Meet the Golem
Bio, EPK, intervieW, ...
A record by a band that emerged in 2021 with the face and soul of 2021. This is how “Grotesque Radio” can be defined, the first EP of the Golem Dance Cult, a duo formed by two friends who formed their first band together when they were teenagers and now, many, many moons later, they meet again: Charles Why (Lost A Noise / Nexus / L-DOPA) was responsible for the various instruments (bass, guitar, cigar-box, harmonica, programming, samples, percussion and even a Tibetan bowl) while Laur (Sparkling Bombs / Kevin K Band / Vague Scare / Other-ed) took over the vocals. The result is a dense, tense, heavy, but dancing record. It's electronics with a rock and roll approach (without the formal structure of the genre) influenced by horror movies and Dia de Muertos.
A typical son born in pandemic times (“in a post-Brexit United Kingdom in total lock-down”, Charles insists), “Grotesque Radio” was recorded at a distance, with Charles in England and Laur in France. "I would send him the musical base, the bed, and he would add his vocals and we would spend long hours talking on video, exchanging ideas and reinventing our 'musical wheel'." The start of the project was the invasion of Donald Trump's supporters on Capitol Hill: “To vent my anger, I started writing a riff for what would become 'Capitol Blues'. My first idea was to make a kind of instrumental music with samples from Trump juxtaposed with Hitler's speech”, says Charles. “I thought the song would require some vocals and decided to contact my friend Laur,” he adds.
Sonically, “Grotesque Radio” exhibits dark elements that recall both Bauhaus and Love & Rockets, Killing Joke and Gary Numan combined with Beck's melodic sense of humor and the sonic and dance side of T.Rex and Nine Inch Nails. The themes speak for themselves: “Nosferatu Waltz”, “Doppelgänger”, “In my time of (Living On Mars)”, “Marry Me Frankenstein”… the last one even got a clip with scenes filmed in a cemetery and a church , seeking to show the character of Mary Shelley as a romantic, misunderstood and hopeful being. “It's a love song for the dance floor,” winks Charles. In the conversation below, made by email, Charles and Laur talk about the production of “Grotesque Radio”, the two videos that have already been released (and that you can watch here on the page), horror movies, cigar-box and much more . "Welcome to the Cult (where we dance with Golem)."
Q: Charles, how was the recording of "Grotesque Radio"? Was it all done virtually, you in England and Laur in France? How long have you been working on this?
I am old school, which means that all my life I played in bands, all musicians in the same room, bashing songs together. The producing aspect has always fascinated me and I made sure to always be involved in this aspect during recording sessions working closely with the sound engineer and producer (I received my first credit as co-producer on the L-DOPA album "Mademoiselle Al Dente" working with an amazing producer from the “Maison de la Radio” in Paris).
Fast forward, end of January 2021, full lock-down in the post-Brexit UK, everyone stuck inside their house, winter going on.. and then, the story with Trump, his supporters and the march on the Capitol in Washington. In order to vent my anger, I started writing a riff for what would become "Capitol Blues". The idea first was to have kind of an instrumental song with samples from Trump in juxtaposition with Hitler's speech. Then I thought the song would require some vocals and it was then that I contacted my friend Laur. Back when we were teenagers, Laur and I started our first band together, him on drums and me on bass. He was and still is singing in his other dark wave projects: "Vague Scare" and "Other-ed" and accepted my offer. So we started exchanging files back and forth between the UK where I'm based and Besancon in France where he lives. I would send him the musical bed, he would add his vocals and we would spend long hours video chatting, exchanging ideas and reinventing our "musical wheel". After having recorded our first two songs (Capitol and Frankenstein) we decided we were going to do an E.P. notably to put a limit on the volume of songs I was coming up with. All the songs on “Grotesque Radio” have been composed specifically for the E.P. except for the riff in “Doppleganger” which I was toying with during soundchecks in my previous band. In March we had the bulk of the 6 songs ready, mixing then took place in April and Klaus Karloff proceeded with Mastering in May for a release on the 25th.
Q: When you decided to get together again, did you have any idea what sound you wanted to make? How were these conversations of "let's put together a heavy band (but danceable, a mechanic, ritualistic groove with soul and grit)."?
Charles: Yes, I already had envisioned in my mind the concept, visually and musically; what it should sound and look like.
