Interview+Review: Electronic Substance Abuse - I DETACH


Few singles hit the satisfaction levels where usually just one track and a singular remix is hardly a worthy appetiser. Yet with a substantial original track and three of the heartiest remixes I've ever heard, 'I DETACH' lays on one amazing buffet of delicious musical genius!

 

The new single ‘I Detach’ sees J Blacker again pummelling the listener with his unmistakeable wall of dark electronic sound.

With a writing thick, snarling bass line that comes strange from mid-tempo techno hell, flattening kicks and glorious synth hooks. ‘I Detach’ is yet another reason why ESA is regarded as a must in DJ sets around the world.


Alongside the Single release comes remixes from Moris Blak, Mechanical Vein and surprisingly, the enigmatic Mr.Kitty. Further proving that Blacker will never be prepared to do what is expected and is always ready to turn things on their head.


Accompanying the Single release is yet another game-changing official music video, which is yet more evidence of Blackers story-telling and directing ability.


I DETACH official music video

 

Interview

Photo and editing by Olivia Grenadine Chloé


Q: There is a lot of visualisation to unpack in this video and the release mentioned that this was a very important subject to you in what happens to women. So can you please explain the premise of what the video portrays and the importance of the butterfly?


A: Absolutely. So the main premise of the video is to tell the surface story of the detached / sociopath Antagonist (Caretaker). It was to build a story around him, his childhood, the reasons for his detachment / reason for his relation to mannequins and finally delve into his extra curricular activities of transforming humans into mannequins.


As with the other videos I've produced, I try to use the surface stories to communicate sub plots that are basically commentaries on some of the uncomfortable things that I see and feel in the world we live in. In this case I wanted to nod towards the breaking down and building up of the people we are supposed to love. Holding people to ideal standards and forcing them into a new version through control. I used parts of the Greek tale of Pygmalion to help me build a character around that.


This can often go hand in hand with physical and mental abuse, which whilst happens to both sexes, the majority of the time (especially over history) this has been a man to woman dynamic. I wanted to point to that in the most sensitive way I could through the process of the mannequin transformation and also the Antagonists need to control the full transformed mannequins like puppets.


Olivia Grenadine Chloe (Protagonist Mannequin), really helped me to get to the core of that message from a woman’s POV when this was the role dynamic we were exploring. There is only so much I can communicate abut this particular subject from my own perspective and she really kept me on point with how to deliver that as elegantly as possible, without sacrificing the impact and brutality of the video.


The relevance of the butterfly is that of transformation. The butterfly transforms from cocoon into its more ‘elegant’ state. The Antagonist is obsessed with butterflies and relates that transformation to the human to mannequin process. Hence why the scenes are intertwined before the main climax of the video.


Q: With the video and the title of the track it seems that the antagonist is detached from reality. What made you chose this as the main way to characterise the video in both his ‘current’ age and his youth?


A: I wanted to create a story around detachment. I also wanted to use the mannequins in someway that I had been shown by my brother in December 2020, so the job was to merge those two contents together to create the narrative.


I wanted to show the Antagonist in his youth to explain where the infatuation with mannequins and butterflies originated from, that being that he had been neglected and hidden by his parents with only the mannequins as company…and one book, the life of butterflies.


The combination of detachment from human love along with the two things that carried him through his childhood created a template for his perspective on connection. Its ambitious for a 5 minute video and it was hard to pack it all in but I got out the bare minimum that I could to explain this, whilst still creating a visually exciting video.

Q: Tell us about the second male character (The warehouse owner) near the end of the video and how he plays in to the story as a whole, and also the dancing mannequins near the end.


A: On the surface, the Warehouse Owner came into the story to stop the charade that the Antagonist was creating. He employed the caretaker to make humans into mannequins so he can sell them on to commercial companies. He saw that farce and ended it so he could deliver his consignment on, which is what preludes to the final climax of the story (which I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen it).


I also really wanted the main Antagonist (who had been in complete control up until that point), to be made completely redundant in the story. I wanted him to shrink from the person in ‘power’ to that of a coward and for the narrative to basically move on without him. Again, it was hard to pack into a 5 minute video but I hope we got the message across.


Q: The overall sound ties in well with your other recent releases and feels like a continuation of the current ESA style but with quite an eerie twist, as well as the quite unexpected 1920’s style cut away. So which came first, the story behind the song or the music beats that then evolved in to a story and how would you say this track differs from what fans have heard on ‘Burial 10’ and ‘Eat their young’? (For those who have not heard this single yet)


A: The idea for the video came first and I used that to inspire the track. I’m a big fan of ‘The Shining’ (in particular the scenes where Jack Nicholson finds himself in a 1920’s version of the hotel). So I knew I wanted a black tie, ballroom dance style event in the video. I had to make sure that part of the track tied into that cohesively. It turned out great for the track and really delivers an interesting nuance that I’m quite proud of.


For me, visuals inspire audio and vice versa and always has done. They are both intertwined arts and its my job to perform both of them homogeneously and as well as I possibly can.


I’d say that the feel of the track sits alongside nicely with ‘The Scorn’ from the Eat their Young / The Scorn EP and ‘You are Not Safe Here’ from Burial 10. It’s ESA at its most accessible whilst still retaining the grittiness and power that ESA is known for.


Q: Each of the remixes on this release are vastly different to the original track, especially the Mr.Kitty version. How do you feel about each artists interpretation and what do they add to the overall context of the single?


A: I chose all the artists because I love what they do. They all did exactly what I was hoping and I'm really happy they did, rather than following the structure or rules of the original. I will always try to push ESA into new areas and will never go for the predictable remix from the predictable artist through intention. I always want to collaborate and explore different perspectives both with my remixes and collaborations.


