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Elvis de Sade, the ambivalence between pop and darkness | Interview

Munich's dark pop, park wave project Elvis De Sade, spoke to us about the depression in their music and an angel friend, any of us can have.

Elvis de Sade is a new band, coming from Munich, Germany. With a demo and a new album/EP the four piece project, balances between pop and dance notes, that they beautifully adopt in their dark wave and post-punk compositions. 

Elvis de Sade consists of Leo, Andreas, Cosima & Felix and in May 2020 their album/EP, "Angelu Novus", had been released by Young & Cold Records. Previously released in digital format, in December 2019, Elvis De sade had planned the release for March, but "Angelus Novus" was delayed, due to Covid19 pandemic and all the measures needed, that resulted these delays in music industry.

ElektroSpank spoke with the band from Munich about their music, the influences, their music home Young & Cold Records and the new situation prevailing.

ES: Hi Elvis De sade. Thank you for this interview. Well, a debut EP is out, but before asking you the details, would you like to tell us something about you and your music project? Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Andreas: Sure! We are Elvis de Sade, a dark wave band from Munich, existing since 2017. We consist of Leo as our singer, Cosima on the synths, Felix as bassist and myself as guitarist and live keyboarder.

ES: I am going straight to "Angelus Novus". It is your debut EP, after a demo released back in 2018. Can you tell us something about this new EP?

Andreas: The EP consists of five new songs. Some of them are based on songs we released on our demo, but were significantly reworked. We see our musical roots foremost in the dark wave und post punk scene. But in spite of this we try to experiment with elements like sampling or Eurodance-like synths to go past the limits of classic wave and post punk. So we try to create an atmosphere of childhood memories and the abysses which remained of them.

ES: What does "Angelus Novus" means? And what does it represent for you, not only as a name but as a whole album?

Leo: “Angelus Novus” is a reference to the drawing by the artist Paul Klee and the famous interpretation of this piece of art by German philosopher Walter Benjamin, which he made in his essay “Theses on the the Concept of History”. For Benjamin, the drawing shows the angel of history. This angel is facing the catastrophes, the murders in history. He tries to console or re-awaken the dead, but the storm of progress has got caught in his wings and is going to propel him into the future.

When I wrote down the lyrics for the song “Cheerings From the Other Side” I faced a similar depression and desperation when looking at the condition of society and the history of mankind. On the other side, in the lyrics of the song, I also dealt with the darker sides of myself, my inner demons. So, maybe you can also imagine the angel as a personal friend of the inner self, someone you can discuss and share your fears with. Discussing history and society on the one side and self-reflection on the other side are the main subjects of the EP and covered in different songs.

ES: "Angelus Novus" sounds so melancholic and, like is hurt by love. Would you like to share with us the concept behind it? Which facts did inspire you lyric-wise?

Leo: Yeah, the melancholic feeling covers the whole EP. With all depression and despair, there’s still a shimmer of hope. Facing the abyss, we’re still craving for something completely different: An association of free minds with endless possibilities. A hedonistic answer to a damaged life. Pleasures that need no pain to use. Excess with no justification. At least we’re trying to...

ES: "Angelus Novus" has already been digitally released in December 2019. But now a physical vinyl release is out, via Yong and Cold Records. How do you feel about it? How did this collaboration came up?

Cosima: We really wanted to be with Young & Cold records. When we first sent them our demo, they said that they liked it, but that they had too many releases coming up at the moment to take us on. So we wrote to them again half a year later, in September 2019 and it worked out. Well, the collaboration with Young & Cold has been nothing but great! Daniel did fantastic masters of our tracks, but we had some corona-related trouble with the shipping. That’s why the release took much longer than anticipated. But now we finally got the first shipment of our brand new vinyls in the mail and it’s a fantastic feeling to hold one in your hands and put it on the record player for the first time. I also really love how the cover artwork turned out, which was designed by our bassist Felix. They sound great and they look great. We couldn’t be happier!

ES: It seems that you use a number of elements gathered from the early years of cold wave, post-punk or even gothic and new romantics. Which would you say are your influences in music-writing?

Andreas: Foremost, The Sisters Of Mercy always were and are a big influence and inspiration for me. „First And Last And Always“ is my favourite album ever. But we have other influences, too. The heavy use of sampling is inspired by Ministry, who used samples in the context of Hardcore and Metal. But we have a lot of pop appeal, too. It might not be that „true“, but 80s pop acts like Bonnie Tyler, Valerie Dore, Lisa Loughheed and so on influenced our sound, too. As well as some 90s Eurodance acts like 2Unlimited, Culture Beat or Haddaway. It’s our aim to explore the „happy“ and „positive“ pop music and the melancholic or depressive wave of the 80s and 90s as two sides of the same coin.

