Interview: With Pete Burns of Kill Shelter

I’m very excited about this interview. Kill Shelter “Damage” was one of my top albums of 2018, a truly groundbreaking piece of artistic expression which harnessed the vocal talents of some of the darkest stars in the Post Punk/Darkwave genre. I tried to ask questions which would give a firmer grasp of his process and motivations in creating this monumental and personal offering. The album just became available on vinyl and is a must have for any serious collector who values this style. Link just below


https://hivmusic1.bandcamp.com/album/damage-upr094-gothic-rock-darkwave

https://soundsandshadows.com/2019/05/18/kill-shelter-review-of-damage/

Our review of the album 🙂

(Ken) Pete this latest album “Damage” touched on so many emotions for so many people. What did this title mean and what were you trying to capture in these songs that related to it?

(Pete) Firstly thanks so much for the kind words and for the opportunity to talk about it. “Damage” was written during an exceptionally difficult time for me and there were a lot of dark thoughts and emotions that influenced both my music and my song writing in the nine months that it took to produce the album. “Damage” not only reflected my state of mind but it became a thread that ran through all the tracks – whatever happened I wanted to try and create something with a sense of purpose. Music has become so disposable and ubiquitous that I just wanted to try and make something that had some form of substance, meaning and hopefully resonance.

(Ken) You did such a unique concept of writing these songs but bringing in a who’s who of incredible musicians and singers to bring your words and songs to life. That couldn’t have been easy. How did you come up with this concept and what was your biggest challenge to overcome? 

(Pete) I’ve always seen myself as a producer first so working with other artists, especially vocalists, is something that I love to do. I’d been doing a set of remixes and had just started writing material when Pedro from Unknown Pleasures Records approached me asking if I intended to do an album and if so he would be interested in considering it for his label. So that gave me something positive to work towards, of course there was no guarantee that a) it would be good and b) that anyone would like it. At that time UPR were going to only do 100 releases in their catalog so I knew if Damage was to be considered it needed to be special and I wanted to help mark the history of the label in some way. I had a “hit list” of artists that I wanted to work with so I began writing with those people in mind. The mistake I made was writing the song first then approaching the artist rather than gauging interest levels first then going down the writing process. It also takes a lot of time to slot into other people’s schedules too so it can easily become a logistical nightmare. I’m taking a different approach with the follow up…

(Ken)  I feel like post punk/darkwave music is going through an incredible Renaissance right now, as someone who has made music in this scene a long time what has changed for you the last few years? What excites you about the future?

(Pete) Yes, there is a lot of chat about renaissance and revival and I think that is a good thing – “a rising tide lifts all boats” as they say. The scene is definitely broader now and influences and genres tend to blur at the edges and that is really exciting. I read recently that we were in the 4th or even 5th wave of post-punk now but that doesn’t mean it’s all good. I tend to gravitate towards the timeless and the innovative and that’s what I look and hope for in music. I’m always excited to hear outstanding new music so I’m forever optimistic that something very special is just around the corner

(Ken)  I watched Damage shoot to the top of so many top albums on 2018 lists, including Sound and Shadows. Did that surprise you? What is the ideal future for Kill Shelter?

(Pete) To say I was surprised would definitely be an understatement – yeah, I’ve really been blown away by the response. For an album that was released so late in the year (November 26th) I never thought anyone would care let alone put it on their “best of” lists. I’m very grateful to everyone who has supported the album including Sounds and Shadows of course.

The ideal future for Kill Shelter would be continued interest and support and the chance to release another album (or two) that were equally as surprising as the first. That would be a good start. 

(Ken)  You worked with so many incredible artists I love on this album. Pedro Code, Ashe Ruppe, Nate Jespersen, Karl Morton Dahl, Hante, many more. If you could bring in any vocalist living or dead to do a song with who would it be?

Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW

(Pete) I’m hopeful that the next set of Kill Shelter releases partially answers that question for you. There are so many extremely talented vocalists in and out of the genre it would be difficult to name just one. David Sylvian is still one of may favorite vocalists of all time.

David Sylvian of Japan

(Ken) These songs have such a person feel, are they about your life? Or more of a narrative about what you are seeing in the human condition? If the first what did you draw on to create them?

(Pete) There are people who write from experience and there are people who write imagined experiences. On Damage the material I wrote draws directly from very personal experiences and emotions. I’ve always found writing music cathartic in that way – even when I was growing up I buried myself in writing as a way to deal with my feelings.

(Ken) It’s so hard for me to choose a favorite track on this record, but In Decay hit a special chord for me. Ashe has told me these are your words he sang. Tell me about the background of this song, what were you feeling in Decay?

(Pete) I’m really glad you called that particular track out although it’s an incredibly personal track to me. Without being too maudlin about it, “In Decay” was written about the death of my mother. I didn’t tell Ashe originally what the real meaning was as I thought it was unfair to put him under that amount of pressure. He sang it just the way I’d imagined it though so I’ll be forever grateful to him for that. The line “at the end of forever – I come undone” just about sums it up.

(Ken) This was a complete album and concept, but music is changing. Is there still a place in the modern scene for 10+ song concepts or is the future, singles and internet hits? 

(Pete) Listening behavior has changed dramatically. Anonymous single tracks appearing on semi-curated playlists and individual tracks being recommended by algorithms based on listener preference has definitely changed the way we consume music. “Damage” was written as an album and you can hear that when you listen to it – it’s supposed to be a journey. But the individual nature of the contributing artists makes each track unique and therefore able to stand on its own too. Is there a place for a 10+ song concept album? Probably not, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. I really hope that people will discover the album and put the time aside to listen to it as a whole.


