Apr 292009
 
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Chain D.L.K.: Since the release of “Cycles” on CD in 2005, it’s taken four years to release your new album “Audio Gothic” on CD. Can you tell what happened to Empire State Human during this time?
Empire State Human: In the fours years since the last ESH CD “Cycles”, we’ve all been incredibly busy with a number of ESH related digital releases/re-releases in “Popularity?”, “Rarity?”, “Music For Humans”, “Live On Mars, “Digital City”, “Terra Incognito: parts 1>5” and a few remixes for other artists. As well as that work with ESH, I’ve released with The Garland Cult “Impossible (promo single CD), “Protect Yourself From Hollywood” (CD album), “Talking With Aliens (digital single),”Talking With Aliens – Steve Bronski remixes” (digital), “boygeorgeIcon” (digital single), “All Good Things” (digital single) and “Glitterazzi” (digital album) and a solo electro album under the name of Figaro called “I Am Figaro” (digital). Seán Barron has been busy remixing, co-producing The Garland Cult and also working with Lectrosoul. More crucially, Seán also researches new equipment and software for the ESH studio Electric Eye, to keep it up to date and full of the best new sounds. We don’t like to use the same software, from album to album of course. We did some promo videos too with ESH and The Garland Cult. ESH played Retrofest (a festival in Scotland in 2008 with top 80s artists). That is quite a work load… considering we’re all in full time jobs.

Chain D.L.K.: Your line-up has slightly changed over the years. Did these changes affect your sound in any way?
Empire State Human: When Brian O’Malley left ESH in early 2004 and Seán Barron joined us full time, we thought that was probably the only change we’d ever make. But a good opportunity came up when Warren K joined us in 2005 for our “Cycles” CD, as a co-writer/co-producer. Having Seán join was actually the real turning point and then with Warren on board for an album, it really helped us shine as a band on our “Cycles” CD.In 2006 late Warren stepped back from the creative side before the beginning of work on what would be the new ESH album “Audio Gothic”, and worked full time as a DJ and with the dance project Lectrosoul, with whom Seán also joined for a short period of time in 2006. We also had a friend of Seán’s called Lyndy Lou join us briefly in early 2008 during the writing/recording of “Audio Gothic”, which was something that was probably too soon both her and us and she left soon after unfortunately. Apart from Lyndy, each change did affect the sound and the direction, and that’s probably why we’re now more involved on full production and song choices for our albums now. We’ve been extremely lucky, to have been able to meet new band members and share releases and creative experiences with them. Each step on a road is a valuable one you must remember.

Chain D.L.K.: Audio gothic” is the title of your new album. How did you choose such a title? Is it a reference to something in particular?
Empire State Human: We mostly come up with an album concept and title very early on, so as to help us produce a collection of tracks with subtle themes and productions. For “Audio Gothic”, we began writing a number of tracks first, without a concept at all. Not every track we wrote appeared on the album (18-20 in total started but only 10 appear on it), but by about the fourth track in, we came up with a song called “Audio Gothic”, the title of which came from something I read. It was then very clear to us as to where the album would go and also what songs would eventually go on it. “Audio Gothic” is about being obsessed with a new love …. the opening line “I lost myself in you, between the living and the new, the cipher is the truth”. It’s got dark elements, as well as a pop side. Gothic themes can be subtle or big, but yet they’re always dark and rich. Those words can describe the new album and the songs on it. To our ears it’s like a best of and a definitive release for us. There’s no references to one particular thing, but to many state of minds and situations or interests.

Chain D.L.K.: My opinion is that this album is the strongest of all your albums. Can tell something about its work in progress?
Empire State Human: Thank you for saying that. We also believe this is the case, but you know we’re very close to the release and it can be hard to judge. We did set out to make everything work in our favour, to make it the best album yet. We feel we’ve succeeded. The work in progress was first getting the production style correct and adding quality control to both song choice and order. Before, we would literally include the 12 or 14 songs we wrote for an album. But this time we wanted to pick what we felt was either the best 10 or the most suitable 10. We had some amazing songs that didn’t make it, but that didn’t mean they weren’t good but that they were not suited to this particular album. We had many, many recording sessions and adjusting of production styles on programming and mixes. It was a very long and arduous process and I hope that the experience will help us on future albums and how we handle the time lines next time around. It was very tough and I hope we won’t need to spend the same amount of time using that system again. Experience is key.

Chain D.L.K.: I also think that “Audio Gothic” is the best arranged album you’ve done. Acoustic and electric guitars are added here and there. Added to a combination of catchy synths and vocal melodies, into the electronic sounds and layers. The results are balanced and rich. How did you achieve this result?
Empire State Human: It’s really very rewarding for us to hear these words, as that is what we wanted people to feel when they listened to “Audio Gothic”, so thank you again. Whilst it’s by no means a perfect album … as what is a perfect album? It certainly has the quality elements and productions that we look for in the releases we like ourselves. The dynamics, layering and possibilities were all taken into account to help make it as sonically pleasing to us. To our ears the songs were strong begin with, so that really helped when finally getting them into the ESH studio Electric Eye.

Chain D.L.K.: “Leap of Faith”, “Ghosts in America”, “Melancholic Afro” and “Seeing Stars” have all great potential and should help you reach a wider audience. Have you any plans to “conquer the world” with this release and these songs mind?

