The Australian duo Empty is surely one of the most underrated projects the international Dark Electro/Industrial scene has to offer. A real pearl also for their Crash Frequency band-collective, this duo, consisting of Aaron Potter and Daniel Brunet, has released three highly anticipated EP’s through their very own Aphotic Audio Studios and is currently hard working to produce a first full-length album. As to celebrate their recently released new EP “Never Get To You”, we’ve asked them to fill in some valuable content in this interview…
Chain D.L.K.: Greetings, guess I need to start with a same-but-stupid question: who are the both kangaroos behind Empty and how did you get thrown into the Electro/Industrial scene, instead of jumping over cactuses?
Empty: When we began making music as Empty, we didn’t have any connections in the scene and didn’t really have a clear definition of what style our music would fit into. We always had an interest in powerful and aggressive music as well as the intricate and technical. During the early 90ies we were introduced to Techno and Dance and worked our way towards Metal/Electronica, then branched out to find our place within Electronic/Industrial through bands like NIN, FLA and Skinny Puppy.
Chain D.L.K.: You guys have been active by producing music also under another moniker, Tron. What are the reasons that nearly everything seems to run smoother under Empty compared to your previous project?
Empty: Tron was a testing ground – an extremely experimental project with no solid direction. We never really had an aim for it and didn’t plan on gaining much of a following, but we’ve found people are still going back to Tron, wanting to hear more of where we came from. Empty portrays the next step in our evolution and professionalism which we strive to deliver by constantly pushing ourselves, trying to be innovative with every new track. We’ll often try to create music, which has a certain level of depth and which can draw the listener in to find new details each time. Overall, Empty definitely has a much smoother sound than our past projects, but the level of perfectionism is a time consuming process.
Chain D.L.K.: “Castrated” available on your last studio EP “Aeon Xpand” has been the first sign of new recordings and meanwhile you’ve placed some additional new tracks on your web resources. How is the status of a possible new album? At least you’ve decided to bring out another single EP entitled “Never Get To You”, why?
Empty: “Castrated” was written and recorded directly after the release of the “Open Aeon” EP, which became a part of our live shows in 2007, but remained unreleased for two years while we were working on new material and organizing remixes of tracks from the original EP. The follow-up EP in 2008, “Aeon Xpand” was intended to be a direct expansion of the original body of work and we found it a convenient platform for an official release for this track, which by then had received a lot of positive feedback during our live shows and demo mixes. The latest release, “Never Get To You” gives our listeners a taste of what 2009 holds for Empty and shows the progression of sound that we think is light-years ahead of our earlier work.
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s talk on these new tracks a bit more detailed. “Never Get To You” drifts a bit away from the usual Dark Electro formula by integrating some Breakbeat/IDM-related percussion work. A new quell of inspiration you’ve reached in the past months? What else surprises can we expect?
Empty: The inspiration for the new tracks came from delving into the world of Glitch and IDM and incorporating some of these aspects into our sound. We are working to find our niche in the world of music and breaking away from being categorized. Expect many surprises with the upcoming album, we’ve tried to approach each track differently and want our listeners to experience that.
Chain D.L.K.: Normally your music output rather represents the veteran style of the so-called 2nd wave of Dark Electro, here and there influenced by the works of Dismantled or FLA. Tell us a bit about your special dedication to these classic themes and your aversion against the current styles of Harsh EBM/Hellektro. Is it important for you to point out such differences? Do you see a promising evolution that the old-school EBM and Dark Electro continue to regain ground and acceptance?
Empty: The detailed atmosphere, layering and the general vibe which artists like FLA and Dismantled produce have always been appealing to us, but we don’t try to lock ourselves into any particular sub-genre or follow any distinct trend within this. It’s great to see so many sub-genre forms, where artists splice elements and different ideas together to create a new sound. This is something we’re also trying to do and we feel that there will always be a following and acceptance for bands, who can create a place for themselves regardless. We hope we can communicate this well enough for people to see Empty as something unique.
Chain D.L.K.: Lets talk on the technical side of producing music generally. Which kind of synthesizer do you prefer, hardware or software-based? Where do you see the pro’s and con’s on both kinds?
