- Dark Electronic Industrial Rock
In this episode we chat with the members of Konqistador; formed in Melbourne (Australia) they are now based in Detroit (USA). Firstly, you can download a free copy of the track: "Count to Zero". It is featured on the "S.I.N.G.E.D. 2" compilation album. There are links to more Konqistador music further below.
Interview by DJ Robot Citizen:
Dear Konqistador, if you had to sum up what your project is about in, say, 30 words...?
Konqistador: Electro vanquishers, Konqistador mesh sex-glitched electronica, delving into the dark arts and intersecting themes of digital glitch, the human condition and binary sex sub-cultures.
Robot: Let's discuss some of the background to Konqistador. Firstly, who are the primary contributors?... When did it come together? ... And what's your working ethos in a nutshell?
Konqistador: Konqistador is led by Canadian producers Elizabeth Graham and Reginald Tiessen along with Australian producer INfest8 [interview] and Romanian producer Janin Pasniciuc accompanied by music, dance, fashion, and visual artists spanning the globe. Konqistador collaborates with both master and emerging artists, forging an international 'no borders, no boundaries' creation and performance process.
Robot: Let's discuss your music releases - albums and EPs - and associated adventures... What was first?
Konqistador: Our debut release ‘Courage Riot’ (2005, Shock Records, Australia) was followed by (5) consecutive, international tours and over 200 club and festival dates in Australia, North America, Europe and Central Asia. Festival highlights include; Barisa Rock Festival (Istanbul), Stufstock Festival (Bucharest), Popkomm (Berlin), NxNe Festival (Toronto), Canadian Music Week (Toronto) and CMJ Music Marathon (New York).
In 2007 Konqistador released their’ Electriker’ EP and then ‘electriker infested’ in 2008, remixed by Sydney, Australia's INfest8, followed by a (4) year hiatus from touring and performing live. During this time, Konqistador traveled extensively throughout Europe and later settled in Istanbul, Turkey to explore foreign instrumentation and recruit regional musicians for the recording of their next album.
Robot: That's an epic adventure! I can certainly hear those eastern aspects on your next album - please tell us about that...
Konqistador: In May of 2012, Konqistador released their sophomore album ‘Suada’. Fearless and unflinching, the multi-format recording collects a gathering of medieval and glowering tracks recorded in Melbourne, Detroit and later in Toronto, Bucharest, and Istanbul. Suada, Latin for persuasion, symbolizes the creators gravity towards the East exploring a range of musical and cultural influences while featuring a global collaboration of over twenty musicians, producers, and engineers. Challenged by the tyranny of distance between creators, lack of funding and Konqistador's waning desire to make sense of today's precarious music industry, Suada was destined to be an underwhelming collection of unfinished stories and incomplete tracks, never to see the light of day. Still, never one to surrender to the imminent or inevitable, Konqistador carried on and did what they do best, survive and grow. With tenacious laboring and a heart of urgency, Konqistador reunited in 2010 to re-create a fertile base of collaboration to re-plant the seeds that would finally see Suada come into full bloom.
Robot: I'm certainly glad you carried on, completed and released it; 'Suada' being an album I greatly appreciate. From there your music took another direction - and being what initially grabbed my attention - what's been happening in this new phase?
Konqistador: In 2015, Konqistador returned with their fourth release 'Count to Zero' a mesh of sex-glitch electronica consisting of four original tracks, remixed and remastered with a bonus cover version of Sia's 'Breathe Me.' The EP release delves into the dark arts and intersects themes of digital glitch, the human condition and binary sex sub-cultures.
As a natural thematic continuation of 2015's 'Count to Zero' in early 2016, Konqistador introduced their 5th release ‘Sex The Cut’ EP teaming a host of old and new producers, contributors and multi-media artists to bring the concept EP to life. The album and live multi-media performance features a diverse team of creative talent through collaboration including; experimental dancers, visual artists, and adult entertainment performers.
Where are the songs, EPs and albums currently available from?
Konqistador: Konqistador music is available on all relevant channels including: iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music. Our discography includes 2x live albums recorded in Australia, 2x full length albums (Courage Riot 2005, Suada 2012), 2x EPs (Count to Zero 2015, Sex The Cut 2016) and our latest cover album celebrating the most influential industrial and dark alternative bands from 80-90s entitled (entity 2016) which debuted with 2x Ministry tracks including: "Everyday is Halloween" and "N.W.O."
