Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Electric Empire: Off The Grid

Electric Empire
Electric Empire Electric Empire Electric Empire Electric Empire

I first became aware of independent band Electric Empire when lead guitarist Dennis Dowlut sent an email my way a few months back. The email, though short, was straight to the point in essence — he stated that the band intended to come to the UK (from Sydney) for a spot of "Promotion." This trip would also take in a performance at Glasto - which I thought was no mean feat if they were playing the biggest festival in the world! So I decided to throw caution to the wind and click/watch/listen to their video on You Tube for single 'Baby You're Lovin.'' What harm could it do right?

I have to say, it probably took 3 maybe 4 seconds (I know, I'm slacking!) to realise these guys had a soulful vibe and a style that would fit right in perfectly here in the UK, the world even! I can prove the above statement because I up-loaded it to the Blues And-Soul II Facebook within the same minute! So you could say, I now was hookedâ€Â¦ Now que to present day as these guys land here in the UK and I get another email alerting me, thanks Steve Ripley, to this fact that had now brought the house down at Glastonbury (that's my boys!) with not one, but three separate gigs! Faster than you can say XXXX I arranged to meet this bandâ€Â¦ And as I preceded to read their collective biographies I noticed these guys were not just OK/capable musicians, they were well healed great musicians And more importantly, this sound that I loved was absolutely no fluke. I readâ€Â¦

Jason Haeerah singing/songwriting/drumming/percussion playing/producing/water parting (OK the last one wasn't true!) is the foremost drummer in Oz!. Arron Mendoza, singer/songwriter/producer/keyboard King - what I saw him do with a Talk Box (think 'Computer Love' track from back in the day — that's a talk box) with Adele's 'Rolling In The Deep' was nothing short of amazing! Lastly and by no means least, the aforementioned Mr Dennis Dowlut singer/songwriter/producer/award winner (APRA award x2). And after hearing the rest of their material on their self penned/self produced and self titled long player, I could tell EE not only had the credentials, but they meant business!

With homework done it was time to meet the guys, so what better place than in a 'pub' in Wimbledon - I know "the glitz, the glamour!" (Well, they did buy me a pint, so they're off the mark in my book! Lol) With refreshment taken care of, it was time for some explorative Q&A. And boy, did this lot have a lot of explaining to doâ€Â¦

LEE: How did you know each other?

DENNIS: All of us have known each other for a really long timeâ€Â¦

AARON: We just got together and tried to write some old sounding classic songs d'ya know what I mean?

DENNIS: Where the cord changes don't date and the melodies don't date.

LEE: I understand - something that's got longevity and will stand the test of time.

JASON: I ended up singing 'I Just Wanna Give It' on the album because I connected with it straight away. I just loved that it resembled Marvin and it resembled a bit of Curtis in there andâ€Â¦

LEE: My feeling is that the whole album does glide in a Motown way...

AARON: This album is great, it's grainy and it's got that old diggi sound.

LEE So this album should be listen to as an LP, as an old LP?

JASON: Yeah! That's a comment we've been told, that it feels like it's listening to an old record.

LEE: It's a question you're obviously going have get used to being asked because the album is very Stevieâ€Â¦ Even vocally, it's VERY Stevie. Did it happen by accident, or was it, "Shall we do a Stevie riff here or a Stevie vibe there?"

DENNIS: No, noâ€Â¦

AARON: I think with us, the type of muso's that we are, we just jam out some songs, all three of us have been listening to that stuff — its like our Bible you know? We jam out Stevie songs and all these other songs, but there's no like "I love that cord progression, why don't we try and use thatâ€Â¦"

DENNIS: (In agreement) No it's not like that at allâ€Â¦

AARON: I don't want to use "organic" (think you just did!) because everyone uses that. But with the three of us, because it's in our blood, that music — when we start jamming there's not too much referencing of what's this and that, it does come out - you can't beat your influencesâ€Â¦

LEE: So you don't mind people referencingâ€Â¦

AARON: Of course not, we know that's going to come through, he's our No1 icon.

DENNIS: In saying that, after we'd sort of finished the album, you start to hear all these other soul acts that are doing their "thing." Everyone else is in this '60s era, we're not, which I love - it's our point of difference (or USP even!?) you know? Its like black ties and shirts and they're riding on this '60s thingâ€Â¦

LEE: So you regard yourself as being ahead of the others?

JASON: Or could be behind!? It depends how you see it but we're trying to mould our sound, which we think we now know. We're here in London at the moment to push our first album but what's even more exciting for us is when we go back home we jump straight into our second album.

LEE: So what is now influencing the second album?

DENNIS: Our live show.

AARON: All the production that we have on the first album will make it all so much more colourful and just a bit more evolved when working on the second. I think the first album was Stevie - I think all of us had to get that off our chest (laughs) musically speakingâ€Â¦

LEE: (Laughing) So the next one isâ€Â¦ Marvin! And the next oneâ€Â¦ Smokey?

ALL: (Laugh)

AARON: And speaking of soulâ€Â¦ Soul has many, many different faces you know. We like that period of the '70s through to the early '80s — there's a lot of soul and bit of rock, and stuff like that. So we're evolving still with that soul integrity.

LEE: I know what you're saying, and I think you're lucky to be able to see what artists have done with that genre before and then tinker with it if you like...


LEE: That's another question I wanted to ask. When choosing a singer for a particular track that you have just written, how do you choose who will sing it. Is it a matter of it feels more comfortable for one of you more than another - is there a little of "I want to sing that one!"

DENNIS: A song will come up and it will be pretty clear who will be singing that.

AARON: Yeah, it does naturally find it's way.

LEE: The public in general traditionally like a LEAD SINGER - perhaps a lead that they can relateâ€Â¦

DENNIS: Who's the lead singer in The Beatles? (Laughs) The public didn't really mind that time!

LEE: (Laughs) OK you're more prepared with for that question than I am - I would say it's the pair of them.

DENNIS: Well, this is the THREE of us!

ALL: (Laugh)

JASON: I see them as THREEâ€Â¦ I see them as George, John and Paul - all equally singing.

LEE: So you don't think there's problem there?

JASON: Some people have raised it.

LEE: Obviously if you had an answer like that ready! (laughs)

ALL: (Laugh)

LEE: What happens if a label comes in and wants one lead singerâ€Â¦

JASON: It would have to be a three single deal â€Â¦So we all get a go!

ALL: (Laugh)


Electric Empire's superb self-titled album is out now.

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