Leo: I also like these two sides of the post-punk/dark wave-related artists: The raw, punk-influenced ones and the melancholic, dreamy synthie-pop and wave-orientated.

ES: What about the "Elvis de Sade". What does the name of the band stand for?

Andreas: The name stands for the concept of our art: The ambivalence between pop and darkness. Elvis is the 20th century archetype of a pop star. And the Marquis de Sade stands for all the abysses and dark sides of the modern society. Despite the positive, happy and affirmative mood of pop music since Elvis Presley the Marquis as well as dark wave music reminds of the negative aspects of the world we live in.

Leo: Yes, they’re both archetypes of the enlightenment: The good sides and the dark ones. De Sade as a writer during the time of the French Revolution and Elvis, who’s probably the most famous protagonist of pop-culture/culture-industry. De Sade’s works were and still are discussed: They can be considered art and being influential to erotic and pornographic fiction. But of course, it’s not so much sexual liberation we’re facing in his works, but the very dark sides of human sexuality; his protagonists are also philosophers of amorality, in a very rational, cold way. It’s similar when it comes to Elvis: With all the glamour of his life, his last years and his end make me feel very sad for him.

ES: Which are the next steps for Elvis de Sade? Are there any special events or steps scheduled in order to promote "Angelus Novus"?

Cosima: Since we can’t play any shows in the foreseeable future, we’re relying on outlets like yours to cover our release, so thank you for having us! Livestreams are a big thing right now and we’re very thankful that we could participate in the first Young & Cold Online festival (you can watch it here, if you missed it: https://www.facebook.com/youngandcoldrecords/videos/774988739986269/UzpfSTEyODc3MjEwNDQ2MjE3MDo1MzE0NTI0ODA4NjA3OTU/)

But I’m personally not a big fan of live sessions where you sit in front of your sad potted plant and play some chords on your guitar. It might work for some artists, but I’m not sure if it would work so well with the stuff we’re playing. I suppose, it could be done, if the rules about social distancing weren’t as strict as they are now, but first and foremost, it’s important to keep everybody safe and healthy. And if that means, we can’t play a show or practice for a while, I suppose, we have to start a Podcast or a TikTok-channel.

Leo: I really miss playing concerts, cause I love being on stage, the interaction with the audience. That’s the best thing of a live performance and I seriously don’t think any livestream can replace that appropriately. Still, I think it’s necessary in those times and don’t think the measures of social distancing should be relaxed too early.

Andreas: Moreover we plan to record and release our first full-length album. We already have enough songs for such a release and are looking forward to get things done.

ES: Speaking of events, we have seen an enormous change to music industry as a result of the covid19 pandemic. How much do you think this situation Elvis de Sade and all the people around music? And if you had to make a prediction for the music industry from now on, what would you see?

Cosima: I feel like it’s been a tough time for artists for a while now. A lot of the problems that artists are facing now have been around for quite a while. In Germany I don’t know of any new bands in the traditional sense, that have been able to make it to a point where they can sustain themselves for quite some time. I’d say probably for the last five years there hasn’t been an organically grown project in Germany that really made it, so to speak. That is, apart from a despicable genre called Neue Deutsche Scheißmusik, which translates to New German Shit Music, and German Rap, which has been really popular in the last couple of years. Being able to play live shows has become the biggest source of income, which is pretty much gone by now. And I really feel for the people who work in that industry as well. A lot of them put their time and their hearts into hosting shows, and as it stands now, they can’t even properly plan ahead. Who knows if the venues they’re booking will even exist a year from now?

I can’t make a prediction on how all of this is going to look like in year or two, but I suspect that the bookings of upcoming shows and festival are going to become even more homogenous than they already are. We’re already seeing fewer and fewer new bands playing big shows and I suppose the pandemic will increase this trend. If everything is uncertain, the booking agents will probably prefer bigger bands and already established artists to have at least some form of security.

ES: Would you like to add anything else? A message to our readers and music fans?

Andreas: Thank you for being interested in an interview with a small Underground dark wave band. We hope you enjoyed it and are now curious to give a listen to our new record. And if you like it: Don’t be too shy to buy our vinyl record!

Leo: And, of course: Stay safe and healthy, wherever you are!

Thank you very much. I wish you all the best. Looking forward to hear from you again!






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ElektroSpank FMA is an online music magazine about the darkest side of our lives.

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