Hélène de Thoury of Hante who sings “Kiss me Goodbye”

(Ken) If you could go on tour opening for any band currently in the scene who would it be and why? 

(Pete) There’s a question. How close to the scene are Depeche Mode these days? I’m sure that would have a positive impact on how many people had heard of Kill Shelter. Gary Numan, She Past Away, The Sisters, The Soft Moon… you get the idea… 

(Ken) If you could get in a Delorean and travel back in time to talk to 21 year old you, what would you tell that young man? Would he listen?

(Pete) He’d definitely listen to the advice it’s whether he’d have the self belief to act on it. I’d probably say “you are right to be uncompromising in your music. Enjoy listening to other people’s music and continue to be open minded but the best stuff isn’t about trying too hard, it’s about being natural whether it’s in-vogue or not. This journey is yours so stop thinking about what other people think. Above all else – don’t fuck up the only chance you have. And try to stop hating yourself if you can.”

An interview with: Cold Transmission Records

So since we have started doing interviews with bands to add another layer of content to Sound and Shadows it got me thinking about all the other pieces that go into creating a vibrant and exciting music scene. Djs, promoters, and record labels. At the moment the world of music is changing to a focus on global reach and grass roots distribution. No one is doing more to build a base and put out great music for Post Punk/Dark wave/ Cold wave/ Shoegaze genre than Frankfurt Germany based label Cold Transmission Music. Run by Andreas and Suzy Herrmann with Yvonne Kiel as graphic designer, this label is on the forefront of the multimedia movement happening in dark music. They aren’t just a record company, they are music lovers that are looking to lift all ships and find exciting new ways to share the music they love with the world. They have made the idea of musical distribution into a family with a caring touch to foster the people on their label as much as putting out albums and compilations. The Cold Transmission playlists have come to set a standard for support of what is cutting edge. I had the opportunity of getting to know the people behind Cold Transmission a little better and want to share that experience with our readers. 
Bands currently on Cold Transmission Music: Elz and the Cult, White Mansion, Push Button Press, Carlo Onda, Rosi, Monographic, La Mécanique, Reconverb, S Y Z Y G Y X, Silent Runners, The Blue Beard’s Castle, Icy Men , Palais Ideal, Bedless Bones, Closed Mouth.
We have reviewed some of these bands and the more I hear from them the more I like, I can’t wait to continue working my way through their catalog.

https://www.facebook.com/coldtransmissionmusic/

https://coldtransmissionmusic.bandcamp.com

This was a Cold Transmission/Sound and Shadows joint effort which includes some of our favorite new music for your listening pleasure. I think we had a wonderful mixture of bands from all over the globe. This show was 1st in the global post-punk chart, 1st in the global punk chart, 1st in the global indie dance chart, 4th in the global alternative chart and 5th in the global new wave chart.

(Ken) When did you start the label and what was your goal starting out with Cold Transmission?

(CT) In 2017 Cold Transmission began as a Mixcloud show because we had the burning desire to make more people aware of the new music and bands that were coming up in our scene. The shows were very well received on Mixcloud and the number of followers grew steadily so we created the name „Cold Transmission“ and launched the Facebook page. The next idea was to create a digital compilation, so our ZEITGEIST series was born. Although Andreas always thought about starting a label from the beginning, it was a spontaneous idea that evolved over time, a next logical step. We are still growing into it, learning new things every day about what it takes to be a label and it makes us very happy to support up-and-coming bands and help them grow. So our greatest respect goes out to all other independent labels that are doing this for many years now with enthusiasm and passion. It’s a lot of work especially when doing this next to your normal jobs. The music is our true satisfaction.

(Ken) I feel like goth music has always been a genre focused on the past, in the last couple years this style of music is seeing a huge resurgence with fresh new talent in unprecedented levels since the 80s/90s. What do you think is leading this? What do you see as Cold Transmissions role?

(CT) Yes, we have the same feeling about the scene. You can hardly find a band that is not referencing one of the 80s bands like Joy Division etc. Even our name is inspired by a Joy Division song! Those are all icons we really love but time doesn’t stand still and music is developing further with fresh impulses, techniques and sounds combined with the classic Post-Punk influences. Jason Corbett of ACTORS once called it Post-Punk 2.0 which is an apt description. When you go to parties or festivals a lot such as we have since the 80s we had the feeling of hearing the same music all the time in the last 10 years. We talked to many people from all over the world who had the same experience. Maybe people had gotten a bit fed up with this. We created Cold Transmission to show people from the scene what great new music is out there and what great new bands are surfacing from all parts of the world – through our Mixcloud shows, social media accounts and our label. We’re going to concerts and festivals, sometimes hosting them ourselves. We did a Cold Transmission party, re-invested the money we earned with it to buy new music to support the bands. We also see Cold Transmission not just as a label but as a platform to connect bands and supporters from all over the world. There is a great community of artists, labels, blogs, radio stations, growing up around us and we’re proud to be part of it and support it with all our energy. There also have been great collaborations between the bands already doing remixes of each others songs which is great to see. We created our t-shirts and sent them to supporters, bands and friends around the globe – for us it’s a statement of being part of a wonderful and growing community in our scene.

(Ken)You had a lot of success in 2018, I have watched your support base grow. What are you excited for on the horizon in 2019? What new albums are you looking to release this year?