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Empire State Human: “Melancholic Afro” was part of an excellent remix competition with Laptop Rockers. There were 53 entries and the best 4 will be released as a digital EP in the coming weeks. Also “Seeing Stars” is to feature on a compilation by Major Records in Germany, with I Am X and Client … so, there’s the proof to the potential of these tracks.Other than trying to promote it to the best of our abilities, there’s no big world plan other than put it out there and see if people buy it. It’s certainly good enough to license in other territories outside of North America (Ninthwave Records) …. That would probably be the most pleasing thing to happen for us, with regard to a break through. Time will tell …

Chain D.L.K.: For “Melancholic Afro” you collaborated with an electronic music legend, with ex-Kraftwerk and now Yamo’s Wolfgang Flur. How did this collaboration come about? Please tell us everything about it…
Empire State Human: Seán was asked by the promoter make a DVD of Wolfgang’s DJ set, and appearance with Dave Ball (from Soft Cell) here in Dublin last year at The Tivoli Theatre. In doing so, he got on really well with Wolfgang and they clicked, as both are very relaxed and easy going people, who talked music on the same level, it was clear that a bond had formed firstly, as we are the more pop than he’s ever worked with. He expressed interest in hearing our music firstly, and was very positive when after he heard it and when we asked him to join us on a track.We choose a song that was certainly not associated musically with either ESH or Yamo or indeed Kraftwerk in sound or style with “Melancholic Afro” as a song. Wolfgang responded so well as it was different and not expected. His contribution is so good. Also, he’s one of the nicest people we’ve ever met in the business. He’s a class gentleman and true artist. I can’t pay him a higher compliment, other than he’s just SO COOL!!!

Chain D.L.K.: What are the themes to these new songs? What inspired you when writing the lyrics especially?
Empire State Human: When I am writing songs or lyrics I try not to get into pre-arranged themes and choices too much as it can stagnate the experience and make it formularized and affected. But what I do go on, is feeling and mood and hopefully in doing so, let my ‘little grey cells’ take hold of the situation and give me guidance and direction. I work totally in a natural state of mind and sometimes I don’t even know what the songs are about until they’re written …. Creative impulses can be sometimes unexplainable. But obviously, there’s a method and style to an ‘ESH type song’ … the title must be memorable and there should always both vocal and musical hooks … the more synth riffs we can manage the better of course. The themes to “Audio Gothic” would be in my opinion, love/lust/obsession/guidance/spiritual longing/solitude and double agents. I refrain from going into the roots of things too much and leave the listeners to relate in their own way to a lyric or melody.

Chain D.L.K.: Does it feel different to you having “Audio Gothic” released on both CD as well as digital considering the previous releases (the ESH best of “Popularity?”, an ESH rare tracks set called “Rarity?” and the unreleased album “Urbanism”) having all been available digitally only?
Empire State Human: Yes it does feel very different. Having an album released on CD is the real deal for us. We’re old fashioned in some ways and feel that a release is worth so much more when you can physically hold it, feel it and play it … downloading is for sample only .. anyone can set up a download, but to get a release to the CD stage is definitely setting out your stall and your intent. It’s a quality statement from both the band and label. Having said all that, we’ve had plenty of brilliant stuff that only made it onto digital, as there wasn’t the money to finance a CD pressing. That is also part of the business, in that for many reasons not every thing we complete is going to make it to CD. We’re just very lucky we’ve been able to return to Ninthwave and see the new CD make the light of day. The last ESH CD that Ninthwave released was in fact “Liquid Blue” in 2003 and that was also a really great release too in our opinion.

Chain D.L.K.: In our last interview you mentioned new tracks “Viva Glam!”, “River of Souls” and “Too Drunk To DJ” as tracks recorded for “Audio Gothic” but they don’t actually appear on the new album. Have they changed titles or did they not make the album?
Empire State Human: No, those song titles weren’t changed and included under new titles, but were in fact just set aside as they didn’t fit the album style and feel to us. It wasn’t a quality of the song issue, but merely we wanted this album to be a rebirth of the band release, with a tight cohesive sound with 10 listed songs only. It was definitely the best decision, as it sounds like a complete album even though not every song written is included. That’s not an unusual thing for a band to do actually .. I’d say most bands write many more songs for an album and then hand pick 10 or 11 in the end. When I mentioned those songs in our last interview, I was sure they’d feature but that was before we had the full vision of what we wanted to complete.

Chain D.L.K.: I read that you are already recording new ESH material. How do the new songs sound? Have you enough material to complete another new album anytime soon?
Empire State Human: Some are going very well and others are at a very early stage. This time I won’t give you a full list of titles as I don’t want them returning to haunt me ?I would certainly love to be able to include “River of Souls” and “Too Drunk To DJ” on the next album as I think they’re great songs, but we’re going to have to see which way the album develops and what songs make it. We wrote a song called “Harvey Milk” which we tried to get to the producers of the Sean Penn film “Milk” but were too late. That also has great potential and may feature. There’s plenty fermenting nicely but plenty yet to write of course.I would love for us to follow up “Audio Gothic” in 2010 but we can’t guarantee anything as the variables are large in the synth scene. Unfortunately, illegal downloading sites are seriously harming bands like ESH I’m afraid. Sometimes as little as 20-30 CD sales can make a big difference to independent labels such as Ninthwave Records and it’s a sad state of affairs that after one week of its release, our new album had leaked into the illegal download blogs/sites on full free download. The people running these sites are killing and raping the synth scene as we speak.They hide behind the opinion the internet is a free sharing service and call themselves fans. Scum I call them. We got some sites closed down recently, as they were abusing us and bands like us. But not enough bands, labels and scene supporters have the balls to make the efforts we make to stamp them out and stop the illegal sellers continue to operate by giving albums away without the permission of the copyright holders. Labels and artists have the right to recoup their losses, as much as any other business.

