Dicepeople have already made an impact on 2020 with the release of two impressive EPs. Destroyer and Destroyed mark the beginning of a bold new era for the London based duo. In the latest edition of our interview series, we talk about inspiration, performance, collaboration and more.
PW – Hello. How’s it going?
Hi Pastel Wasteland. Things are good thanks, if busy!
PW – Tell us a little about yourselves and your work.
We’re based in London and we describe ourselves as a dark electro band. Our lineup is Zmora (vocals) and Matt Brock (music). We draw on various genres – mainly industrial, EBM, darkwave and post-punk – plus elements from various other forms of electronic music. The band was originally founded by Matt and now has quite a significant back catalogue, plus a history of immersive live performances which began in 2013.
PW – How did you both come to work together?
Our previous vocalist Atashi Tada left the band on good terms so she could focus more fully on her metal band Elysian Divide (and in fact, we’ve just done a remix of an Elysian Divide song which will be coming out soon). Zmora joined after seeing the advert for a new vocalist and has been part of the band now for about two and a half years. Zmora’s flexible vocal abilities, emotive performance style and appreciation of darker influences meant that she fitted perfectly into Dicepeople right from the start.
PW – Who or what are your biggest inspirations?
There’s always been a significant visual element to what we do, and we’re as influenced and inspired by films as we are by musical artists. We love filmmakers such as Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Oliver Stone, and John Carpenter. We have very eclectic tastes musically, ranging from Art of Noise, The Future Sound of London, John Barry and The KLF to Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, The Prodigy, KMFDM, and Black Sabbath.
PW – What attracted you to the style of music you make?
Matt: As the songwriter and producer, Dicepeople has enabled me to explore a wide range of different styles in the studio, meshing broad influences together into something that’s hopefully unique, and always with a strong emotive element. Dicepeople began as more of an electronica project originally, with minimal vocals and quiet ambient and atmospheric aspects.
Over the years the lyrics and vocals have become increasingly prominent with somewhat more conventional song structures, which has enabled us to convey the themes we explore more clearly and directly. We’ve also had more overtly heavy and industrial influences in recent years, whilst hopefully retaining the visceral and atmospheric qualities that have been there from the beginning.
PW – What is your typical creative process for your music and artwork?
Matt: For a song, I tend to have a mix of concepts in mind for ideas I want to convey. Usually these are ideas with a strong emotional resonance, and sometimes I have visual ideas and an atmosphere in my head too, like a scene in a film. I will attempt to bring all of this together by forming vocals and connecting them to musical material that I’ve previously jammed, or new musical parts that I write specially, and hopefully, it all starts to come together accordingly. Zmora will usually give her input around that time, and if she’s happy with how things are going then we record her vocals. Then it’s a case of crafting what’s there until it’s in a final form we’re both happy with.
For release artwork, the music and the themes and images come together in the form of a band discussion to formulate ideas for imagery that will fit well with the concept of the release. For our live visuals when we have them, we still sometimes work with talented visual artist, Rafael Filomeno, who will produce a set of visuals to go with our live performance. Again these visuals arise from the song and album concepts to inspire imagery that fits well to create a strong immersive atmosphere onstage.
PW – How have your experiences of working and performing together changed since 2013?
Matt: The first phase of Dicepeople live performances did not include a vocalist, and I worked with visual artist Rafael Filomeno for many of the first shows to create very immersive audiovisual experiences, linking the music and the visuals together. Rafael had to leave the band due to other commitments, though he still contributes visual sets for some of our live shows.
Our live sets are quite different now, with Zmora’s performance style bringing a hugely compelling musical and emotional element to what we do onstage. The consistent aspect all the way through has been the emotional intensity and immersion of our performances.
PW – Destroyer has been described as a ‘Disturbing journey through the twisted emotional minefield of relationships that turn to the dark side.’ Can you expand on this concept for us?
Dark relationship themes have been a recurrent topic for Dicepeople songs since the beginning, and on the Destroyer EP we wanted to explore those ideas in a lot more detail. The songs, of course, are open to interpretation depending on how they resonate with the listener, but there’s subject matter there that many of us have experienced in our interpersonal relationships – issues of jealousy, power games, control, manipulation, pain, and self-destruction.
