Hello Sci-Fi Republik and thanks for joining us! I always like to begin off with this question as it’s fun. What are three of your favorite albums of all time and why?
D.A. Sebasstian: It’s hard too narrow it down to just three…but probably number one is Gary Numan's "Replicas". The imagery of that album was so intense; Mach Men and Rape Machines, songs like Are Friends Electric and Down In The Park. I first saw Gary on Saturday Night Live (February 1980) as a teen. Being a sci-fi nerd and just getting into New Wave his look and sound really made me decide to pursue seriously being a musician. That big Minimoog synth sound layered with Fender Rhodes Electric Piano layered with bass guitar was so ground breaking. What was funny is years later I did several remixes for him that were released on Cleopatra Records. It was surreal doing work for an artist who was so influential to my own career. Number two would be The B-52’s self titled first album. I bought that on cassette after hearing it in an art supply store. It was stupid and quirky but so different from what was going on in the mainstream at the time. Number three is Public Image Limited's "Fist Issue". I learned to write lyrics by reading the album liner notes from that record, Gary Numan's "Pleasure Principle" and The Germs' "GI" albums. The first PiL album was also extremely bass guitar heavy, which being a bassist attracted me.
Jennifer Humphreys: I would also say that it’s hard to pick only three, since my taste in music spans across so many genres. But if I think back on what albums I have listened to over and over again that have help shape who I am today, a few definitely come to mind. The first would be "Revolver" by The Beatles. I had the cassette tape and listened to it on my walk to and from school when I was in the sixth grade. The Beatles have always been a major influence in my life. The second would be "The Immaculate Collection" by Madonna. I used to want to be her. I remember trying to copy her dance moves when I saw her videos on TV as a child. The third is the soundtrack from Interview With The Vampire. I listened to that album nearly every night in middle school. That was the beginning of my dark period I guess you could say. The music just spoke to me and was in tune with my emotions.
I saw that you guys met when Humphreys was a spokesmodel for The Kustom Kulture Festival and Sebasstian was filming the event for an Amazon TV show. Tell me a little more about this connection and how you began working with one another.
Sebasstian: Jenni was the spokesmodel for the Kustom Kulture Fest; it’s an annual event in Kingston, WA that attracts hundreds of Hot Rods with Pin-Up Contests etc. I filmed that event for my Amazon TV Show, Go-Kustom TV and shortly after we became Social Media friends. GKTV is more about Hot Rods and Pin-Up Culture, but like Jenni my interests in music are varied and vast. Last year we were talking about musical influences and Bowie came up. We both love Bowie. I suggested that we try recording since I knew she was a great singer from what mutual friends had told me. I actually auditioned her sitting in my old Chevy Blazer truck. We had a meeting at a Coffee House and I wanted to hear her sing right then so we just went out to the parking lot and she sang a few songs a cappella and I was floored. I knew we needed to work together.
Humphreys: It’s strange how you can instantly connect with people these days through social media. I’m mostly a shy person, but I knew D.A. through friends in the pinup community. I knew he had a lot of experience with music, film and photography. Meanwhile I had almost none. I was a bit shocked that he had shown interest in having me sing for him. I was extremely nervous but I was excited at the same time. I’ve never been in an actual band or created and recorded music in this aspect before. It’s so new to me, I’m still trying to grasp it. But I have already learned a lot from him.
Humphreys, I read that you have been singing and performing on stage for all your life, but singing for Sci-Fi Republik gave you your first experience in the studio. How was this situation different from what you’ve experienced before?
Humphreys: I can’t really remember a time in my life when I wasn’t singing in choir or playing an instrument. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I started hosting karaoke about 12 years ago, and even though it still makes me nervous to sing in front of people to this day, I wouldn’t be the same without singing. I had always wanted to be in a band, but being shy and having a bit of anxiety had always stopped me from ever trying. I’m so thankful that I have this opportunity to record and really be involved in what happens in the studio. It’s such an overwhelming experience, but in a good way.
Sebasstian, you front Kill Switch…Klick and D.A. Sebasstian & The Inner Demons. Why this foray into new wave? What made you want to do this?
Sebasstian: I am just going back to my roots. I mean I wanted to do a more synth driven project for years and after talking to Jenni I thought now was the time. My ideal band has always been Electric Bass, Synths, Drum Machines (with live percussion) and male and female vocals. My bass guitar is a Schecter Hellcat VI (named Jackie-O) which is similar to a Fender Bass VI. It is like an extended range six string guitar. Peter Hook (New Order) and Robert Smith (The Cure) both used Bass VI’s extensively. The Hellcat is a great complimentary instrument to analog synth sounds. Regular tenor guitars compete too much in the same frequency range as most synth playing styles, whereas the Hellcat can play lead lines if you are using synths for the bass, or play the bass lines if you are doing midrange work with the synths. As far as roots go- I bought my first synth in 1983, a Crumar Stratus that was pre-MIDI and gigged extensively in L.A. with the band Freaks Amor and Montage. Later I purchased an Atari 130XE Computer, a Korg DW-8000 Synth and Korg DM-110 and DM-220 Drum Machines in early 1985 and started Aside/Beside a Post-Punk New Wave band. Sci-Fi Republik is going back to these times and styles for me.
