Talks with Shikhee of Android Lust

 

Shikhee of Android Lust
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Android Lust Music

 

Devour, Rise and
Take Flight

 

The Dividing

 

Resolution

CEV:  You were born in Bangladesh. Tell me about the music scene there and the kinds of influences a person growing up there would be exposed to. 

AL:  I was too young to get involved in the music scene when I was there. I don't know if there even was a scene other than traditional music at that time.   

My older brother was into British and American hard rock/heavy metal fan when were growing up though, and I gravitated to that a lot more than traditional Indian or Bengali music. I later got involved in electronic music after I left.

CEV:  Tell me about when it was that you first felt that you wanted to be involved with music as a performer and not just as a listener.

AL:  There's no real definitive moment that I can recall. As far back as I can remember, I always enjoyed singing. That was my first love more than anything. I always knew I wanted to be involved in music in some capacity.  

I was in a couple of rock bands before I started AL, and those just lost steam as the personnel got involved in other things and "real lives" and lost interest. I found myself not wanting to deal with people anymore and formed a solo project.

CEV:  Who were some of the musicians or bands that you used to listen to and say to yourself, ďThatís pretty cool I want to push the musical boundaries like they do except with my own music.Ē?

AL:  I've always been a hugeBowie fan. I love the way he has changed styles from album to album, never staying true to any one style, and has done them all brilliantly! So if I had to name only one artist for inspiring me I would have to sayBowie.

CEV:  Did you have any formal training with your voice or an instrument before deciding to pursue music as a career? How important is formal training to a person wanting to make it in the music business these days?

AL:  I had some voice training, and someone showed me how to tune a guitar and how to hold a few basic chords. The rest I taught myself out of necessity. 

As for making it in this business, there are varying levels of ďmaking itĒ of course. Some people can be happy making a decent living, and others may want fame. But as with everything else, itís who you know that counts more than anything. Talent and training may get you farther once you get noticed, but itís damned hard to get noticed based on talent alone. Once youíre there though, talent and training will help you stay in the business. 

CEV:  Did you write your own music from the beginning? Where do you draw the inspiration from for the subject matter that you cover in your songs?

AL:  Iíve always written my own music. The stuff I write about come mostly from experiences and people I know. Which doesnít speak very well of some of the company Iíve kept, :)

CEV:  Tell me about your first professional gigs and how you felt about the first live shows you did for an audience.

AL:  It was with one of my first bands in the early 90s, called Strange Fruit. It was a guitar/bass/drums set up. We were based in upstate NY and practiced in a humid studio converted form a barn. Everyday the dehumidifier there would pour out buckets of water. The guitar player got us this gig at a local bar and we played the only four songs we had at that time. I had played some open mics before that on my own, which was just me with an acoustic guitar. But this was totally different. Having a band behind me doing the songs I wrote was exhilarating. I was nervous before going on stage, but once we went on I felt like I owned it. 

CEV:  When did you form Android Lust? Tell me about the where the name came from and what it means to you?

AL:  After Strange Fruit broke up, I was in a duo for another year or so before starting Android Lust in the mid nineties.  My ex-boyfriend came up with the name actually. I have to credit him with that. It's meant to show the dichotomy of one's nature. The contradiction that exists in us.

CEV:  How difficult is it for an indie band such as Android Lust to grab some attention and get the word out about the kind of music that you create a perform to your target audience? Tell me about some of the ways that you were able to connect with your audience and get yourself heard by your fans?

AL:  Weíve found online promotion to be the most effective for us. Promoting through our web site, forums  and myspace has been invaluable. We also have a couple of videos out, and those have been very good promotional tools. We very much depend on word-of-mouth from our fans as well, and nothing beats a personal recommendation from a friend. Also, we are a touring band. So catch us live when weíre in your city next time!   

CEV:  Tell me about your first official CD release and how you connected with the label that released it? Did you have to shop your music around a little bit before you got this deal?

AL:  The first CD "Resolution" was released on a very small label, Tinman Records. I knew the owner of the label from the local scene and he had come out to see some of our live shows. I had given him a demo and he expressed interest. We started talking and a few months later signed a deal.

I did shop around to a few labels and had gotten offers from Tinman and another small German label, and decided to stick go with a stateside label.

CEV:  Was the getting the first CD out the hardest part of taking your music to the next level or is the hardest part following up that first CD with another new one with expectations that it will be better than the first?

AL:  For me the experience has been that people expect you to do the same thing over and over. Following up is definitely harder because you no longer have a clean slate and there are always comparisons to be had. I also challenge myself more, trying to exclude things so as not to repeat myself and thus tread the same ground. It's more interesting to try different things and see what you can come up with. 

CEV:   What was it that drew you to electronic music in the first place and how would you describe the music that you make as Android Lust compared to what comes to mind when you think of electronic music? 

AL:  Having come from a traditional guitar, bass, drums line-up, it was the independence, and freedom from band democracy that attracted me first. Of course I still needed a band  to perform my ideas live, but that's different. I also really liked the idea of being able to play with sounds that was completely different than what I was used to, and not being constrained to a traditional rock sound palette.

I think of Android Lust as a predominantly electronic band, that is to say the backbone of the songs are based in electronics, but it is not constrained to just electronics by any means. There are live instruments, as well as just sampled environmental ambience that all work together to create a song structure.

CEV:  Your latest CD is called Devour, Rise and Take Flight. Right off the bat Iím curious as to the title. Any meaning for you and does it indicate a theme for the CD as a whole?