Chain D.L.K.: What’s next for Empire State Human?
Empire State Human: We’re currently remixing “Mon Amour” for a new project called MAGGIE & MARTIN .. who are Maggie De Monde from the 80s band Scarlet Fantastic (remember “No Memory”?) and Martin Watkins, who is Marc Almonds keyboard player and song writing partner.We will continue to promote “Audio Gothic” as much as we can, and also set aside studio time to continue recording new songs for the next album. If some live opportunities come up we will take them. We’re also down to the last 3 to compose a feature film which would be a great opportunity.

Chain D.L.K.: Any news about both your Figaro project and also The Garland Cult?
Empire State Human: Figaro was the name I used for a one off solo electro album called “I Am Figaro”, which got positive feedback but also felt to me like a learning curve, instead of an on going musical project. The Garland Cult are signed up to record a brand new studio album called “Monster” for 2010, some of which is already completed. It will be a pop-tastic album, less dance orientated than TGC’s “Protect Yourself From Hollywood” CD debut and a little darker/more organic sounding too. I will be releasing an acoustic album under my Aidan Casserly name called “White Soul” this year. Also, my two co-writes with People Theatre will feature on CD 2 of his 2 CD album. The songs in question are called “Catalina” and “In Memory”. Both are very good, in very different ways. We’ve a close friendship Peter and I and the writing of these songs show this closeness. Poetry and melody working in total harmony with my voice. I hope others will like the songs and react as Peter and I did. We went nutty over them!So there’s plenty of new music on the way for anyone who wants to hear it. Check out Ninthwave Records site for myspace links to all the above http://www.ninthwaverecords.com

Chain D.L.K.: Final words?
Empire State Human: Just to say thank you for the interview opportunity and also those who have supported us and Ninthwave by purchasing the new album.To keep up to date with us, then become a friend on myspace http://www.myspace.com/empirestatehumanmusic

Visit Empire State Human on the web at:

www.myspace.com/empirestatehumanmusic

[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Aidan Casserly]

  One Response to “Empire State Human”

  1. ha… almost awesome

Sep 062007
 
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Chain D.L.K.: Two years has passed since we talked about “Cycles” and about the new sound of ESH. In the meantime you focused your efforts on The Garland Cult project. Can you tell what happened in this time span?
Empire State Human: Firstly, “Hello Maurizio” and thanx for interviewing me for a third times with ESH! That must be some sort of record there?After ESH’s “Cycles” album was released, we were really on a high as we felt (and still feel) it was a massive leap forward in both our sound and songwriting with Empire State Human. We knew that a follow up would take time, and we would all need a breather to help us make the next album even better again. So, that break afforded all of us a moment in time to evaluate things and life. Myself and Lar had discussed a new band and decided on calling it The Garland Cult. We felt it had a lot of potential, mixing glamour, and electro, with synth-disco into a spicy new sound for us. We also were excited about the idea of working with outside producers (Steve Bronski, Anni Hogan, QUBIQ, Baxendale, Eight To Infinity) for example. Both Seán and Warren recorded an album under the name Lectrosoul (check myspace.com) so we all then had that individual freedom to challenge ourselves outside of ESH. With TGC we started a new website http://www.thegarlandcult.com signed with Ninthwave Records and released a promo single “Impossible” and a debut album on CD “Protect Yourself From Hollywood” – the reviews of which have been quite excellent all round. We also signed TGC in Europe to Swedish label Electric Fantastic Sound http://www.electricfantasticsound.info for a series of digital releases. All of the above is quite a lot of achievements you would agree.

Chain D.L.K.: The Garland Cult album saw you back into Ninthwave’s roster. Are you happy with this choice?
Empire State Human: We certainly are, as it’s because of this we were able to re-sign ESH back with Ninthwave Records for the current batch of digital releases and the CD release of the next studio album “Audio Gothic” in 2008. Even though, we had a low point when the release CD of “Urbanism” was shelved due to poor finances with in 2003/2004, we never held any bad opinion of Dave Richards and always kept in contact. To return with such a collection of exciting ESH releases and re-releases in 2007, it’s put us in a very positive position within the scene again, as I can’t think of another band out there that’s got a release schedule ahead of them for the next 12 months as ESH do .. with the exception of Pet Shop Boys that is!

Chain D.L.K.: Kiss My Asterix/Section 44 and Ninthwave are both USA labels, can’t you find any European label that could promote you with the old EU continent?
Empire State Human: To be honest, we tried to get labels interested in Europe and whilst we had interest we never had a serious offer. People do know about ESH here in Europe and there is always the possibility of obtaining a deal for the next album. We stay positive and think that kind of EU label break maybe just around the corner. As it stands we’re in talks with one for “Audio Gothic” – so let’s all keep our fingers crossed!! ESH deserve to have a European label that works in conjunction with a North American one. We’ve earned that, by continuing to release and never take no for a final answer.

