We had a chat with The Breath Of Life, a band we adore for their iconic blend of iconic ethereal guitars, rhythmic drums & bass and of course the vocals of Isabelle.
The Breath Of Life for me encapsulates what I enjoy about music in general, and that’s to be surprised in the combination of elements they have in their productions. I was an instant loved for example of their songs “Her Dream Cloud”, “Crime Passionnel” where they have such a diverse mix of sounds, I would like to call it trip-hop meets a bit of rock… So it was with a small heart when I asked them if they would consider covering a track of us, and to my surprise they agreed. It’s an iconic band I love a lot, and this really means a lot to me to hear ‘The Parts You Can’t See’, a song that bears a lot of meaning in the Psy’Aviah universe; in a version that is completely in the own original sound & vision of The Breath Of Life.
“What drew you to pick the song ‘The Parts You Can’t See’? And were there any other options on the table you were thinking about?”
Isabelle: Yves sent us a couple of good songs to consider. My first choice was “Our Common End” but it seemed that another band had already chosen it, so Yves proposed us to work on “The Parts You Can’t See”. I think that song had already a nice flow and melody. All the band agreed to wok on a new version of it. We felt we could bring something different all together. We had one rehearsal, then we recorded it from our respective homes.
Phil: To be honest, I was a bit sceptical. Not because I didn’t like the song, but because I like it and I didn’t know how to cover it by not doing just a copy and paste. We needed to find a different angle of attack, so we started working on it from zero: just keeping the chords and the lyrics. We are now very happy with the result.
“When asked to cover, rather than remixing – was this something that drew you to this 20th Anniversary project’s aim: ‘let bands be themselves’? And were there ever any doubts during the process?”
Isabelle: Making covers really started when we’ve been all locked down at home. At the beginning of the locked down, we’ve been, first, busy with the recording of our new album “Sparks Around Us” from home. Then, as we couldn’t rehearse together, and we really felt like keeping making music, we started with making covers for fun. We did “Winning” from The Sound, then “Inner Station” from Minimal Compact, then “Ashes to Ashes” from David Bowie. We’ve been also contacted by Implant to cover “The Last Record”. Not only that, but we, actually, had a very good response from people. So far, The Breath Of Life is more interested to make a cover version of a song than to do a remix. It gives us more freedom to express ourselves. About having doubts doing covers, I would say that, until the end of the process, you are never 100% sure that it’s going to sound great, but I think it’s worth to try.
“I, for one, adore the blend of your iconic guitars and the vocals of Isabelle in your originals, and in the cover they are prominently there. But, in what way did you go about making the song sound like ‘The Breath Of Life’? What parts of the original did you feel you need to throw away, and what did you add yourself, for example?”
Phil: When I was looking for the chords with my guitar, I did it with a clear sound with just some reverb. I thought it sounded a bit like a Slavic song, and I liked that. So I kept that sound, but we changed the time signature from 4/4 to 3/4: like a waltz. It brings a more romantic touch. Then Giovanni came with a very nice keyboard gimmick, and Didier tied it all together with his bass. This may be a cooking recipe for a TBOL song…
Isabelle: We didn’t really speak about keeping or removing parts of the song. We had one rehearsal together and everything came very naturally. I can’t explain with words what is going on when TBOL plays together. It’s kind of an alchemy between us.
“Isabelle, how was the experience to produce the vocals on this track? What was the balance of keeping it recognizable and still true to your own sound and songwriting?”
Isabelle: I tried not to listen too much the original singing of Kyoko Baertsoen, which was already so good and beautiful, so not to be too influenced by it. My great musician mates did a very good job by bringing a different energy through the song, and this gave me the opportunity to bring my own feelings through my singing. Nothing is really controlled, it all came very spontaneous.
“Say, in another universe, would you have written a song like this yourself – both in lyrics and music? For example: have you considered playing it live, or does this stray too far away from your original concept as a band?”
Isabelle: This cover absolutely sounds like The Breath Of Life. We could play it live. You know, the thing is, after having released 10 albums, making a live set list is always a big deal to squeeze all the songs we want to play in about an hour ;-).
Yves Schelpe (Psy’Aviah): I couldn’t agree more on that last statement, on the other hand of course, it’s nice you have a vast collection of songs to choose from!
“Last but not least, what are the plans for ‘The Breath Of Life’ in the near future?”
Isabelle: We hope to be back on stage very soon to play our new songs live and share them with the audience. We miss playing live so much. So I make a special announcement to organizers: Please, get in touch.
Yves Schelpe (Psy’Aviah): For sure, would love to see you back on stage, and maybe we could share one. Either way, I encourage everyone to check out The Breath Of Life – who were so kind to give us their perspective on the song I once wrote in my bedroom and then had Kyoko Baertsoen sing in the vocals properly instead of my demo vocals (ask Mari Kattman about how she deals with those 😉). It’s so fascinating to see how the band handled the process, that they’ve enjoyed it and even made a music video out of it.
Follow The Breath Of Life via these channels:
– Bandcamp: https://thebreathoflife.bandcamp.com/
– Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TBOL.official/
– YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfZr5iym6-vi4wYvzLPr52A
This song is part of the “Psy’Aviah Rediscovered” project, celebrating 20 years of Psy’Aviah with a brand-new album & cover versions of old songs by other bands – including the one featured in this interview by The Breath Of Life. You can get a hold of the album via:
– 💿 CD: https://store.alfa-matrix-store.com/product/psyaviah-bittersweet-2cd/
– 💾 Bandcamp: https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/album/bittersweet-bonus-version