Empire of the Sun
the Biopic...in two Acts...so far
Act 1 ... Walking On A Dream
In 2008, two of Australia’s leading musician/producers LUKE STEELE (The Sleepy Jackson) and NICK LITTLEMORE (Pnau) created a vision that seemed to come from an alternative reality - a post-apocalyptic psychedelic adventure known as EMPIRE OF THE SUN. The resulting album Walking On A Dream went on to sell a million-plus copies worldwide, spawning the singles 'We Are The People', 'Walking On A Dream', 'Standing on the Shore', 'Without You' and 'Half-Mast'. 8 ARIA awards (including Album of The Year), 2 BRIT nominations (including Best International Album) and countless other accolades followed.
The Empire live show became the highlight of many summer festivals with its larger-than-life production featuring stunning visuals, dancing swordfish girls, cryo-bazookas and otherworldly special effects. The band’s 2011 US Coachella Festival performance was reviewed like this: “The easiest way to blast off wasn’t with MDMA, LSD, peyote, or any other mind-expanding drug. It was with sci-fi Australian dance outfit Empire of the Sun, whose set was out of this world.”
Empire of the Sun became equally known for their innovative and evocative music videos - a series of journeys across the known and unknown universe – which have chalked up more than 50 million YouTube views to date. Almost 5 years on, the next chapter in the ever-evolving Empire saga commenced with the unveiling of a new trailer “Discovery” - HYPERLINK "http://vevo.ly/WIK6vL"http://vevo.ly/WIK6vL, produced by Kelvin Optical, Inc. (a division deep within Bad Robot) and the release of the first single, 'Alive'.
Act 2 - The New Album …. - Ice On The Dune
For the truly great artists, pop’s parameters are infinite, non-existent, unknown.
“This album is a lot more scoped out than the last one,” explains Emperor Steele. “We had to go further out to get what we were looking for. We’ve been like big wave surfers, chasing the songs.”
A twelve song master class in crystalline, ultra-vivid cosmic pop, Ice On The Dune takes the conceptual vision of BRIT nominated, ARIA sweeping, global smash Walking On A Dream and goes widescreen. In hyper-real HD. With surround sound.
“Music for us is about articulating the feelings you can’t put into words,” adds Lord Littlemore. “In the same way different languages don’t fully translate, music can bridge that gap emotionally. We want to make music that is transcendental.”
Recorded in a “world tour of studios” in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and New Zealand Ice on the Dune is pop like you’ve never heard before. And pop as you’ve always known it. It’s music for the heart, the head, the feet and the soul (head-dress optional). The Emperor and the Lord elaborate:
Scene 1 ... LUX
Steele: “We’ve never written anything like this before. The string arrangement is by a classical composer called Henry Hay, who Nick’s been working with on Cirque de Soleil.”
Littlemore: “We would listen to it every day as we started work. Walking On A Dream was all about surrendering to the music. Ice On The Dune is more aspirational. We want to shoot out positivity like an arrow from our chest.”
Steele: “It sounds like the Empire ship has come back into the port. Or is heading into battle.”
Scene 2 ... DNA
Steele: “One of the last tracks we recorded. On this one the effect we’re after in the listener is a warm glow. Like lying in front of a log fire with a labrador as a pillow.”
Littlemore: “A very laid-back energy, reminiscent of the first record. It captures that sense you get sometimes of being in the perfect environment. Where everything that happens is the right thing to happen…”
Scene 3 ... ALIVE
Littlemore: “Sheer joy and exaltation. The line: 'Loving every minute because you make me feel so alive” is almost like an old copywriting by-line, but if the delivery is right it can sum up so much. There’s an emotional intensity to it everyone can relate to. ”
Steele: “We recorded it between Santa Monica and Nick’s studio in New York. Musically, it’s a bit of a weird one. The tempo changes all the time. Sometimes the tempo is really quick, and at others it’s slower. It sucks you in. Like quicksand.”
Scene 4 ... CONCERT PITCH
Littlemore: “This is from the very first sessions in New York. Luke left the studio one night and said he was going for dinner. He didn’t come back for two days. When he did, he was a changed man…”
Steele: “It was a really heavy time. I was in the middle of touring the world and I was really stressed out. I went on a really big bender and ended waking up at eight o’clock at night thinking: ‘what is going on?’. I came up with the opening line: 'I don’t want to be complicated…' and it all flowed from there..”
Scene 5 ... ICE ON THE DUNE
Steele: “It’s the title track, and the name of the musical and the movie we’re working on with Bad Robot. It’s about how the Emperor’s head-dress is stolen by The King Of Shadows, bringing chaos to the world.”
Littlemore: “Musically, it took a lot of work. We push each other very hard in the studio. When the ideas are flowing there’s an electric feeling I can only compare to shamanism. This is a good example. There’s an energy created, formed through the combined belief of every person within the room.”
Scene 6 ... AWAKENING
Littlemore: “We always try to make everything hyper-real and fantastical by using all everything at our disposal: synthesisers, made sounds, found sounds, session players. This is a great example of that. Unbridled energy.”
Steele: “It’s just a great tune. Another chapter in the story of The Emperor and The Prophet...”
Scene 7 ... I’LL BE AROUND
Littlemore: “This is the heart of the album for me, along with ‘Alive’. The words reflect the emotional state I was in. I’d been away from my lady for two months and I really needed to send a message out to the universe and to her.”
Steele: ‘I love this track. It always had a great melody but we must have done about eight versions of it. There’s even a Pet Shop Boys kind of version somewhere. All the time Nick and I would look at each other during the sessions and say: ‘Does it get you here, in the heart?’ In the end, it had to be a ballad. ”
Scene 8 ... OLD FLAVOURS
Steele: “Throughout the process everyone was telling us to put a vocal on this tune. But the minute you put a lyric on there, it becomes a song. The mood changes. It’s just a great dance jam, like something you’d hear on a Daft Punk record.”
Scene 9 ... CELEBRATE
Steele: “This is another one which went through the ringer (laughs). We did over a hundred tracks for the record and 'Celebrate' kept coming back into the reckoning. It was like the guest who gets kicked out of the party, leaves for good and then you make friends again. It had to prove its worth.”
Littlemore: “It was like finding a map where you couldn’t read the symbols and so you don’t know how to follow it. But we figured it out in the end.”
Scene 10 ... SURROUND SOUND
Steele: “We did this at the same time as 'Old Flavours' during the very first sessions at Downtown Music in New York. It hung around the party and no one ever really wanted it to leave.”
Littlemore: “…We’re always looking for that one line in a lyric which can capture a universal feeling. ‘There’s a sound that follows us around’. Everyone can relate to that.”
Scene 11 ... DISARM
Steele: “We did this one in Hollywood right at the very end of the recording. It was going to be a b-side then everyone seemed to think we should put it on the record. It’s something different. You can hear the melody that’s in the middle eight on every song on the record!”
Littlemore: “A late night track. It’s got a real charm to it. A Jamaican, reggae feel. Luke’s an incredible singer. He’s got a great grain in his voice which means you can have a sharp, rhythmic vocal but it can still sound melodic and funky.”
Scene 12 ... KEEP A WATCH
Steele: “Nick wrote the lyrics to this one. It’s kind of like the message after the journey. It’s the point where The Emperor goes: ‘I’ll keep a watch over you guys”. That sense that God is watching over all of us. ”
Littlemore: “The Harlem Gospel Choir are singing on it. A torch song. I can see Freddie Mercury singing it under the spotight. Musically, it’s inspired by Pink Floyd and The Beatles - and it conveys an eternal message of hope. We live in uncertain times and the world needs someone to come along and say you should dare to dream. Anything is possible. Ultimately, we’re spreading a message of positivity to the world.”
...to be continued...
A Is For Alpine, the debut album from the lauded Australian outfit Alpine, will be released stateside May 21 on Votiv. The new release follows Alpine's 2010 Zurich EP which earned critical praise with The Guardian describing the group as "hands down the best Aussie band we've heard all year." A Is For Alpine's first single "Hands" has already garnered critical acclaim from Pitchfork, with The Fader calling it "boredly erotic." The new video for the track "Seeing Red" sees the six piece literally launch themselves into space, and can be streamed/shared at http://noisey.vice.com/music-video-premieres/alpine-seeing-red. Full track listing below. The band, who recently won the prestigious Age EG award for "Album of The Year," are set to embark on a U.S. tour in early 2013. See below for details.
Alpine is Phoebe Baker and Lou James (dual vocals), Christian O'Brien (guitar), Ryan Lamb (bass), Tim Royall (keys) and Phil Tucker (drums). The new album was recorded in Melbourne with producer Dann Hume who helped the band experiment with sounds and textures. Of the record Lamb notes, "We wanted to represent the different sides of our music, so there's some sad moments, some dancey moments, some rocking out and lots of harmonies." No strangers to the benefits of shared ideas and the collaborative process, Alpine's own methods for song writing reflect the strong and respectful working relationship they had with Hume. Baker describes the new album as the band's "innocent and not so innocent explorations through our twenty-something emotions."
Since forming, Alpine have toured extensively with the likes of Kimbra, Sia, Cloud Control, The Jezabels, The Naked And Famous and Matt Corby. Additionally, they've appeared at festivals worldwide including SXSW, Splendour In The Grass, Southbound and Falls Festival.