Chain D.L.K.: On our previous talk we mentioned your album “Futura” which hasn’t never been recorded. Are you going to use those tracks now that you’re back on track with new ESH album?
Empire State Human: Your memory is exceptional Maurizio!!Well we’ve never been afraid of scrapping a bunch of new songs, if either the mood or the situation tells us to. “Futura” was to be the album we were to follow “Urbanism” with, when we were with Ninthwave the last time. With “Urbanism” not getting out there as planned, we felt the mood within the band was to challenge ourselves one more time and to write another album for a different label. That new album turned out to be “Cycles”. A track from that album “Sigh Of The City” was a demo from “Futura”. The rest of those other songs are eventually going to see the light of day when Ninthwave release an ESH rarities collection, once the best of “Popularity?” gets out digitally with iTunes US.

Chain D.L.K.: After “Cycles” you’re back with two digital only releases: “Urbanism”, which is finally available and the 17 tracks compilation “Popularity?”. First of all, are you happy that finally “Urbanism” someway saw the light? Was it important for you to see it released?
Empire State Human: We’ve also a new single “Digital City” (which features on both those releases). Yes, we’ve extremely happy “Urbanism” is finally out. Reviews (like yours) for it have been very good and that goes to show were had the vision right for it, back in 2003 and that the only sad part was the funding side of things and not the creative side. It always felt like unfinished business to us, that it was sitting on a shelf. In retrospect we should have taken Ninthwave’s advice and release it digitally back in 2004, but we were unsure of digital only releases and felt it was admitting it wasn’t good enough for CD to everyone. That was a mistake, as the reviews of it prove. It goes to show, things do happen for a reason and that we can all learn from situations and learn about the music business year to year.

Chain D.L.K.: “Popularity?” is your first compilation and I think that the question mark of the title has a certain importance. What does that question mark means to you?
Empire State Human: To us it means the following – humor, self power and fulfillment, selectivity and looking back to look forward. We laugh when we think of the title, as all bands seek popularity in one way or another and many sell themselves and self destruct for it also. With us adding the “?” onto it, we ask ourselves questions in that acknowledging the desire to be popular we ask ourselves is it or will it ever be possible to be popular in this celebrity obsessed business of ours. We also ask the listener/buyer to laugh with us as well. Humor is important to us, and we’ve used it from time to time in our songs. For example “Film Star” or “Get Taylor” (b-side of “Digital City”) …even with our vision for “Martian Anthems” in 2000 there’s humor there.

Chain D.L.K.: Was it difficult to decide its track listing? Do you wanted to find a certain balance? I noticed that you opened it with dancey tune like “Chase the ace”, “Devil in detail”, “Hand on the gun” and “Film star”…well, most of the 17 tracks have a certain dance pitch…

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Empire State Human: The difficulty was going through so many songs and deciding which ones to leave out. The next step was to finalize the 17 songs we were using and the mixes too. We included our own updated versions of “Hand On The Gun”, “Film Star” and “Leap Of Faith” as they mixed well into the dance orientation of the rest. Nearly all of our album are dance based, some slower tempo’s but definitely dance orientated, so that’s not essentionally anything new. We read a review of “Cycles” and the reviewer called us IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) and that we were a band that were a “Re-definition of the genre of synthpop would be a closer one, by a group that has given IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) / Intelligent Pop a Re-definition in song-craft and production from day one.” That says it all for us. That’s what we’re about really.

Chain D.L.K.: These are your first digital releases (along with the “Digital city” single which has been released just before the albums). What do you think of this way of selling music? Isn’t it different to have proper releases to promote and to hold into your hands?
Empire State Human: For us digital releases are promo tools, used in advance of a real CD. Ideally, the best situation would be a joint digital/CD release but with Independent labels that’s not always possible. The next best thing is to work within the barriers you have and plan the CD releases well in advance. Having a choice between a big digital success (we had a number 1 on iTunes in 2004 with the “Theme To Halloween” and having nothing out at all is an easy choice for us to make. By all accounts we will never to satisfied with digital only but the future of the music business is determined by $$ ££ €€ and digital is the biggest growing medium for new music now.

Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to play some gigs to promote the albums? Will it be a normal set or you’ll focus on “Urbanism” songs?
Empire State Human: We won’t be playing live until we completed the majority of the next studio album “Audio Gothic”. We want to return to the stage, when we feel we’ve the right sound to challenge what currently plays live out there. We cant 100% for see what offers come in but we’re working hard in the studio on completing a set of new songs that meet the challenge of a more contemporary style.

Chain D.L.K.: I know that you are already recording new songs for your follow up. What can you tell us about these tunes?
Empire State Human: A few of the titles of the new songs are “Audio Gothic”, “Camera”, “Seeing Stars”, “Viva Glam” and “River Of Souls” and “Too Drunk To DJ”. They represent us as we are in 2007/2008 and offer us our biggest chance and test to deliver a new album that can make more people sit up and take notice of us. The production a sharp and modern and the singing production is a bigger and more layered sound. There’s organic soul in one song and full on electro beats on another. We are trying to bring in new elements and to include longer arrangements and intro’s when required. It’s of course work in progress, but we’re going to take as long as it takes and do it right. To rush it would be a big mistake, as we don’t want to take a backward step and have the new album fall short of “Cycles” in any way. It’s possibly our most important album we’ve ever done, in many ways.

