Searching the tags of the internet for new music can lead you into some exciting rabbit holes. This time I was in search of artists who use their talents to elevate the plight of those without a voice. Namely animals. I stumbled upon an album named “Eulogy for the Wordless Souls” by LoonRise. The name alone told me I was on the right path. From there though, it just became more and more interesting. Firstly, even if nowadays music is so incredibly mixed and inspired by the past, I have to say I was, pleasantly, surprised to hear the grunge coming at me through my very worn out headphones.
Personally, grunge played a major factor in my music listening early days, as for so many. But to hear it in 2023 and for it to sound fun and fresh, that just put a big smile on my face. The fact that the singer was then singing about animals, their liberation and humans’ connection to them, well, that just sealed the deal for me.
On the project’s Bandcamp page there is no social media links or nothing. Just a name for the artist responsible: Arnaud Delannoy. Turns out, he is a French multi-instrumentalist and composer who is, apparently, on a mission to learn how to play every instrument in the world. Or so it seems, judging by his moderately popular YouTube channel.
When I wrote to Arnaud inquiring about a possible interview, I told him I really enjoyed his album. He told me, humbly, that mine was the only feedback he’d gotten besides close friends. Which makes sense when you read the interview below – Arnaud has not rushed into telling the world about this particular part of his musical endeavours. Far from it, he is focused on his family and his goats and his countless other musical adventures as well. Good things happen slowly, someone said, and “Eulogy for the Wordless Souls” is a very good thing.
A kind and powerful thing.
Halldór Kristínarson: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. I‘m very excited about sharing your album, Eulogy for the Wordless Souls, with the world. What can you tell me about your musical background and who Arnaud Delannoy is?
Arnaud Delannoy: I’m not going to tell my whole life here, I’ll try to make it short! I was taught classical music lessons as a child, first in piano, and much later in cello. Then, for the past 25 years, I taught myself around a hundred instruments, European classical, but also from all over the world. I have always focused my profession as a musician on instrumental diversity. I approached traditional musical styles from different parts of the world, composed and recorded symphonic pieces for classical orchestra, worked as a composer and performer for the theater… I have always done it all alone, writing, recording all the instruments, including mixing. It’s an advantage sometimes, but I’m starting to feel the frustration and the limits.
I’m like a newborn in the rock world! This idea popped into my head one year ago, but before that I hadn’t actually played an electric guitar in over 20 years, when I was in high school.
HK: When I first reached out to you about your grunge-rock, animal rights project LoonRise, you told me that besides a few close friends mine was the first feedback you were getting. And the project is not up on your other social media like YouTube. Why have you not wanted to share this awesome project with the world until now?
AD: I actually do have a YouTube channel which is quite well followed, thanks in particular to videos of exotic instruments. But this LoonRise project is so different that I didn’t want to mix everything up. My fear is giving listeners the impression of having engaged in yet another stylistic exercise by trying out rock music… However playing rock is an old, deep and above all sincere desire. So I chose to start from scratch and I created a new channel just for LoonRise. It’s not that I didn’t want to share this project with the world!
I’m at the very beginning of the process, my priority so far was to complete my album, I haven’t thought strategy yet. Should I find a music label ? Should I use promotion on social media ? Should I seek a financial support to start a group? These questions are not the most exciting for me, but I’ll have to seriously look into this.
HK: Since when have you had interested in the rights of animals? What motivated you to make a whole album about the subject?
AD: This position on animals comes from a long reflection, over several years. A decade ago, I was like everyone else, eating meat without even thinking about what was behind it. I began a relationship with a young vegetarian woman, who has since become my wife. Very slowly, and very gradually, her point of view began to open my eyes. The second trigger was when we took in goat kids rescued from slaughter. I quickly realized that what is usually referred to as «farm animals» are life companions as intelligent, endearing and sensitive as cats and dogs. From there, in my perspective, eating pork, beef, was no more justifiable than eating the neighbor’s dog. The line that we draw between the «friendly» and «edible» species no longer made sense – and going further, the line that we draw between human and non-human animals. So I started to learn more about the breeding and slaughter conditions of these farm animals, as well as the ecological impact of their consumption. And the more I learned, the more difficult it was for me to accept what is happening daily around the life industry.
When I decided to embark on this rock project, it was obvious to me that this was the subject I wanted to talk about. I had no desire to write about myself. Animals will never have the opportunity to express themselves in words, so I have, for most songs, taken on the role of an animal, imagined how by his eyes he could describe the tortures that humans inflicted on him – whether by his consumption, exploitation, hunting or destruction of his habitat…
But the album is not only about that, I also mention my concerns about the climate and ecological disaster towards which the human rushes blindly… but after all, animal cause and ecology are two sides of the same struggle.