Visually the inspiration was to draw from old Hammer horror movies mixed with the whole "Dia De Muertos" artistic universe. Hence the "Imagine an old Hammer horror movie directed by Dali and recoloured by Andy Warhol"tag.
Musically, Laur and I are so in synch, apart from leaning on the heavier spectrum of rock, one of our main decisions was to take a more electronic approach to rock music, forgetting about traditional structure “verse/chorus/verse/bridge/solo/chorus” in favour of layering of sounds, going for specific grooves where when you listen to it, you can close your eyes, lose yourself and do your own spastic dance (at least that is what i'm doing
As we were working remotely, to avoid sterile and clinical sounds, we decided to strive for spontaneity and we made a conscious decision to expand on mistakes, making sure the music was breathing and had a life of its own, a kind of musical Frankenstein (pun intended).
We wanted, (and I think we kind of achieved this in part), to create a whole cohesive universe visually and musically, a sound and visual that, far from mainstream, will be clearly recognizable and unique in its own weird way.
Laur: Charles' concept was quite clear in his mind and I naturally got into it. It took shape bit by bit like a puzzle. When I first heard "Capitol Blues" I wasn't sure if my voice would fit but once I started singing on it, it worked quite well and the lyrics naturally came to me as I was trying different things with the vocals.
Q: You guys have a new video, "Marry Me Frankenstein" and I would like you to talk about the song, the video and also your passion for cigar box (which you use in the previous single, right?)?
Charles: I always thought Frankenstein, the so-called monster was a really romantic character, misunderstood and romantically hopeful, hence “Marry Me Frankenstein" is what we call “a love song for the dance floor”;-) it had a definite industrial dance groove with a bouncy bass line, catchy vocals, heavy guitars and traditional instruments used in a non traditional way (i.e. sitar recorded in reverse, home-made percussion overdriven, Tibetan bowl treated with delay,…). Laur and I shared the vocal, where he sang the verse and I did the chorus (using an old 50s microphone).
We made the video ourselves using segments of old films, including the first “Frankenstein movie” ever made and an extract of “Der Golem”. My daughter “guerrilla filmed” me playing bass and guitar in a local church and cemetery. I used the term “Guerrilla filming” as we did not have “formal” authorisation to film in such locations so we had to bring the light, sound equipment and camera and shoot really quickly;-)
Laur: I loved the song as soon as I heard it and thought the chorus was great!...So it was easy to work on this one too. As Charles says, there's some romanticism in Frankenstein, some loneliness we can all relate to in some ways, this is a timeless story. This song made me realize that old-school horror themes and imagery were definitely part of Golem Dance Cult.
Charles: In terms of video, we issued our first one for the song "(In My Time Of) Living On Mars”. This video was made by a Canadian artist, Guillaume Vallee, who worked with analog hardware and VHS. We wanted a visual which would be removed from anything going on at the moment, not trapped in any time period/trend, something trippy where images would let the viewer create his own scenario.
In this song, there is almost no guitar but the main riff is played on a 4 string cigar-box. This instrument has been made for me by Scott Brown in Olney (UK). I really love the sound of it when played with a bottleneck and plugged to an amplifier in a certain way. It gives a different edge to the sound than what you would have with a guitar in terms of tone, presence and grit.
As per my "passion" for cigar box, it comes from what I called "Wishing Bone Box" which are little prayer boxes made out of a cigar box and based on objects made during “Dia De Muertos” in Mexico that I initially only created for friends and family as an artistic endeavour. To me, they kind of embody a certain Rock iconography mixed with Ceremonial, Ritual and tribal aspects. (more details here)
Before I left for England 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to present my Wishing Bone Boxes during the "artist open workshops" in Paris and the feedback I received is what prompted me to share these beyond my private circle. The cover of “Grotesque Radio” is a stamp made of a reproduction of a Wishing Bone Box (in different colours: sepia, black, red or turquoise) rendering this imagery part of the visual presentation of Golem Dance Cult.
Welcome to the Cult (where we Dance with Golem)"
Still Ill 'Litterature-Musique-Bd-Cinema'. (August 2021)
RevieW "Grotesque Radio" and Laur' intervieW
Golem Dance Cult is friends Charles Why and Laur’s project. They started a band as teenager, but split up to follow their own musical path, and rejoined now in these peculiar times.
Gritty, dark and obscure, Golem Dance Cult’s debut EP “Grotesque Radio” is a post-apocalyptic gem. The music you’d expect to hear from a radio in “Cyberpunk” or “Blade Runner 2049”.
