Monday, 11 November 2013

Interview: Sirus

Broken Hearts, Corporate Minds...

"I definitely think that there will be more bands experimenting with dubstep and breaks etc because there has been a new surge of interest in these genres as of late, and dubstep is a very powerful conduit for harsh sounding music..."
SIRUS are a cyberpunk music project based in Melbourne, Australia. A combination of two great minds namely Josh Rombout (producer, writer and vocalist) and Andrew Waugh (synths and live effects).  Along with additional members Ryan (Drums) and Danielle (female vox) their unique styles demolishes other acts in their wake. A combination of Electro-Industrial, Terror EBM, Breaks and experimental dubstep ensure Sirus’ sounds are something to behold. The band have enjoyed supporting slots with such bands as Combichrist, Hocico, Grendel, Aesthetic Perfection, Shiv-r and God Module building on their reputation. With sophisticated programming and a whole lot of talent they’ve just been signed to Deathwatch Asia so expect to hear more of these guys in the future.
I managed to catch up with Josh via email to feed my curiosity about the man, the band and how to get those all-important effects with nothing more than an electric toothbrush.

Intravenous Magazine: Right, I am ignorant and cannot believe I’ve only just getting into your music! You appear to have been kicking around for a while. How did Sirus get started?

Josh Rombout: I started Sirus as a little unofficial trance project in 2002, but it wasn’t until around 2007 that I was ready to take the project seriously. By then it had transitioned through many different genres, including breaks, chillout etc. When I found aggrotech and electro-industrial, I knew these were the genres I wanted to specialise in, so I made a clean start with my first official release in 2008.

 IVM: Did you take a musical education to get where you are or is all this self-taught?

JR: This is all definitely self-taught. I did start an education in audio engineering, but the college I was attending that specialised in music, went bankrupt. Welcome to today’s music industry!

 IVM: For the technical minded what types of equipment do you use?

JR: I use a combination of FL Studio and Pro Tools for production, along with some fairly standard MIDI controllers. I have a small but comprehensive microphone collection, my favourite of which is a Violet Design Amethyst. I record almost everything these days through a Golden Age Project PRE-73 MKII, which is a nice single channel preamp. When we perform live, that’s when things get a lot more insane as far as equipment goes. That list would be a lot longer and a bit stranger!

 IVM: You create some quite ambient sounds right through to hard, sharp and edgy dance beats, where does the inspiration come from to create such music?

JR: A lot of it comes from my previous years of experimenting, especially the melodic ambient parts. I like taking people on a bit of a journey and its always been my opinion that you need contrast in music to get maximum impact out of each part. My background in trance music lends great influence to my breakdowns and buildups in electro-industrial.

IVM: You seem to adopt a similar set up to SAM when performing live (facing each other behind your equipment), for those who haven’t seen you perform, what can people expect from your gigs?

JR: Well we do like to face each other, but our setup is rather different from SAM as far as control over the audio is concerned (also I should mention that I love SAM!) We face each other so that the audience can see what we’re doing. I’m sure I’m going to get the facebook equivalent of dirty looks when I mention this next part, but here is so much fake instrument playing in this scene. That sort of thing is not for us, we are very much a live band. Every time you see us push a button or twist a knob, we’re doing something real, and almost all of the time, you’ll be able to hear it clearly. We use a lot of crazy effects plugins to effect the music live, Andrew plays live keys and on top of the vocals I also trigger percussion and other bits and pieces. Our live shows feature all manner of unusual midi controllers, which we talk about on our website and video blog.

 IVM: What artists/bands have help develop your sound, do you have a particular favourite at the moment?

JR: Back in the earlier days of Sirus, I was really inspired by Tactical Sekt. They’re melodic but still really aggressive, and I felt at home with their trance influences. The vocal sound and the delivery of the lyrics gives me an adrenaline rush to this day. And there’s just something about the way Anthony Mather writes melodies, they’re very different. These days though, I’m taking inspiration from modern EDM bands like Noisia and Knife Party, as well as from darker crossover metal/dubstep artists like Shekel. Even commercial electronic music happens to be focused on some really hard sounds at the moment, and I’m loving it.

IVM: You blend a lot of musical genres EBM, Aggrotec and Dubstep, together to achieve some very unique sounds, you mentioned in your video blog that certain genres have been done to death, do you feel what you are creating is the sound of the future?

