2020 - for all of us a year we will never forget.
We ended 2019 with the fantastic memories of Space Mountain still in our heads, where we were offered a great chance to play alongside some of the greatest artists in Andalusia, Spain. Had anybody told me then, that this was our last gig before the apocalypse I would have told them they're nuts, but hey, who would have expected what started in Wuhan just a couple of months later and soon fucked with humanity in every corner of the planet would bring everything we know to a standstill? Well I wouldn't. But more about the impact of Covid-19 later in this story.
|WE ARE REPLICA live at SPACE MOUNTAIN|
Back in London, we happily started work on what was meant to be our first full length album to be released in early 2020. Yet, the ghost of 2020 haunted us as early as Christmas 2019 when a feral cat, keen on expanding his territory to that of our resident kitties Minnie and Tuxie, pissed all over our recently custom built computer. My friend Steve, who built it for us in the first place came in the new year to replace the corroded motherboard, the fucked power supply and whatever else was destroyed, and basically got it up and running again. We had to start anew as we lost quite a few plug ins that used to be essential to our workflow. The licenses simply stopped working on the refurbished machine and there was nothing we could do about it. When that was finally dealt with, we got to work hard on editing and mixing this debut album again, we also re-recorded takes, wrote some now lyrics, sung many of the vocals again and in the months of January, February and March we knew we were on to something hot, a monster of an album, an electro-psychedelic-post-punk masterpiece! We were feeling blissful, and to celebrate we even planned a massive art and electro jam called "e-Dada" to take place just before the release of our album.
|The poster for the cancelled e-Dada designed by WE ARE REPLICA and Jorge Torres|
None of that happened.
By the end of March we found ourselves separated on two sides of the river Thames. The virus was on a killing spree taking thousands of lives in the UK and its capitol, that was now under lockdown. It was fucking frightening and being unprepared for remote work another break was forced on us.
After eight weeks of doing our solo projects we caught up in Greenwich Park to talk about the future of our album and a week later we got together and started again. The release timeline however, now obviously delayed by many months, would be different than originally planned. Instead of releasing a single and having the album follow a month later we were to release something like a double A-side single made up of "Angel" and "Parellele Universen", and have more releases to follow before the album would finally come out.
Even that changed when the Black Lives Matter protests kicked off in all major cities of the western world. We rushed to finish the mix of our song "Africa", an antifascist statement that seemed just right to be released at that time.
So, "Africa" was first, soon to be followed by our French and German language tracks "Angel" and "Parallele Universen", released on the same day. People need music in 2020! The album wasn't fully mixed, so releasing singles and remixes of the same tracks seemed to be the way forward. We got Pauline Mongarny to take some apocalyptic photos for all those releases to make them part of the same family, and went to Blackheath for the shoot.
We released extended remixes of the second and third singles as "Parallel Angels" to keep more material coming. The whole concept of single/album/gigs does not make any sense in "the new normal" so we decided to simply release new material all the time.
With the prospect of doing online gigs and even some kind of "real" underground gigs towards the end of the year (regular gigs as we know are not exactly happening anymore these days!) we have also upgraded our live rig. As opposed to our earlier shows we now got rid of most of our backing tracks and will from now on trigger mostly analogue synths and samplers via midi from a laptop, and... the new set up looks absolutely awesome!
|Our new live rig. Gear porn of another dimension!|
While Nadège, with much better ears than mine (sigh... the age!) has been busier as a sound engineer than me in the mixing process of the album (both of us of course still work as co-producers) it has now been my sisyphos-task to program all the midi to be sent into an array of Korg Volcas. The idea is that, while we sing and keep playing our keyboards live, the laptop now plays sequences of drums and synths that used to be backing tracks. I always found the idea of relying on pre-recorded backing tracks rather gruesome. You, our audience, probably never cared that much. Yet, I am sure, that when you see our new live shows you will definitely hear the difference.
We are now about to shoot two videos for the "Parallel Angels" tracks, that will most likely be in different versions again, but that's another story. There is nothing better than being busy, and 2020, the year when time stood still, turns out to be one of our busiest from a creative point of view, and... we love it!
- Martin Kinz 11/08/2020
All cover photos by Pauline Mongarny