(CT) In 2019 we’re looking forward to growing our label further – we will release the new albums by La Mécanique, White Mansion, The Blue Beard’s Castle and many more in the future. (Since this interview they had a very exciting release from Palais Ideal currently available) Also we will release four new ZEITGEIST compilations this year. And of course there will be our first little Cold Transmission Festival in Cologne, Germany in July. Still there is no 5-years-plan or anything for Cold Transmission. We love to see things develop organically – we have amazing friends around who are supporting us in so many ways, bands that became friends, interesting people that we are discussing partnerships with to allow us all new opportunities. We have hundreds of ideas in our minds and the day only has 24 hours so let’s see what happens!

(Ken) Recently I interviewed Jim Walker of Push Button Press (amazing new album) and Ashe Ruppe of Delphine Coma. Both are American bands that spoke of how happy they are signing with European labels. What do you think is drawing American bands to think of European labels for the dark music scene?

(CT) Since we are very new to that business we don’t really know about the major differences between European and American labels yet to be honest. We as Cold Transmission try to be as professional and committed as we can when signing bands to our label – a typical German attitude maybe. We are still a small label and the personal contact is very important to us and also to our bands. We want them to feel like they are part of a little family that believes in them and motivates them. A way of working that is maybe difficult when you are a bigger label with many bands. The scene in Europe is very old, still vibrant and much more concentrated simply because of the size of the continent compared to America. Maybe that is also a reason why so many bands are looking to Europe and has nothing to do with the differences between European and American labels in particular.

(Ken) What inspired you to become a part of this music scene? Was there a band in particular that let you know this was your chosen path in life?

(CT) We have to distinguish here between us due to our age difference of nearly ten years. Andreas was more into electronic music since 1980 starting with bands like Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire etc. In 1986 he was really convinced to be part of the scene through bands like Click Click, The Klinik, Skinny Puppy and Front 242. Suzy was more into guitar music, and a real 90s Dark Wave girl – so was Yvonne. Starting with Depeche Mode, The Smiths and Sisters of Mercy in the late 80’s her first „dark love“ was Deine Lakaien in the early 90’s

(Ken) Talk to me about the Post Punk/Darkwave scene in Germany, what is it like today and how has it changed in the last 20 years?

Cold Transmission with Antipole

(CT) The scene was always great in Germany from our point of view. You have so many huge festivals, concerts and parties in nearly every part of Germany. In particular the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig that has become the largest Gothic festivals in the world. As said before, from a music standpoint you had the feeling that nothing really changed in the last 20 years. Sure there were new bands surfacing all the time but not many people seemed to be really interested. Especially in the last few years there are new artists emerging and we get the feeling that more people are now open to finding new music. There are more small festivals coming up in Germany next to the big ones that give you a more traditional feeling. The Wave Gotik Treffen took notice of a lot of those bands and presented many of the newer acts in 2018. This is a trend we really hope to see continue.

Cold Transmission with Crying Vessel

(Ken) Along with putting out music you got your start in creating playlists and sharing music for bands in the genre. You even had Amaranth on a few, so thank you for that. What lead you to this idea and what role do you think it will play in the future of music?

(CT) The Mixcloud shows were the starting point of Cold Transmission. Andreas is a passionate music collector and spends a lot of time searching for interesting new music on the internet. The desire behind the playlists was to make people aware of that new music – Hey guys, listen, there is more to our scene than our beloved classics! A sort of modern mixtapes we did in the 80’s. Many people don’t have the time anymore to spend hours searching for music on the internet or in record stores – they have their music players and mobile phones, listening to playlists on Spotify or other platforms. This form of listening to music will continue to play an important role in the future.

Cold Transmission with Silent Runners

(Ken) You have a festival in Cologne this July featuring some amazing acts. I’m beyond excited that Rachel and I will be going to witness it. Tell me about it, who will be there, and what are you celebrating?

(CT) The festival will be our first Cold Transmission festival. We are celebrating Andreas’s 50th birthday bash. We chose the Blue Shell in Cologne since we have very strong connections to that club and also close friends in Cologne since Suzy lived there for 20 years. The club has a storied history going back to the 80’s so they are quite experienced and passionate. Some really great bands which we also call our friends are playing live that night: Crying Vessel, IAMTHESHADOW, featuring members of Antipole, Joy/Disaster and Silent Runners. The after show party is hosted by our close friends of Disorder Cologne (Holger and Chantal) who have been successfully running that party for nearly 10 years now. We are also very proud and overjoyed to have a special DJ set by Pete Burns and Christian Schaefer of Rule of Three. A music blog that inspired us from the beginning. Pete recently garnered critical acclaim with his project Kill Shelter! Pete has also became very important to us personally at Cold Transmission through his friendship and guidance from our beginning. We have the feeling that this is not only a festival but also a way of connecting people with a common love of darkwave/postpunk music. People from all over the world are planning to come to Cologne to meet with bands and friends. For example Jim Walker from Push Button Press traveling all the way from Florida. It will be a great event and we are really looking forward to that! Glad that Rachel and you will also be part of it. Let’s make this a night to remember!

Andy with IAMTHESHADOW

(Ken) What do you look for in a potential band to sign to Cold Transmission?

