MWN: Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Alright let’s get started by diving into the roots of the band. How does being from Indianapolis influence your music?
Graham The Empire: Being from Indianapolis really doesn’t influence our music all that music. It’s funny, so much of the original music from Indianapolis feels very foreign to us – blues, jazz, and latter 20th century cover bands. Although interestingly, nationally known artists who we feel sound similar to us (alt-rock, electro-pop, etc.) can pack local venues. Yet there aren’t many bands in our area writing original music who are trying to explore the types of sounds that we are. We hope that we can encourage other original bands in our area, that would be an awesome legacy to leave.
MWN: Any bands you recommend to our readers?
Graham The Empire: Too many to write! Right now we’re really digging Lady Cop, Cut Copy, The War On Drugs, and Video Odyssey. Check them out!
MWN: So you guys worked with an awesome producer- Mark Needham- how was that like?
Graham The Empire: Mark Needham is simply a legend. He’s crafted so many great albums over the last 20 years and continues to show just how great of an ear he has. Mark grasped what we were trying to do from the beginning and found ways to capture the vision of our sound with very little direction. His studio in LA is a sight to behold and we feel very privileged to have worked with him.
MWN: What bands do you look to for inspiration, seeing as your sound is so unique?
Graham The Empire: That’s an interesting question and a huge compliment, thank you! You know, I don’t think we really look to other bands for inspiration. There is an ingrained set of instincts that are largely derived from our influences at a young age. For me (Graham), I listened to a lot of different music growing up and always seemed to gravitate towards music that either sounded massive or touched my soul in a particular way. For bands who were able to do both, I fell in love with and became borderline-obsessed. I’m likely pulling from those feelings and sounds that I heard in my own way which have culminated to the sound of Graham The Empire. If I’d pinpoint some specific bands of inspiration, I’d say it’s some blend of The Cars, Talking Heads, Muse, Human League, Nightnoise, Lindsey Buckingham, and LCD Soundsystem.
MWN: (For Graham) How does being a classically-trained pianist come into creating your music?
Graham The Empire: It probably plays more of a subtle role than it should. I’m largely an instinctual player when it comes to writing and less of a “scientific” writer, so to speak. Classical training helps to ensure that the final product is balanced with general music theory. Really, on this record there isn’t much piano, although there are a lot of synths. The best example of how my classical background influences the creative process is on our song “Mask”, where I do let loose with the piano. I’d like to explore more of that in the future.
MWN: The E.P release is right around the corner. What do you hope people get from it?
Graham The Empire: We hope that people resonate with some of the feelings that we felt while writing each song. It’s explores a lot of subjects that have to do with loss and a glimmer of hope amongst desolation. I think people can relate to that in one way or another and we really love the fact that we were able to capture that on our first record!
MWN: How do you write your music? Does it come to you in waves, or does inspiration hit you at once and that’s when you write it?
Graham The Empire: Writing usually occurs when a feeling hits or a certain subject starts to pull at your proverbial “strings”. Usually I come up with song structures and riffs through exploration, keep them on the shelf, and then when the inspiration hits you pull the music off of the shelf and meld it with the lyrical content. It’s completely natural to me and it just works. I think that’s largely why I’m so proud of this music – it’s truly from the soul and vulnerable.
MWN: Do you have one person you’d like to collaborate with?
Graham The Empire: Dan Whitford from Cut Copy. I feel like him and I have a lot in common and I love the way that he’s able to incorporate shimmering synths with great songwriting over tribal disco beats. I’d be interested to hear what we could do together with some of the heavier “riffage” sounds in our style. Plus, we share the love of “Tusk” from what I read, and that’s reason enough!
MWN: What song are you most looking forward to people hearing on your debut EP?
Graham The Empire: Right now, I’d say it’s “Mask”. It came from a dark place after a near death experience. It’s the least “pop” track on the album and I think some people will really enjoy it.
MWN: Lastly to wrap things up, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Is there anything you’d like to say to the people who will be reading this interview?
Graham The Empire: Well thank you guys for having us! We’d just like to thank all of you reading who SUPPORT Indie Music! You mean the world to us and we hope to see you at a show soon! Don’t hesitate to chat with us on social, we love interacting with our fans! Cheers!
Interview By: Allison Wyrsch & Maria Limon | Exclusively for @Music, Why Not! – All Rights Reserved-