"We Like To Shock The Audience": An Interview with D R O H N E

Are these two lads from Liverpool the next big thing in ambient?
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Are these two lads from Liverpool the next big thing in ambient?

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D R O H N E are a dark ambient duo from Liverpool by the name of Luke and Richie, who have been making unsettling, introspective music since 2012. At the moment, D R O H N E are all the rage. Eyecatching sets across the North West have pushed the young pair into the limelight, with Tim Burgess snapping them up and signing them to his O Genesis label. Their music is cloying, dark and multilayered - touches of the surreal and bizarre echo throughout each track, and one could imagine that strangeness is turned up to 11 in their live shows.

The boys had a very good 2014, appearing with Factory Floor and Kele Okereke of Bloc Party on their most recent tours, and  look all but set to break into ambient stardom in 2015. We caught up with them for a quick chat over who they are, what they do, and what they're planning to do:

When did you start working together?

LUKE: “We started working together last year in Richie’s bedroom! We’d done stuff previously with Louis Ball and Lapsley, and sort of knew what we wanted to make... although we didn't know how to directly go about making it. So Richie bought an Ableton and a Mac, I bought a synth and a mic, and we started working on everything from there”

Who were you influenced by?

LUKE: "I didn't used to have many influences - other than anything dark and angry - but as time went on, I’d noticed I was influenced by a lot more than that. A big influence for me are a band called CRIM3S. I think the way they go about making their songs and layering their vocals and effects really opened my eyes. Another big influence is Evian Christ: I think he has some of the most out-there sounding music in the country, and his live show was one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed."

RICHIE: "I’ve been watching a lot of old 50s film noir movies recently - I find they’ve influenced me somewhat. Not necessarily the soundtrack but the atmosphere of them: Dario Argento movies in particular. In music, I find I’m influenced by anything I’m listening to at the time; at the moment I’m just listening to Fat White Family, anything on Trashmouth records, Mirel Wagner and some electronic artist called Oni Ayhun.”

How would you describe your sound?

LUKE: “D R O H N E's sound is distant and spacey. Layered delayed vocals over ethereal beats, and distorted guitar at times. Our vocals can come across angry or shouty but that's not always the direct idea behind them. We like to manipulate the sounds we make, not only in the way they’re played, but also how they come across to the crowd. We often like to leave the audience speechless and shocked. Over the last 4 months, our live shows have developed as much as our music. It has more of direct feel and understanding with the audience, and the way we engage with them.”

What is the most memorable night you’ve had performing?

LUKE: "I really enjoy playing club shows with VEED. The sets we play are a lot different to live band shows, although we still have a ‘live’ set-up, so to speak. As much as I loved the Factory Floor tour, nothing comes close to playing club shows with VEED - at raves and to big audiences. Supporting Visionist at Kitchen Street Liverpool as DROHNE X VEED is my most memorable night"

RICHIE: "One of the most memorable nights I have had performing must have been playing Liverpool Sound City 2014. It wasn't the greatest night we’ve played in terms of turnout, but we were too hammered to notice and it was a lot of fun!”

Who has helped you most in the industry?

RICHIE: “D R O H N E have really had a strong local backing from the start, with the likes of Peter Guy at the Liverpool Echo, Revo (the EVOL promoter) and the Merseyside Arts Foundation all backing us to get our first EP out. With the MAF, we even got the chance to record in Parr Street Studios.”

LUKE. "Without a doubt, on a personal level, the person who has helped us out the most is Tim Burgess and all his guys at O Genesis Recordings. Since joining forces with them, we have had some brilliant opportunities and have had the chance to release from a label and get out to festivals. We have a lot planned for the future with Tim and O Genesis and we’re really looking forward to it. We also couldn’t be where we are musically or in production terms without Dan Ellis (VEED). He’s a don.”

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What do you think of the techno/dance scene at the moment?

LUKE: "I think the dance scene at the moment is absolutely amazing - some of most underground sounds I’ve heard in a while! I think Happa is next level, and I think the majority of the heavy techno scene is just perfect. I really think house music is fading away slowly but surely, which will be for the best. London and Amsterdam have the best techno nights I’ve seen advertised for a long time.”

RICHIE: "Preferably I wouldn't actually sit down and listen to techno music, but I can appreciate it on a night out, or when Luke shows me something on YouTube. The scene as a whole seems to have progressed a lot since I first heard it as a kid – in a good way.

Where do you want to get to in 2015?

LUKE: "I want to be doing shows that will not only benefit us, but benefit the audience and the club night itself. I think one of the key things in staying progressive is how you gauge the night and how to adapt your genre. It is pointless doing shows that you know you won’t suit the crowd. In the early days, we did a fair few shows that really were not suited to our weird electronic vibe. They didn't go bad as such, but they just weren't for us. We feel in 2015, we’ve made a fair few contacts to make sure we are doing the best possible shows for ourselves and the crowds involved. We also want to get the club scene across the country more, and play more sets in Manchester and London, as well as release a vinyl for Record Store Day.”

RICHIE: "In 2015, I would like to see D R O H N E playing all around the UK and eventually Europe, as well as a few more slots at festivals to show new people our music. So far it’s looking like the year is heading that way which I’m glad about. With Kendal Calling, Threshold and Sound City all confirmed, it seems very positive.”

What do you think of Liverpool and the Liverpool music scene?

LUKE: "Let me try to get one thing out there: in recent interviews we've conducted, journalists always seem to press me on comments I say about Liverpool, when in fact I’m a 20 year old lad who is just a bit fed up of the city he lives in. It’s a normal thing! I’m eternally grateful for everything the Liverpool music scene has done for us, and will continue to work with the people around here. As for the dance scene, Waxxx and Less Effect have some of the best acts and nights I’ve ever been to, and I’m proud to say we’ve played at a good few!”

RICHIE: "Liverpool as a city is ideal for any band who are starting off, with tons of people who will help them along the way as they try and break into the scene. As for the scene itself, I’ve enjoyed a lot of raves in the city – they’re usually loads of fun – as well as some of the festivals held in Liverpool.”

How long will it be until you get an album out?

LUKE: “However long it takes, we have a lot of commitments currently throughout the year so far, but we have enough material to make one. We just need the time to do so.”

Listen to D R O H N E on Soundcloud

Buy D R O H N E's first EP, Parasite, on iTunes

Follow @hipsterscumbagon Twitter