Ever since Monarchy first came onto the scene, their music instantly caught my attention. "Love Get Outta My Way" (originally a Milke tune) remains one of the few pop gems that I never tire of no matter how many times I hear it. Since then, the band have went on to become mysterious electronic icons as such, slowly releasing their music to the public to critical acclaim and fan appreciation.
I caught up with Andrew from Monarchy to talk about their the mystique around them, the change from Milke to Monarchy, the state of the music industry and what we can expect from their debut album expected to drop mid January, 2011.
Well hello Andrew, how are you today and where are you answering our interview questions from…
We’re good. I’m answering on behalf of Monarchy, and I’m currently sitting at my laptop tapping away as the dusk settles over an autumnal London, the last breaths of summer slowly seeping out of the year. We’re looking forward to winter, in a self-punishment kind of way. I think winter suits our music better.
So tell me, how did the whole "broadcast a gig into space" thing come about? Did you make contact with any other life forms from that adventure?
It’s quite hard to know if we made contact. Assuming that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, then it hasn’t even reached the outer solar system, and so no aliens will even know about it unless they have somehow discovered us already. Actually, we’re hopeful that the transmission will curve back around, and re-enter Earth, bouncing off Iceland, and then bouncing off a man-hole cover in Matthew Street, Liverpool, just as The KLF’s Bill Drummond walks across it. Bill Drummond prophesized it in his book 45, and we’re trying to make it come true. We decided on space as our platform because so many people use space to try and understand what it is to live on Earth, and what it is to be human. Only by subtracting yourself and abstracting your environment do you gain understanding of your immediate surroundings and inner self. That is why so many sci-fi movies are just metaphors for life and for humanity. In the same way, we are using space as our vehicle, our canvas to paint our emotions across, to try and understand ourselves.
Now, you guys know that I love you and your music, but tell me, why hide the faces? You boys have lovely faces, I've seen them…are you guys trying to be Daft-Punky?
Thank you Raj, very kind. We aren’t trying to be Daft Punky. There’s a whole history of hidden faces in art, everything from The Art of Noise, to Banksy, to Daft Punk as you mentioned, The Residents, and plenty more. We just felt like identity had gone too far, and people, through facebook and twitter and so on, have so saturated their surroundings with identity that it has lost all meaning and context. Instead of increasing it, it’s become so over done that people are forced to turn off from the constant push of other people’s identity. And so while b-grade artists are twittering away about what they had for lunch in the hope of gaining more fans, we wanted to flip it over and remove ourselves to a degree. We wanted less identity rather than more, so our listeners can be treated with intelligence and dignity to make up their own minds about our music. The problem is, that because there is a super-saturation of musicians personal lives, then it’s lost all the mystique, and also they have to be incredibly bland to be pushed out there. So as a result, the most exciting thing about them is they go jogging. It’s really not that exciting a prospect to hang a pop artist on.
Why did you guys think it was the right decision to abandon Milke and go in the direction of Monarchy? Was this a record label thing about imaging and brand? I quite liked the whole motif of Milke.
It definitely wasn’t a record label thing, we quit the other band a while before the label came on board. We had written a new song, which is "Gold in the Fire", around September last year, and it felt like it was different to the rest of the stuff we’d written. It was more dreamy and synthy and progressive. As well as that, we were working with a new visual artist, and we felt that the music and the visual side of things were definitely a different beast to what had come before. So, almost on a whim, we changed our name. And it was incredible. We felt so inspired creatively and freed from all the dead skin and rubbish of the last project, the frustrations and sleepless nights, we felt born again to be truly creative and to start something fresh with a new perspective. We’ve never regretted it once. Many artists change their names, Caribou, White Lies, Hurts, even a lot of big bands like Radiohead and Coldplay, Blur, started out under different names.
You guys shot two versions for your video to "Love Get Outta My Way" which is an epic song by the way. How come two videos? Were they aimed at difference audiences or did you think, "nah – let's re-do the first one…"
The first one was okay, a lot of the ideas were there, but somehow it went a little off track in the edit, and we ended up with something that didn’t feel right with the track. It wasn’t what we expected I guess, and we attempted to revive it, but ultimately failed. So we handed that video over to the Benny Bennassi remix, and shot a new video, which is much simpler and to the point, a more harshly stylized video with a simple idea. We do like the first one, but I guess just not quite enough.
I saw a tweet that the album had leaked the other day…how do you guys feel about leaks and such? Horrible thing for the arts or interesting promotional tool?
We have so many conflicting feelings on that, and it’s such a cornucopia of emotions that it’s hard to enter that battlefield and come out unharmed. It’s impossible to tell people to not listen to our music when they are liking it so much. So we won’t engage in that question, and simply answer ‘mu’. And we hope they enjoy the album.
What are some of your favorite tracks from the album – any gems we may have not heard yet?
I admit I love "You Don’t Want To Dance With Me", which is a slow grind number. It’s a production sound I really wanted to get, and I feel it meshes with the song really well. Originally we wrote it at double tempo, but it works better with hips pushed together in a sweaty embrace.
One of my favorite tracks of yours is "Gold In The Fire" – can you tell me a little bit about how that song came about?
There's a special state that exists in the first month of a relationship that is like no other experience. All the chemicals running rampant through your body express themselves in explosions of emotion and instability. The song is about trying to be cool in that first month, trying to be OK if that person decided to leave.
You did your debut London show not too long ago – I was in the audience and throughly enjoyed it. Did you feel any pressure about playing to the London crowd, knowing that a lot was to be expected from you…the hype machine has been in overdrive about you guys for quite some time…
Yes we did feel a lot of pressure, but funnily enough, when we found out it was sold out it felt like a bit of a relief. We thought we could really create something with that kind of anticipation and excitement. Having said that, my hands were shaking so much playing the synth solo on "The Phoenix Alive" that I messed it up a little. I don’t think anybody noticed.
When people listen to your album for the first time – is there anything you want them to keep in mind? Set the tone perhaps…
It’s a journey. We’re travelling from emotion to emotion, from situation to situation. In a way we’re looking at it as a transitionary album, dealing with so many things that we’ve had to understand in order to try and be better people and to understand ourselves. So hopefully people can empathise with that journey and come with us on the ride. Hopefully they unlock the personal message inside each song and grow with it.
That's it guys – thanks so much for your time. Any parting words for Electroqueer readers?
We love your site. It’s great.