(CT) Since we like to call our label our “Cold Transmission family” We are currently signing bands whose music we really like and believe in. People that are as passionate with their music as we are. We have close contacts to all bands signed to our label and support them in any way we can in a variety of ways. Every success the bands have makes us very happy and proud. We want to grow up together with our bands so it’s symbiotic in a sense. We also aim for long-term partnerships to achieve that. Of course we also want to have a good mixture of different music styles from different countries on our label especially in the Post-Punk and Coldwave genre. In nearly every country of the world you can find bands and artists from our scene and we are happy to have some of them on our label to show the variety that is out there.

Cold Transmission with Jot Disaster

(Ken) If you could travel back in time and see any show ever in recorded history, what would it be and why?

(CT) That would be shows of today’s Post-Punks icons like Joy Division in the late 70’s and early 80’s. To see such a show in a small club with around 20 people, listening to the music and having the feeling that something great is happening. That would have been awesome.

Since this was our first interview with someone who wasn’t a band I thought it was important to share some perspective of some of the people who surround Cold Transmission. Musicians, artists, producers about what this label means to them. Here are some of those thoughts.

Andy and Monographic

Jim Walker (Push Button Press) “I will let a big secret about the label out of the bag, Suzy is the secret special sauce that makes everything fall into place.

(SYZYGYX) “Suzy’s and Andy’s passion for music shows in the way they treat their artists, we’ve been lucky to work with such amazing people and label, and look forward to continue working with them. They know the scene, they’re knowledgeable on how to target the audience and promote! Love Cold Transmission”

Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) “They are great enthusiasts of the dark Scene, wonderfull people and my friends. I knew them long before they started Cold Transmission, in WGT, Leipzig, 2017 but now its another level. They are growing and its a great thing for the dark scene in Europe hey are very passionate about the music being made. Its great for all the bands what they are doing, They once told me they had the idea of Cold Transmission, after we meet in WGT, 2017. :)”

Silent Runners “Like many people in the scene we met Andy and Suzy online, enthusiastically spreading our music on forums and groups within the scene. From the start they were the greatest supporters a band can hope for! They really have a personal love for music and the scene and want to spread it so other people can enjoy it as well. Since we met personally on WGT2018 we’ve been in touch weekly. Seems only logical that we recently took the next step and joined their great label family as band. We hope to do great stuff together in the future.”

Monographic “Cold Transmission is not a “normal ” record label! For us, its more a collaboration between friends for the most important thing… music!!! They’re doing a lot for new bands and for the underground scene. You can feel, its not about the money compared to other labels, its more about spreading the love … Suzy and Andreas are doing everything, for the bands to keep moving forward and you can see they are doing it right. We hope to be part of it in the many years to come and we look forward to the bright future of their label”

Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) “Andy and Suzy have been great supporters of both Rule of Three (which I run with my partner in crime Christian Schaefer) and also my personal Kill Shelter project so I can’t thank them enough for that really. They are extremely passionate, kind and energetic people and are always incredibly positive – you need unbridled enthusiasm and optimism to work in this industry and they have that in spades. I’ve been lucky enough to help them with engineering and mastering of some of their releases and that’s just been an absolute joy. I’m hoping we’ll do more of that in 2019. I’ll be heading to Germany in July for the Cold Transmission Festival & Disorder Party where Christian and I will be doing a special audio/visual DJ set and we have some surprises lined up for that. It will be an honor to be part of that event and I really hope they have a magical time – they deserve it.”

Interview of Palais Ideal

Band: Palais Ideal
Album: No Signal


Label: Dark Vinyl Records – Now on Cold Transmission Records
JOHN EDWARDS:  VOCALS, GUITARS, SYNTHESIZERS, PROGRAMMING 
RICHARD VAN KRUYSDIJK: BASS, SYNTHESIZERS, BACKING VOCALS, BARITONE GUITAR, PROGRAMMING 
Produced, Mixed and Mastered by: Uwe Teichert At Electropolis

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/album/no-signal

https://www.facebook.com/palaisideal/

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/album/pressure-points

Palais Ideal means the Ideal Palace. A concept of building a home or place from the things you find in everyday life. This is an album that achieves something I think is so lost in the modern music scene. Each song is so unique in it’s sound and style. All the ideas tie together but the songs themselves have such an individual sound and aesthetic. This is a intellectual thinking album that has a calculated scientific arc. The songs are poppy and engaging but the words behind each song are a challenge and inspiration. This band from Netherlands attacks themes of politics and technology in the modern world. Lofty ideas that go beyond the standard party themes you could expect from club beats and hook melodies. I found myself lost and found following this story laid out about the hardship and pitfalls which face the modern person. I think the true genius on display was how easy it was to set aside these thoughts and get lost in how fun and energetic the songs sounded.

John Edwards vocals are a master class in range and engagement. From driving chants, beautiful croons, spirited edge, along with playful tongue and cheek. The theme and sound changes within each song and from one to the next. The synths are masterfully sculpted to create a rising falling tide of emotion. Van Kruysdijk’s guitars and bass lines are a driving cacophony of sound and style that build an express train for Edward’s vocals to ride upon. I hear New Order, Joy Division, Information Society, Pet Shop Boys, Japan. All are blending together but the fusion creates something unique that finds it’s own path. From a technical standpoint the music is as precise as the lyrics. No sound is wasted or lost. This is purposeful production that has a journey and a destination. I love when a true professional enhances their vision with craft and that is what Palais Ideal has achieved. I listened to this album 4 times before attempting to review it and I feel like I am just scratching the surface.

