Experimental Metal - France
When PSYKUP (France) formed in 1995, Ju (vocals & guitars), Milka (vocals & keyboards), Yannick (guitars), Mélanie (bass) and Brice (drums) set the musical style of the band right away. Being influenced by such diverse acts as STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, PRIMUS, and ALICE IN CHAINS, PSYKUP have a personal and original approach to metal – leaving the beaten path, but upholding an electric cohesion. Often regarded as crazy and lunatic because of its open-mindedness to musical crossbreeding, PSYKUP’s metal is also – and mainly – a dark, haunted and introspective music.
In 2000, the band released a 4 track MCD entitled “Sors la tête”, which sold 3.500 copies without real promotion. Then followed concerts, including opening gigs for SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, SOULFLY and others, as well as festivals. Their surprising formula led PSYKUP to be voted “Discovery” of the Printemps de Bourges festival (France) in 2001. Subsequently, a growing buzz surrounded the band, especially when they released their debut album in 2002, “Le temps de la réflexion” (Slalom / Night & Day). This release established the band as one of the most promising newcomers of the modern French metal scene. A long tour allowed PSYKUP to sell 5.000 copies of the album and to meet other artists who they feel artistically close to now, such as GOJIRA and SLEEPPERS.
The band then went through a few line-up changes: Yannick and Mélanie called it quits so entered Vidda and Pelo. In February 2005, PSYKUP came back with sophomore album “L’ombre et la proie” (Jerkov / Mosaïc Music), a strongly unconventional, aggressive and cinematic work. This release made some serious waves in the French metal scene, making the band’s fame and originality grow dramatically, especially on stage. The tour included 70 gigs, and the album sold 6.000 copies. The band was still improving.
Like most bands, PSYKUP have to face the music industry crisis, illegal downloading and musical piracy, so they decided to stand up against those misuses. Of course their speech is not as provocative and hard as it is educational and didactic, since the guys really want to sensitize their audience to some of artists’ everyday issues. The band refuses to play hard to get and have always made sure they have a direct and honest relation to their fans. What you see is what you get. The members of PSYKUP don’t spend their time playing video games with conniving journalists and excited fans. They prefer to spend it on the road or at rehearsals, rather than on signing sessions or photo shoots. As a consequence, several members got involved in side-projects: Vidda, Ju and Brice have created MANIMAL, an “open death metal” band that mixes extreme and modern metal, while Milka wrote three albums for his somewhat quiet, post-rock project AGORA FIDELIO. Brice also teamed up with Yannick again in NABASS, an acoustic project that sounds as if KEZIAH JONES was singing in French. He also plays drums in SIMONE CHOULE, featuring Ju on vocals, and Pelo writing songs where REFUSED meets INCUBUS. Last but not least, Milka’s MY OWN PRIVATE ALASKA is an experimental, extreme project, based on piano, drums and screams.
In 2007, the band started to write their third album, still with this ongoing will to break boundaries and to hold their artistic freedom. The line-up has been steady for a few years, the motivation is stronger than ever before, and the stage remains a playing field, so PSYKUP have an unlimited range of possibilities before them, allowing them to go as far as their feelings and creativity can take them.
Now the band considers their music in a very visual and “cinegenic” way, with songs that get rid of the classical verse/chorus structure to embrace a kind of story-board sketch. The new songs are like shorts films that could have been directed by John Carpenter, Terry Gilliam or Tex Avery. To match PSYKUP’s ambitions, the new album had to be a double one, so 2008’s “We love you all” is a 2 disc magnum opus, which limited edition comes with a 3 hour DVD including a full live show and a burning documentary.
This third album definitely establishes PSYKUP as one of the rare French metal bands that managed to remain out of musical fashions and common frames, with a very own, iconoclast artistic development, kicking clichés’ asses with humour, freshness and determination. The metal is sharper, the sound is bigger, the early Seattle influences (SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM) are clearer, all with a touch of efficiency inherited from 90’s bands such as BIOHAZARD, PANTERA and VISION OF DISORDER. The use of French language may be thinning out, but the two songs you can hear it in are huge conceptual monoliths. The first one, “En vivre libre ou mourir” (“make a free living out of it or die”), features unusual rappers from KHOD BREAKER for a long speech about the artist status in France. The second one, “La vie dont vous êtes le héros” (“the life where you are the hero”), carries the stage experiment legacy of legendary bands like QUEEN, FRANK ZAPPA or THE DOORS. The rest of the album is made of catchy, varied and lush songs, like the over-energetic “Color me Blood red” and “My Toy, my Satan”, or the more melodic “Birdy”.
- Ju : Vocal, Guitars
- Milka : Vocals, Keyboards
- Vidda : Guitars
- Pelo : Bass
- Brice : Drums
This band is no longer active on Season of Mist.