Chain D.L.K.: It’s about a decade that you write lyrics. Have you changed your way of writing them? Is there a theme you prefer or that inspires you the most?
Empire State Human: In truth I’ve been writing songs for 21 years (’86) about 9 years of that is with ESH and 4 years pre-ESH with a band called The President Lipstick and 2 with Colonel Mustard and solo projects. I’ve been lucky enough to have written a lyrics/poetry book called “Chasing Vapours” which was published by U Books (Germany) in 2005. It’s unfortunately out of print now, but still something I’m proud to have done. My earlier lyrics were mostly lovesick based songs, that hadn’t the depth of what I’m now doing. With ESH I wanted a wider pallet, adding sci-fi and filmic or cinematic influences and I wanted easy flowing melodies to match the lyrics. I think the only way to get better or to develop is to keep writing and never sit back. That’s why I suppose I was keen to start with The Garland Cult, as it gave me the opportunity to write more and more. I still like to collaborate with outside people and that’s something I’ll never stop doing either way.Everything inspires me in one way or another, but mostly it’s film, TV and magazines that get me creative. The pop culture mediums are what excite me the most though and it’s there I return to again and again.

Chain D.L.K.: We kind already know your future plans, is there something we don’t know and you’d like to share with us?
Empire State Human: The immediate ESH future is the ESH digital releases and the next album. The Garland Cult near future is we have a new digital single out in Europe soon with Electric Fantastic Sound called “BoygeorgeICON” …. a tribute to Boy George of course. We’ve written one for Pete Burns (Dead or Alive) called “Torture Me”. There will be a video for “boygeorgeICON2 that will be on You Tube .. so check back later on. A new album for The Garland Cult “Glitterazzi” that’s includes those songs as well as “Talking With Aliens” (produced by synth legend Steve Bronski from Bronski Beat). I’ve also recorded a solo album under the name of FIGARO called “I Am Figaro” which I hope gets out one way or another. And I will be supplying vocals to a track by Bitchmode called “Beautiful Girlz” http://www.myspace.com/bitchmode1Finally, there is an Empire State Human rarities album called “Ultra Rare” coming out late 2007 digitally with Ninthwave Records. This includes those tracks that were planned for “Futura” such as “That Special Times”, The April Rain”, “Remember Me This Way” and our Christmas track “Christmas Angel” and various other remixes and cover versions “Saved By Zero” (The Fixx), “Love IS A Stranger” (Eurythmics), “Photographs” (Boytronic), “Together In Electric Dreams” (Oakey/Moroder), “Night Over Me” (Wave In Head) and “Special Star” (Dead or Alive). So that’s quite a number of exciting things on the horizon. Keep an eye on http://www.myspace.com/empirestatehuman for up to date news on ESH.

Visit Empire State Human on the web at:

www.myspace.com/empirestatehuman

www.ninthwaverecords.com

[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Aidan]

Oct 312005
 
Empire State Human logo

Empire State Human picture

Chain D.L.K.: We talked about ESH back in 2002 and many things changed since then.Can you talk about what you did in the last three years?
Empire State Human: We’ve two new band members (Seán Barron & Warren Kiernan), since Brian O’Malley left. Both come from a production/DJ/Song writing background, and because of this, the ESH production and sound and songs have developed considerably. In 2003 we release an EP called ‘Liquid Blue’, completed an album called ‘Urbanism’, which we hope one day will get a proper CD release by Ninthwave Records. In 2004 we composed a full original score for a short movie called ‘Screwback’ …… to view trailer use: http://www.redragefilms.com/screw.htm. Also in 2004 we hit #1 on the US iTunes dance charts with our cover of John Carpenter’s ‘Theme To Halloween’ and in doing so, became to first 100% independent band to break their official Top 100 charts. In 2005 we produced a tribute album to 80s electro band Dead or Alive called ‘Rocket’, for Section 44 Label www.DOAtribute.com and we also appeared on Vol 1 of ‘4×4’ for Section 44. Aidan also released a book of poetry/ESH lyrics called ‘Chasing Vapours’ for the German book publishers U Books www.ubooks.de.

Chain D.L.K.: On our interview we talked about the release of “Futura” which has never seen the light. What happened to your planned releases and what happened with Ninthwave?
Empire State Human: ‘Futura’ was the album we were to follow 2004’s ‘Urbanism’ with, for Ninthwave Records. With them not being in a position to release ‘Urbanism’, we didn’t see the point in continuing to record the tracks for ‘Futura’. We instead signed a new deal with Kiss My Asterix Records www.kissmyasterixrecords.com for a new 12-track album called ‘Cycles’. Basically, ‘Futura’ is an album that never got recorded, which is a shame as is was a good electro set.

Chain D.L.K.: You also had “Urbanism” ready to be released and on www.cdbaby.com we can listen to some excerpts. Are you gonna to release it someday?
Empire State Human: We’ve been told recently, that Ninthwave do plan to release it in 2006. We really hope they do, as it’s got some terrific electro tunes on it, such as ‘We Are Industry’, ‘Dollar In Blue Collar’, ‘Liquid Blue’, ‘Dreams In The Mirror’, ‘Digital City’ and ‘Post Madonna’. There’s a 5* (Gold Star) CDR review of it at Synthpop.net via: http://www.synthpop.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=Reviews&file=index&req=showcontent&id=1095

Chain D.L.K.: “Cycles” is your new album and it sounds different from everything you did in the past. It sounds more modern, more lush and relaxed. What brought you to such a radical change?
Empire State Human: Seán and Warren’s songwriting/production input, and also we always try to develop our sound from album to album. This keeps it fresh, for us to record and also gives us all a common goal, in that it’s necessary for us as musicians to improve something, within our music every time we start a new album. We’re very happy with ‘Cycles’, as it shows that we’ve reached that goal and we continue to improve as a band.

