Architects Of Grace recently released their debut album Moments In Time, hot on the heels of single Reflection. their dark and atmospheric sound is a wonderful blend of electro and rock, with bass heavy riffs and sweeping vocals creating some truly thrilling soundscapes. We managed to catch frontman, and bassist, Duncan Robert Illing, and got him to sit down for a quick chat.
1. Tell us about Architects of Grace.
What do you want to know specifically? (a lot covered in my answers below).
2. The project is mainly you (Duncan) and then a rotation of musicians is that correct? Why didn’t you decide to get a “solid” band together?
I went for solid contributors. In terms of forming a band, a lot of musicians will sympathise that firstly it is hard to find people that show sufficient commitment and talent and at the same time are motivated by the same influences, experiences and drive. These are songs I wrote myself, I then taught myself production and recorded a lot of the material myself. It evolved naturally that way. I wanted to work toward building a collection of songs, depending too heavily on other people sometimes slows the whole process down. I could do it myself. I wanted to get things done and complete this first set of material. However, I want to be in the position where there is a solid line up by the time we write and record a second album. Having consistent band members is of course especially essential for playing the songs live. It’s a great feeling to bring the songs to life in a live environment. It’s equally possible for individuals to write records and then build a band to play it. That’s what Trent Reznor has always done for example. I don’t believe in following a pre-set agenda. The rule book has been ripped up in recent times. Technology brings further freedoms. There is total freedom of expression and creatively from doing things independently too. I have made this record with the help of friends and musicians I have worked with before. It was also great having the chance to work with Dave M Allen on a couple of these songs, he made most of The Cure’s greatest albums. I am assembling a band to play live with and I expect we’ll write some songs together too.
3. You released some tracks before but why wait until 2011 to get the proper album (Moments In Time) and single (Reflection) out?
I didn’t wait, it was the natural course of how the album evolved. Unfortunately these things take time. Even those bands that have the luxury of devoting every waking hour to their music often take 2 or 3 years to produce a new album. Moments In Time didn’t take that long by comparison.
4. “Oceans of the Heart” is a great track and the film on YouTube is great – why is this a “DIY film” and not simply a “music video”?
Oceans Of The Heart was released originally as a free taster track from the album and not a single, as a result we didn’t have to make a music video, but I wanted to put some imagery to it. It’s called a DIY film because it doesn’t look like a music video and it is what it says, a do it yourself film compiled of video shot throughout the last year that works well with the atmosphere of the song. You can call it a music video if you want though. There will hopefully be more music and film posted before too long. I’m working on a new idea at the moment scheduled for a July release.
5. Tell us a little bit about the debut single “Reflection”. What’s it about?
Please listen and make up your own mind.
6. What was the concept behind the video?
I spoke to a number of directors for Reflection. I then finally met Julian Bowman and Simon Matthews who were both realistic, reliable and capable of capturing my reference points in an effective way. David Lynch was a name I mentioned very early in the conversations, both for visuals and themes. Lynch has captured the magnetic draw of a location or character in his work. With the primary character knowing it wrong or dangerous but visiting anyway, whether that’s via addiction, lust, curiosity, fascination or being under a spell of some kind. Interpret that how you wish. The wood scenes are quite dream like and have a Twin Peaks feel too. We had only a small budget but I’m very pleased with what we achieved under the circumstances.
7. “Moments in Time” has some definite stand-out singles in there but there are also very ambient moments as well. What influenced the writing on this album?
Generally speaking experiences throughout life, whether personal or observational. Midnight To Midnight was the first song I wrote out of the eleven that made the album. There are a range of experiences, moods and atmospheres created. A number of people have remarked the music is very filmic and conjures up visuals. I like the idea of doing a soundtrack to a film at some point.
8. We’ve noticed you use images of attractive ladies on many of your releases and even in your video – are women a huge influence or is it simply just a case of “sex sells”?
Sex sells, I could speak at length about modern culture. However that wasn’t the motivation. I wanted some striking imagery. Women are an influence. I don’t think the sleeve artwork is as provocative as even Roxy Music and certainly not as provocative as the Big Pink’s first album sleeve. I’d rather verge toward classic and artistic, Roxy did that. Beauty sometimes, but not always, hides a lot of substance beneath it, often darkness and tragedy.
9. You’re funding and self-releasing everything on your own, on your own label (Procession Recordings). Do you think this is the way to go for smaller bands these days?
I think it’s the way to go for band’s and artists of any size. Own your own rights. I’m confused as to why Radiohead signed a deal again after In Rainbows came out. It was quite hypocritical of their initial principle. It’s obviously very tough as a new and smaller profile artist, but you can make your own way if you’re realistic. Radiohead and Trent Reznor had two decades of major label funding to build their profiles and fan base before they went independent. More and more new bands today won’t ever receive that kind of assistance. Just do what you enjoy and keep to your principles.
10. Finally, if you won the lottery tomorrow, what would be the first thing you’d splurge on?
I’d have to start buying tickets first. Why do creative people never win the lottery? It always seems to be idiots who wrap fast cars around lamp posts and do such materialistically obsessed obvious things with the money. If I did buy a ticket and won I would build a new studio and be able to fund my own tour perhaps. Touring is expensive! You should see how much it would have cost to play SXSW. It’s ok for the rich kid bands though. The rest of us have to work ten times as hard. Determination is important. The album is now out and available for people to hear which I’m proud of.
The single Reflection was also released via Procession Recordings. It is available via their bandcamp store for £1.29.