Q: What do you hope people take away from the lyrics and the music video?


A: Firstly I hope they take away the feeling that they have been cinematically entertained. I hope that the mix of the music and the visuals leave them feeling energised and excited. This will always be my first priority. ESA is all about energy and power, but delivered in a high quality and interesting way.


Secondly, I hope that they think about the different nuances of the video and the story behind it and what they could mean to them personally and from their perspective.


The sub-plot is there to remind us of how imperfect we are and how control is a real living thing that has existed as long as we have

been around. It’s a reminder that abuse is alive and is going on behind closed (warehouse) doors. The last seconds of the video is there to show us that we do have a voice and we can break that wall.

Photo and editing by Olivia Grenadine Chloé


Q: You’ve become quite the artistic video director, is ESA transforming in to much more of a story telling media project in both sound and visuals in order to project the creativity and passion you have for your art?


A: Thats an interesting question. ESA has always had strong imagery but over the last 5 years, I have developed the confidence to communicate my imagery from a more personal and cinematic perspective. there will always be limitations on what I can achieve as an underground artist but I am pushing that boundary as far as I possibly can.


I feel very comfortable telling stories and directing now, but at the epicentre, ESA is an audio experience and that will exist with or without film-making. I just hope to explore the film-making side of my art for as long as I can. The moment I run out of ideas, is the moment I stop. But that works for both of these arts.


Q: Have you had any difficulties in putting this release together?


A: Yes, in many ways. The hardest part of the video to pull together is quite a dull answer and that was rounding up the right MUA’s to pull of the level of SFX that I needed. I probably chose the most difficult prosthetic effect that I could to make the story travel and nearly gave up a number of times.

The MUA’s that were involved in this, came in and saved me at almost the last step and I will always be hugely grateful for that. Those MUA’s were Andreea Calin, Michelle Hardwick and Marlena Stencil (under the supervision of Nikoletta Tzani) and if anyone wants their details, i’d be happy to pass on.


Olivia Grenadine Chloe, Keri Bailey and Myles Fearnley also managed to keep me from losing my mind in the process of making this work. It's safe to say, without this investment and support from all of the crew, this probably wouldn't have come to fruition.


Other than that, just the usual logistical problems in creating a shoot that delivered. I also spent a lot of time working on the script so that it felt like a well put together product that said everything I needed to say in 5 minutes.


Q: Finally, how do you personally see bands and venues adapting to our current world and in the future. What do you feel is the next logical evolution for the music scene?


A: The honest answer is I don’t know. Obviously we are all hoping that the world will return to the state it was pre-2020 (in relative social matters). But no-one knows when that will fully happen. Personally I am not engaged in the live streaming platform. I only understand live and seeing the whites of the eyes and the tribal togetherness of a live show. So for me, that is why I have resorted to the next labour of love in communicating to people, that is though visual art and that's why there has been 3 music videos released in 10 months.


How everyone else charters these waters is up to them and how they feel most engaged and most comfortable.

 

Review

ESA's use of electronic drums seems to always hit that deep and primal core of my being, like some sort of ancient astronaut theory soundtrack. When I listen to ESA I feel like an ignorant peasant entranced by the technological power and machinations of a far greater entity manipulating me in to chanting, dancing, and worshipping the sounds blasted at me.

'I DETACH' is no exception, the concepts and use of vintage music brings a horrific hell-scape in the mental mind of the characters much akin to the horrors of 'Bioshock'. It's also great to hear Jamie continue with his recent style of sound and vocals which really bring a mature yet vibrant mix full of fist clenching energy.


The Mechanical Vein remix sounds like Pendulum made a baby with Frank Klepacki (Responsible for all the killer guitar tracks for the original Command and Conquer games) and hits you with a jaw dropping intensity. It brings not only nostalgia but a fierce joy that wants to break out. This is quite possibly the finest piece of remix work Mechanical Vein has produced thus far!


MORIS BLAK has moistened this track with the filthiest bass and mid-tempo electronics, wringing it out for all that it's worth and leaving the listener so gods damn thirsty for more. There are few bands who can make me gurn simply from a bass drop when it kicks in but MORIS BLAK has done it, I'm sober gurning away at the sheer, brutal, stunning FILTH of this.


Mr.Kitty has really cut out the precious diamond that is Jamie's lyrical genius and beauty hidden amongst all of the usual chaos and aggression, revealing an industrial pop piece of master artistry I'd have never expected when consuming ESA. It's a trance like direction of feel good, sunshine vibes and I absolutely love it!


Tracklist


I Detach

I Detach (Mechanical Vein Remix)

I Detach (MORIS BLAK Remix)

I Detach (Mr.Kitty Remix)


Conclusion


For a single release this is quite possibly the most important release of the year. The original 'I DETACH' track is a worthy successor to ESA's current and epic saga; However the addition of three incredible and MOST importantly widely varied remixes are the main jewel in this crown. Within this one single you have everything that makes Industrial great. Starting with ESA's powernoise, to Mechanical Vein's EDM and almost metal smash up, to MORIS BLAK's cyberpunk mid-tempo aural GOLD, and finally some trance like industrial pop. In essence this is the perfect string of tracks to play to someone who wants to know what industrial music is. I mean, there are so many subgenres and this perfectly encapsulates some of the main ones. This release has it all. I'm going to stop now before my tongue ends up any further into these artists and their work! haha


Scores:


Technicality: 9.5/10

Dance factor: 9/10

Energy: 9/10

Vocals: 10/10

Re-play value: 10/10


Overall score: 9.5 / 10

 

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