This is what the name LoonRise says. I have long been moved by the call of the loons (which I unfortunately do not find in my country). These birds have a call full of mystery, one that best evokes the depths and secrets of nature. It is not without reason that it is so used, often wrongly and through, in the cinema, to create any wild nature atmosphere!
LoonRise means the uprising, the revolt of nature.
HK: When it comes to music who are some of your inspirations? What about in regards to your activism, what inspires you to use your voice and your talent in this way?
AD: Studies show that the music we listen to as teenagers will continue to affect us throughout our adult lives… I started my adolescence in ’96, just after the grunge wave, but it still resonated in the middle school yard. Even if I listened to a lot of older rock, especially the period late 60’s – early 70’s, I remained more deeply marked by the music of the 90’s. My inspirations for this album are therefore obvious: Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, even Silverchair… and of course Nirvana.
This genre of rock also seems to me to be the most effective to carry the message I want to convey. It can be both heavy and gentle, it allows to sing, scream with rage but also whisper. It is not a necessarily dark and violent genre, there can be light, it can express hope. It suits me precisely because I do not define myself as a dark and desperate person.
Unlike metal, the melody is omnipresent, preponderant. I’m a big fan of melody, and that’s where I focus the most. It’s the key to getting into the mind of listeners. It is what we remember, that we listen above all. And in my opinion, it is what makes it possible to transmit a message…
HK: Why do you think music is a effective form of protest?
AD: As for the animal and ecological cause, is there really an effective way to protest? I have a lot of admiration for these young people who shout their despair at climate inaction by blocking roads, even sticking themselves to the asphalt, those who break the law by spraying red paint on butcher shops… But they also attract exasperation and even violence. Openly protesting on these issues creates a fierce counter-reaction, and many reinforce their anti-environmentalist positions.
What seemed obvious to me is that it is very difficult to convince through dialogue regarding the animal cause. People are so much set in their ways, caring about their piece of daily flesh on the plate, that they turn away as soon as we try to question the human right to dispose of the life of animals. Many stubbornly refuse to know what is happening before the steak or milk bottle arrives in the supermarket aisle. Conversations often become aggressive, and never lead to anything. With meat, cognitive dissonance is very strong. I know, I was a willing victim of it for a good part of my life!
We need to find ways to get that message through the back door.
I don’t know yet if I will have a different impact with music. I would like to imagine that some listeners who will appreciate my music will be touched by certain sentences, certain ideas, that would emerge… But I don’t expect miracles. I won’t convert entire halls to veganism after a concert! This is a long path.
Anyway, for me, I couldn’t image expressing myself otherwise.
That said, it already worked a bit, a musician friend who helped me a few days to finish the mix decided, after leaving the studio, to stop eating meat. He was already on his way to thinking, but listening to my songs over and over prompted him to take another step. Who knows, maybe I’ve even spared the life of a chicken!
HK: What do you hope to achieve with Loonrise and the rest of your musical projects?
AD: As I said, in the LoonRise project, for the moment I am both well advanced, since the album is finished, but also at the beginning, since I have neither band nor public.
My priority is to find musicians to play the songs on stage, it’s essential if I want to expand my audience a little and make my lyrics heard by more! I’m not looking for fame or money with this project. I lead the life I want to have, and my priorities will always be to have time for myself, at home, with my wife… and goats. But I admit that I have been a solitary musician locked in his studio for too long, I would like to find again the thrill of being on the rock stage one day. Bringing these song to life together with other musicians would be a great achievement for me!
HK: What do you have coming up, project wise, musical or not?
AD: For now my life has gotten very busy, my biggest project right now is to finish renovating my house with my wife! Nothing to do with music, unfortunately, and it takes me a lot longer than making an album. Regarding the music, I should soon finish a project of Celtic « stock music » that I launched with a friend a few months ago. So it really has nothing to do with rock, since I play bagpipes, violin and harp!
In my personal projects, there is no shortage of desires, I still have many foreign instruments for which I would like to write compositions, full of symphonic themes that I would like to explore. And also, of course, I already have in mind the idea of writing new rock songs… But I think the first thing I’ll do when I get some time is make one or more video clips for the LoonRise project.
HK: Anything else you‘d like to shout from the rooftops?
AD: There are so many things I could shout from rooftops! I only mentioned the violence of humans against other species, but the violence of humans against themselves is an unlimited source of indignation. But I do not feel legitimate enough on these subjects to shout them, others are more concerned than me and will do it better. So I think I’ll just stay on the side of those who have no words, the wordless, and keep doing it for them.