Sometimes when life gets too crazy you need to pack up, grab some friends, and head off the beaten track; maybe find an old church somewhere where you can be free to explore a “utopic side project”. Ok, maybe that’s not for all of us; but for the guys of the band Showstar, Silicon Ballet, it was just that. Utopia is the name of the “beautiful but weird mini-album” that was born out of that old church in Belgium (rainboot.co.uk). The first single, “Sunglasses,” is a great introduction into the indie-pop carnival awaiting you in Utopia. The orchestra had my head spinning on a haunted, five track carousel that I deliberately rode again and again. I find it so interesting when a band explores a side project, as it often brings out a fresh and experimental sound that stretches musical boundaries and shapes the future of art.
I was interested to see what influenced this album, so got in touch with these guys to find out for myself, and here’s what they had to say:
(GV) I have seen the album described as an “Utopic side project”; how did this whole idea start and then come together in an old church?
(SB) After releasing three LPs and loads of singles, we (Showstar) needed a bit of fresh air, so we settled on the idea of working on a side project: same line-up plus additional musicians with quite different musical backgrounds. The idea was to write, record and play live at least four songs within a two week period. The project was funded with the support of several local partners, and we found this old remote church in the Belgian countryside. We entered the church with only instruments, a string quartet, a pianist, some electronics… two weeks later, we had six new tracks recorded on tape.
(GV) I love the orchestra rhythm, and the sort of stomping choir bits to the tracks. Can you take us behind the scenes of recording the instrumentals on your album Utopia?
(SB) Everything was recorded in the choir of the church with microphones everywhere. Huge reverbs and interesting tensions. Not easy to manage for the sound engineer but he found some ways to make it happen. The whole process was filmed and we’re expecting a short film to be shown next spring.
(GV) What sort of things inspire the lyrics and song writing style?
(SB) Loneliness. Duality. End-of-something feeling. Silliness. Countryside. Spectrals.
(GV) Looking past the Feb 1st release of the new record, will there be a tour following?
(SB) The idea was to make a one-shot show at the end of the recordings. A special event in a special place. The show went very well and it seems that people would like to see us live again. We’re thinking about it.
(GV) Can you encompass a genre for Silicon Ballet in 6 words?
(GV) And finally, if the whole Silicon Ballet band was in a bus, on a road trip, what is one album that would defiantly get some serious air time?
(SB) 4’33″ by John Cage, on repeat.