Inspired by industrial, heavy rock and dance, they combined the elements to create an original, distorted, futuristic soundscape that will leave you mesmerised.
Read the full interview with Golem Dance Cult below!
YMX: Hey Golem Dance Cult, how is it going? some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would you describe yourself, in a few words?
GOLEM DANCE CULT: Golem Dance Cult is a duo. Our music could be categorised as Post-Punk with dark sensitivity (Electro Goth or Industrial Heavy Rock Dance).
YMX: Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?
GOLEM DANCE CULT: Laur (singer) and I (Charles) went a long way back as we started music together when we were teenager. He was the drummer and I was the bass player in a Sleaze Rock band (think Sunset Strip 80s;-). Music has always been our passion. Personally I started saxophone when i was 7 and at 15 switched to guitar then bass (which has always been my favourite instrument).
YMX: If you had the opportunity to pick any artists in the world for a collaboration, who would be your first choice? (and second choice, perhaps?)
GOLEM DANCE CULT: Killing Joke (or a remix by Youth) and Trent Reznor.
YMX: You recently released “Grotesque Radio”. Can you tell us how that project came about?
GOLEM DANCE CULT: We released our first EP "Grotesque Radio" in May of this year. The whole project came about during the lockdown in the UK. I started working with a new DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and in January there was the whole story with Trump and the march on the Capitol in Washington. In order to vent my frustration, I started writing a riff for what would later become "Capitol Blues".
The first idea was an instrumental song with samples from Trump in juxtaposition with Hitler's speech (godwin point here!). Then I thought the song would require some vocals and I contacted my friend Laur (singer in Vague Scare and Other-ed) who accepted my offer. So we started exchanging files back and forth between the UK where I'm based and France where he lives. I would send him the musical bed, he would add his vocals.
After having recorded our first two songs ("Capitol Blues" and "Marry Me Frankenstein") we decided we were going to do an E.P. and the wheel started spinning.
YMX: Do you feel more confident writing music alone, or within a team?
GOLEM DANCE CULT: I spent my musician life working in a band environment so Golem Dance Cult is a new experience for me. However, as a duo we get to enjoy the best of both world as we can still bounce idea of each other and this is this collaborative aspect that I enjoy the most in a band situation.
YMX: How do you feel about performing in front of an audience again? are you noticing any unexpected changes in your attitude towards gigs?
GOLEM DANCE CULT: Not really. As Golem Dance Cult is born during the pandemic we are chomping at the bit to play live!
YMX: We are finally able to sense the end of the pandemic on the horizon. Artistically speaking, what challenges has the last year and a half presented you with?
GOLEM DANCE CULT: Not being able to play live is a big one. Plus as a musician, you tend to want to experience interaction with people to sponge off the energy (like vampire) and feel inspired and that was, until recently, not possible...
YMX: What are the next steps for your project? Anything exciting on the horizon?
GOLEM DANCE CULT: We are currently promoting "Grotesque Radio". At the same time, we are already working on a new album. We don't know yet if it will be a full length or another EP but several songs are already in the can and for the first time we included a French song, a cover of an obscure Serge Gainsbourg song "La chanson du forcat". We will probably release this track in advance via our website as a gift to our follower the "Golem Dancers".
Hey guys, how’s things?
What was your biggest highlight in 2022 as Golem Dance Cult?
Charles Why: Finalising our first full length album “Legend of the Bleeding Heart” which will be released in March.
Aside from this, I moved from UK to Australia, so that was “big year” personally.
Laur : Maybe getting more and more interest from people too.
How did you first get into making your own music?
Charles Why: I started music at the tender age of 8 with saxophone. Then at 15 I started playing bass and there was no turning back. From the start I always wanted to compose my own song, what I was hearing in my head.
Laur : I started playing drums at 16 then played in many bands. Even as a drummer, I've always given a special place to lyrics and melodies in my bands.
Which artist first made a lasting impression on you?
Charles Why: My first musical crush was Motley Crue. It is actually thanks to this band that I met Laur as we were the only “Crue Heads” in our little French town, Belfort.
Laur : Yes, we met through our passion for the Crüe as teenagers. My first music crushes were KISS, Sparks, Joan Jett... The Sex Pistols also made a lasting impression on me, Hanoï Rocks, New York Dolls, The Lords Of The New Church, then the Manic Street Preachers with their bold mix of pop, punk, hard rock, glam imagery and situationist lyrics...