With the Destroyed EP and the video for MATT HART‘s remix of “Destroyer” we took the songs and messed them up even more, with some black humour thrown in to really bash the concepts around the listener’s head in an intense and hopefully entertaining way.
PW – Devolution Magazine previously noted the ‘Fetish undertones and 90s vibe’ of Destroyer. How conscious were you of these things when you were working on it?
Having been inspired by so much amazing music from the 80s, 90s, and 00s, those decades are bound to have a significant influence on our sound, and it’s a very positive thing for us to draw influences from the past with a reasonably contemporary production to bring it all together. I think it’s fair to say there are fetish scene influences in our music and in our stage shows, and those are themes Zmora likes to play around with her intense onstage performances.
We have played London fetish club AntiChrist in the past and have a booking for another different fetish party in the fairly near future. We were also booked to perform at a fashion show last year for the designer John Lawrence Sullivan, who includes aspects of fetish attire in his designs, and that was an incredible experience.
PW – What sort of themes/ideas are you interested in exploring in the future?
Our themes have often been quite introspective but have gradually moved to include issues reflecting what’s going externally in the world. The Destroyer and Destroyed EPs were again fairly introspective but the next album should encompass some broader themes. There’s certainly plenty going on in the world to write about currently, sadly not much of it very positive, but it does need to be explored.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
It’s inevitable that many attempts to make progress are ignored or don’t go anywhere. It can be very demoralising but after a while, you just get used to it and know generally what to expect. The trick is to keep at it and positively acknowledge the successes when they happen, small or large, and use them as inspiration to keep going, as you never know what’s around the next corner.
The best approach is to make friendly connections with others on the scene, to try and help each other out as best you can, and be patient as things develop from there.
PW- What are your ambitions for the future?
We’ve been lucky enough to have quite a variety of weird and wonderful performance experiences over the years, and hopefully, that will continue to be the case, so we’re always pushing for unusual, interesting or fun gig opportunities of all kinds.
We’d also like to get more videos out there and make our YouTube channel more active and full of interesting content, and hopefully, we’ll have more time to make progress on that in the coming year and beyond. Our mission generally is to connect with like-minded fans who love and appreciate what we do, and we’re always trying to find ways to connect with those enthusiastic fans, and this interview is one great example of that.
PW – Are there any other artists you think people should check out?
We have a close relationship with Leg Puppy who’ve released some superb material, including a recent collaboration with the brilliant psych artist Josefin Öhrn, and they also put on some pretty crazy live shows! We put on a night with them at the Hope & Anchor last year which also featured The Pink Diamond Revue, and AkA, both of whom are well worth checking out.
We played with MATT HART at Reptile club in December who was great, and of course, his remix of “Destroyer” on our new Destroyed EP is superb. There’s some wonderful material by other artists on our Syndicol label such as Moi Saint, Ventenner, Down From Above and Cyberwaste, and of particular mention right now is Deflexity as he’s the other guest remixer on our new EP, and he’s hugely talented.
A few other random suggestions from albums we’ve been listening to recently: Woob, who’ve been putting out quality and unique electronic music for many years; Jóhann Jóhannsson, who did the soundtrack for the dark psychedelic film Mandy; TVAM, a really enjoyable modern motorik band; and Cryo, whose powerful industrial synthpop we’ve loved for years and rarely seems to get noticed sadly (here in the UK at least).
PW- And final question. Actually it’s more of an invitation. Feel free to use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to.
We’re really pleased with how the Destroyer EP was received and very happy to follow it up with the Destroyed EP of remixes and reworkings, along with the video – brilliantly showcasing Zmora’s directing and performance talents – of MATT HART’s great remix of “Destroyer!” We’ve had a gig hiatus but are starting to book shows for 2020 with our first booking being at a fetish night which should suit us well.
In addition to future shows (keep an eye on our social media for details) we’ll be starting more intensive work on a new album which will take the Dicepeople sound into some interesting new directions we haven’t explored previously. We’ve also done quite a few remixes for other artists over the last couple of years, including Moi Saint, LegPuppy, Down From Above and The Rude Awakening, and our latest remix is for Elysian Divide (plus of course our four remixes of our own tracks on the new Destroyed EP). These have all been very well received, so hopefully, some nice new remix opportunities will come along!
You can find Dicepeople here:
Thumbnail photo credit: Felix Lensman.