Mercury is the new album by Nicolas Chapel under the moniker of Demians, and his first 100% independent release.
And from its very first second, it obviously feels and sounds like a brand new start.
From the thumping drums opening the title track, to the intense delicacy of Swan Song‘s last notes, Mercury takes you on a ride, leaving no corners unexplored. With the punch of the epileptic White Chalk, the sexy grooves of the infectious Little Invisible, the fat, throbbing tremolos of Spellbound Lily, contrasting with the slow-motion echoes of the aptly named Water and a Sigh, Chapel’s intention was to make the most panoramic collection of songs he could. “The albums I love the most are like that, constantly shifting gears and directions, with no consideration for genres, like Neil Young’s Harvest or Jeff Buckley’s Grace“.
And through the timeless black-and-white photograph by artist Deborah Parkin that catches you on the album cover, it’s this wide range of musical colors that defines Mercury. “I got this cover even before I got the album. The artwork actually inspired me during the sessions in making it both a diverse and cohesive piece”. According to Nicolas, the cover perfectly described the music he wanted to make, before even knowing how the songs would develop at this point.
“This photograph looks like it could have been taken last week, or a century ago. I love this picture so much, it embodies the whole experience for me”.
On the album title, Chapel replies with the same confidence: “Nostalgia is not something I’m interested in. There are so many things that define who you are without being obvious. Things you’ve always known but never admitted, things coming back at you for no reason, like random childhood memories. Looking at a black-and-white picture of yourself and feeling like you’re a completely different person. Then one day, all those things make sense, and it pushes you forward. I always found there’s this kind of mercury, warm-yet-metallic tint to black-and-white film pictures. Like a filter separating now from then, that makes now reassuring, yet feels like then was a whole other life”.
Some of the songs happened spontaneously during the summer, others Nicolas wrote years ago and “never had the guts” to bring them to life until now, he says, but in both cases it was the energy during the sessions that mattered, and brought that special unity to the music. “Nislands is the first song idea I ever wrote, and I never finished it. I always knew I wanted to make it sound the way it sounds now, with a deep Zeppelin-esque groove, but it never even crossed my mind that I could pull it off so the song remained unfinished for more than a decade. And well, with confidence, it happened, and listening to it now, it feels like the kid that I was is patting me on the back and is more proud than I could ever be”.
Nicolas Chapel recorded the album entirely at home during the summer of 2014, capturing a vibe instead of surgically building up a record. “For the first time, I’ve been able to record in this big magical sounding room, in the middle of nowhere, with the whole summer dedicated to playing music and nothing else in the plans. I’d play and feel the songs, rather than endlessly tweaking stuff”. And when it came time to mixing the album, everything breathed and sounded natural, logically falling into place.
On being always asked why he chose to record and perform all the instruments when people usually put a band together first, he says: “Well the only answer to that is I love doing it. I’ve been working with other artists in the past few years, I produce their records, play on their music, I love collaborating and sharing. But at the same time it’s like… I know thousands of people who, when they heard Are You Experienced? for the first time, wanted to be Jimi Hendrix. When I was a kid and I heard Are You Experienced? for the first time, I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix, and I wanted to be Mitch Mitchell, and Noel Redding, and I wanted to be Eddie Kramer. I love playing the drums as much as I enjoy playing the guitar, singing, putting microphones in front of stuff, and Demians is my outlet for not thinking about what I’m allowed or not allowed to do”.
Mercury is now available for pre-order exclusively at www.demians-music.com, and comes out December 17th, 2014.