Interview: Vidéo L’Eclipse discuss their new album, Begin Repress Depart

Begin Repress Depart arrives on March 22.

There are moments in a music fan’s life when you stumble upon something magical. Sounds that transport you to places you’ve never been before. A voice that rips your heart to shreds. I experienced one of those moments the first time I heard Vidéo L’Eclipse.

The Swedish duo caught my attention in 2021 with their debut album, Predicts. I named it No. 4 on my list of the year’s best albums for its rich soundscapes, Cold War beats, and one of the best new voices I’ve heard in quite some time.

Composer Robert Tingelöf and vocalist Jonas Peterson formed Vidéo L’Eclipse in 2019, though we’ll learn their history goes much further back. On March 22, they’ll release the follow-up to Predicts, a magnificent new album called Begin Repress Depart.

On the eve of their sophomore album’s release, I reached out to Vidéo L’Eclipse to find out more about their background and the new album. Here’s what they told me.

Can you tell us about your backgrounds and how did Video L’Eclipse come about?

We started out as some kind of punk band with Robert on drums and Jonas on guitar. Then Robert started messing around with synthesizers, and we transformed the band into something more electronic with distorted guitars. At that point there were absolutely no vocals because we couldn’t sing a single note.

Then we took a 25-year break where we constantly spoke about the band, and Robert collected synthesizers, but nothing more happened.

Back in 2018/2019 a mutual friend dared us to start up again, and we did. So neither of us had any real experience from playing in bands or actually making music when we started Vidéo L’Eclipse.

After recording a few cover songs we realized we could actually make something that sounded good and decided to write our own songs. We found that the technology had advanced a lot since our attempts back in high school, which enabled us to make “real music” on our own. There are also so many excellent sources online where we could learn how to record and mix music that sounds professional. For us, Vidéo L’Eclipse is a creative outlet, so we want to keep as much as possible in-house.

What’s your songwriting process? Does the music or the lyrics come first?

We wrote most of Predicts during the pandemic and due to the circumstances we could not hang out and write the music together. So we ended up writing separately, and it worked out pretty good for us, so it has become a habit.

We found early on that we have different interests and strengths when it comes to writing songs. Jonas writes the lyrics and comes up with much of the chord progressions and arrangements, and Robert does the final productions, sound design, and mixing.

The songs either start with Jonas coming up with an idea with vocals and a guitar or piano, or Robert will send a melody loop or a demo of a new synth patch to Jonas that he completes into a full arrangement.

I thought your first album, Predicts, had a distinct, mature sound for a debut album. And one of the best voices I’ve heard in a while. How will you top it? What can audiences expect on the follow-up album?

Jonas: It warms my heart to hear that. I’m trying hard to evolve as a singer and I think I have challenged myself on Begin Repress Depart.

When we write a song we’re not focusing on which key it should be in, we might end up with something that’s really hard to sing, and that forces me out of the comfort zone. Somewhere along the way I found out how to sing without damaging the voice each time. I also went to a vocal coach after the recording of Predicts, and that helped me a lot, and I could improve my vocal technique.

Robert: I feel that we have learned a lot since we started with Predicts. There are honestly a lot of “happy accidents” on Predicts, and hopefully it will be noticed that we have improved our way to record and produce.

Jonas’s voice is the natural center of all our songs, and this time around I have refused to do any final production until we have recorded a proper demo vocal to build upon. I’ve known him since we were six years old, and I still wonder why he kept his vocal talent from us for so long. We have really worked hard to find ways to record Jonas’s voice so that we capture the right mood for each song. In some songs, such as “Repressed Dreams,” we do push it a bit by having him record vocals in three octaves.

Is there a particular song on the album that’s a favorite or especially meaningful to you?

Jonas: I would say that the lyrics on this album are more personal. A lot has happened and life has changed on many levels since 2021. “Let It Begin” is important to me, a positive feeling of transformation and the start of a new era. Some of the songs are hard for me to sing and to listen to. I guess that makes them honest in a way.

Robert: In my current state, I’m suffering from post-mix and mastering trauma. There are however small elements that I’m so happy with. “Frozen Solid” is a powerful song where Jonas’s lyrics hit me hard, and I have tried to reflect that by catching the feeling of loneliness with the distant digital leads and then slap you hard in the face with drums and bass arpeggios for the chorus.

What else do you have planned this year? Any plans to perform live again?

We would love to do more live shows but need to figure out how to book gigs! Meanwhile, we plan to record our own “Vidéo L’Eclipse – Unplugged From Jonas’s Basement” that we will publish on YouTube. It will be more downscaled, softer versions of our songs, still electronic though so maybe we should call it “Vidéo L’Eclipse – Plugged In.”

We also have plans to release a remix album.

Finally, we already have plans for a third album. We named our first album Predicts because many of the songs dealt with our view of the future. With Begin Repress Depart we are more focused on our current state. Since 2021 the world has really turned upside down, and this together with matters on a personal plane, has inspired us a lot on this album. Our third album will be more retrospective, looking back at our past and maybe where things went wrong. For this album we might explore a darker and harder sound as well.

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