Having trouble choosing standout tracks because the flavor is so different with each but here goes
Standout tracks:

Crossfade/Dissolve – Here is that beautiful New Order chanting anthem sound right off the bat. It’s catchy, it’s evolved, the lyrics are delivered with just enough sharp edges to enhance the emotion while having this beautiful calculation of an architect building a better world. I played this track 7 times and regretted none of them.

Deity – Beautiful sped up cut time drums. Textural open voice lyrics delivered with a driving cadence. Again this song has such a science fiction story delivered with a build that opens up with a wonderful guitar line. This is the soundtrack of a future I fear that strikes a logical chord.

A Black Noise – This one gets dark, really dark. A droning Bauhaus drum beat with sinister guitar riffs. Edwards drops his voice to the low register to paint a frightening picture of fear and loss. “Every secret sight and sound, where are they now. A million voices underground, where did they go.” This bassline has a Sisters of Mercy Floodland drive. It’s a fierce and frightening emotion that captures and grasps.

Overall this album is just well done. The highs are high the lows are low. It’s an album you can dance in the club to but take home and really listen for the deeper meaning. I found myself falling into it like a pit that had no bottom. What an experience, what a record. You need this, if you are up for the challenge.

After spending a lot of time with the album I got the chance to talk with John and Richard a bit about what went into the construction and vision of the record. As well as get to know the artists who created it.

(Ken) – I did a bit of research about your name Palais Ideal and found there was a lot more to it then I originally suspected. Why did you choose it and what did it mean to you?

(Palais Ideal) – The Palais Ideal – “Ideal Palace” in French – is a strange and eccentric 19thcentury building that was created by Ferdinand Fernando Cheval, a postman from Southeastern France. He had no formal training as an architect, but collected stones while he delivered letters and built his very odd palace. A perfect metaphor for the desire to create something purely because it ought to be created – which is the foundation of all great art! We love austerity and starkness, but are also heavily into romanticism and bizarre ideas – like building your own private palace!

(Ken) – You have plenty of experience which I feel brought richness and depth to the album. Tell me what you have coming out down the road and what led into it?

(John) – Palais Ideal has only been around for two years, but Richard and I formed our very first band together ages ago, playing a mix of prog rock and goth. Over the years, I’ve been in bands performing everything from latin music to technical death metal. The fact that we both play different instruments and have experience arranging, recording and producing has also helped us to get where we wanted to be. The next big thing for us is the upcoming release of our second album, on which we’ve brought together a wider range of influences than before – from Low-era Bowie and classical music to funk pop and krautrock. We kept pushing each other in interesting new directions and wanted to see how much we could expand, while still staying more or less within the post-punk and new wave genres.

(Richard) – I have been exploring many different musical styles, albeit all of the darker, melancholic variety. Early new wave and post-punk are my roots, and to create something that references this musical era feels very natural to me. We are trying to keep our musical direction and style very clear, and at the same time looking for ways to find our personal ‘signature’ within the genre. A very interesting journey!

(Ken) – Music is usually not all glitz and glamour. You need to pick moments to fuel you into the next. What is the moment you are most proud of in your career?

(John) – For me, touring in Germany with Clan of Xymox was a big occasion – if I’d have known that would happen when I was a teenager listening to their albums, my head would presumably have exploded. We toured the UK last year, which was another wonderful experience. Of course, working with the legendary John Fryer, who produced many of our favorite albums, has been incredible – he’s brought a whole new perspective and has been delightful to work with. We’ve had a lot of great reviews and met some wonderful people through our music, which is highly inspiring. In May, we’re releasing our new album at an event featuring some of our favorite bands – She Past Away, Selofan and Auger – and we’re looking forward to that!

(Richard) – I am fortunate to be able to say that there are so many moments that come to mind! For instance: watching Gitane Demone delivering spine-tingling vocals in the studio on a track by another band that I am involved in: Phallus Dei. To have co-written songs with heroes such as Graham Lewis (Wire), David J (Bauhaus), Winston Tong and Blaine L. Reininger (Tuxedomoon), Peter Christopherson (Coil), Edward Ka-Spel (Legendary Pink Dots) and Larboe (Swans). Also memorable is the tour I did with Daniel Johnston, for whom I arranged three songs for big band. A very special programme! As for Palais Ideal: There have already been so many highlights in our short existence! I’m proud of our videos, our releases, and especially our upcoming album.

(Ken) – So one of the things that enamored me with this record was its eclectic nature. Every song has it’s own flavor. Who was your inspiration and how did you make the styles fit together?

(John) – I’m a big prog rock fan, especially the early 1970s stuff, such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson. On many of the albums from that period, each song would be clearly built around a specific concept, which could be a musical theme or lyric, yet all tracks would be tied together. It made sense to try this approach within a post-punk concept: creating a self-contained little world around the musical and lyrical concept of each song.

(Richard)Before we started, we defined a very clear sound for our music: what kind of drum sounds, synths, bass and guitars we were going to use. The fact that there is a logical connection between these sound elements, allows us to go to the heart of each song without the album becoming incoherent. We are always looking for clarity in our musical ideas and arrangement. Every track should be a strong statement in itself.

(Ken) – So “Seen Missing” was a song that has been playing over and over on my phone all week. The lyrics has such a mystery of a secret message. Maybe it is the double entendre in the name 🙂 What was going on when you wrote this, tell me the secret?

(John) – Basically, it’s about the fact that, thanks to the internet, we currently have access to a huge amount of art, music, writing and more. We can access all of this at any time, from anywhere. Countless great ideas and creations that might have been forgotten forever are available to us. It’s important that we look back and remember all of the people that came before us, re-evaluate what they’ve created, and share our discoveries. A lot of our lyrics are a bit bleak, kind of techno-paranoia “Black Mirror” stuff, but technology can also have a huge positive influence on our lives.

