Everything worth having requires a sacrifice of some sort: interview with Elyes Bouchoucha

I have been following Myrath for some years now and I could not be happier to see them get more and more successful. Their latest album, “Shehili” took the charts by storm (pun intended – Shehili is the name of an ancient wind, coming all the way from the dunes of Sahara). Oriental metal never sounded this good, but the band did not start with just creating a strong album and went forward to a huge production of live shows. With fire jugglers, belly dancers and even an illusionist, their show caught everyone’s attention and earned them the headline spot at Sweden Rock Festival.

We caught up with Elyes Bouchoucha (keyboards) to find out more about their album and future plans, plus some fun questions to get to know him better.

Teen Art Out: With each album you expect a bigger and better response, but with this one it was really there. Do you find it to be more an acknowledgement and recognition of everything so far, or is it just a starting point?

Elyes Bouchoucha: It is both really, because on one hand we have been working really hard over the past years to reach the level we have reached today and by consequence the recognition or acknowledgment, and on the other hand it is also a starting point for Myrath as the forerunner of this unique genre of Blazing Desert Metal.

Teen Art Out: At any time during the process of a new album, do you go back and listen to the previous records to perhaps compare or see where the new one would be placed?

Elyes: We have all of our music imprinted on our minds and, to be honest, after these many years we reached a point where we can immediately recognize a tune or compare to a previous melody when discussing a new one.

Teen Art Out: You have talked a lot about your great relationship with producer Kevin Codfert and now the lyricists you have worked with. How easy is it for you to let others come into your project? I imagine sometimes egos must be put aside to recognize other people’s creative input.

Elyes: To put it in a manner that is related to our latest album Shehili, our creative process is somewhat of a collective sandstorm of creative ideas; we start with a lot of input swirling around and then move ahead by selecting what we think is best to work with and refining the rest further. It is more of a team work and everybody has a say. Our work has always been like this, a family effort where there is no place for egos because our mutual goal is Myrath’s music and its success rather than individual victories or recognition.

Teen Art Out: “Believer” was such a huge and amazing video, which now got two sequels in “Dance” and “No Holding Back”. When did you first think of the songs and videos as a trilogy?

Elyes: We always thought that we need to have a sequel to Believer as we liked the idea of Myrath’s members in an alternate reality, especially after we saw the huge positive feedback from fans and critics. The idea then came while working on Shehili, we thought it was best to build on what we already started with Believer and Zaher’s peculiar objects that transports to other realms. 

Teen Art Out: How strange is it to work with as many visual effects?

Elyes: It is very exciting to work with CGI because you can never know what the final result would be until you see it, we have to work with imagination and a green screen while hoping for the best. The results were awesome although we definitely hope to reach Game of Thrones CGI level one day, Haha!

Teen Art Out: Last year you had an extremely impressive concert at “Festival International de Carthage”, with thousands of people cheering for you in your home country. How have the international tours and success influenced the way you are received in Tunisia?

Elyes: It is not only due the international touring and growing recognition but also the amazing support of our fans in Tunisia who came in their thousands for the 3 festival concerts we did in 2017, and that of course helped in having us play Carthage International Festival 2018 as the first metal band to ever feature in the prestigious festival.

Photo credit: Nidhal Marzouk

Teen Art Out: How long does it take you when you’re back from tour to miss being on tour?

Elyes: About a day or two! Haha. It is very rewarding to be on the road with the band and getting to meet our large family of Myrath’s fans in a new city every day, it is an experience like no other and despite the tiresome daily routine of packing, unpacking and moving from city to city, once it is over I miss it immediately.

Teen Art Out: What are some pieces of home you would like to find wherever you travel? It can be places, ideas, customs, foods, anything.

Elyes: I love travel and I am very interested in exploring new places, cities, food, and customs. I do not look for home in the places I visit but rather try to experience them in their own way. I always make sure to try the local coffee wherever I go as I am a coffee addict J I also like to try new food and get to know the local areas and shops. I especially enjoy taxi rides when the local radio would be on and I get to listen to the music of the country we are in.

Teen Art Out: What are some of the things people cannot understand about being an active touring musician until they become one?

Elyes: The hectic speedy tempo of the daily routine where everything must be done in the fastest time possible to ensure being on time for the show. Life on tour is a very special experience and I honestly think you need to experience it for yourself to fully realise what it means. It is exhausting and exciting in equal measures and every day is an adventure in itself.

Teen Art Out: One of the themes we have dealt in our issues is “Art Kills”. Must Art be a sacrifice to be true and real? There is of course the myth of the lone and misunderstood artist.

Elyes: I came to realise that everything worth having requires a sacrifice of some sort. If you want to get good grades in school for example, you will have to sacrifice your leisure time and spend it studying instead. Art is similar in this aspect; if you are to connect to your creative spirit and produce art then you must be willing to sacrifice long hours of solitude and hard work. I do not think that ‘Art Kills’ per say, but it does require a great deal of effort and energy to produce it, you might be lonely at times or you may feel misunderstood but when the final result comes out, you will realise it was worth every moment. The outcome is always rewarding and worth your sacrifices.

Teen Art Out: How competitive would you say you are as a person? Is it safe to play Monopoly (or other games) with you 😊?

Elyes: I don’t think of myself as being competitive but I do enjoy a good challenge! It is definitely safe to play Monopoly with me but you should also bring out your best game because I won’t make it easy, I play to win! haha.

Teen Art Out: What is your limit for adventure-seeking? Do you go on the scariest rides in an amusement park, would ever skydive?

Elyes: The scarier the better! I love a good adrenaline rush and I always go for the adventures that push my fear limits further. I would definitely try skydiving one day when the opportunity comes.

Finally, thank you very much for this nice chat and stay blazing desert metal 😉

Interview by Simona Mihalca

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