For those of you who don't know who Surgyn are yet, they are one of the most exciting acts to come out of the UK scene this year. Hailing from Scotland, they meld industrial beats with a strong stage presence based around the image of medical deviance and experimentation. Sovereign (Ollie) and Veil (Ross) have been making waves in the UK club circuit recently, with stunning performances alongside such acts as Covenant, Angelspit, Caustic and The Gothsicles. With their debut album “Vanity” (which includes such club hits as “Aesthetics (Are A Moral Imperative)” and “Hit The Nerve”) having just been released in the physical CD form on Deathwatch Asia, it looks like Surgyn might just be the next UK band to break out onto the international scene.
Reg: Good afternoon Gentlemen. Thank you for taking the time out to answer these questions.
Sovereign: Anything for you.
Reg: “ Beauty Is Agony”. What does that mean to you, and should people live their lives by this phrase?
Sovereign: When I originally wrote that phrase it was very off-hand in a string of similar slogans. I just liked the contrast between the two words. But it almost immediately caught our attentions as a very potent expression. I think it says something about the price of vanity. It also appealed to the thematic core of Surgyn, the dystopian vision encompassing the Surgyn Syndicate. Should people live by it? Certainly not. Examples of it can be found in modern society, in the faces so distorted by surgical vanity that they have become closer to abominations than idols.
Veil: “Beauty is Agony” I think concisely sums up the entire vision of Surgyn. The band was originally based on the concept of a surgical dystopia – a world in which Beauty reigns supreme and must be attained at any cost, even death. I think to live by this idiom could lead only to one's complete destruction which, in a dark fictional sense, is somewhat fabulous. However, if we're talking real life here – no, no this isn't a very good idea.
Reg: How exactly did you guys get Surgyn started?
Veil: I decided one day that I would quite like to deviate from my darkwave/orchestral roots and endeavour to create something 'oontzy'. I came up with a one minute sample entitled at the time 'Hell yahh' which could only be described as some kind of joke. This joke became Aesthetics (are a Moral Imperative). The rest is history.
Sovereign: Funnily enough, our main issue was with naming the project. During the six-month period precluding 'Surgyn', we were called 'Comacage,' 'Ravens Unkind,' and even the ridiculous 'The Noise Boys' at one point. Following Aesthetics, the name struck me in a ray of light as though sent from heaven itself, and I promptly added a 'Y' to make it industrial. After all, a band isn't industrial unless the spelling makes your eyes bleed.
Reg: You're have a strong sense of the artistic in your stage presence it seems. Would you say its important to have an “image” as artists?
Sovereign: In this day and age it's imperative. I could name a dozen different bands capable of producing excellent quality material, but utterly lacking in the image department. You won't have heard of these bands. To be noticed among the stale humdrum of monotonous projects that make up the lowest tiers of the industrial scene, it takes a certain flair that either defies convention or panders to it. Hopefully, we have achieved the former.
Veil: From the very moment Surgyn began I've taken it upon myself to make absolutely sure that we have an extreme image to reflect the nature of the music. It is theatre. As an artist I am heavily drawn in by visual things. For Surgyn, I wanted to create a whole world through the combination of extreme music and visual style and at the live shows, for that time that we are on stage, I invite everyone in attendance to lose themselves in that world.
Reg: Which bands have influenced you as both Surgyn and individuals the most?