Chain D.L.K.: From what I can hear “Urbanism” was really Heaven 17 sounding, then you decided to leave most of your ’80s references to focus on something different. Can you tell me how the different phases of this grew?
Empire State Human: I think the only H17 sounding song was the opening 6-minute + track ‘We Are Industry’ … in that we used the ‘work’ idea theme. Really, we admire bands like H17, and I guess that comes through in some of our tracks. As does our Kraftwerk interest, or Moroder too.

Chain D.L.K.: How reacted your fans to your new sound as far as you know?
Empire State Human: Everyone that’s heard ‘Cycles’ has said it’s a brilliant album, and our very best so far. Only a few reviews/comments have come in, and they back up what others have been saying. It’s of course nice, to hear positive comments, and in the past, we’ve maybe not believed in some of the comments made about our early releases, but this time we do believe them.

Chain D.L.K.: The main thing that I noticed on “Cycles” is that you reduced the BPM and that you used different sounds respect the old releases and there are also 6 minutes length tracks. Is your way of working changed and how?
Empire State Human: It’s got more of a groove, and also some songs written with a rock format in mind (‘Devil In The Detail’, ‘This Is How You Disappear’ and ‘They Live By Night’). Some tracks are longer arrangements, such as ‘Easy Colour’ which is 6-minutes +. Really our new sound is evident on a tracks like ‘Stars Shine Bright’ (an ESH hit single to be, if there ever was to be one). Again, Seán and Warren’s input, sound manipulation is really the difference. Song-writing, is more of a joy, as we can spend a lot more time on the production style, as we keep it all in-house now at our Electric Eye Studio or Maxtrax Studio, here in Dublin.

Empire State Human picture

Chain D.L.K.: Since there also a couple of songs with guitar sounds, can you talk about your new songs if you have any ready? How they sound like?
Empire State Human: We’ve not done a hell of a lot of new ESH production since April 2005, when we last recorded a version of Eurythmics ‘Love Is A Stranger’, which will feature on ‘Electricity III’ for Ninthwave Records. Seán and Warren have been working on music/song ideas, and so have Aidan and Lar.The new songs, for the next album to be called ‘Paparazzi’, are still in the ‘new song’ stage. The sounds will be different from ‘Cycles’ no doubt. As there’s a hard electro, feel in some of the early programming. Possibly, less-song based in style might be a good explanation. We hope to get recording again as ESH sometime in 2006.

Chain D.L.K.: On “Urbanism” it’s reminiscent of Heaven 17’s ‘Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry’ on “Cycles” The Cult with “The Witch”, is that a sign that you expect to widen your audience with people that aren’t only synthpop hardcore fans?
Empire State Human: There ESH sound is more specific now, Aidan voice and the type of songs/production seem to gel better than ever. Of course, recording a song like ‘The Witch’ did get a few eye brows raised, but it worked really, really well, and it showed that a band like ESH can meet a challenge of covering a song by The Cult head-on and win. We would love to appeal to a wider audience, with this album. If we don’t, it will not be because we didn’t deliver the goods, but more to do with how we sold the CD and the band to the public.

Chain D.L.K.: Kiss My Asterix is your new label. Have you talked about your future with them and what could we wait from ESH?
Empire State Human: ‘Cycles’ is our debut album for Kiss My Asterix Records, both KMA and ESH have high hopes it will do well, of course. TO make it a success, could take a year or 18 months. We’ve not spoken about the future, or a new ESH album, as that’s a step too far at this stage. We’ve got the present to work with and worry about, and from both sides that’s enough for now.Seán and Warren are remixing/producing for others, and also Aidan and Lar are working on an electro side project called The Garland Cult www.thegarlandcult.com, with all this on the go, it’s again a very busy time for all of ESH.

Visit Empire State Human on the web at:
www.empirestatehuman.com

[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Aidan]

Jun 012002
 
Empire State Human are Irish, talented and they play fucking great synthpop. Since the first time I listened to their music I got caught by their melodies and by Aidan’s distinctive vocals (to read more about their music just jump to my review of their latest album POP ROBOT in our synthpop reviews section). Following you can find an interview I had with the band via e-mail. I read some other interviews they did and I tried to do questions nobody else did. I hope you’ll ejoy it just I did as they are smart and kind too. 😉

