All of you who read this website (or follow Ad Noiseam on varioussocialwebsites) should now have heard about Underhill, whose first album, "Silent Siren", will be rleeased in a few weeks. But even though you might have heard a little bit from them or seen a short teaser of their coming video, we guess that many people do not really know who, what (and why) is Underhill. Three drum'n'bass musicians, an MC and a female singer from the metal scene is a pretty rare combination. We sat down with Martina Astner, Ivan Shopov and Dean Rodell to get some more information about Underhill:
Can you present shortly the five members of Underhill? Dean: UnderHill is Ivan Shopov (Balkansky, Cooh, Drumkid), Tim Eliot (Current Value, Machine Code), Marvin Hay (MC Coppa), Martina Astner (Therion, Dreams Of Sanity) & myself Dean Rodell (also of Machine Code). To shortly break down each and one of us is pretty hard as the output from all individually is pretty intensive to say the least... I suppose loosely we are all connected through the d'n'b scene one way or another.
(click below to read the rest of this interview)
Three drum'n'bass producers, an MC and a singer from the metal scene is a pretty rare combination. You're known for working with Current Value on you Machine Code project, but how did the rest of the band got together? Ivan: I think Dean has the special approach of how to get people together on projects and this was no exception. It´s great to have diversity in the project from the different band members and to be able to get the best from each of them. Martina: Dean and I used to live in Innsbruck and also did other projects together (Katz On K Vs Dogs On Crack). We both felt the urge to create music that had more life content in it, to allow ourselves to express more than good party music & bring a message across from our perspectives. Coppa was the first person we spoke to about Underhill after getting to know him via a close friend to both of us in Innsbruck. When Dean played Ivan some ideas he was into to what was there and set out working together on more ideas. The same applied to Tim (Current Value).
The track ""Blind" is taken from Underhill's first digital single, and appears as well on "Silent Siren".
How do you approach Underhill and what kind of scope do you give this project? The first track I ever heard from this band (on a Subtrakt compilation) was a very aggressive dubstep tune, while "Silent Siren" is much softer. Are you going to keep the spectrum so wide, or is Underhill's sound now more focused? Martina: Underhill is a very naturally grown venture; also the sound shows the whole spectrum of our emotions and shades, influences and... I can't see Underhill ever become an only this or only that sound if you know what I mean. Ivan: Always expect versatile music from us there is nothing set in stone what Underhill is or will be. Dean: Having such a talented collective of artist in the group, I think the diversity of sound there will always remain witin the symbiosis of Underhill.
Focusing on the "Silent Siren" album: is there a concept behind it, and what was the inception if this album? Martina: The album just naturally evolved into what it is now... We never really discussed what the album needed to be. We just seem to all have the same vision in mind when it comes to Underhill. For example Coppa and I working on lyrics for a new track is done separately... But when we then swap our ideas realize that we both envisioned the same scenery... So generally there wasn’t a set path for Silent Siren... For me sometimes it feels all the music was there already before and we just needed to bring it into life (I sound like a hippie now). Ivan: The only thing that we wanted was to be able to bring the album to a live domain across on shows for listening and dancing.
Collaborative electronic projects often end up having each producer work on his own tune on his side, the others just bringing in some finishing touches. Is it the case here? Are there tracks on this album which are mostly Dean Rodell, Current Value, or Balkansky ones? Ivan and Dean: Many of the track ideas were made by Dean and me one Summer ago, when Tim joined he worked a lot on them bringing some into other directions, we did manage to make a few of them all together. But yeah, we also had some solo ideas that we all worked on together again to bring the best of them to the table, we don't really feel like somebody did more then the rest. The input is always collaborative which makes Underhill special we think.
What can we expect from Underhill live shows? Martina: You have to think of Underhill more of a band than a DJ versus or something like this... Therefor the shows will always be fronted by Coppa and me with the "band" behind us. So even when most smaller gigs won´t most likely be done by all 5 of us (as it needs a proper stage, set up etc) the audience will still get the live feeling when coming to our show. Our live setup is quite flexible and can be adapted to most circumstances without losing out on live flair. For bigger festival gigs and specials in the future we are even thinking of having some of the musicians that feature on the album playing along side us. Ivan: Expect low frequencies, abstract atmospheres, melodic landscapes, vocals from heaven and hell, cutting edge rhymes and some advanced music production. Dean: Doing the live shows will be a journey for sure, hitting all the senses for us and we hope for the audience to....
The song "Rivers Of Hades" features the guitarist of Senser. How did this collaboration happen, and do you plan on incorporating more guitars (or other acoustic elements) to Underhill? Dean: A year or so ago James (bass player from Senser) hit me up about doing a remix for them for a single they did ("End Of The World Show"). Being a fan, it was an honour to work on something for them. Talking to Ivan about it turned out that he also was into their shit and so we set about doing an Underhill remix as well. As we got to know them and they us; the concepts and ideals were similar. Bringing their knowledge to Underhill tracks brought new elements to the album which we didn’t have before. A more rocky edge if you like. This is defiantly highlighted on the track "Rivers Of Hades".
"Silent Siren" is very different from the usually much harder and drum'n'bass oriented productions of the three musicians behind it. Which kind of music would you compare this album to, and what were you listening to while composing these songs? Martina: Hmmm... in Underhill you find elements of trip hop, dubstep, drum´n´bass, metal, jazz... GothStep ? The process of writing this album from the first idea that has been put down to the last song that was finished took years. So you can't really pinpoint specific music that we were listening to while composing. And in my eyes more of an influence than other music around us is what is happening around us. The music, the lyrics, the styles very much show this.
Can you tell us a bit about this album's artwork? Who painted the image on the cover, and in which sense does it relate to the music? Dean: Grant Coghill is a close friend of Martina and I, His unique style and immense talent to illustrate his warped ideas with a grace and elegance is second to none. This feel is similar to Underhill´s music on a whole complex aggressive but yet has a subtle beauty to the ear.
You are already working on a follow-up to "Silent Siren". What could we expect? Martina: We can´t really say too much yet it should be very special, the follow up will definitely involve more musicians that we know: drummers, guitarists & cello players injecting new ideas and directions to Underhill. Ivan: More contrast in the sounds and more beautiful yet dark tracks. It´s exciting to get some more music done altogether, as it seems to work so well for all of us being in the same music sphere. Dean: The new tracks that we have started carry on from were "Silent Siren" left off maybe a bit more refined now, but not losing any essence of what Underhill as a collective really is: a project of expression derived from life’s art. Groovy but I think that sums us up.
Underhill's "Silent Siren" (adn156) will be released on Ad Noiseam mid-March 2012, on LP (featuring the CD with the record), CD and digital files. More information will come soon, and pre-orders start being taken in the last week of February.
A video will be released in March for the track "Hiding The Light". You can already watch two short teasers of it here and there. And here's a timelapse video of its shooting.