Thanks for having the interview. O Quam Tristis is not very well known
in The Netherlands, but for those who do not yet know O Quam Tristis,
could you please introduce the band to the Dutch readers?
The band was created at the end of 1999. This project is the fruit of a
convergence between five people coming from different musical horizons
to share in common their passion for ancient music, electro and Latin
language. Those different items were not easily or plainly exploitable
in the previous or current musical acts we were running in those
times…. “O Quam Tristis …” formers are : HUgues Dammarie, Katrina
Koslowska, Emeric Lenotz, Tomek Ashkenazy Issac and Anna Virsky. Since
now we have released three album : Funérailles des Petits Enfants
(2000), Le Rituel Sacré (2002) and the brand new one Méditations
Ultimes (2005). The Italian label Palace of Worms has produced both
What instruments do you use and what is each member's activity in O Quam Tristis?
Since the beginning of the band, we tried to mix very contemporary
instruments (guitars, bass, keyboards, sequencers….) with instruments
coming from the medieval or folk scene (psaltery, dulcimer, flutes,
krumhorn, mandolas, mandoloncello…). Many of the band's members are
quite polyvalent and are able to play different kind of instruments….
Moreover, four of us are singers too…. So it's not really possible to
tell exactly who plays what. It may be very different from one song to
another. We are not locked in just one post. It opens many
possibilities when creating or arranging a track and it's very
Could you tell us
something more about the recording process of the new album? What was
completely different this time, what not, who contributed where etc?
Half of the tracks featured on this new album were composed during the
sessions of Le Rituel Sacré, our previous one. We had so many tracks in
these times that it was quite impossible to include them all on the
second album. So we kept them to use them later. And it's done on this
new one. The recording process was the same for this album than for the
previous. We made all the takes and mixed in the same studio with a
sound engineer who perfectly knows what we are looking for… because we
are working with him since several years now with OQT and other bands
we are also involved in.
The album sounds a bit different from the last one. What was the development as a band like the last years ?
I think each new album is the reflect of what each musician have heard
or lived. We do not really feel the difference from one album to
another…. But globally we can notice that the first one (Funérailles
des Petits Enfants) was a kind of rough for us. We were trying to make
our own style with the different influences we had before in our
separate or common projects and I think it may be a kind of “first try”
album. The second one (Le Rituel Sacré) was really more homogenous,
electro rythymed and punchy. The new one (Méditations Ultimes) is more
exploring the World of self-introspection with repetitive incantation
on mid or slow tempos…. We could say it's a more meditative album…
talking more to the mind than to the body…. However, it's just a
is the idea behind Meditations Ultimes ? Is there a general theme
behind the album, either musical or lyrically? What are the lyrics
The concept of the album is partly linked with the
cover and partly linked to the band's vision of his own future in those
times. We fell in love with this painting when we discovered it several
years ago. In those times, we thought it could perfectly fit for a cd
artwork but we had not the opportunity to do so. Therefore, we kept it
in our drawers...
new album was the perfect opportunity. We have always been fans of XIX
th century illustrative paintings. This one is by the quite unknown
French painter Alphonse Muraton. It shows a medieval monk meditating
upon the grave of his brothers all dead from the pest. Therefore, the
word Meditation came naturally.We thought about “Ultimes” because we
were thinking, in those times, about just making a trilogy. This album
had to be the last one... so “Ultimes” came secondly.... But in fact,
we have some new demo tracks ready now, so, the fourth is on the way,
this one will perhaps not be the last one….
have used an excerpt from the Carmina Burana's lyrics in Terrae but we
will not use some more because many other bands or classical acts have
already overexploited these texts. That's the reason why have
been looking, while reading anthologies, for this new album for lyrics
written by secular poets of the Middle Ages (Gautier de
Châtillon, Fulbert de Chartres, or Pierre de Blois.....). Their texts
are more about love and man's things than religion. We would like, for
the eventual fourth one to get some more open-minded vision of the
Some of our latest
album's lyrics are related to religious celebrations (Benedicimus te…)
some are Love songs (O langueo…) there is even a lullaby (Non eripit
Do you compare yourself to bands like Qntal or Helium Vola, which combine medieval and electronic music as well?
Because we are using ancient and contemporary instruments mixed, also
because we are singing poetries or canticles from the Middle Ages, we
can be compared to these great German acts…and that's an undeniable
fact that these two Electro Medieval bands (above all Qntal, the
creator of the genre) have big influence on our work and for the love
we have for all that is related to a contemporary vision of the music
from the Middle Ages The big difference is, I think, in the
way we are arranging tracks…. Since then, we have not managed to
compose a song that could reach the dance floors (-: That's
our next goal (-: Our music is still too much introspective. Perhaps
Where do you gain inspiration for making this kind of music?