JR: I definitely think that there will be more bands experimenting with dubstep and breaks etc because there has been a new surge of interest in these genres as of late, and dubstep is a very powerful conduit for harsh sounding music (if you do it right!). But you can cross genres over in so many different ways, other producers will probably take a different approach. I’m looking forward to this, but to be honest I don’t know what to expect for our scene’s future just yet.

IVM: You used an electric toothbrush and a tin lid to illustrate the effects of simple house hold objects. Proving you can literally make music from anything, what has been the most unusual pieces of equipment you’ve used to record your sounds?

JR: Yes we certainly did! That was fun. I think the weirdest thing that has actually been included in a Sirus track was a recording done on an old mobile phone. It featured my friend driving past on a motorbike and falling off. It was horribly distorted because the motorbike engine was very loud, but I liked it so much that it became part of the intro to ‘Break the Dementia’.

IVM: Where do you see electro/industrial/EBM scene going in the future?

JR: Well I know one thing for sure- its going to have to absorb some of the sounds of modern dance music if we want to see any new fans. We have plenty of diehard fans for the older styles, which is fantastic, but the scene can’t grow without fresh blood and the enthusiasm it carries with it. Thankfully, there are already artists surging ahead with modern EDM sounds, so I think there’s a bright future for this scene...its just might look a little different from the way things used to be!

IVM: You guys are from Australia; other bands from your country like Angelspit & Shiv-R have a similar notion, style and approach to music: would I be right in thinking Australia is fast becoming a country to be reckoned with? Pushing boundaries in its own way or do you find America and Europe still to hold all the cards?

JR: Australia has always fostered great artists in electronic music, Rob Swire from Knife Party/Pendulum fame is a great example and Carl Cox has been living here since 2004. But we’re only now reaching the point where Australia is beginning to take off in the darker styles of electronic music. Its great to see, but I’d still say that America and Europe are leading the way. I’m happy to point out however, that there’s a lot of quality in the small number of artists that we do have.

IVM: You’re samples are highly political, would you consider yourselves to be political people? What message are you conveying with these statements?

JR: I’m definitely political to a degree, and so is Andrew in his own way. But Sirus isn’t about being for or against specific political values: I’m interested in systems, whether they be social, economic or political. The more convoluted the system, the more it seems to fascinate me. And political systems are very convoluted in my opinion. Sirus is about what happens when these systems reach saturation and start to change or break down- and how that affects other systems when this happens.

IVM: You’ve toured with quite a few class acts, who has been your favourite and why?

JR: Strictly on a live performance basis, I’d have to say Combichrist. I wasn’t really a fan until I saw them perform live. Then I became a fan! We strive to be full of energy and work the crowd when we perform...and man oh man can Combichrist do this! I was very impressed.

IVM: If you were hosting a club night, who would you have (dead or alive) come guest DJ for you?

JR: Every time I go out to a club I hear at least one person complaining about the music being played. That’s just how it is with the alternative crowd. So I’d love to have Chuck Norris guest DJ all night...he could play anything and nobody would dare to fucking complain!

IVM: What is on the horizon for Sirus?

JR: We’ve just finished a new album called ‘Broken Hearts Corporate Minds’, and we’re going through the motions of looking for suitable avenues of release. Hopefully everybody will get a chance to hear it soon! Its an unstoppable monster.

IVM: Are you likely to be touring anytime soon, where can people get to see you?

JR: This will all depend on interest in the album, after it drops. Our live shows are very involved, and  require a lot of gear and considerable setup time, so we are currently working on ways of making it more portable whilst keeping the real live performance aspect strong. This will definitely encourage us to tour!

IVM: Do you have any advice to anyone who maybe wanting to start out creating their own music or forming a band?

JR: Don’t take yourself too seriously when you first start out, your creativity will flourish most when you’re experimenting and having fun. I see a lot of people hesitate to start a project because they don’t yet have a clear vision of what they want to do...if you have that attitude you may never end up producing anything. The best way to decide what direction to take is by just experimenting, with no expectations. Trust me, if you do this enough, inspiration will certainly follow.

Sirus’ new album 'Broken Hearts Corporate Minds' is available for pre-order, (release date Dec 2013) including immediate download of 4 tracks in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more). Also available in Limited Edition CD digipack via Death Watch Asia and Bandcamp.
For further details check out: and Death Watch Asia.

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