“I think about the Bataclan every day.” On November 13, 2015, Joffrey Stavinsky (a pseudonym) was attending an Eagles of Death Metal concert with a friend when terrorists shot into the crowd. That evening, the young man, then 24, miraculously escaped without physical injury. He was among the first hundred to escape the room.
Joffrey Stavinsky begins a long fight. Against himself and his traumas. Then against Islamist terrorism. He leads this battle by creating a rock band, Republic of the Void, a testimony to his resilience. But it is above all thanks to his first life-saving album, scheduled for release on November 24, that the 32-year-old singer and guitarist is trying to rebuild himself. Titled Back to Life, the record evokes themes of blasphemy and freedom of expression. Eight years to the day after the terrorist attack, the artist talks about his journey.
LE FIGARO. - Is your album Back To Life part of a therapeutic approach to overcome the trauma of the Bataclan attack?
Joffrey STAVINSKY - This album obviously has a strong therapeutic resonance. While writing it, I externalized many traumas and emotions. I transposed what was eating away at me from the inside into my songs. For example, the lyrics of the funky title And Freedom Will Win have the particularity of being my testimony at the trial of the Paris attacks (which took place from September 2021 to June 2022, editor’s note). And despite the difficulty of the subjects covered, this song, and the album as a whole, have a very festive character. This choice is far from trivial. I wanted to bring light to this tragic event.
In your words, you blaspheme and say what you think without restraint. What message do you want to convey through your songs?
That of Liberty. To write and say what you think, to not censor yourself and to be able to blaspheme. I dream that people aren't afraid to say what they think. We must not remain silent, even if it is disturbing. We must be uncompromising with those who want to take away our freedom of speech. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that our society is going backwards enormously on this point. I support Charlie Hebdo and all the people whose lives are destroyed, and who live under police protection because they simply expressed their opinions. My music is also a way to share my fight against terrorism. And to pay tribute to all the victims, those of November 13, Samuel Paty and even Dominique Bernard.
How did you come up with the idea for such a project?
I have been a guitarist for almost 15 years. After the Bataclan attack, I stopped playing. I was trying as best I could to get back to a normal life. And then the trauma resurfaced with the testimonies of the false victims of November 13. Being faced with this was like going back to square one. So I put my job as a roofer aside to concentrate on myself. I plugged my bass back in October 2020. I played day and night for two weeks. And then on October 16, 2020, Samuel Paty was assassinated. It was the end of this musical frenzy. I immersed myself in works on blasphemy and secularism. And then the trial of the attacks was fast approaching and I was not calm about how I was going to manage my emotions. I then understood that my place was there: between my bass and my pen. I had to make this album to heal.
Were you supported in your artistic approach?
I received a lot of support. But unfortunately, I also received many messages of hatred and insults on social networks. On my Instagram posts, many accounts advocate terrorism. I'm not really surprised. I reported everything to Pharos (site created by the French government which allows you to report illegal online content and behavior, editor's note), but nothing changed. These comments have still not been deleted. And I don't think it's up to me to do that.
Is it because of these numerous hate messages that you decided to use a stage name and remain anonymous?
I want to protect those close to me, and especially, since I became a father, my child. There are some very evil people out there. I don't want to live under police protection because I used blasphemy in my songs. And if one day I have to perform on stage, I will wear a mask to cover my face.
Eight years have passed since the Bataclan attack. Have you managed to turn the page?
I think about it every day. On the other hand, I am no longer a victim of the Bataclan. I closed this chapter of my life with the verdict of the Paris attacks trial. I will never forgive terrorists. But I am putting an end to this tragedy with the release of my album.
The album Back To Life will be released on November 24 on all music platforms and on the official YouTube channel of the group Republic of The Void.