(Ken) – To me seeing a great band live needs to be a different experience than hearing the record. Tell me what you do live that makes it different?

(John) – Personally, I’d rather see a band like Motorhead playing than watch some dude behind a laptop. We like to get carried away and focus on getting across as much energy as we can and involve the audience. It’s fun to goad each other on a bit on stage. One of the greatest gigs I’ve ever seen was The Fall, who were completely serious and totally entertaining at the same time. Why shouldn’t post-punk be fun?

(Richard) – Whereas in the studio one can zoom in on the details, on stage it’s about the right energy. A live performance is, first and foremost, about communication. To feel connected with the audience is a great sensation that can take you to great heights on stage. Most important thing is to be fully authentic and really go into the feeling of a song. We dive in head first into our shows and people feel that. A live show is about celebrating the moment. We have played quite a lot, hitting the stage just a few months after we started, and we have taken that experience back into the studio and into song writing.

(Ken) – We have talked about something happening lately in dark music. A Renaissance, what do you hear and what does it mean for you?

(John) – There are quite a few contemporary bands that are making music that is strongly inspired by the “golden age” of post-punk, new wave and goth, but with a contemporary spin and new energy. At the same time, a lot of the 80’s generation of musicians are reappearing, or still going strong. I think people are pretty sick of the generally pathetic, bland and whimsical nonsense that the music industry is forcing on them, and looking for something that dares to ask relevant questions and tackle difficult themes. There’s a kind of grassroots movement happening across different countries, with new labels, blogs and bands that are just ignoring the status quo. Something similar has been happening in the Synthwave scene, and it’s great to see how so many people have picked up on that.

(Ken) – If you could play with one band current or gone who would it be and why?

(John) – I think being on the same bill as Killing Joke would be pretty awesome. We have a lot of respect for them, musically, and also because they’ve been doing their own thing for decades. I’d also love to perform with Joy Division, The Sound or one of the Rozz Williams incarnations of Christian Death, although that’ll never happen for obvious reasons. If I could join someone else’s band for a day, it would be early Genesis or Van Der Graaf Generator 😉

(Ken) – This one is for the gear heads. What is one piece of equipment you couldn’t make your sound without?

(John) – I bought some late 90s USA-built PRS guitars last year and couldn’t do without them! My Roland Jazz Chorus 120 amp and my Juno and Oberheim synths are pretty inspirational, too. Although we use a lot of hardware and tube gear, we’re both big fans of the UAD hardware and software platforms. However, I like to think that we’d still sound like us if we were limited to a pair of banjos

(Richard)My ’62 Fender Jazz bass is totally the sound that I love! As for synths: My Prophet 5 features in every song we make. The most beautiful synth for me.

(Ken) If you could use dark magic to span time and steal one dead musician from history to join your band, who would you summon forth?

(John) Bowie! We’d let him do anything he wanted to, obviously… Johann Sebastian Bach on keys would be quite good, too.

Interview with: Twin Tribes

About a year ago I had an awakening. I had spent many years wrapped in the music of my past. I clung to the same mainstay bands I had been enjoying and had given up a bit on finding something new that inspired me. Then something happened, I found this band from Texas. Two young men that created something so familiar and so fresh at the same time. Twin Tribes album Shadows spoke to me, filled me with hope for a future of dark music that took what had built my passion with intricate snake charmed guitar, thick driving bass lines, and romantic sensual vocals that transported me to another place. A place still full of magic and mystery. I decided I needed to share this feeling and started the music review page Sounds and Shadows. Since then I have discovered a whole universe and wonder in modern music. It all started with that first review of Shadows by Twin Tribes. I even got a chance to play a show with Luis and Joel and saw the same thing in their live show I first heard that first time I spun the record. Tonight I finally get to publish this long awaited interview with these talented artists. I hope it gives you a glimpse into their process and how I have also come to love the people behind that beautiful music.

https://www.facebook.com/TwinTribes/

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/album/shadows

Ken: Your live show and album captures such symmetry of sound and stage performance. Two people who know and care about each other. How did you meet and how does that history come through in the music you make?

Joel: – We met through a previous band we were in. Luis joined as our keyboard player, and we kind of went from there. We both learned a lot through our separate experiences in music, and with other projects. When Luis first showed me the demo for Shadows, I was instantly hooked. I told him as much, too, and made sure to let him know I was there in case he ever needed a bass player, or my help in any way. When he reached out and we came together for Twin Tribes, we were adamant about not making the same mistakes we had in the past. We have given of ourselves equally into making the music that we dearly love, and I think we can both agree that our friendship, and respect for each other, has grown in this last year working together.

Ken: Shadows is an album I play constantly and love to tell people about. It is deeply personal and stirs emotion. Tell me about how you write songs together, what is your process?

Luis: – I think the writing process differs. Sometimes I can come up with an idea/riff, record it and send it to Joel and he will give me feedback or add to it. But also sometimes we get together and create a song from scratch with both of us in the same room. Then after we have structured the song we’ll leave the lyrics for the end.

Ken: You have had such success in 2018 with the album, are you surprised by this? What is your goal for 2019?

Luis – We’re definitely surprised by the success the album has had and just the positive reaction it has caused in general. When we created Shadows we had no expectations. We simply wanted to create an album from our inspirations and put it into tape. We had no idea we would end up working with labels and releasing it on vinyl. It’s still surreal for us.

