Steampunk is truly an international subculture, and as it continues its march into the consciousness of retrofuturists all around the world, it produces an amazing array of artists influenced by the aesthetic and lifestyle. Victor Sierra is a Paris-based Steampunk electro rock band that identifies heavily with the Steampunk, Dieselpunk, and overall retrofuturistic subcultures. Their universe is one of airship battles and adventures aboard their ship The Hydrogen Queen.
They recently released their latest EP, “The Secret Page” and have a growing popularity in France and are hoping to tour the United States soon and bring French Steampunk to this side of the Atlantic. I recently had the opportunity to chat with them about their band, and here’s what they had to say:
How and when was Victor Sierra formed?
Bob: The band was born sometime between two centuries. I met Anouk, who is a former actress, and we deciding to join forces to form Victor Sierra. We have had various people being part of the band since then. Many of them left the band because I’m very demanding. Some did not even leave an address or a phone number! But now Mr. Big Machine [Victor Sierra’s keyboardist] seems to be a die-hard long-timer. And that’s a good thing. It’s a relief for Anouk and I to have found somebody we can rely on. I would like to add that Anouk was a singer before we happened we lived together. It wasn’t your typical “band leader pushes his girlfriend to sing”.
Can you say a bit about yourselves and your musical backgrounds?
Bob: I feel like I was a musician before knowing what it actually meant to be one or even played any instrument. I’ve had music and lyrics in my head ever since I was a child. My mother recently told me that I used to dance to the music played on the radio before I was able to walk. Not that I’m a good dancer mind you. I was fascinated by instruments wherever I could find any: the piano at my grandparents’. Or the banjo I once found in the far end of a cupboard at my other grandma’s. I was 10 I think. I still have it. Never been able to play it. It belonged to my grandfather who is my favorite ghost among all those who accompany me.
Now about myself, well I usually say that I’m a Jew from eastern Europe of Anglo-Saxon culture accidentally born in Paris. I’ve crossed many different musical styles but they’re all part of my (our) universe. I feel like I’ve reached the crossroads of many of my selves by now. I’ve scarcely written the purest acoustic “roots” song or the dirtiest industrial techno track without mixing something exogenous into it.
Anouk: I don’t have a typical musical background except an Edith Piaf song cover called: “A quoi ça sert l’amour” performed with Steven Brown (Tuxedo Moon). I didn’t know how to sing but I enjoyed it. My real musical story started when I met Bob, with Victor Sierra. I’m a one band singer.
How do you describe your music to people who have never heard it before?
Bob: This is the question I fear the most. People express so many opposite feelings and sensations about our music. Like in the Yiddish joke: Two Jews arguing… three different opinions. So I would tell them: “Forget your references and your certainties. Welcome aboard and let’s dance to the sound of the Hydrogen Queen!”
What would you say is unique about the music you create?
Bob: Definitely our universe where a lot of things and events can occur. Victor Sierra is a universe that makes music.
What inspires you to create your music?
Anouk: Personally I don’t create anything, I sing… although lyrics provide inspiration, their meanings, the poetry. I got an actress training so I sing a story, a moment of conscience..
Bob: The maelstrom roaring in my head! Most of the time, it’s like some kind of vision where everything can happen. Like a movie scene with characters who are not meant to meet one another. Things happen, protagonists stand for different purposes, they often don’t speak the same language, but they’re all running for their lives. As a songwriter (and I guess all songwriters experience the same phenomenon) I have this very short but huge flash at a precise moment when my sweat turns cold as I’m working, and I’m telling myself: this is it! I got it! It’s the moment when you know the song is good and the arrangement totally fits; your heart beats and your feet tap in sync, I already see us performing it on stage…
What does Steampunk mean to you?
Bob: We were somewhat Steampunk and Dieselpunk and retrofuturist before knowing the words. Mr. Big Machine, who is in charge of synths and computers in the band, joined us one year ago. Some months went on and all of a sudden in the middle of a rehearsal he told Anouk and I: “We are a Steampunk band”. I didn’t pay too much attention the first time. But some time after he went on again. So I Googled the word and I told myself: “Wow, holy f. We’re not alone at last!” I was completely stunned watching these images, videos, and also by the outfits and the jewelry. This was exactly what I had been doing for years: the uchronia (mix of periods of time) the paths which could have been taken but hadn’t been. And more specifically about music, I see the Steampunk community as an open one. Many different styles coexist interact and benefit one another.
How DIY is Victor Sierra and in what capacities?
Bob: Anouk and I decided some years ago to buy a house with a cellar in order to have our own studio at our disposal. We rehearse and I write and compose everything down there. (When we’re not traveling on the Hydrogen Queen!)
Any upcoming shows, events, upcoming releases, or announcements your fans should know about?
Bob: We’re performing at the somewhat first SteamCon in France: the Lugdunum Steampunk Imaginarium. It’s taking place in Lyon on May 21st. We are recording the last sessions for our next album, which is due to be released in June but we’re running a bit late so we may release it in September.
What is your favorite tale of band adventure?
Bob: A tale… Perhaps it’s more of a wish that can turn into a tale. There is this US tour that we would like to do.
Anouk: The first gig. It was my debut on stage, I had only performed for theater. I felt naked and vulnerable. I couldn’t have been more frightened and I asked Bob whether it was the kind of life he wanted to live. It still makes me laugh today and now I can answer myself. Absolutely yes and
another life would have been like taking the wrong road. I’m really here where I have to be with Victor Sierra.
Which song in the catalogue is your favorite and why?
Anouk: A real shock with “El Topo” which shattered genres boundaries and shows all of our aspects.
Bob: The next one in line will be that one.
Where can people go to learn more about Victor Sierra and purchase your music?
Bob: Here’s a list of links to listen to our tracks, watch our videos, and read our words:
-Our Steampunk websites pages:
-Links where you can purchase our songs:
Anything else you’d like to add?
Anouk: For the first time we worked with another author besides Bob on a song (in Yiddish) and what looked almost unimaginable for Victor Sierra turned out to be an achievement. It was the right person as well: Elsa Drezner.
Bob: We’re always seeking gigs. So feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re ready and willing to go anywhere so it’s our pleasure to perform for you.