A Taste Of Modern Dystopia – An Interview with REPLICANT

Interview Replicant

Masterfully combining elements of darkwave, post-punk, electro and industrial into a dark, powerful and infectious modern synthwave sound, Chicago-based trio REPLICANT, made up of Garrett Vernon (Vocals/Guitar/Synth), Justin DeLay (Synth/Drum Machines/Producer), and Jordan DeLay (Bass) have combined both the 2017’s “The Reckoning” and 2018’s “The Resistance” EP’s into a 9-track single 12″vinyl package entitled “A Taste of Midnight”, the definitive edition of the band’s “portrait of our modern dystopia”.

I had a nice talk with the frontman Garrett about the origin, the development and the exciting time for the band… enjoy!

  • Thanks so much for the interview. Let’s talk about your musical roots. Do you remember when and where you started to get passionate about dark music and your early inspirations?

My big “aha moment” was probably seeing Nine Inch Nails perform ‘The Fragile’ at the VMAs when I was 10. That certainly sent me down a darker path, music-wise.

  • Let’s trace back to the early stages of the project. How did you meet? Did you already have a set idea/vision of how you wanted to sound or has it been a gradual process of discovery?

Jordan and Justin are brothers, and Jordan and I were roommates in college, playing together in hardcore bands for years. It wasn’t until we were all in Chicago that we started exploring electronic music. Replicant actually started as a 5-piece, with a drummer and additional synth player. Our drummer moved away and it kind of forced us to really embrace everything electronic.

  • Your debut album dates back to 2014, 3 singles in 2015, and then a long hiatus before the return at the end of 2017, what about that period and why this long break?

We actually had pretty much written and recorded an entirely different album during that period that we ended up not-releasing. Once the election happened at the end of 2016, we shifted our energy and focus into highlighting the absurdity of the 80s sci-fi dystopia that had become our reality in the form of “A Taste of Midnight”. We did end up recently releasing a single, “LIFELIKE”, from that unreleased album, and may release more tracks when the time is right.

  • I was stunned at first by your powerful, pristine production and sound quality, how has your darkwave/synthwave sound developed over the years?

Our first album, “Bloodmoon”, a great exercise for Justin to get a grasp on producing electronic music. We continued that into “Black Light / White Rain”, where we could really start finding our sound. Since then, we’ve just been exploring it and pushing/pulling it into different directions – sometimes it’s heavy, sometimes it’s melodic and beautiful, sometimes it’s both. We really try to not limit ourselves to a particular genre and find influences elsewhere all the time. One of my favourite guitar riffs on “The Reckoning”, for example, was inspired by Sade. We’ve also started mixing and mastering with our friend Adam Stilson, who’s worked with HIDE, Ritual Howls, and many others. He really helps add the icing on the cake.

  • Can you tell us a little about your recording process and how you create your refined sound? Is it the capturing of improvisation or is it more structured?

80% of our material originates during a jam. Justin, Jordan and I will lock ourselves in our studio and just play for hours, recording the entire thing. Then we go through and find the pieces that work, and build upon them. We do have a few pieces that were a little more thought out beforehand, but then every once in a while we’ll have a song like “The Resistance” that pretty much gets written, recorded, and finished within 45 minutes.

  • How this two-part project, ‘your portrait of our modern dystopia’, was matured? The main music/non-music inspirations behind it?

We knew the story we wanted to tell pretty much right after the election happened. We were floored by the parallels between our new reality and some of our favourite dystopian movies from the past – an over-the-top, larger than life billionaire villain in control of the government fueling hatred, all while a band of like-minded individuals from all walks of life join together to form “the resistance”. We knew we wanted “The Reckoning” to feel a little darker and bleak, and “The Resistance” to feel a little more energetic and optimistic – ultimately forming “A Taste of Midnight”.

  • I’d pick “A Taste of Midnight”, “The Reckoning”, “Widowers” and “Allied” as most iconical of your sound over the 2 EP’s/album, but there’s a strong cohesive quality throughout…

Thanks! Those are some of our favourites as well.

  • As your music is quite related to hardware and technology, how much are you dependent on technology and how much are the new technological innovations important for developing your sound?

Funny enough, that’s likely the topic of our next album. Our dependency on technology and constant state of connectivity ultimately dividing us more than ever, both internally and externally. In our psyche, and in our society. Musically, our goal is to always find the perfect marriage of the electronic and the organic. We’re constantly experimenting with new sounds, both from organic instruments, and electronic instruments alike. All while still maintaining some key pieces that make us, us. We always try to trick each other as we write parts, making guitars sound like synthesizers, and synthesizers sound like guitars, etc.

  • Would you like to test yourself with a short/full movie soundtrack?

Absolutely. We technically already have. A lot of our music is featured in the documentary about legendary Chicago goth nightclub Neo called ‘2350 Last Call: The Neo Story’, which we are incredibly honoured to be a part of. But we’d certainly love to one day perform more of a score for a movie or short film. 
  • Your favourite soundtracks?

We’d be remiss to not mention Vangelis‘s Blade Runner score. “Blade Runner Blues” makes me cry. Anything John Carpenter as well. Both have been major major influences on our sound.
  • Are there still things in nowadays music that makes you wonder or surprise you or are you more interested in the ones from the past?

Absolutely. We’re constantly floored by all the incredible electronic music coming out and inspiring us.

  • Is there a direction you haven’t explored musically that you’d like to?

We want to keep pushing ourselves in every direction we can. We’d love to have heavier material, dancier material, more melodic and minimal material, instrumentals, we want to do it all.

  • How’s your city, Chicago, has been and is still influential for your music? What’s the music scene like at the moment?

Chicago has been amazing to us. There’s a huge scene that dates back to the Wax Trax! an era that has treated us so well. We can never thank them enough.

  • What is it like to perform your studio-built songs in a live setting? What do you enjoy most about performing live? and your highlights so far?

As we said earlier, our live show to us is just as important as the music we create. We want the audience to walk away having experienced something special. Our neon sign and lighting rig help with that, and honestly, there’s really no such thing as too much fog.

  • Are you open to collaborations? What is your dream one?

If the time, place, and project are right, certainly. As far as dream collaborator, Trent Reznor is my hero, so I’d have to say working with him in any capacity whatsoever would be a dream come true.
  • Do you play any cover live?

We don’t…yet. But we’ve got one in the works. 
  • Any plans to do a full-scale tour, or even an international one, off the back of this release? What’s next for Replicant?

We’d love to play as much as we can. Touring is tricky for us because we all have fulltime jobs. But we’re trying to play outside of Chicago as much as we’re able to. Other than that, we’ll be diving back into our next album!

The vinyl edition of “A Taste of Midnight” is available to order on the band’s Bandcamp.

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