Joel – Our goal for this year is to release another album, tour, and make so many new friends along the way. Honestly, I’ve met some amazing and interesting people in our travels, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things.


 Ken: Doing music as a career is a difficult journey. It takes great will and desire. What drives you to keep on and making music?

Luis: It definitely is a difficult journey, especially balancing it out with our careers on the side. I think the love for the music is what keeps us motivated. After this year, our motivation has only increased to continue, and we’re excited to share the new music soon.

Ken: You have gotten to play with some incredible bands lately. I know when we played with you it was intimidating, wanting to be our best. Is there anyone you played with that intimidated you because you respected them so much? 

Luis: Getting to meet and play with other talented artists is one of the best things that Twin Tribes has brought us. I’ll always get nervous whether it’s playing by ourselves or playing a sold out show with a famous band. Just to name a few that made us feel that way were Zanias, Indradevi, Mr. Kitty, Spectres, Altar de Fey and Second Still.

Joel: All of those bands that Luis mentioned. I’ll add that the Actors, Creux Lies, Bootblacks bill we just played was especially nerve wracking. When you’re surrounded by so many talented musicians, you can’t help but feel a little nervous. It’s a humbling feeling. 

Ken:  I’ve listened to your LP many times and have a lot of favorite tracks but “Portal to the Void” sticks with me. What was your inspiration for this song and how did you bring it to life?

Luis: Portal was created with our Roland JX-3P’s sequencer. We used that for the main synth riff, and then started adding layers to it and the song was born. It was inspired by a clairvoyant character from a show called Penny Dreadful. 

Ken: When you came to Detroit I took you to Lafayette Coney island at 1:33 am to have a true Detroit Coney. On your tours and travels what is the most amazing thing you got to eat?

Luis: This question has been asked several times and I will say it again. My most memorable moment from that tour was having hot dogs with everyone that night. I found it so funny when our friend Jack, from Panic Priest, almost killed me for putting ketchup on my hot dog, lol. That Detroit Coney was the best.

Joel: I’ll be honest, we had some pretty amazing BBQ at Smoke and Fire in Kansas City, but the one that still sticks out for me is La Chaparrita in Chicago. I ate a huarache, and tried some fermented pineapple juice for the first time. So delicious. Shout out to Benny Hernandez and his lovely wife for taking us there!

Ken: Your sound obviously plays homage to previous sounds (The Cure, Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine) if you could play with any band living or dead who would it be?

Luis: Part of our sound was inspired by the early 80’s albums by The Cure and Depeche Mode, of course. I would have loved to live in the decade of the dark 80’s and play with obscure bands like Asylum Party, Carmody and Samedi, just to name a few.

Joel – One of my personal Heroes and inspirations, David Bowie. Cue that song now. 

Ken: For my gear head readers, your sound has a unique feel. What piece of equipment could you not have made this album without?

Luis: The gear we used is what gave us our sound aside from the hours of creating patches. Definitely the Roland JX-3P, Korg Poly 800, Roland TR-707, Roland JC 120 and the LinnDrum.

Ken: If you could download the ability to play any instrument, like in The Matrix, what would it be to enhance your sound?

Luis: I would definitely enhance my synth playing skills since it’s not my main instrument. The little I know is mostly self taught. Maybe even drums because my coordination is garbage. 

Joel: If piano is the red pill, and drums are the blue pill, I’m throwing blinding powder at Morpheus and taking them both. I’m “The One”, dude, I do what I want. 

Twin Tribes are currently prepping for a west coast tour. If you live in that area and love yourself at all you will witness that show.

Review and Interview of Actors

Band: Actors

Album: It Will Come to You

Label: Northern Light Records

Members: Jason Corbett – vocals/guitar
Shannon Hemmett – synth/vocals
Jahmeel Russell – bass/vocals
Adam Fink – drums

https://www.facebook.com/actors1984/

https://actors.bandcamp.com/album/it-will-come-to-you-lp

www.youtube.com/ACTORStheband

Ok I have taken a bit of a hiatus from writing reviews prepping for a show but when Jason Corbett calls me out to review what is one of the most important new albums of 2018 I better crack my knuckles and get in front of my keyboard. When I first heard this Vancouver based band I was spell bound. Transported in time and enthralled by the sheer cold razor coolness of this record. It started really blowing up and I suppose I just felt like Actors were so good they didn’t need me to write about them as much as other new bands I was getting into at the time. However to not express what this album meant would be a disservice just because of music love communism. This record just cooks from front to back with throwback sounds, perfect precision and continuity, while lyrically bringing a fresh and modern take that resonates with everyone I play it for. Do you know how Ian McCulloch is a once and a life time sound that no one can really capture ever again? When I hear Jason Corbett I hear a young Ian crooning out effortless expressive lines that wrap you up and transport you. I’ve mentioned many times in reviews being a singer myself I always hone in on vocals first and Corbett delivers a sonic artistry of wide scope and emotion that makes every song feel like an intimate performance just for you. Not to understate his guitar work, when I saw the Actors live in Detroit I was blown away by how he shredded. The guitar lines while fitting in the post punk sound have a jagged edge. He was also wearing a Slayer shirt when he played them.

