. I spent all the nineties involved in the techno-electro-industrial music world, and it has left its impact as well. Mostly speaking of machines and rhythms and industrial flavours.

Anouk: Let me briefly explain where I come from, musically speaking. My musical culture dates back from my childhood : "La Chanson Française". I have a genuine tenderness for the realistic song "à la Piaf". Perhaps a bit cliché but totally sincere. Then I experienced the big blow of the New Wave, along with Eastern tunes and central Europe songs that have a highly emotional impact on me..

What is your songwriting process as a band?

Commander Bob: For now I write all the songs. Then we have the usual process of a rock 'n' roll band. We work on them, have arguments about arrangements and fights about the interpretation and the meanings of the songs (mostly the Legendary Princess and I) and in the end we come into terms and all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. I must admit that Big Machine knows how to soften the atmosphere when things get hectic…

Anouk: Personally I don't create anything, I sing… although lyrics provide inspiration, their meanings, the poetry. I got training as an actress and I sing a story, a moment of consciousness..

Big Machine: I'm just driving the machines and bring some synths. I tend to get myself more involved into the process but Bob and I have very different way to write music. So right now, he is the main composer and I bring some more melodies... And an industrial flavor.

Which is your favorite of the songs you've written, and--of course--why is it so? (The song can be any, including one off your new CD.)

Commander Bob: My favorite is always the next to come. There's a song in the next album which is my favorite today (it will probably be another one next week).But this one also is the title of the album. And it is mentioned somewhere in this interview (ha ha…)

Anouk: A real shock was "El Topo" which shattered genres, boundaries, and shows all of our aspects.

I understand you do professional voice acting as your day jobs. What kind of work do you do, and in how many languages?

Commander Bob: Unfortunately we don't make a living out of our music (not yet). But I'm very lucky to be able to work as a voice-over talent (as Anouk). I work in French and English on commercials, documentaries, etc… Just type my name without space, add a ".com" at the end and you'll find out!

Last year saw Victor Sierra performing at the Steampunk World's Fair in New Jersey, USA. Are you planning a return to this side of L'ocean Atlantique any time soon?

Commander Bob: Steampunk World's Fair 2012 was like a dream coming true for us. Performing in the US! Man it was the promised land for us!

About our future in America, we're working with Gil Cnaan (Dorian's Parlor) and we will soon announce something for November 2013. The US is really important to us. We're available anytime for any project there. We love America and we would like to relocate in Brooklyn NY in a few years. Actually as soon as possible.

Along with your eagerly-awaited second album, what else does 2013 hold for Victor Sierra? Touring? Any special projects?

Big Machine: Getting some new gears to be a perfect updated androïd.

Commander Bob: We met the wonderful Phantasium's organizer a few weeks ago (we were booked for this festival in Netherlands with Abney Park). And we'll certainly work with him in the future. We are booked for some gigs, but every organizer sould feel free to contact us here: management@victorsierra.net and/or our agent Paul Woldhek here: info@woldhekpromotions.nl

Thanks for taking the time to speak with Steampunk-Music.com, and good luck on the new album!

To learn more about Victor Sierra's music and videos, visit:

 And... don't forget to support their IndieGoGo campaign here:

 

  
Author Bio: Mark Rossmore
Mark Rossmore has released three atmospheric albums of steampunk-inspired music as Escape the Clouds. A multimedia artist who enjoys telling dramatic stories, he has self-produced three acclaimed music videos and is a published author of steampunk short fiction, aviation articles, and music-related non-fiction. Learn more about his music, videos, and writing at: http://www.EscapeTheClouds.com .
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