AL:  It's more about the artist than the art for this one. I feel this CD encompasses a lot of my influences that are combined to present a hybrid sound. Also,  I've shed some of my lyrical inhibitions with this album. I'm a very quiet, and somewhat shy person, and with this disc I think I've shed some of that in my lyrical approach at least.

CEV:  Is Devour just a continuation of what you did on your first 2 full length CDís or are you breaking some new ground with the material that you recorded for this CD?

AL:  It's closer to "The Dividing" than "Resolution". "Devour" is a more aggressive and confident album than either of the last releases, however. 

CEV:  What are some of the subjects that you tackle on this latest CD and what were some of your inspirations for these songs?

AL:  My inspirations pretty much all come from personal experiences, events and people in my life. Although i did break from mold this time for a couple of songs. They address some of the political issues that we have faced lately. I never much cared for political lyrics. They usually come across very preachy to me. But I found myself writing some of these things down and decided not to censor myself.

CEV:  Typically how long does it take for you to write a set of songs for a project like Devour? Is writing something that you work on in between touring or do you set aside some blocks of time just to write and work on new music?

AL:  Devour took a year and a half to write, where as The Dividing took almost 3 years. There hasn't been a formula or strict time frame forAL yet, so it's been flexible in that respect. When I write I usually just like to write with no distractions, and not tour or play live. In the past that was more of an issue as I used  to have  to stop the recording process, now it's not so much the case as I've separated my equipment for live and studio use.

CEV:  Once the writing was done how long did you spend in the studio recording Devour? Do you go into the studio as a band and do the recording together? Are you involved with the engineering and mixing of the music as well?

AL:  Android Lust being a heavily electronic based project, I tend to record and produce as I write.  And also, sinceAL is just a one person project there's no "band" really.  I've had guest musicians on certain songs, but otherwise the writing and recording process is basically just me alone in my studio working on everything - from synth programming, to engineering, and so on. 

For Devour the only exception was at mix time, where I had assistance from Christopher Jon of the band I, Parasite.  That was a new experience for me, but I wanted a second pair of ears for mixing after being so close to the material for so long.  The only other thing I don't do is mastering.  I've worked with my mastering engineer, Alan Douches, since Resolution, so we have a good relationship and he understands where I'm coming from.

CEV:  When it comes to your vocal stylings who are some of your main influences and if you had to compare your music to an existing band whowould come closest to the sound that Android Lust produces on stage and on CD?

AL:  I have admired singers of many different styles, so it's hard to say for me who I may sound like. You would probably have better luck asking people that listen to AL. As for my musical style, it varies. AL's sound is a hybrid of different influences and moods. From aggressive to mellow introspective. The instruementaions vary as well. It's probably a combination of 90s NIN, PJ Harvey, glitchy era Bjork, and some Kate Bush.


CEV:  Tell me about your work with the band Cradle of Filth and what it was that you brought to the sessions that you worked on with them.


AL:  I did some digital editing for "Thornography". My friend Chris from I, Parasite was doing some synth programming for them, they needed someone to work on some editing. So I went up to this studio in upstate New York where Dani Filth was cutting his vocals for the album. It was a fun time. We got to hang out and work in a really cool environment, while watching some really shitty B horror movies on TV.


CEV:  Do you find it as interesting to work on someone else's projects as it is working on something for Android Lust? How much input did you have on your contribution to Cradle of Filth's CD?


AL:  As I mentioned, I just did technical work for their disc. It's different working on someone else's CD. I don't feel quite as close to it. While I do enjoy working on it, in the end it's not as rewarding.


CEV:  Do you enjoy performing live for an audience? Tell me what it is like getting up there and becoming the voice of Android Lust for the duration of the concert?


AL:  I love playing live. It's a bit of a personality shift from my day to day self. I tend to be quite shy normally. I think some people think I am rather stuck up. But the truth is, I am really a social retard. On stage I don't feel any such inhibition strangely enough.


CEV:  Are you able to reproduce your sound pretty faithfully in concert? Do you consider a good performance one where you improvise with the pieces from your CD's or do you like to recreate the CD on stage for your fans as close to the original as you can? Why?


AL:  Well on stage it is live really. I play with a band, so it's not 100% faithful to the CD. Nor would I want it to be, because that would be boring. We take the basics and transform them in a way that is close to the CD, but re-worked in a way that we can play night after night. Some elements that are not playable, like certain sounds effects, are triggered from laptops. But on stage AL is an electronic Rock outfit.


CEV:  Tell me about some of the best venues/gigs you can remember in the recent past and what made them so special to you and the fans.


AL:  Few gigs that come to mind are Blacksun festival, sadisco in Phoenix, and Bar Sinister in LA. They were all memorable for different reasons. Blacksun by far was the most well run and professional event we played at. Everything ran on time and the event crew were very courteous, professional, and competent. Which is unfortunately rather uncommon in the underground scene. In Phoenix and LA the fan support was fantastic. And we were treated really well by the promoters as well. So that holds a special place too.


CEV:  What is down the road for you and Android Lust? Any new things you'd like to try or new ground you'd like to break with your music as a group or an individual?


AL:  Making some money from music would be nice. Although people love to tell you that you should just do it for the love of the music. Those people somehow forget that it actually costs money to produce music and tour.


Other than that, we'd like to get over to Europe at some point, and do a tour there.

CEV:  Well thank you Shikhee for taking the time out of your schedule to share some thoughts about Android Lust with our readers. I wish you the best of luck and I do hope that you are able to make enough off your music to keep on bringing us your unique talent and your great music in the years to come.