Tell me a little about the style of the project. The black and white photos, aliens; it give off a retro, 60s space vibe. What inspired this style?
Sebasstian: In the first feature film I Wrote and Directed Hot Rod Girls Save The World I had multiple alien characters. I made the alien masks and all the props including a full size space pod that my actor actually climbed into. With Sci-Fi Republik I wanted to do a Retro-Space vibe mixed with Gothic overtones. Like what if this Human-Hybrid race had these darker elements as part of their culture. My previous band Kill Switch…Klick was firmly in the Gothic Industrial genre. I mean our fanbase was the Rivetheads, BDSM Crowd and Goths. Like Gary Numan and David Bowie I want to create an entire world for the songs, almost like writing a screenplay or space opera. The music videos are going to be key to tying this all together. We shoot the first one in Fall 2021 for Our Lips Are Sealed. I own all my own high end camera gear and have shot two feature films so I have an extensive filming/editing background. Jenni and model/actress Bridgette Anderson really helped me fine tune the Human-Hybrid look. We call it Raygun Goth, similar to the Atompunk writing genre but with darker more ominous elements. Black lipstick, space suits, space helmets. I hand made the space helmets and the rayguns in the pictures and videos. I love building props. In the videos Actress Lulu Lorayne, who hosts my TV Show will also make appearances.
Humphreys: I have always loved the retro 60s look and the kitschy sci-fi from that period. I love that we are blending that with a gothic style as well. Even though I don’t have one style or group that I really identify with, goth has always been a part of my life, in one form or another.
Now, during the beginning phase of the project, you guys were looking to cover a song. Obviously, this led to you covering The Go-Go’s’ ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’. Why did choose this song to cover?
Sebasstian: We had actually started the demo sessions by recording a few covers and an older Inner Demons song I wanted to update. The first cover was David Bowie’s 'Moonage Daydream' which will come out later this year. Then we tried 'Our Lips Are Sealed' and Blondie’s 'One Way Or Another'. We both would just throw song ideas out and see if it worked. Our Lips just came together really quickly. The cool thing was as we were finishing the mixes I had planned on a June 18th release date, then saw the original was released on June 12th 1981, so I just moved the date forward a few days. Our version came out exactly forty years from the original. The very first song we put out as Sci-Fi Republik was 'Let Each One Stand For Murder', which was something I had written years ago that just didn’t fit the Kill Switch…Klick sound. It’s an instrumental with voice samples from various films.
Humphreys: I wasn’t exactly sure what we would be working on to put out. But we both have similar tastes in music. It’s a song that I have sung many times while hosting karaoke, and I’m a huge fan of the 80s. So when the idea was thrown out there, I was really excited to see how we could connect through it and make it our own.
Here comes a tough question: In comparison to the original version of the song, as a self-critique, how do you think you guys did with covering the track?
Sebasstian: I love our version. I think the spoken word first section really pulls the listener in. That was actually an accident. I asked Jenni to try different styles, singing the song, whispering the song, speaking the song. The spoken tracks totally reminded me of The Normals hit Warm Leatherette, which surprisingly Jenni had never heard before. She totally channeled the slightly bored robotic inflection to the song with minimal coaching. She has a natural ability to hear nuance. The best thing about our version is when Jenni opens up at the end with this big singing voice. The contrast really makes the song. A friend of mine Jennifer Curran also suggested doing a “hush” rhythmic sample in the middle section. I’m still not completely happy with the mix, but if I didn’t set release dates, I’d still be messing with it.
Humphreys: I honestly didn’t know what to expect when we were recording because like D.A. said, we tried a little bit of everything. But I love how our song feels like a darker version with a storytelling element. I got to experiment vocally in ways I never really had before. I’m happy with the way it turned out.
This is but the first of the project that we’ll be seeing. Tell me, what’s coming next for Sci-Fi Republik? Do you have any other singles, EPs, or albums in the works?
Sebasstian: The next single that will be out in August is 'Kontaminate Me', which is more EBM Nitzer Ebb style. I am singing the lead on that one. Right now I am finishing the last verse lyrics and the arrangement. We plan on releasing a full five song EP by the end of the year on cassette and streaming / download platforms. The new imprint I started for this project called Art-I-Phakt is a Cassette / Digital only label inspired by Sacred Tapes in the U.K. I grew up on cassette tapes and the early Kill Switch…Klick albums were self released cassettes. That was before KsK signed to Cleopatra Records. Each Sci-Fi Republik cassette will be limited signed and numbered with special packaging. More like art. This whole aspect excites me and makes the process more personal.
As far as your other, or own personal, projects go, do you have any news regarding those?
Sebasstian: I’m still doin the TV Show currently editing Season 6 and also working on a documentary about bassists.
Humphreys: Besides hosting karaoke, this is the only music project I am currently working on.
I would like to thank you for your time! I wish you the best of luck and leave the space below for you to mention anything else. Cheers!
Sebasstian: Thank you for chatting with us.
Humphreys: I’ve really enjoyed this opportunity to talk about our project, thank you!
This interview was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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