Selim Lemouchi: in Memoriam

Though my plan definitely is to write this whole blog in English, I’ve found that I had one thing lying around in Dutch that never got put up anywhere. For Dutch music zine 3VOOR12/Eindhoven I wrote about Selim Lemouchi and his new music. The former singer of The Devil’s Blood had started a new band, named Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies. The music was great and haunting, so I met up in his house. Yes the walls were covered in blood, yes there was an altar, but also a visionairy, a musician and beautiful person.

So when he died, suicide, a couple of months later, it wasn’t a cool thing for me. It made me sad and more so due to my interview. I’ll probably post that here after it’s up at Wyrd’s Flight. I was asked to write an In Memoriam, so I set to work. Unfortunately for me, rock’n’roll writer Henk van Straten beat me to it. That was fine, he’s much better at it and had much more of value to say. Trust me, I’m a fan. I’m a fan of many things, as you will see if you check back here often.

Still I had this text and I love nothing more than to be read. So, what else to do….

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” I had the dubious honor to be the last Dutch interviewer, that spoke with Selim Lemouchi. Dubious, because you never want to be the last guy that interviewed a guy that is now no more. Then you get the question: do you want to write something about it? Am I someone who knew him forever? Someone with endless anecdotes  about them man? No, I’m just a guy who had a short but intense meeting with Selim and I got a shred of his thoughts and ideas, because I wanted to write something about his music. A cup of black coffee, a big pile of words, but mainly a meeting with a special and inspiring person. I was priviledged to meet that person.

“I have to expres myself. I don’t always want to, but I cannot stop it. There’s a controlled side of order inside me, but also an untamed creative side. Those two clash and collide and I am still trying to find balance.” Those are the final words of that interview. It took place at his home, on the 24th of november 2013. I went there by bike, to the other side of Eindhoven. I was a bit nervous, that was different. I rarely have that when I do interviews nowadays.

I had met Selim before and we chatted for a brief moment after his show in café ‘Oude St. Joris’. I told him the show was great and I bought his record ‘Mens Animus Corpus‘. He told me and others that he was happy we showed up, he appreciated it that people liked his music. He sold a lot of records. It was a great show, he only had to get angry a few times when the crowd wouldn’t shut up or the sound guy didn’t do what he wanted. I had seen The Devil’s Blood live, which I loved, but this was something else. The musician was radiating that sense and special and welcomed the visitors who came for his music with total dedication.

He described my review of that gig as “… a well written article with journalisic insights.” An interview, conducted by me, was something he was open to because of that. When I came in he was very busy with a lot of things at the same time. Selim Lemouchi is not as big as I thought he was. The living room does look a lot like in that video interview a couple of years ago: altar in the corner, blood on the walls but also a huge cupboard filled with records and a table littered with ashtrays, mugs and so on. His huge dog is walking around between all those things. He told me he took long walks with the animal, while listening to his recordings over and over again. “Milk or sugar?”, he suddenlay asked me. He just sat down and calmed himself a little. The start of the most intriguing interview I’ve ever done.

Selim Lemouchi loved talking to someone who listened and not just about himself. He kept asking me questions, where I suddenly had to gather up my thoughts and come up with answers, keeping me sharp and to the point. Sometimes his line of thought races on so fast, I had to ask what he ment. He didn’t mind, at least I wasn’t comparing his music to ‘occult rock’. That was something that annoyed him to no end, people thinking in those strict genre categories: “Music is like a web, everything is connected and everyone can inspire another. Without the Beatles, no Pink Floyd, without the Floyd so many other bands wouldn’t be there and so on and on. Don’t ever limit yourself to one genre or style or they will become your prison.” We spoke about many topics, like his philosophy and his two sides. The animal on stage and the perfectionist, working on his music. He expressed how anxious the challenge of his new project made him and how hard it was at times.

 The album is beautiful, eclectic, border crossing and brilliant. Sometimes it sounds unfinished, but it never pretends to be. Live it was sensational, with my girlfriend I went to witness it in the Temporary Art Centre. I talked to some people who knew Selim personally and read my interview: “Hasn’t he put new wallpaper up yet?”, one of them joked. We talked briefly after the show, me and Selim, because many people wanted to say high and shake his hand.

A lot of words, new ideas but mainly a beaming Selim there in the TAC. What happened after that, between that show and his passing, I do not know, I regret it. A huge talent. far from finished, now lost to us. I met a good, warm and kind person in Selim Lemouchi, what many who do know him well confirm. It’s a geater loss though for those who are closest to him.”

So that’s what I wrote. I dreamed about that interview the other night. It’s not easy to let it all go. I hope he’s happy, as much as his music gave people happiness.

Pictures with kind permission by Paul Verhagen

 

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