Which artists do you draw most inspiration from today?
Charles Why: influence came in all sort of shape and form, it can be musical influence, or painting, a movie, book or even fashion. I recently attended the Alexander McQueen exhibition in Melbourne and that will influence my approach to composing even if it is not related per se. As per musical influences, i will say Jane’s Addiction, Killing Joke, David Bowie, T.Rex are the big ones in terms of rock and I love Hip Hop too particularly Supreme NTM, PE, NWA, Beastie Boys…
Laur : Funny, I've been listening to Killing Joke and N.W.A a lot too lately. Bowie and Bolan are always a source of inspiration for sure.
How else do you find inspiration for your music?
Laur : Books, movies, paintings, news... Life!
What would you say is the perfect setting for listeners to enjoy your sound?
Charles Why: Our music can be a soundtrack to an real life adventure with sound turn to 11, but I will say that Golem Dance Cult is “best consumed” with headphones on, turn the light off, light a candle and there you go!
Laur : Yes ! Although listening to our songs very loud on a stereo with a drink in your hand will work too! Haha!
How did you find making your recent single “Dalek Rhetoric”?
Charles Why: Dalek Rhetoric is one of the last songs we recorded for the album and the first song I composed when I landed in Australia. I just had my bass and a laptop so I recorded the basic track like this., super raw. With Laur we found this “abrasive” aspect interesting and built on that quite quickly (compared to some other songs).
What was the message you wanted to get across with this song?
Charles Why: We don’t really think in terms of message as we try to let listener make their own interpretation (the Magik in Music), however the idea for this song was started by juxtaposition of fiction and reality. Invasion of Ukraine by Russia for the latter and those extraterrestrial killing machines that exterminate you if you’re not one of them, Dalek from Doctor Who, for the former.
Laur : We can also draw a comparison with the rise of fascism around the world.
What can listeners expect from your upcoming music?
Charles Why: Our album has been created with the idea of musical flow. We know we live in a World of single track to be play on Spotify, Soundcloud and so on. It have its interest as you need to grab the attention of listener. However as we primarily create music to satisfy ourselves and we come from this culture of long format, where you listen to an album from side A to side B, we wanted “Legend of the Bleeding Heart” to be a full and self-contained aural experience for the audience with a beginning a middle and an end, ebb and flow, a sonic trip.
Laur : More variety in the influences but a stronger identity at the same time.
What artists have you been listening to most recently?
Charles Why: I discovered this amazing Punk legend, Cosmic Psycho. They are an “old” band from Australia but after seeing them live, i became a fan! In terms of recorded music, i really enjoyed the latest The Cult album, “Under the Midnight Sun”.
Laur : The Cult's new album too, Gunfire Dance (finally on vinyl!), Peace de Résistance, the new Suede album...
What’s the main thing you want people to get out of listening to your music?
Charles Why: Pleasure! As artist we create for our own pleasure, however, it is always a plus when this pleasure is shared with someone else.
Laur : As long as they feel something when listening to our music, then it's great!
What’s been your favourite live show so far?
Charles Why: Tool touring their first album in as small club in Germany, which i attend with Laur. Still with Laur, Faith No More in Paris again at the beginning of their career. Maceo Parker who play for 3+ hours. David Bowie in a festival when he was touring his “Outside” album and Page and Plant, they were playing with both classical and moroccan orchestra… stuff of legend!
Laur : We haven't played live yet because we live on different continents but when it comes to other artists, Fugazi and old NIN were among my favourite live shows. This week I saw powerviolence legends Dropdead, haven't seen them since 1996 and they still impress me.
Who would be 3 artists to headline your dream festival? And where would it be?
Charles Why: Killing Joke, a reunited Fugazi, Nine Inch Nails and Golem Dance Cult at the Eurockeennes Festival in Belfort (where Laur and I came from)
Laur : That would be a great bill ! Let's add the Manic Street Preachers because they rarely play in France and they are still amazing. Plus that's where I saw them live for the first time.
Do you have any advice for a new artist wanting to follow your footsteps?
Laur : "Don't follow us, we're lost too !"
Finally, what do you have lined up for the rest of 2023?
Charles Why: Big one is the release of our first full length “Legend of the Bleeding Heart” in March and then we will discuss touring.