Autokratz are not about your Vorsprung durch Technik, you know. The name may sound German. But they’re not. Their recent addition to Kitsune Maison five, 'Pardon Garcon', may suggest a French leaning. But that’s just their record label. Autokratz are English, as English as any stereotype you wish to include. They are an English electronic band with passion and substance, “I would say our music does sound really English”. Russell Autokratz excitedly tells Gigwise. Russell is a highly enthusiastic and deliriously chuffed half of the very English Autokratz. He is genuinely happy to be where he is and isn’t afraid to say it.
Autokratz are riding the crest of a wave of very exciting English electronic music, “At the moment there is loads and loads of great electronic music coming from England.” He cites Alex Metric and Street life DJ’s amongst others of this new wave of quality homegrown electronica. These are exciting times indeed, not least for Russell. Although it must be added, this is not a xenophobic stance for English music, just merely an appreciation of where they are coming from and the music being produced. “Its not just something Europeans can do, English people can make electronic music that matters as well”.
The origins of Autokratz even hint at the Englishness at the heart of the band. “We met outside a club and I was sick onto David’s shoes after being a little bit intoxicated”, reveals Russell about his first meeting with his future band mate. While these may not be the beautiful nor romantic images of the beginning of an effervescent and productive partnership, friendship grew quickly over a shared love of music, “He was about to crack me and then realised I was wearing a Devo t-shirt and he thought that was quite cool”. A chat about music quickly led them to Russell’s own studio and productivity did not seem to be a problem, “In one day we came up with the first few Autokratz songs”. All this happened about 18 months ago, as Russell, a Mancunian based in London and David from London embarked on their electro coalition.
Russell is steeped in music, right up to the neck. He used to promote warehouse parties around the country and he also helped run 1234 records in London. Now he is on the other side of the fence, very much rooted in Autokratz. Russell knowing all sides of the music business is outrageously happy to be part of a band, “It is really easy, its fantastic fun. Anyone that says otherwise is a complete liar”, and just to emphasise the point, he adds, “I’ve never had so much fun in my whole life. It fantastic, it’s great.” After calming him down we both decided it can’t all be fun and games though, he wants the right things for his band. Firstly the right home is required to ensure growth and artistic freedom.
“When we first set off to make this project, we always wanted it to be on Kitsune”. Luckily for him French label Kitsune liked the cut of their jib and so another beautiful friendship began in earnest, “The culture of it was really something that did interest us and that’s where we wanted our music to fit in”. Inclusion of the fabulous, Pardon Garcon, on the most recent Kitsune Maison compilation cemented the relationship. The song fits perfectly into the Maison series, as Russell describes, “ loads of different influences not just a sound that becomes too typical”. An 8 track E.P. is threatened for the summer and an album to follow late in the year.
Russell talks enthusiastically about making an album, “the album is an opportunity to do a collection of songs which are tied together by the same ideas of where we are at in our lives”. While CD’s sales are dying a slow death from a business point of view, Russell believes the concept of a journey within an album is still the way forward, “I always loved when you first bought an album when you were young and go home to listen to it all the way through”, he concludes, “It’s a journey of different ideas, which are still pulled together by the same thing”. He believes people are ready and willing to take this journey with Autokratz, “People will understand enough of what we’re doing to say well this is something that needs to be seen as a complete body of work”. As for the album itself, Russell discloses surprises may be in store for the listener, “There’s going to be a lot more different levels to it than people might expect not just really hard and banging all the way.” But before you put away your glow-sticks, he adds, “There will be that obviously, we love that”. From talking to Russell it is obvious he wants more than to make just stomping, teeth grinding, jaw jutting dance music, a key word he uses throughout the interview is, depth.
“We’ve got a lot more depth than a lot of things out there”. Russell has heady aspirations for the band and he doesn’t look far from his Mancunian roots for them, “When you’ve written songs the wealth and power of Joy Division and then to take it into the electronic sphere”, looking to New Order for ultimate inspiration, “Like they did with New Order, with things like Blue Monday. It has so much depth to it”. The process they work through when putting together their songs is vitally important to achieving their goals of depth and longevity.
“We often work separately and come up with ideas and sent stuff through to each other and bounce off each other that way”. Sceptics may think this is so David can avoid anymore shoe and puke altercations but this is not the case. The songs grow organically through this method. Keyboards, guitars, computers plus David’s dulcet tones all are thrown into the Autokratz mixer, “It’s all about using different things to create the energy of what we do”. The most important breeding crowd for songs is out with the people, “When we start to try and work something out live, it always takes on another life as well,” explains Russell.
“The live thing is central to what we do”, sitting behind a mixing desk dressed as a robot ensconced in a giant flashing pyramid is not really what Autokratz are about, “It’s a full on live experience and we are kinda very rock n roll in our attitude to the way that we play”. Nothing is pre programmed for the live shows, “We’ve got guitars and vocals on top of the electronics as well”, he says before gleefully adding, “It’s like a full on noise explosion that really makes you take notice”. Autokratz on shear conviction alone will gain a place in the musical pantheon.
“We’re touring constantly”, Autokratz will be just about everywhere in the coming year, a relentless touring schedule will see them cross the length and breath of the globe, something that doesn’t really faze Russell as he extols in his Mancunian drawl, “It’s great to get around and play your music to people. Its something you don’t get in the studio.” Bristol, London and Manchester will all be feeling the noise explosion in March, if you have any sense you will be there. The live shows promise to be explosive as Autokratz will be road testing songs for their new album, “Every single gig we play we try and push ourselves forward and look at different ways at looking at the tracks we’ve got.” Festivals are promised for the summer also, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. Pardon Garcon is being released with a b-side, French Girls Play Guitar, as Russell puts it, “has a stompy kind of Kraftwerk vibe”. Gigwise fully endorses this Autokratocracy, long may they rule.
'Pardon Garcon/French Girls Play Guitar' is available soon. Kitsune Maison 5 is also available now featuring, 'Pardon Garcon'.