Musically this album is diverse in a way so missing from “Post Punk” today. It changes so much in tone and scope from song to song. Everything blends together in one story but just like a complex character in a novel it is so full of intricate parts. Hemmett is a maestro of subtle brush stokes in the synth sounds contradicting the sharp moving guitar parts. They build, fall, and create movement. Russell has studied hard at the Martin Hannett school of using the bass as a percussion instrument to drive these songs and feed life. I remember being surprised how large a bass he plays live, but sometimes to get the big sound you need a big instrument. They are dark and bracing and surround you in the motion of a chase scene after a heist in a bright lit city on a cool night. Fink uses a crisp snapping drum sound that builds a foundation for the constant movement and swirling parts. I can’t remember the last time a record felt so much like a beautiful sound track of a film that was never made. You can’t help but conjure images of these songs in your head. It’s a magnificent effect which continues to grow every time I listen to it. Actors are not creating a brand new sound here, but they are playing at a level of quality in their synthesis of glam, post punk, electronic, and new wave that you feel like new ground is being broken. I’m truly awed by what is accomplished here and I am not alone.

So now we have reached the hard part, how do I pick standout tracks on an album that was meant to be absorbed as a single flowing piece. It’s not singles here. Every cut is a deep perfect cut. Ok , self, be professional, I’ll try.

Face Meets Glass – I suppose if there is a “single” this is it. Such a lush and vibrant song in a dark tone. Here you can definitely hear the Echo and the Bunnymen comparison. It’s just slick city streets, black leather jackets, the coolest girl in the room dancing alone. If Ian McCulloch, Peter Hook, Iggy Pop, and Gary Numan were hanging out at a club in Berlin at 1:47am this would be the song they would listen to.

Let it Grow – Here the Post Punk edge is let off the chain. This bassline is as thick as a slow river. An elegant builder full of background guitar and stabbing single note keyboards that just keep getting layered as the song progresses. Flavors of New Order smashing Technique into Movement. Why did no one think of this before?

Slaves – All these days that you fear, there’s no god, only what you had to offer. Holy shit this is a burner. The simple slashing guitar riff, that bassline that just rolls over you like a Mack truck. I could hear this song 200 times on repeat and it would never not be a jam. It drives on the edge but in a medium tempo. This is the song I want to play while doing a jewel heist in a black turtleneck in New York while the revolution begins. (Note:Since writing this review I have definitely listened to this song more than 200 times)

Overall this album is a true modern day classic. It’s ambitious, perfectly executed, and full of homage. Actors are leading the charge in a Neo-Renaissance of dark wave music. If you don’t know about this album yet you need to get it immediately and be in the inside of what is becoming a rising movement in modern music. Find this, love it, hold the vinyl in your hands and spin it many times.

Wait, there is more? Yes our own Rachel Pool got a chance to do this insightful interview with a Jason who we love dearly.

(Rachel) Explain, in ten words or less, the music scene in Vancouver.

(Jason) It’s a thriving hotbed of talent.

(Rachel) What made you choose the name, ACTORS?

(Jason) It felt just interesting enough. All the good names were taken and Duran Duran Duran was too long.

(Rachel) Does that name allow you some security in your songwriting? Was it by intent to create a lyrical fiction? How much of your songs are written from life experience? 

(Jason) A name means less and less as time passes. It’s not something I think about. All the songs are written from life experience although it’s not 100% autobiographical. Sometimes you just need a visual and a good rhyme.

(Rachel) Describe the original formation of Actors. How did musicians of your talent level come to together into one singular vision?

(Jason) We are all friends first. It just made sense for us to fall together with ACTORS. We respect each other and everyone has something special to contribute. I couldn’t do this with just anyone.

(Rachel) Bands of brothers and sisters: what do you argue about most, as a band? 

(Jason) We don’t really argue. I snore so I’m pretty sure the others members have wrestled with the idea of holding a pillow over my face in the middle of the night.



(Rachel) How do you feel about remixes? Are they necessary to band networking? Is it comfortable to have other bands interpret your music, and how do you deal with what you may feel is an inaccurate rendition of your song, or indeed one which may have captured the spirit/leitmotif better?

(Jason) I’ve recently started doing remixes for other artists again. It’s fun. I haven’t had anyone remix an ACTORS song since the first single Post Traumatic Love. I don’t think they are “necessary” but I do love to hear different interpretations of songs. Sometimes a remix will be better than the original.

(Rachel) If you could have any band/musician remix one of your songs, who would you choose?

(Jason) I would love to see what David Lynch would come up with. Maybe he would just light one of our records on fire and record it burning.

(Rachel) How did you find music? Did you grow up with musicians, or did a certain album or artist inspire you to create music yourself?

(Jason) It was always around. The radio and music videos on tv. Bowie was the first big inspiration for me. Ziggy Stardust > Let’s Dance > Scary Monsters, in that order.

(Rachel) Your album has been considered by many to be one of the most important releases of 2018, does this shock you? What is a best case scenario of what you want to accomplish in 2019?

(Jason) I wanted to believe that if enough people heard these songs that the album would find an audience. I had learned to temper my expectations over the years so the reception this time around was initially hard to believe. Best case scenario is we keep touring and continue to create opportunities to connect with more and more people. We plan on releasing our next full-length album in 2020.

(Rachel) There has to be at least one of you who is a Cat Person™ . Freyja Six Beans(our cat) sat on our computer desk and had to be forcibly removed several times while we were playing your album. How can you explain your animal magnetism?

(Jason) You’re very intuitive. We love cats. I’m sorry you had to forcibly remove Freyja Six Beans on our account. Can animal magnetism be explained?