Empty: We came into audio production at a good time, where both software and hardware played an equal part in our studio setup, so from day one we developed an integration between both systems. For example, our drum method is purely software based, most of the processed vocals we run through on an outboard effects processor and we mostly use Korg hardware for our low-end pulse bass and lead synth sounds. On the software side, we’ve gathered quite an arsenal of programs and effects plug-ins, which have become the glue in our studio environment. As for the pros and cons, regardless of what you use, you need to have a good understanding of the equipment in order to make the most of it and it’s important to try to keep up with the technology. We’ve found that keeping our setup at a minimal can help us reduce distractions and conflicts between the devices, but in saying that, it’s great to have a variety of toys to play with!
Chain D.L.K.: No more pro or con MP3-debate and digital downloads, but at least the situation for all bands as well as labels seems to be quite unclear. Nobody is currently able to say, in which kind, art and format this scene will continue, but especially Empty stands for a lot of international-related promotional efforts to get out of the average mass. What do you expect from the future regarding coming formats, label and communities to release and present your music?
Empty: Because of our location here in Australia, we’ve found that we really need do a lot of international promotion in order to reach the right people. Our following here at home is small but dedicated, but we know the majority of our listeners are in Europe and the USA. We like to look at the digital download format as a very important distribution tool and it seems the shift has finally been made where labels are much more willing to take advantage of online resources in digital distribution and music sharing websites. In knowing that the artists are getting compensation in the process, we think that the general shift in mentality shows that now more than ever, people are looking to legitimately buy their music online. With this understanding, we like to give our listeners a choice between the traditional CD format and the current digital options by making the music as accessible as possible, in order to avoid alienating anybody. There is so much music that is still hard to buy online because of label restrictions or artists’ old-school mentality, which means people find acquiring the music illegally the easiest method. We dedicate ourselves to making our music available across multiple resources, for people to buy legitimate downloads with services like iTunes and Amazon and directly from us through our label website AphoticAudio.com. There will always be people who trade music for free, but to look at it positively, this can help us fill in the gaps within our distribution network and provide us free promotion by reaching those who might not have had a chance to hear us. Music sharing resources like torrent networks can work in our favor, just as a podcast of a radio show would by distributing our music side-by-side with well known artists in downloadable collections. In our future releases, we will definitely want to keep up with the technology. As new ideas come through, we’ll do our best to make use of all available resources.
Chain D.L.K.: You’re active members of the Australian Crash Frequency collective, but in the last months this collective seemed to be inactive. How is the status, and what advantages could you extract of being a part of it? How is it with live gigs, any more events than before thanks to your participation?
Empty: Crash Frequency continues to grow and the bands are now quietly preparing for another compilation release to help promote new sounds and to reach new fans all around the world. Being a part of the Crash Frequency collective has been a positive step for the band and has given us the chance to share thoughts and experiences with other Australian musicians in our genre. This is definitely an edge which we are grateful for and we have also been able to give a lot back with our input behind the scenes, by providing our own skills and resources to strengthen the foundation of the collective. Through the connections in the group, we have been able to build stronger relationships within the local underground industrial scene, which has helped for gigs and events and has also opened new doors to other opportunities such as the Sydney based group ShallowNation.net, which we are now involved in as well.
Chain D.L.K.: Your daily life besides being a musician. Please fill in details, relations, hobbies, and further things of interests?
Empty: In our lives we keep ourselves busy with many projects running in parallel. Creatively we both have a passion for music, digital art, photography and graphic design, but independently Aaron works as a professional hair stylist and Daniel as a website developer and graphic artist. We have been very fortunate to be able to combine our passion for music with our creative and professional skills to create a foundation and image for the band without needing to bring in a wide array of external resources. We are also involved with several other audio production projects which we support via our independent label, some of which can be found online.
Chain D.L.K.: Please let us know about your upcoming plans, some remix works or a new release you like to confirm here?
Empty: We’ve been talking with a few other bands for collaboration work combining our vocal recordings with their beats and vice-versa to add a unique twist on each others sound. As for remixes, there is nothing concrete but we have been throwing around a few ideas. The album we’re working on is getting closer to completion each week as we continue to build up and perfect each track. Along with many tracks that we’ve already finished for the album, we’re also building up a collection of new demos and ideas to be able to choose the best fitting songs to create a really solid album. We’re putting a unique angle on each new production, using different recording methods and production techniques to build up a theme for the album. The official working title of this album is “Surfacing”.
Chain D.L.K.: Any final words to our readers to conclude?
Empty: Marc, we’d like to give you our thanks for inviting us to be interviewed for Chain D.L.K. and a big thanks to all your readers. We’ll be doing monthly progress updates through our website and MySpace with track previews, artwork and other downloadable goodies, so keep checking back for more details.
Visit Empty on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Brandon L. Clark]