CHAIN D.L.K.: As you read on my review of your "Pop Robot" I appreciated a lot your music and your style. Since it is fresh and cured at the same time would you please tell me how you three met and if you had previously musical experiences.
E.S.H.: We appreciated your review of Pop Robot a lot, so we’d like to thank you for having recognised the merits of our album.
Brian & Aidan grew up together, and Aidan met Lar when they both were 13 years old, we all started hanging out together in a bigger group as friends. We’ve always had a great love of music, comedy, Elvis & synthesizers, as well as many individual tastes and interests, which all helped to bring a unique slant to the production sound of ESH. Brian & Aidan were originally in an electro/Glam style band called President Lipstick for a few years in the early 90’s, with another friend of ours. Then Aidan worked under the name Colonel Mustard, which was a more ambient or mellow-sounding form of early House/Dance, with some Classical influences thrown in too. When this all finished, all was quiet so to speak for a period of time. So fast forward a couple of years to 1999, when we really felt that contemporary music was missing a retro analogue/digital edge that is once had, and an edge that more appreciated and acknowledged the achievements of early Human League, Moroder, Kraftwerk, Sparks, Dr Who, Sci-Fi etc. So we began to toy with the idea of forming something new & different to channel this interest into. Over a period of around 4 months, ESH was formed and we began to work on what was to become our debut album called Martian Anthems, eventually to be released by Peoplesound.com, which are based in the UK.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Did the fact of working during the daytime into artistic kinda jobs helped you with ESH?
E.S.H.: We believe if you care passionately about something, that it is never too far away from your thoughts. We care passionately about our music, so that feeling is constantly with us. We create music, not because we have to, but because we really love to, and that’s a big difference. We all have full-time jobs, so there’s not the pressure of having to write hit singles to survive. It’s also a big factor to why we recorded the amount of material we have in the last 18 months or so, in that we’ve never had somebody waiting for product. We’ll continue in this vein as long as it remains enjoyable for the three of us.
CHAIN D.L.K.:I read that it’s useful for you to compose album with a main theme. For "Martian Anthems" was the space, for "Pop Robot" robots and stuff like that. What about the next releases "Music For Humans" "Urbanism" and "Futura"?
E.S.H.: It has been very helpful to us, but not essential to work with a theme in mind. We’ve been comfortable with this approach for Martian Anthems, Terra Incognito -Parts 1>5, Pop Robot, Music For Humans, Alpha & Omega & Urbanism, and it’s one we’ll follow on to Futura with for next year. But after that, we may begin to look to another form, or direction for inspiration and concept. We’ll see what 2003 brings to the ESH table.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Do you like to follow a kind of plot when you write your songs which follow a theme? I mean, do the tracks are linked in any way?
E.S.H.: We usually start with the first and last tracks, and then we work in between. For instance, on Martian Anthems we had the opening instrumental Martian Anthem, and then the closing instrumental Flight from Mars written, when the full concept was decided upon. On Pop Robot, we started with Hand On The Gun, and finished with piano piece Sach’s Theme, working out the remainder after that. For us the tracks link with sounds, arrangements, lyrics and BPM’s. The BPM of a song for us is vital to the track, and to how naturally it fits in with the melody and bass sequences and then obviously the chords of the song. Now we don’t want to make this sound like an exact science, it’s not by all means perfect. But this approach does help to give us musical boundaries or templates, and that’s the exciting part for us. To make sure the pieces fit. It’s like building a wall. You’re not going to have bricks of different heights stack on top of each other, are you? They’ll all fall down as you progress. So it goes with our music, we want it to stand up on it’s own merits, in a cohesive a solid way, and we hope we achieve that overall.
CHAIN D.L.K.:"Pop Robot" had the lyrics composed with a "robot point of view" and on "Paralysed" you say: "Paralysed, is how I feel. I’m paralysed, it’s a love unreal". Why do you wanted to humanize a robot thought? Do you think that technology should be humanized giving to it also a sort of "Romantic vision"?
E.S.H.: To humanize something that’s not human is such a fantastic thought. It’s best summed up by the title of the book Do Androids Dream of electric sheep? Which was later filmed as Blade Runner. What an incredible idea, to try and answer the unanswerable question. To better understand technology, and its capabilities in todays’ world, we think technology is better understood when it’s approached in a more humane way. We thought it was so amazing when we were reading about Kraftwerk in their German studio Kling Klang, and how they worked with ‘their machines’, as if the machines were real people. Humanizing takes away that part of technology that scares us, and in turn helps us to make it more acceptable and sympathetic in some ways. We’ve always said that we wanted to make music that is a little larger than life, and by using strange or unusual lyrical themes, we do feel that we’re least trying to live up to that statement or goal in some way.
CHAIN D.L.K.: I noticed that the tracks of "Pop Robot" are more melodically melancholic or mid tempo based respect the ones of "Alpha & Omega" even if the ones contained into this last one are coming from the same sessions. Can you tell me why?
E.S.H.: Many of these tracks have been re-worked or remixed, either by us or other artists. We also re-recorded a number of them too, increasing BPM’s, or basically adding more layers, new sounds or indeed new vocals. It goes to prove though, that these tracks didn’t fit into those particular albums’ theme, hence they’ve become part of Alpha & Omega. Now, that’s not to say that they’re in any way weak or inferior songs or mixes. In fact they’re some of our strongest songs and mixes. When we first approached Ninthwave Records with idea of Alpha & Omega, it was an EP of around 8 tracks, but as we listened back on the session DATS from both the Martian Anthems and Pop Robot recording sessions, there was really enough material for a whole album, and with the remixes by bands such as Count To Infinity, Freezepop, Wave In Head, Empire State Human and One Lazy Ear Studio, and some cover versions we then completed for it, there quickly appeared 16 or 17 tracks. That’s why we’ll be in a position to release Alpha & Omega, so quickly after the new EP Music For Humans, which contains another 9 tracks and which we’re releasing with the Mexican label Pur Zynth (www.purzynth.com).
CHAIN D.L.K.: You are dedicating "Alpha & Omega" to Billy Mackenzie singer of the 80’s band Associates (he also had a solo career releasing a couple of albums and various collaborations). Why do you felt the need to greet him (which is unfortunately passed away in 1997) and what do you think about him and about his music and how does he influenced you?
E.S.H.: We felt that the excellent work that Billy Mackenzie recorded with the Associates and as a solo artist has been largely unrecognised and passed over by the music business and press. Thank God for sites such as: www.billymackenzie.com & http://perso.wanadoo.fr/affectionate.bunch. In fact The Glamour Chase album is only now getting the official release, it so rightly deserves, which is hard to believe when you listen to an amazing song like the Empires Of Your Heart. Our dedication to Billy on Alpha & Omega is just our personal way of saying thank you, for the wonderful treasure trove of music Billy left behind. We really rate Billy, along with Russell Mael from Sparks, as truly gifted singers. We only wish we’d got the chance to meet him, or see him live. It is sad how you can only truly miss something or somebody, when they’ve been taken from you. Aidan still finds it hard listening to the Beyond The Sun album, without a lump in his throat.
CHAIN D.L.K.: I read that you originally composed "Chimes" for a Sony PlayStation 2 advert last summer. How did you get that occasion? Has it been because of your jobs?
E.S.H.: Well Brian from ESH, is a director and he in fact directed that particular advert, so that’s the obvious connection. But having said that, it’s the only occasion Brian/ESH have worked together regarding his directorial work, and it was achieved on our merit alone, so we don’t mind admitting that. Brian would never ever use ESH because of his link, as it’s not professional, and it’s the only piece of music we’ve written for one of his adverts. At the end of the day, ESH was the best choice for that job. Of course if another opportunity arises is the future, and we deliver the right type of music, well jump at the chance again.

