Connecting worlds: An interview with Apollo Noir & Thomas Pons

Apollo Noir (music) and Thomas Pons (illustrator) started their collaboration with a video clip dedicated to the song “(Un)related to God”, the title of the second track of Apollo Noir’s 2nd LP album, Chaos ID. From these first exchanges between music, cinema and illustration, a true creative symbiosis was born with a desire to express this collaboration as an evolving process.

You met while collaborating on a video clip dedicated to the song “(Un)related to God”, which is the title of the second track of Apollo Noir’s 2nd LP album, Chaos ID. Can you talk about this collaboration as well as the song itself and its meaning?

Apollo: Thomas and I knew each other’s work thanks to Instagram. I was already a fan of Thomas’s minimalist black-and-white characters, stones and particles and was struck by his augmented reality experiments. I really felt like there was a strong connection between our art without knowing him. I discovered later that I was right!

I sent him a DM and we decided to meet at my recording studio. We immediately connected and it felt familiar, as if we were old friends. We quickly took the decision to collaborate on a video clip. It worked like a charm. So, we decided to go further with this collaboration. Hence the birth of “(Un)related to God”. A transmedia project. Connecting both of our worlds (music, illustration, animation, augmented reality, etc.)

Thomas: I have to confess that I was already listening to Apollo Noir music during my drawing sessions. As an illustrator, I’m used to working for months with a series of images and animations in a very spontaneous way, while listening to the same music again and again. Apollo’s music was a perfect match for my inspiration at this time. So, like he said, Apollo was in my mind before we met. When we got in touch through social media, it was like everything was meant to happen, I had the feeling that both of our routines and creative rituals were meant to merge.

Therefore, “(Un)related to God” as a project symbolises this meeting point. It’s a representation of our creative themes and obsessions at this particular moment. As a song, it also perfectly matches my drawing process, which is based on rhythm, breaks and repetition.

“(Un)related to God” is a project that you are doing in SHAPE. It is a multi-format project about the relationship between God and humans. Can you elaborate?

Apollo: “(Un)related to God” is a project that evokes connections between humanity, spirituality and science on different scales: from microscopic to infinitely vast. The multi-format aspect reflects those scales in a way.

Thomas: Religions are based on rituals, and as artists, we experiment with a lot of different rituals as well, based on repeated gestures: time to prepare the mind, time to perform, time to share. I also have the feeling that today, our daily routine incorporates more and more digital rituals in our personal behaviour. “(Un)related to God” is inspired by these repetitive experiences, and explores the theme: religion, based on its Latin root “religare” which means what binds people together, and the concept of god as an expression of this bond through our modern habits.

When you work together, how do you translate your ideas into musical / visual output?

Apollo: It is really intuitive. Nothing is forced. Before working with Thomas, I was already thinking about these topics. And Thomas too. So, when we sync our media, it works straight away!

Thomas: What I really like about collaborating with Apollo, is that we both have our specific fields, and we are also huge fans of each other’s work. We fully trust each other’s process. Sometimes, Apollo proposes a track list, and I will work on assembling my images and animations with this pattern as a puzzle. For the exhibition part, I will propose a first installation of paintings and drawings, then Apollo will mix an audio atmosphere on it.

Thomas: how do you approach music-related projects in terms of latest technology developments in AR, VR, etc?

Thomas: I’ve been working on different projects using AR and VR for a few years now, therefore these new technologies are part of my process. I’m used to searching for new tools to inspire my drawings and create a singular universe. I have the feeling that today, working on short animation loops is the best method for new media. AR, VR, social media and more recently NFTs evolve in that way, where more and more we watch a series of short videos rather than long features, because they’re easier to share. Music is very important in this process and can be the link between all these variations. Indeed, all these little pieces can, in the end, create a bigger picture, like a mosaic.

Do you think NFTs can be beneficial for independent artists in the future or are they just a fad?

Apollo: We are currently thinking/working on this. On one hand, we feel very close to the “crypto-anarchism” idea behind crypto currency (anonymity, no banks, no governmental control). NFTs seem to be a good way to get paid properly as artists (fewer intermediaries, etc.) But on the other hand, we can see that there’s a massive environmental issue caused by bitcoin since it takes so much power to calculate each transaction. Other crypto money seems to be cleaner (ethereum, for instance). But we need to find out more information about this.

Can you talk about your trilogy, with its visually distinctive aesthetics, directed by Serguei Spoutnik.

Apollo: Serguei is a self-educated artist, who used to be a music maker in QDRPD, and has a Ph.D. in Physical Acoustics. In a certain way, our collaboration started almost exactly like my collaboration with Thomas! Serguei and I already appreciated one another’s work (via Instagram) and started to talk about our respective love for different kinds of stuff (mostly art, music, cinema). It was at the same time that I started this Apollo Noir project. When I finished my first LP, he was the first person I sent it to. He loved it and pushed me to send it to some record labels. We thought it would be nice to make 3D video clips (the idea of a trilogy was already there). From a meta kind of digital surrealist world to a first-person video game to an unrealistic world, the three videoclips are connected with this idea of what’s real, questioning our existences, our feelings.

Can you talk about your upcoming album ACIER?

Apollo : I had a desire to make new music with fewer tools, but to go deeper into each one of them, exploring details, sculpting sound and forgetting about the little knowledge I have of music production. I met Pardo (the boss of OOH-sounds) thanks to my friend Glass (who released the EP crY for OOH in 2020). I expressed my musical desire to Pardo and he gently invited me to try stuff, to explore as far as I could. I really have to thank him for giving me this strength. He made me trust myself. I started to send him some pieces that he loved. So, I went further, and all those pieces made what we could call an album: ACIER. This next album will be signed under the alias A/N since it is far more experimental and deconstructed than my other works. I must say that I felt exactly the same as when I produced my first LP in 2015 / 2016: naive, obsessed with sound creation and really enthusiastic!

It took a few months to think about the music I would like to produce before starting to make it real. I wrote various producing, recording and editing processes in my notebook. What instruments I should use or not use. And then, the writing and production process was pretty intense and fast. I sent each track to Pardo when it was finished, and he sometimes invited me to edit. I decided to mix the record straight away since I was really happy with each track. As for the visuals, Nicola Tirabasso is taking care of them while I’m writing these lines. I already saw a few elements that I really love. It’s gonna be very materic and textured… really close to the music in a way.

Interview by Lucia Udvardyova