- CyberPunk Dark Electro Industrial
In this episode we hear from Josh Rombout of Melbourne group SIRUS. Firstly, here is a link to hear and download a free copy of the track "Necropolis Mechanica" which is featured on the "S.I.N.G.E.D. 2" compilation album.
Interview by DJ Robot Citizen:
Question: You wake up to find yourself in the desert tied to the ground and covered in honey with an empire of ants headed in your direction. By good luck a band of gypsies pass by and remark: "You look like the guy from SIRUS! Tell us (in 50 words or less or so) about SIRUS and we will free you!" ... What would you say?
Josh of SIRUS: SIRUS is dancefloor music for Cyberpunks. It crosses genres boundaries, with many of our tracks featuring complex relationships between Dark Electro, House, Dubstep, Synthpop and more recently, traces of Progressive Metal and Drum & Bass. All this with a little Ethnic/World music influence from time to time also.
Robot: Who is involved with SIRUS and what do they contribute?
SIRUS: All of the music is written and produced by Josh Rombout, who also does the majority of the vocals. In addition to the male vox, we also have Danielle McKay on female vocals. When it comes to the live side of things, we are joined by our keys player Andrew Waugh, who also designs the live shows and does some awesome hardware manipulation; and our drummer, Ryan Perillo.
Robot: How did SIRUS come in to being? What influences/factors led you to be doing this project?
SIRUS: The band was launched towards the end of 2008 as a solo dark electro project, and has grown from there. Much of it is heavily inspired by late 80’s and early 90’s Cyberpunk film and game soundtracks. If you stripped away a lot of the heavier elements from our music you would find a lot of melodic content that matches this sort of songwriting. Then the heavier elements that come on top of this are generally inspired by dark Electro House producers such as Huoratron, French Techno artists such as Gesaffelstein, and the more obvious influences from Aggrotech acts like Tactical Sekt and early X-Fusion.
Robot: Is there a guiding aesthetic/philosophy/idealogy/theme/ethos for SIRUS? If so please feel free to share about that.
SIRUS: I’ve been using one in the studio for a few years and sometimes it makes its way into our promotional material too: “Harmony in Discord”. If it sounds good use it, if it’s out of place cut it up until it fits; jam square shapes into round holes and vice versa, experiment, be crazy, break things. This is still industrial music after all goddamnit!
Robot: Tell us about your official releases - some you've done independently and more recently with an overseas label?
SIRUS: To date we have released 3 albums and one EP. The first album and the EP were released independently, and the last two albums have been released through Digital World Audio. It's a boutique label carrying alternative electronic music that challenges a lot of what the industrial/synthpop scene should sound like these days - we find it a perfect fit for the audience we’re trying to reach. DWA have also released two singles from our most recent album, which feature remixes from various scene heavyweights as well as some exclusive B-Sides. The latest one, “Full Scale Revolt”, is available as a limited edition vinyl.
Robot: What are some of the differences you've found through working independently and with being on a label?
SIRUS: In the last few years digital distribution platforms such as Tunecore have allowed any willing artist to tap into multiple digital platforms simultaneously - this somewhat disarms the distribution/administration argument to being on a record label. But there are so many other invaluable things that something like DWA can provide. The two largest differences have been in reach (that’s a really big one!), and in the quality control of printed media.
Robot: What can the public expect next? An EP, singles or album and/or tour perhaps?
SIRUS: You’ll probably see another single before anything else. I’m also going to play a very SIRUS-y DJ set at Resistanz in the UK next year - which promises to be fun and far less stressful to organize than a live show. I’m hoping the added calm will help me get into the zone and play a ridiculously good set!
Robot: I note you occasionally do live shows - mostly in Melbourne region?... Have you done shows elsewhere in Australia?... You recently travelled to do a show in the UK? ... Tell us about those...
