Romain Perrot has spent more than ten years producing massive, static harsh noise walls, becoming a sort of godfather for a very specific branch of a very specific musical genre. If you can call it that. Taking the concept of “non-music” to its logical extreme, noise colors all aspects of mr. Perrots life, despite him being a family man of rather cultured taste. The following interview fills in some blanks, restates some old truths and will hopefully open a few eyes to the amazing, or perhaps just empty, world of Vomir’s brand of wall noise.
First off: how would you explain what Vomir is, what you do and why you do it to someone who has no idea about these things?
Vomir is a project dedicated to static harsh noise, a project which participated in creating a sub-genre of harsh noise (itself a subgenre of experimental music) called harsh noise wall. The noise produced has no change, no dynamics. Imagine a very dense, textured, static noise, a processed version of the one you can listen between stations on your radio.
How did you get started in the harsh noise wall business? I’ve read you began trying to make noise on electric guitars, but did you have any other “formal” musical projects before Vomir?
I don’t think there is any business in HNW, haha… Anyway, I started making noise on guitar in 1996 and Vomir happened in 2006. During those first ten years I did harsh noise guitar improvisation, solo and in several projects, and progressively I tried to produce a continuing noise with the guitar. I was never entirely happy with it though, so I switched to noise generators. Then I did get the sound I was looking for.
You also have a number of other projects, parallel to Vomir, which I was a little surprised to find out. Could you tell us about them?
I do have other projects, and yes it surprises many people. It is as if I was not allowed to do other things other than Vomir. The thing is I have really settled rules for the genre, for my own HNW sound… However – even if HNW is a mandatory part of my life – I also feel the need to express myself in different ways, to get my fantasies out of my head, to develop inapt parts of me. So, I do a shitfolk project, noise guitar improvisation and vocals, organ-synth based funerary music, as well as films and photography around seclusion, confinement, young girl love, transfiguration…
Will you have other projects after Vomir? Will there even be an “after Vomir”, or is this something you will keep doing for the rest of your natural life?
There is no after Vomir; I hope to be able to continue Vomir as long as I can… There won’t be any development.
At this point, you have a very distinct sound of your own. It’s probably safe to assume you were once influenced by other music, though. Which and how?
Yes, I’ve been listening to music since my early teens. But the sound I was looking for was really coming out of my head, I didn’t want to relate to anything in particular.
You are quite well known for listening to your own wall noise a lot, even (especially?) when you’re not recording it. Why do you do that, what does it give you?
When I’m listening to my noise, I feel calm, comfortable, detached, relaxed, at ease with myself.
When you’re not listening to your own static noise wall, what music, noise or otherwise, do you listen to?
I do listen to a lot of music, mainly experimental (including lots of subgenre, impro, electroacoustic, minimal…), but also metal, dub, hardcore, soundtracks… I always bought albums, still do, and most of the time listening on a stereo. I never stopped buying tapes, LPs, CDs… Let’s say I come from Pink Floyd and Black Flag, then AMM, TG and japanoise…
Your noise is, once again, very static, and lacks virtually any dynamic in the sense of change. There are reasons for this, or perhaps “anti-reasons”. Care to elaborate?
The only reason I can give is that I feel good with this unchanging noise, more than with drone for example. Of course this is confrontational, you can’t really ‘share’ the experience etc, but it’s the perfect sound for me. My sound is often analyzed, discussed, and from those talks I do understand things and concepts I just wasn’t aware of… so my sound got filled with ideas and theories, which is great, but basically it’s just the sound I like for me
Despite your purist approach to harsh noise walls, you have done a number of collaborations on which the input of your collaborator has added many elements to the final product. I’m thinking, for instance of your release with Yoshihiro Kikuchi, which added rhythmic elements and notes of “black metal” to the mix. Are things like this something you’d like to do more, or doesn’t it really matter?
I am fortunate to get asked for all this collaboration. When I do those, I am not a noise tyrant and I am confident about what can be done with my noise. It’s great to do collabs and finding my work to be a basis for all new things.
You are of course aware of the explosion of HNW projects that has unfolded over the past few years (or longer). Any opinions? Is much of it good? Bad? Does it matter?
It seems HNW is now an official genre on Discogs… That’s amazing. I don’t have an opinion on the current HNW scene. I’ve heard so much, the genre got bullied so much, I got so much hatred… So much discussions on the old noise boards etc… Now everything has settled, the HNW genre has subgenres, people come and people go… Just like in any music scene, I guess. I know that I don’t have to bother with all of this. I just do noise.
You’ve talked about the live black plastic bags many times, but we almost certainly have many readers unaware of them. How are they used in your live sets, and why do you (and the audience) use them?
During live shows I used to wear a plastic bag over my head, and give everyone in the audience a bag. So inside the bag, the listener would not be able to talk, look around, drink etc… but just be ‘in the noise’. It was a very simple, cheap and effective way to make people understand my ideas about seclusion, a principle which I completely associate to my sound.
Since last year, I stopped using bags which became a gimmick, something people were waiting for, something for the fun of attending a Vomir live set. I hate fun in noise, I hate entertainment in noise. So I stopped this behavior. Now you have just the noise and myself not moving an inch. And I realized that the bags were not needed. What matters is the noise.
Most extreme noise genres, like harsh noise and power electronics, contain many elements beside the noise. Provocative art work, real or fake extreme political views, etc. You’ve kept things quite simple, and if I remember correctly you often let the label design artwork and such. Tell us a bit about this.
I do take care of my own label’s artwork (Decimation Sociale), but I always let the other labels take care of it for Vomir. Anything can illustrate noise, as noise itself interferes with the artwork… I refuse political and religious ideas, that’s all.
Is there something you’d like to do with Vomir, live or on a release, which you cannot do because of financial or other limitations?
I would like to perform in the US and in Asia, as I’ve rarely played outside Europe. I want to continue to put out physical releases, as I really think that experimental music can’t be listened to properly from a compressed format on devices designed for unified, produced music.
What does the future, near and far, hold for Vomir? Will there be surprises?
More and more noise. I am still here. Always be.
That was all from us today. If we’ve forgotten something, or if you want to promote some upcoming releases, now is the time.
That was all from me today. Thanks for your interest in my work. I am always interested in putting noise out, so you can get in touch with me (at the Decimation Sociale webpage). Just don’t expect fast replies and chatting.