Each one of us has his own musical influences. Some of us likes vocal
religious and instrumental music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance,
some others like also electronic music, synth pop and some others are
fond of Folk and Celtic Music. This is what gives birth to the music we
are creating .When we play or compose, we also keep in mind not only
musical facts but also our love for Symbolist / Pre-Raphaelite painters
whose images are great source or dreams and inspiration. We have
sometimes the feeling to illustrate unconsciously some pictures with
our songs…. However, that's just a very confused feeling
Why is the music of O Quam Tristis relevant to today's life?
That's just our opinion: OQT music is not really relevant to today's
life but it's one of the best support we have found to afford many
worries of this “Today's life”. The music we are composing, playing and
recording is a kind of anaesthetic for us. If it could be able to get
the same effect for some stressed listeners, it could be the least we
could do: To have a relaxing and soothing effect on tired minds….
you have any musical influences or idols yourself? I noticed you
mention Opera Multi Steel more than once. What is the connection to
Well, I could mention those records that have
been and still are on our playlists since many years. In those works
may be found the roots of OQT music : Malicorne ”Les Cathedrales de
l'Industrie”, Kolinda “Szerelem” Steeleye Span “Below the Salt”, Dead
Can Dance “Aion” and “Spirit Chaser”, Qntal “I and II”, Ataraxia
“Historiae” and many more that I could not mention without forgetting
some in various genres (electro, synthpop…)
Opera Multi Steel, it's not one of our idol bands but some of us have
played during long years within this eclectic and heterogenous
minimalistic French pop act, so it may be normal that you find this
name from time to time when talking about “O Quam Tristis…” There is a
small part of OMS within OQT but the aesthetic process and mood are
really different now.
What's the creative process of songwriting like for yourself? Do you have to be in a particular mood when making music?
There is not just one rule. We have so many different ways to create a
song. It just may begin with one simple keyboard line or a rhythm loop
found at random on a beat generator. Then we keep in mind the goal to
find the right place for the male or female melody. We have then to
find the lyrics that are the more convenient to the melody. Basically,
the first ideas are often coming from just anyone of us, but we are all
involved in the final arrangement of the song. Each OQT song becomes a
collective work at the end of the creative process. We work on just one
song at a time but it also happens that some songs are refused when a
majority of us does not feel inspired. Some songs are left apart then
we try later to rearrange and sometimes what was not working two years
ago find an happy conclusion many times later. When we are creating,
arranging new songs, we try to put ourselves in the best conditions
possible. We close the shutters and we light candles, it's really
helpful to be in a meditative mood to keep close to what's for us the
main thing in life but also the most difficult to reach :
What can we expect more of O Quam Tristis in the near future?
Our new album is just released, so for the moment, we still do not know
very clearly the way of its reception among the Scene…But we just can
expect to be able to issue another one in the future. As I told you, we
still don't know what will be exactly our evolution in the way to
arrange the tracks but I think the next, if there is one, will be
stronger … Why not using for the first times, some few electric guitars
(real or sampled ones…) ?
is your opinion on the current medieval scene as part of the gothic
scene? What do you consider exciting developments and what not?
I think we should rather employ the term Neo Medieval Scene concerning
the one supported by the Gothic Movement because there is since a very
long time…. I mean since the end of the sixties, a medieval scene that
was more confined within the classical music….and trying to make some
kind of “authentic” music even if it's certainly impossible to really
recreate what could have been the interpretation of the music in those
is new with this Neo Medieval scene is the fact it's releasing itself
from any straight vision of “respect” and so on towards a kind of
musical purity which is quite impossible to reach because we have in
fact so few references to tell clearly what was and what was not. The
new generation of musicians that have been or are currently evolving
among medieval related musical project is the great liberty that they
have and that they show in the reinterpretation of ancient music and
lyrics. I mean melting electro, dance beats, traditional and ancient
instruments …. This new scene never should have emerged without the
emergence of the Gothic movement initialized above all by countries
like Germany. The Medieval Era has often been considered, sometimes
wrongly, as a Dark period. This terminology fits completely with some
sides of the Goth Movement but Neo Medieval music is certainly not the
darker movement enclosed in Gothic… But considering this fact, Gothic
is perhaps one of the most open-minded musical movement since many
years now…being able to count in its ranks fans of Dark Wave,
Electro, Synthpop, Industrial, EBM, Neo Medieval music and I certainly
forget some…. Wahoo! So we can thank the Gothic Movement and also
great precursors like Qntal who comes from this more classical school
of musicians I was talking about.
Is there any news on related and side projects?
Two members of “O Quam Tristis” have released a duet side project album
under the name of “Thy Violent Vanities” produced by Palace of Worms as
well. This is a kind of DarkPop Folk concept around a selection of
Shakespeare sonnets with the help of two members from the French band
Hide and Seek as backing vocalists on some of the 12 tracks.
Would you like to say any last words to the Dutch readers?
Just do not hesitate to connect our official website to get more
information about the band and the related musical projects the formers
are or have been running.