Interview with Animal Youth vocalist/songwriter Guy Tournay | By Renaldo Matadeen
Brussel’s Animal Youth encase you in a wall of sound that lead vocalist and songwriter Guy Tournay says is built on “romanticism and punk.” As he speaks more on the symbolism of their debut full-length, Animal—released via Weyrd Son Records in May—Tournay emphasizes themes of “love and death.”
Animal Youth blend several genres, creating a dark atmosphere that is as moody as it is ethereal. When asked about how he feels about comparisons to artists such as My Bloody Valentine, Interpol, The Cure, Ceremony, and Morrissey, Tournay responds, “A lot of all these ones, for sure Morrissey, The Smiths—but also a lot of modern bands, such Warpaint, A Place To Bury Strangers, Eagulls.”
These are apt associations given the mix of ambient noise, melody, and overall Euro-flair tucked into an album he doesn’t prefer to see labeled. “We’re just writing songs, we don’t really plan anything before,” Tournay explains. “People try to put us in boxes, they try to define our sound. I hear new wave or post-punk a lot, [but] I don’t think it’s right. We’re just an indie rock band with strong ‘80s and ‘90s influences. Of course, we listen to a lot of post-punk. I listen to a lot of synth music, but we’re definitely not just a post-punk band,” he reiterates.
Animal Youth are not a one-genre band, but they are a busy one. Apart from a hectic touring schedule, they also put out an EP called Youth earlier in the year. Tournay explains, “There’s not a long time between Youth and Animal—it’s not a change but an evolution. Youth is like a seed we put in [the] earth, and [then], Animal came to life. It’s not a different tree, if I can say that.”
He makes his points best through songs like “Love You (When You’re Dead),” which he describes as a “love-hate story.” Tournay continues, “It’s like two persons living and dying only for each other. One can only live if the other one dies. So, they die together in the end.” This tragic narrative is upended by “Feeling,” which paints a duality to the record. “This is the last song we wrote,” he adds. “It’s based on only one bassline, surrounded by keys. It’s also the only one with a palpable electronic drum. No big business about the lyrics, everything is in the title. It talks about feeling alive, feeling the life around you.”
Tournay knows that Animal Youth dissect the bleak aspects of life, but admits that’s the nature of the heart. “This album talks a lot about love, about all the things I’ve been through these last years: the loss of friends, the distance,” he shares. “It’s very personal. I don’t talk about politics or history—not that I never will, but as we were writing our first album, I felt very introspective about myself. It could change for the second one, but Animal is, for sure, a secret place where you can find some of my darkest feelings.” He likens it to “Journey to the End of the Night” by novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline: emotional and haunting, but painfully soothing.
Purchase Animal here: Weyrd Sons