Good choices! I'm a huge fan of early Ministry :) Getting back to your adventures outside of the "Western" world - what was that like?
Konqistador: Konqistador was very fortunate to 'find an audience' in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Turkey. Constant touring of these regions helped to expand that audience and elevate performance opportunities. One of our greatest achievements has been the time and resources dedicated to these under served regions and the deep and valuable relationships we still have today with many of the fans.
I gather you've been based in Detroit for a while now. What attracted you to there? What it's been like for you there? Are the impressions I receive (from the grapevine) correct that the city is undergoing a process of rejuvenation; acting like a magnet for artists, alternative lifestylers and the like?
Konqistador: The city of Detroit, after decades of stand still progression, can finally claim "it's a city on the rise to greatness, once again." Detroit serves as a blank canvas for almost anything or any new idea. Artists, innovators, creators, critical thinkers, and doers are all flocking to the city to take their part in the rebuild of a once-great-city. Music and visual artists from around the world are relocating to Detroit to take advantage of large, expansive warehouse and loft space at very affordable rates. For us, it's important to be creating in this spiritually rejuvenated environment, working within the local community to recruit talent to our international project and draw on the city's history of Detroit techno to inspire new songs, new performance practices and new audience. Just having the Movement festival in our backyard serves as the highest level of electronic music inspiration each year.
Back to performing live, what are some of the events you've been most thrilled to perform at and what's coming up?
Konqistador: Several festivals come to mind, namely Barisa Rock Festival (Istanbul) and Stufstock Festival (Bucharest) but we're most excited about our recent invite to share headline title with David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets) at this year's Theatre Bizarre in Detroit, USA. The event is the world's largest macabre turn-of-the-century carnival and masquerade. The event is held in the largest Masonic Temple in the world with over 6000 in attendance.
Robot: I wish I could be there!... What are some of your other plans and ambitions for the near future?
Konqistador: Konqistador is primarily focused on generating key film and television licensing opportunities. That aside, the project continues to grow in contributors and collaboration. We are currently working on several multi-arts, theater focused performances and various video-based story-telling projects.
Robot: In recent times what is inspiring you to create?
Konqistador: Detroit has a rich history in celebrating Halloween each year, probably on a larger scale than any other North American city. We work closely with a host of dark arts performers to tell darker stories in our song writing. We are also drawing influence and inspiration from our direct surroundings. As fast as Detroit is changing for the better, there is still decades of decaying buildings, underpasses, abandoned factories, houses, recreational complexes, etc. These environments perpetuate a sense of isolation and desolation.
Robot: It sounds like quite the place I imagined when I first discovered the beauty of early industrial music!... On the topic of other projects, are there some other recent media/art activities you're involved with?
Konqistador: In 2014, Konqistador created and produced Amazan; a multi-arts production exploring Eastern influenced music through traditional instrumentation, accelerated with dark electronica, brought to life through live performance, dance, digital imaging and projection. Amazan is derived from the Iranian word hamazan or ‘warriors’ and serves to re-shape the mythology of ‘The Amazons’— a society of women, mothers and fierce warriors residing in Asia Minor (5th century BC). Amazan delivers a powerful message of fearlessness and forward thinking in a time of critical, equality reform. Through Eastern influenced music, dance, design and spoken word, Amazan unifies a diverse collective of women to challenge current social and cultural norms.
Robot: What do you feel are some of the main challenges that contemporary independent/underground music-artists face?
Konqistador: Saturation. Everyone is underground. Everyone is independent. The challenge is to constantly be reinventing yourself, constantly maintaining some level of relevancy and of course constantly adapting to a music industry still in flux, even after a decade since its critical collapse.
Robot: What are some potential solutions? Are there any particular positive developments that you're excited about?
Konqistador: Potential solutions lie within fiercely creative and innovative ideas. For instance, Konqistador opened up our music catalogue through target social channels (with free licensing) to Eastern European independent film makers and innovative art-porn film producers. Konqistador supports several new social movements and works direct within the communities of anti-slut shaming, sex positive, LGBTQ communities to collaborate, create and ultimately generate new audience.
Robot: Thanks for chatting and best wishes to you for productivity and success in all areas! :-)
PS - Here's an interview with Konqistador's frequent studio collaborator: INfest8