CHAIN D.L.K.: Within the next twelve months you’ll release three albums and an EP. When you had the time to compose that amount of songs?
E.S.H.: Well it is a large output by anyone’s standard we’ll admit that, considering we all have full-time jobs too. But it has been possible because of a lot of hard work on our behalf’s, by keeping highly focussed, paying attention to detail and finally by the amount of active networking we did with ESH via the World Wide Web. That’s how we’ve really earned the opportunity to plan this many releases. It’s also been a creative time for us, with little or no writers’ block within the last 2 years. So when you take all of this into account, it may go to somewhat explaining, that level of output. Also, we’ve always respected bands with large back catalogues, built up over a short period of time. Bands that are productive, and that will release exclusive tracks on compilations, rather than just adding another remix of an existing song. These are the type of bands we respect and want to emulate.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Releasing so many things in such a short time you’ll need to promote them. Have you had something in particular about that. If not, how would you like to promote your music in a different and efficient way?
E.S.H.: Our main promotional tools are www.empirestatehuman.com, in conjunction with Ninthwave Records promotional clout. The ESH web site has been a great success story, in that between 1st January 2002 and July 2002, we’ve had over 10,000 visitors, which is quite a lot when you consider that we only launched the ESH site in November 2001. It’s an even bigger achievement, when you take into account our first professional CD release was the expanded version of Pop Robot at the end of February 2002, with Ninthwave Records. So we’ll continue to work in this fashion, regarding the promotion of our releases, but also by actively seeking to secure a licensing deal in the EU with another label, to work in conjunction with Ninthwave Records in the North American market.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Sorry if now I’ll go off topic but being a big Virgin Prunes fan I’d like to know how they were considered in their homeland. Do you know them? What do you think of their way of performing and their particular way of dealing with music?
E.S.H.: The Virgin Prunes started out a little bit before U2 in the late 70’s, and in fact U2 may have even supported them at the beginning. When U2 recorded their Achtung Baby album, they approached it in a very art house way, not unlike the Prunes early approach, and in turn when Gavin Friday recorded his Shag Tobacco album he turned to a U2 approach. The reaction in Ireland to the Virgin Prunes was one of wariness, as they were so different and that people may have seen them as a little pretentious. But they do still have a cult following world wide, which has to be admired, considered they stopped recording in the early 80’s. Who knows, they may even be tempted back into the studio again, as Gavin Friday has been a little quiet of late. We admire anyone artist who tries to be different, once it’s not being different for the sake of it that is.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Musically people could think about Ireland as it could be dependent to England. Do you have your musical scene apart from folk music and U2?
E.S.H.: In the pop/rock sense, Ireland in the past has looked to the likes of the UK and US for guidance. We’ve always been the leaders though, regarding traditional music. The Irish are a very musical nation, and it’s quite stunning the amount of songs, old or new, most Irish people know by heart. However, the electro scene in Ireland is practically non-existent, but the DJ/Club scene is very big. ESH are relatively unknown in Ireland, but we are much better known in the likes of the US and parts of Europe, which has lead to a lot of the press here at home into believing we are from the US. We’ve noticed a number of ‘Goths’ turning up at our gigs in Dublin, which is fantastic, as electro/synthpop is becoming popular with a number of Goths today. So the scene in Ireland is developing slowly, we’re hoping it may shift a little to include ESH, as we’re the only band in Ireland trying to do what we’re doing, and we’d hope that this could be recognised and encouraged.

[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz]