Imagine our surprise when we received an email at 4am yesterday morning from the mysterious electronic duo Monarchy. There was nothing in the email apart from a PDF called ‘Excellent Monarchy’ and in the PDF was a interview with the mysterious duo. With questions being fielded by Ricky Lee from The Excellent People blog. Here’s what they had to say.
Ricky Lee: You’ve released a few of your own songs, Gold in the Fire and Black, The Colour of My Heart, and The Phoenix Alive, plus some remixes at myspace.com/monarchysound, and the video for The Phoenix Alive is out, but, up until now, you have concealed your identities. Why remain a mystery. When is the big reveal? Who are Monarchy?
Monarchy: We started out just wanting to focus on the music and we then created an image that we thought was appropriate, but we quickly realized that people were entranced and fascinated by it. We think it’s an indication that people are exhausted by being force-fed too much information about artists these days, fabricated or real. The small details of everyday life of artists being twittered to the everyone, and actually, it’s just dull. Do you really need to know this information? Does it make your life better? Are you any closer to understanding that artist? We don’t think so. It’s so much more interesting if people are allowed to have their own interpretation of an artist, to find their own story. It’s a funny question “When is the big reveal,” because it implies there will be a moment when the mystery is gone, and all will be revealed, and afterwards there will be no more mystery. But why does there need to be that moment?
RL: How would you describe your sound?
M: Cold comfort. The music is spacious, an arctic landscape but with a pulsing life running beneath it. We have a certain love of synth-pop from years gone past, but we’re absolutely modern.
RL: What are your backgrounds?
M: We don’t talk about our backgrounds. Process is dull.
RL: Who are your musical influences?
M: We [have a] range in musical influences. We both have very different loves. The singer prefers song writers such as early Prince, Tom Waits, and Nina Simone. The producer is more electronic: Art of Noise through to Grum and Lifelike. There are some artists we both like: Stevie Wonder and Eurhythmics are two.
RL: The single for The Phoenix Alive is out April 19. When can we expect an album? Tour?
M: The album will be out in June/ July, and we’ll be touring around the same time.
RL: What do we need to know about Monarchy at this stage? M: It’s probably worth listening to the music for a few clues there.
RL: You’ve collaborated with the former dancer-turned-fashion designer Georgy Baratashvili on your wardrobe. Any clues to what he’s done for you? Please describe.
M: Georgy is great. We worked with him on a few stage outfits for a gig we ended up canceling, but we still wear his outfits. Really great futurist minimalism. He also made some masks for us for a photo shoot we did for Wonderland magazine, which look great. We hope to keep working with him in the future.
RL: Any other fashion, art, or literature influences?
M: We are heavily influenced by fashion, art and literature. From Raf Simons clothes, Hedi Slimane everything, Kubrick films, Jeff Koons, Banksy or Damien Hirst art, Warhol and KLF philosophy, Kundera, William Blake, and Gide books. But also more obscure people, people we are working with or who we know. We absorb influences from many creative flames around us.
RL: The video for The Phoenix Alive, which, to our mind, is very 2001: A Space Odyssey-ish, was produced by Dandelion & Burdock, the design and media company. How did you come up with the concept? What is the message?
M: On the surface, the concept is about a simple take off, and the emotions an astronaut might feel, going through a mixture of pure process and technical procedures, but also a deep and strong emotional journey linked to it. Fear, anxiety, during take off, joy and awe once he reaches space. But underneath, yes, there’s mystery, and messages, there’s elements of a journey to escape, possibly escaping from himself, from his past, loneliness and isolation, as well as clues to more depths and avenues. What inspired the astronaut to seek out a dangerous and solitary life? There’s many layers to the video, some of which we’re only just starting to understand ourselves.
RL: How important is visual image to Monarchy, or, in your estimation, to any new band in general?
M: Our visuals all come carefully controlled from Monarchy, and we have strong gut feelings on what is right or wrong. Sometimes we labor over images or concepts to discover, when they’re finished, we really don’t feel it’s Monarchy and scrap them. It’s very important our message is pure and from the source. From that point of view, we feel it’s very important we are represented correctly, whether it’s images, biography, music, artwork, videos. What other bands deem as important is up to them. Soon enough there will be a band that seemingly doesn’t care about their image, and they will be popular for precisely that reason.
RL: What is Excellence?
M: Fastidious attention to detail, while maintaining constant watch over the big picture.
Here’s the fantastic video for the latest single The Pheonix is Alive