The silence, it screams and it laughs, a conversation with Montreal’s Kee Avil

Interview by Stephan Boissonneault

Additional Information

Kee Avil dropped her debut LP on Constellation, Crease, back in March, and it’s still melting and contorting minds in the experimental scene. At times, Crease feels like nails on a chalkboard or diving in a pool of alabaster paint. It feels like tiny microscopic lacerations on the mind as Vicky Mettler, quietly takes you on her darkened, obscure journey with buzzing electronics, frenetic guitar, and intimate vocals. It’s an album where you pick up different sonic parts with every listen and it’s unexplainable, sometimes sounding like Frank Zappa’s ambient phase or Bjork binging on methadone.

Kee Avil is playing Suoni per il Popolo alongside the psychedelic backdrop of Myrian Bleau’s moving painting visuals on June 17 at La Sala Rossa.

We spoke with Vicky as she was on tour across the pond about creating Crease, her affinity for creepy imagery, and always evolving her sound, even after the album is out.

PAN M 360: Hi Vicky. How is the tour going so far? You’re in the UK right now?

Vicky Mettler: It’s really good actually. I feel like I didn’t know what to expect. And we were present pleasantly surprised. It’s it feels like it depends on city by city, But definitely, some cities were really interested in the show. We’re doing a bunch of shows with Suuns and then Vienna, Prague and Brussels, and Antwerp and then back home.

PAN M 360: I know lots of these songs on Crease were kind of built from experimental guitar sessions and then recorded and put together within the album. But what about live? Is it pretty like close to the album? Or is there still some kind of like improv or experimentation?

Vicky Mettler: I’m touring solo right now but in Montreal, I usually play with Sam Gougoux on drums, the electronic drums. We built a setup that is like half electronic, using a bunch of sounds from the album. And also he uses a snare, like an acoustic snare, that he runs through pedals. It’s much more reactive, in a way. So it’s like half acoustic, half electronic. And it still like maintains the sound of the album, but I think we’d bring it it pushes it a bit which is cool for live. It’s all pretty close to the album, but now we’re building the sets with transitions and to like kind of build it as a performance of itself. So you know, it’s a work in progress all the time. The idea is to present something a bit different, but that keeps the sounds you know, of the album, so I’m not exactly sure how to do that, but I’m trying things.

PAN M 360: That kind of goes with the whole heart of it too. Like the songwriting on the album was just trying things and building songs over some of the weird sounds?

Vicky Mettler: Yeah, totally. But it’s not necessarily like improvisation, but it’s like … there’s a bit of it … but it’s more like how do you how to present it? How do you make it stronger, basically interesting to watch? And to listen to that in a different context, like a live context. It’s not the same kind of listening at home.

PAN M 360: Your vocal style on Crease, that kind of sinister whisper, always seems to physically pull me in towards the screen when I’m listening on headphones. Where did that approach come from?


Vicky Mettler: Yeah, I guess it wasn’t very intentional. I mean, we did work a lot on the vocals, but it also comes to the fact that I’m not a singer … like I’m not a trained singer. So I don’t sing loud in general. But I was trying to find a way to make it intimate, you know? Like it’s sung very, very quietly, but they’re produced loudly, in a way. And that’s, it’s kind of also what we’re trying to do I have to keep that set that sound live.

PAN M 360: And there’s a rhythm to the lyrics too. Like in “See, my shadow,” and “saf,” for example, the vocals play off the drums to give this uneasy feeling. We’re they written like that or kind of edited more in post-production?

See, my shadow by Kee Avil


Vicky Mettler: Yeah I kind of make demos with vocals and guitar and they are usually written like that. But we did work sometimes to make them very rhythmic as you say. Very staccato, to enhance that atmosphere.

PAN M 360: And are the lyrics stream of consciousness or is there a core theme you play off for each song?

Vicky Mettler: Usually it is very stream of consciousness, yes, but I try to present an idea or theme in an abstract way. It often starts that way. I guess it’s finding imagery and whatever, trying to find interesting words and also what words fit rhythmically. There’s no main theme on the album. It’s more each song is its own thing.

PAN M 360: And I suppose the listener can derive their own meanings song by song if they wish.

Vicky Mettler: Yes of course. It’s very abstract, like the music and sometimes it’s just because the words sound cool. I feel sometimes people miss-hear the exact words too which is interesting. I would be surprised if people actually sang along.

PAN M 360: The visual side of the music videos is also a huge part of Kee Avil. And you produce and come up with the concepts for quite a few yourself? Is that also lots of experimentation?

Vicky Mettler: Yes so for the visualizers I’ve been working with Myriam Bleau and she has her own experimental style and techniques. It’s kind of like moving paintings and some will be projected live for the shows. And then there is the “See, my shadow,” which is more of a music video. That was inspired by the artwork really and finding a way to use that mask again.

Drying by Kee Avil



PAN M 360: Yes and that mask is of your face right?

Vicky Mettler: Yeah exactly. I knew about the artist Ariane Paradis, and that is her technique. The silk paper printing and she did a series of the royal family and stuff like that. I saw it a year ago and thought it was pretty amazing. I got an idea to do it with my own face for the artwork.

PAN M 360: And in the music video you are taking pieces of the mask off … it’s quite creepy.

Vicky Mettler: Yes for the album artwork I was trying to avoid the creepiness. The biggest tendency for masks like that is to go for the creepy, horror aesthetic. The album cover could have been very horrific, but with “See, my shadow,” we just went for it. It’s a very creepy song so it made sense. The music has its own atmosphere and that one is definitely the most creepy.

PAN M 360: I feel like your music could work really well pairing with some sort of art installation or something.

Vicky Mettler: I’m actually starting to work on an installation idea. I don’t know if it will be in Montreal. It’s very early stages and researching what could kind of be done. It’s just brainstorming right now. I’ve never done anything like this before so I have to take time and do it well. I really need to start writing more music too, but after the album was released I felt like I had to do other stuff you know? I think I needed to play it live and I like to finish the process a little bit. Because before it’s played live, it’s not, I don’t know, I feel it doesn’t feel finished. It still doesn’t, I know it’s not finished, but it’s still gonna always evolve.

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