SIRUS: We make it habit of supporting any of the big names within the scene that decide to venture into our drop-bear-laden battlefield. Logistically this makes the most sense as we usually have quite a lot of gear at our live shows. We built a scaled-down version for our trip to Resistanz, which was an interesting challenge. We’re hoping to get more use out of it soon, but right now the only thing I can confirm is the DJ set mentioned above. The live show we played for Resistanz was fantastic, not only that, but the whole festival was quite an experience! We even made a little vlogumentary that people can check out on: our Youtube channel
For those interested in the technical aspects of our setup for the festival, and of previous setups, I highly recommend people check out the rest of the content on our channel as it's mostly live-focused.
Robot: What are some other plans for SIRUS for the forthcoming year?
SIRUS: Writing an album with a really different theme to the last two. I feel like after two very down-to-earth albums based on real world events (some have called them political) I want to writing something with more of an ‘epic saga’ feel. It will give me an excuse to get more classical influence in there, which I have been itching to incorporate more of. But right now my works in progress include a few big club tracks I need to finish also. So it's going to be another mixed bag I think.
Robot: What has been inspiring you to create music recently?
SIRUS: I haven’t been listening to much music recently. Which is really unusual for me but I’m sure that will pass very soon. Instead I’ve been listening intently to film sound design and environmental recordings. I’ve been inspired to go out into the urban jungle and record some things outside my studio. I’m always recording abstract things in my studio, but there are some things that are just impractical to carry inside!
Robot: Have you been or are you involved with other music projects? If so anything you would like to say regards them?
SIRUS: Each member of SIRUS has other musical forays that they indulge in. Andrew has an EDM project called Big Fucking Robots where him and a friend wear light-up CRT monitors on their heads. Ryan is recording his own “drum-centric” album and he also helps out with a few other local bands here in Melbourne; but I can’t keep up with how many he’s played in! Dani is testing the water with some other projects but it's probably too early to mention them. She used to play bass in a local alternative rock band too. And whilst I don’t have any other projects per se, I do a lot of audio production work for other bands. From local metal bands to French Hard Dance DJs, I’m all over the place!
Robot: Regards performing live: how do you go about that as an electronic-based act? Do you seek to emulate the studio recordings or pursue something different?
SIRUS: We probably resemble more of metal band on stage. Ryan’s live drums make a huge difference to the sonic atmosphere of the tracks, and I use less FX on my voice - except for when I’m playing with microloops and adding fx to them on the fly… then it's actually “more FX” not less- but I digress - it tends to sound less processed and more raw overall. We also write different sections of music for our live shows, so no one live show will ever sound like the other. With Andrew’s added fx over the tracks, and our infamous little experimental controllers; it’s a real party.
Robot: What do you feel are some specific challenges that musicians in these genres face in recent times?
SIRUS: A lack of skilled promoters is definitely a big one. There are less promoters that want to bring out electro-industrial acts these days, but it's easy to see why. This scene has a lot of copycat producers and many of the new bands just seek to emulate each other. So promoters that used to want to bring out these acts have moved onto other genres or retired from the game entirely. This should however, be looked upon as an opportunity for those acts who are doing things differently - who sound fresh and are doing things differently - to stand out. I think that’s exciting.
Robot: What are some potential solutions or developments?... Is there anything you'd like to see happen, or that is happening in this regard, that you're excited about?
SIRUS: It's up to the promoters to keep listening, because eventually they will find the kind of acts that I was eluding to. They are definitely out there. Beyond that… If I had any “secret sauce” solution to helping the scene grow, I’d probably be shouting it at the top of my lungs. So you’ll know when I know haha.
Robot: :)... Anything else you'd like to add eg. your website links?
SIRUS: The most up to date resource is facebook.com/sirusofficial. And we suggest you check out our www.SirusOfficial.com - in a couple of months as there’s a nice new revamp coming!:
Robot: :-) Thank-you Josh for the interview. I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more from SIRUS in the near future.