INTERVIEW: Mausoleums | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Founded by long-time friends and collaborators Simeon Soden (a.k.a ako) and Elliot Reeves, Mausoleums are a Newcastle-based electronic duo who create jarring soundscapes that wander the lost underbelly of dance music. The pair have spent a decade in various bands and projects, but as Mausoleums, they have developed a surreal pop sound that exploits their love of retro-futurism and gothic imagery. “I had a strong urge to do something electronic, says Reeves, “that’s basically what I’m into music-wise, Devo, Wall of Voodoo, those types of electronic-based new wave bands”.

Bands like Crystal Castles have proved that you don’t need much more than a laptop wizard and an engaging frontperson to cause a stir, and that’s exactly what Mausoleums intend on doing. Soden is the band’s Ethan Kath figure, concocting a heady mix of dizzying synth parts and clattering beats that are interspersed with unique backdrop visuals. “I use a mixture of means and it varies a bit, but my current set up is 2 VCRs, a load of tapes of films and footage I’ve made myself going into an analogue video mixer which is fed into a programming environment called PureData, which allows me to manipulate them in various semi-random ways triggered in time to the music by the drum parts.”

As the multi-dimensional shapes of Soden’s laptop visuals spin, Reeves occupies the foreground, playing a more physical role. He acts out his lyrics like a possessed priest, cradling the microphone and dispatching shouted, distorted vocals atop the chaotic noise, “I couldn’t and can’t play guitar or any instruments, so thought if I can’t play chords, I’ll press buttons and shout. I have a huge love of Italian giallo films and seventies/eighties horror: the whole violence as art, murder scenes as operatic set pieces, really appeals to me and I think it goes with the act and music on stage very well.”

I’ve always been a bit concerned about what we’re doing to the planet, the statistics and long term prognoses are generally bleak.

Amongst Soden’s many other commitments (including running his own music label and co-organising Northern Electric Festival), the duo are gearing up for the release of their second EP due out in July. The first single to be released is GYRE, a nightmarish vision of the future, with a simple message for our dwindling species. Soden explains further, “I’ve always been a bit concerned about what we’re doing to the planet, the statistics and long term prognoses are generally bleak. It’s a humongous issue, but it’s a bit of an elephant in the room, we need to do something about it. I liked the idea of being the new Bono and wanting to save the world, one wheelie bin at a time”.

As well as Soden’s socio-political commentary, Reeves has plenty of other subjects to dissect in the band’s impending material. “Lyrically, I’m talking about real life subjects: sexual anxiety, ‘am I good enough?’ environment, depression, loneliness, the happiness of finding new love and my complete indifference and amusement for religion in general”.

GYRE is out on Friday 12th May, and to celebrate, the band are set to play The Old Police House in Gateshead on Saturday 13th May. It’s going to be unreal, we’ve got the enigmatic Emergency Librarian opening the night with some serious modular synths. You’ll get to hear our new EP in the final form before it comes out, plus the party will go on till four am!”

Mausoleums release GYRE on Kanada Records on Friday 12th May, and play The Old Police House in Gateshead on Saturday 13th May.

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