It’s a bit hard to place a French duo ascendant vierge. On one hand, their sound leans toward the frenetic qualities of gabber and hardstyle, but with a distinctively chill and dreamy vibe about it. On the other, their aesthetic resembles a goth-meets-streetwear vibe, placing them partially within the darkwave scene.
In all cases, the duo made up of producer Paul Suel and singer Mathilde Fernandez stands out within the electronic dance music space, and they’re already garnering significant attention. In addition to amassing over 30 million streams, they’ve collaborated with Danny L Harle, played sold-out shows in Europe’s major cities, and performed for Yves Saint-Laurent. And, all of that occurred ahead of their debut, Une Nouvelle Chance, which dropped at the end of April.
How did you start making music together?
Mathilde: I contacted Paul in 2018 because I loved his music and wanted him to remix a song from my solo project named Oubliette. He accepted, and a few weeks later, we decided to create ascendant vierge.
What made you start a project separate from Casual Gabberz?
Paul: I don’t see it this way. Artistically, it’s the continuity of what we’ve been doing with Casual Gabberz. Also, aamourocean, von bikräv, and CLUBKELLY co-produced some tracks on the album, Lucien (Krampf) did supervise the whole album, and we work closely with Esteban (Claude Murder) on the merch and visual side of the project. There is actually a Casual Gabberz logo on the record!
What drew you to gabber and hardstyle genres?
Paul: It’s been a journey! I started as a hip-hop producer but was quickly more interested in the cold and synthetic side of ‘00s rap (dirty South, hyphy, early Neptunes production), and (this was MySpace days), I discovered a lot of local sub-genres (baile funk, kwaito, kuduro, bubbling, jersey, etc.) that drove me into electronic music (mainly U.K. styles dubstep/garage/2step).
Then a couple of artistic moves appeared during the same period: Soulwax with their cherrymoon on valium series, Araab Muzik, among others, sampling trance and millennium hardcore with Dipset Trance party compilations, and Yellow Claw & Opposites, “Thunder.” This is a massive inspiration for the start of Casual Gabberz.
How does your fine arts background fit into your vision and sound?
Mathilde: I personally always had this approach that my musical projects must also have visuals. In a world where image is central, I think it’s very important and natural. We both have studied in art schools and with ascendant vierge, our approach is total.
We create a show. When you stage a play or a dance show, you have to think about all the aspects from the light to the sound to the costumes…even to the smell to create a real experience for the public. This would be a similar approach with ascendant vierge – all the senses must be stimulated.
Tell us about your debut album: What is your concept for Une Nouvelle Chance?
Mathilde: In English, “a new chance,” it’s this breaking point where what you already know seems to be over or destroyed and where what you don’t know yet is to come. A kind of resurrection…In every life, there are plenty of “new chances” in your relationships, in your family, in your career…
It’s probably a new chance, to act in the future with a better understanding of what is around and inside of you…a new chance for more spirituality.
How did the album come together, and why did you select the tracks you did?
Mathilde: We lent ourselves to the exercise of building a pop music album. We agreed to meet in January 2020 at the seaside in Normandy to start it. We finished the recordings in March 2022, and the mix was completed in Salisbury in July 2022.
An album is a story, you have to put different characters and landscapes in it…There were even more songs in our drafts, but we ended up choosing those which correspond well with our idea of what our first album would be like.
With over 30 million streams and sold-out shows, how does it feel to have such a strong fan following?
Mathilde: We feel very lucky to have this amazing audience. Every show is a celebration, it creates a bubble of joy and protection.
Do you have any plans to tour for this release? If so, what should audiences expect at your shows?
Mathilde: We will tour ‘til the end of the year in Europe. Our live performances are in between opera and techno clubs. One word: fasten your seatbelt!