Veil: When I was a young thing, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I used to listen to excessive amounts of commercial trance music. The 90s were inundated with the stuff. I was very attracted to the artificial nature of the sound and I've always loved the primal beat of dance music, you can't help but want to move to it. In addition to this, during my teenage years I became obsessed with Japanese underground bands (especially the Visual Kei ones.) For those unfamiliar with VK, as the name suggests, the distinctive factor of these bands is their visual style which is often incredibly androgynous and elegant, despite most of the members being male. A lot of my aesthetic tastes have branched off from my interest in these bands. It goes without saying I also listen to copious amounts of Industrial/EBM/
Sovereign: I devour literature. My influences come from an almost endless multitude of great writers. I write books, short stories, scripts and comics. I had dabbled with poetry, but lyrics were an interesting challenge. Poetic license goes out of the window once you find yourself confronted with songs that require a certain sound from the words used. For that, I turned to the somewhat pretentious utterances of bands like Covenant, Placebo and Radiohead. I enjoy concentrating on specific very accessible phrases that sound great when screamed or sung. Making your lyrics too complicated will alienate your audience and give them nothing to relate to.
Reg: Now, draw back the veil. What lurks at the farthest recesses of Surgyn's collective mind?
Sovereign: Veil will enjoy this question. There is a whole seething pit of ideas that have yet to be employed. We dabbled briefly with the idea of a concept album dealing with the Surgyn Syndicate as a story. This is something that I wouldn't mind exploring a little more, because there is a lot that can be done with it. Personally, I have too many ideas and during the process of writing music most of them are rejected. This is a good thing, though. The process of writing should be one of refinement. Using every idea you come up with will not work.
Veil: Behind the veil lies great potential. Between Sovereign's lyrics and my music I feel we have so much more still to explore. There has already been much discussion about how we will proceed but we won't give too much away at this stage. After writing straight club beats for a whole album I feel I'd like to experiment with something a little less streamline however don't take that as the club period is over – we have many more faces to smelt off. We will always endeavour to make you move!
Reg: You've been receiving some great reviews recently of the album “Vanity”. Did you expect such a good reaction from people to your work?
Download: "Hit the Nerve" http://dwa-digital.com/track/hit-the-nerve-128kbps-free-version
Buy "Vanity" here: http://dwa-digital.com/album/vanity
Veil: The reaction has been overwhelming actually. It's only now sitting writing this interview that we've had the chance to really take in what we've achieved over the last year and a bit. It's actually insane. The amount of acts we've had the honour to share the stage with is amazing, it's been one opportunity after another and we've been incredibly lucky. In addition to being lucky though, we have worked very, very hard to get to where we are, and for that reason I'm so pleased that the album has been so well received. I started writing electronic music when I was 14 and to get to the stage I'm at now is something I could've only dreamed of before (and I did, often.) I don't think you can ever really accurately anticipate what other people will think of your work but I think if you yourself feel accomplished, that's all that matters, and I absolutely do.
Sovereign: I am a very pessimistic person. Nobody knows this better than Veil [Veil nods]. I did not expect the reaction that occurred from the release. I especially did not expect the resulting invitations, most of which we currently can't talk about. It has been unexpected and still quite overwhelming.
Reg: You've played with a couple of well-known bands already. What's been your best experience so far live?
Sovereign: Two live shows stick out in my memory. The first was when we played with The Gothsicles and Caustic. This was a very special show for me, personally, because up until that show I had, for lack of a better phrase, been giving far too much of a fuck. Playing with those two immensely fun bands in one night, and playing a certain notorious cover, taught me to give far less of a fuck and have more fun on stage. It's worth doing. The second show was very recent, opening for Straftanz and Terrolokaust in Sheffield. Absolutely everything about that show was right: the venue, the organisers, the other bands, the audience and the after show party were all absolutely superb. I hope to return to the Corporation soon!
Reg: Which artist would you sell a kidney to perform with on stage the most?
Sovereign: We're coming close to it this year, and I haven't even had to give up a kidney. Barry, who runs the classic grand, knows of my love and adoration for a certain band named Covenant, and he decided to put us on without any form of bribery at all. I can't wait!
Reg: Now, finally, reach into your pockets. Take out what's in there. Tell us what it is, and what does it say about you as people?
Sovereign: Nothing. This is fairly descriptive of what we earn as artists. There is no money in making industrial music. We do this for fun and, I hope, it shows.
Visit the band on-line:
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