In the attic of his grandfather’s house, boxes with books were piling up. Rummaging in those boxes, young Nicolas Chapel found "Demian" by Hermann Hesse. "I was six or seven at the time", the French allrounder remembers. "The character of Max Demian was fascinating to me, expressing his thoughts freely in a way I was not able to express myself at the time. When searching for a name for my music, I wanted to name the songs, they are my little 'Demians'", Chapel explains. "They help me understanding my place in the world".
On the highly praised debut "Building An Empire“ (2008), all "Demians" stem from the brains of Nicolas Chapel, who played all the instruments himself and produced the record in his own bedroom. The album received a surprisingly positive echo in the press and among his fellow musicians. After creating a real live band with Gaël Hallier on the drums and Antoine Pohu playing bass guitar, Chapel went on tour throughout Europe multiple times, including tours with Marillion, Anathema and Porcupine Tree.
Following these successful beginnings, and having been an introverted loner most of his life, Chapel then decided to take some time off of this sudden exposure. "The making of the live band started taking over my life, so I wanted to go back to why I had started making music in the first place".
It's in Normandy, north western France, that he found the perfect place for creating at peace, in a house near the sea. Locking himself up, Chapel once again recorded the album by himself. "This time I wanted to get my own sound. I chose only real instruments, there are no samples on „Mute“. I played the cello, double bass, violin, drums, mellotron and piano. With real instruments the record has more character. I was not afraid of trying things that were new to me".
The fact that he plays so many instruments, Chapel explains as such: "In a band context you're often stuck with having to compromise the music with the egos. But the way I see music is like writing a book: it would not be better if one author picked the verbs and another one the adjectives". His lyrics he sees as a way of dealing with problems and finding his way out of them. "They are no therapy, I don’t try to heal anything, my songs help me to find a balance and live with my wounds".
As a little boy, Nicolas borrowed the vinyls of his older brother. "He owned albums by lots of artists from The Beatles to Metallica. My influences are diverse, reaching from Tori Amos and Radiohead to Ambient music", he says. "Mute" contains nine songs that range from raw Alternative to orchestral parts and poetic sounds, but the focus is always on the song. "I wanted the record to reflect my strengths as well as my weaknesses, so it doesn't sound as pleasing and nice as the first record did. I tracked almost everything just with one or two takes for each instrument and vocals, keeping the rawness and sometimes even the mistakes just to confront myself to who I really am", Nicolas reveals.
"Swing Of The Airwaves" is a song that deals with the idea that every human is an antenna, receiving and transmitting information throughout his life, making everyone unique and yet a part of the world. "Feel Alive“ deals with the numbness, and the anger of wasting your time because of something out of your control. "One of the songs I'm most proud of is called "Hesitation Waltz“, a huge crescendo starting from very quiet vocals and drums, and ending in a wall of guitar feedbacks with pounding drums until the very end. It's my way of putting in a song all the everyday noise everyone experiences, human contact slowly disappearing from everyday's life. I hope that while listening to this record, people will mute the noise of the outside world and find some sincerity back".
The album ends with "Falling From The Sun“, Chapel's ode to music. "It is based on three piano chords. I like it when it takes only a few notes to leave you wandering in your thoughts all day long". The humble Frenchman prefers to let his Demians speak for themselves instead of putting himself in the spotlight. "I want people to listen to the song, not to me".