Spreading 'Joy, Love and Magic' with Empire of the Sun's Nick Littlemore
Few have made their mark in both the musical and metaphysical world, but for psychedelic alt-electro pioneers Empire of the Sun, they've long secured themselves a macrocosmic impression. It's no secret why, for Empire of The Sun has earned themselves joyful hysteria from fans who hungrily seek out their resplendent live shows. Culminated with stunning visuals, adorned choreography and even cryo-bazookas, EOTS shows have always been larger-than-life.
Enter a new era, where Empire of the Sun is on the verge of setting their third record free – on October 28 (and yes, that's tomorrow!). The duo previewed tracks 'Two Vines' on L.A.’s KROQ radio, 'High and Low' on triple J, 'To Her Door', and most recently, 'Way To Go' as a prelude to the the album's release, featuring Fleetwood Mac's guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, as well as Wendy Melvoin from Prince and the Revolution. And it's become more apparent than ever: this isn't merely a comeback, but rather a new creation of an entirely dreamlike sphere away from our own – doused with all-new wisdom and that same effervescence.
Luckily for us, we had the chance to chat to Nick Littlemore, one half of the otherworldly duo, ahead of Two Vines' release.
Hi Nick! Thanks for taking the time out.
NICK: Well, firstly hello, how nice to be talking with you!
It’s been 3 restless years since Ice On The Dune left our hearts soaring. Your new album is coming up and there’s been a tasteful line of tracks previewed! 'To Her Door’ has just been released; I couldn’t love it more. What were your sentiments regarding it?
NICK: The time between has been restless on both sides; we have been involved in a manner of different guises and projects such as scoring the soundtrack to Dumb and Dumberer To, and continually writing and composing a swag of songs for the record coming out. When we set out to make this our third LP we wanted to take a step back and try to restore the warmth and spirit of the first LP that seemed to get a little hazy on the second. With a song like 'To Her Door’ you can hear the influence of our own song ‘Country’ from the first LP. That was a conscious decision, and I often refer to these kinds of pieces as sister or brother records, as though they swim in parallel with one another. We were extremely fortunate to have invited Lindsey Buckingham into the studio, and to our surprise, for him to be aware of us! We had such a glorious few days and wrote many songs and ideas, one of which is present here on the new LP Two Vines.
What’s truly different about Two Vines, and what do you hope listeners take away from it?
NICK: For us it us not so much about reinventing the wheel each time but rather refining the design. I feel as though we are getting closer to the core of what we are about as an entity. I hope (like I always do in this band) that we lift the spirits of the listener; we are here to heal and help to spread joy, love and magic. That is why we came together in the first place, to combine our powers for good – for a positive change in the world.
During your time away from touring and creating, do you find yourself investing in other pursuits?
NICK: Yes! In fact I've been very busy creating a new record label and a new moniker The 2 Leaves Project. The first record of this project is dropping November 11th worldwide. Featuring the wondrous vocals of Celia Pavey, Every Ocean Tells A Story is the first in a series of records that I've made through collaborating with a swag of very talented people, both here in Australia and in the USA and UK.
Simply speaking, your music is abundant in spirit. Are there any prominent influences (musical or otherwise) and revelations that have contributed to the making of this new LP, if any?
NICK: In my personal life I listen to an ever increasingly wide range of musical artists from Moorish music from Mauritania to Don Cherry, The Don Ellis Orchestra, Adanowsky, Alicia de Larrocha, Andre Previn, Art Blakey, Bappi Lahiri, Bernard Hermann, Boris Vian, Brigitte Fontaine, Cal Trader, Camayenne Sofa, Can, Chelsea Wolfe, Eboa Lotin, The Electric Prunes, Erkin Koray, Francis Bebey, Fink, Garvey, Geoffrey Oryema, Thierry Muller, Nina Simone, New Musik, Orio Odori, XXYYXX to name just a few. In Empire we don't spend a lot of time listening to records, it's more just about making and making endlessly till we lose the thread and find it again.
Empire of the Sun has a sound like no other; it’s infectious, colourful, out-there and just wholly invigorating. I think you two, however, take it to the next level – especially live. What is the most integral part of delivering a thorough performance? (aside from the visual and aural feast that you so generously provide – and continue to nail, of course)
NICK: I don't know as this isn't my domain, though I know from my time on stage with PNAU that it's important to understand the audience and how they might be feeling and what they need – like how any of the older truly great DJs who know where to take their crowd. It's also a conversation of sorts between the dancers and the artists, a constant give and take of energy ever building upwards like a fire.
What has been the most surreal performing experience to-date for you? And where do you personally derive your energy from?
NICK: When I was flown to Ibiza to perform live with Sir Elton John – that was hands down my most surreal live experience. My energy comes from the moment, the spirits, mycology, the other, the unsaid the future the feeling the cosmic consciousness and everything in-between – and the audience of course!
Are there any mantras that you stick closely by? Whether that be for music-making, navigating through life…
NICK: Always surround yourself with all the most gifted people you can find to fulfill the roles that you yourself are not gifted in. If you do this, your chances of success are much greater! I always say 100% of nothing is nothing. Invite people in to the creative process, obviously there is some vetting required but generally if well communicated, it is a great experience. It is advice my late grandfather gave me, and I've never forgotten it!
Have you thought about the next step after the release of Two Vines?
NICK: Yes my word I have, and oh let me tell you it's going to be one hell of a ride!
In all honesty what are the chances of Empire of the Sun representing us for Eurovision? Because that would be amazing to see!
NICK: Well we ain't European and I'm such a stickler for the rules as you know so... But that's a very kind endorsement all the same, thanks for taking the time – and to all those lovely people out there, let the music play and let the smiles rain; we are here for you and everyone else, together we can change this world, and frankly we must!