It struck me as I was prepping this interview that Collide are not an easy band to categorize. When they came up in the early 1990s, they were lumped in with ‘industrial’ and ‘darkwave’ music and one could hear their material in clubs that gravitated to this genre of music. Now, over two decades later, their material is still in this vein, but the styles and subclasses of music out there are so expanded, calling them ‘industrial’ and ‘darkwave’ seems to be cutting things short.
Collide make electronic music. Statik has worked on some of the most revered Tool albums in their catalog, and has worked with Skinny Puppy. Both Statik and kaRIN have worked with Chris Vrenna (Tweaker). Statik and kaRIN’s collaboration with Dean Garcia (Curve), The Secret Meeting still sits in regular rotation in my car stereo – and remains a high point (for me) in the duo’s lengthy collaboration together.
Collide’s music can vary from dirgy drum and synth beats to moments of pure electronic ambiance with kaRIN’s haunting vocals always omnipresent in their material. Their new album Color Of Nothing, made possible through Pledge Music, sees it’s release this week, on May 25th. In this interview, the pair hint a bit at their inspirations, and why some of the new material carries a darker tone.
It’s been a little while since Counting to Zero (2011), and the Bent and Broken remix double album in (2012) saw release. Can you tell us what you both have been up to?
Statik: At first we just took a bit of a break from music really. When you’re making an album, (for us), it’s just go go go. Any extra time you have gets eaten up, so we needed to take some time off. It was somewhere around the beginning of 2015 when we really started to crank things up again.
kaRIN: With so many changes in the music industry, we wanted to step back for awhile and recharge.
One of Collide’s greatest gifts (and greatest challenges) is how fiercely independent the band is. Collide has been a self-funded project for years now. Can you talk a bit about some of the opportunities and challenges that making your music, running your own label (Noiseplus Music) and keeping yourselves inspired this level of independence brings you both?
kaRIN: Yes, we are definitely independent!!! The biggest challenge is always there is not enough time in the day. The inspiration is we are both addicted to it!! I never think I am good enough and always want to make it better.
Statik: The unfortunate reality is that we’ve been screwed over just about every time we’ve partnered up with someone. So we may not have as big of a budget as if we were on a bigger label, but we know that we have all of the control.
kaRIN: We are definitely both control freaks.
One of the main ways bands make ends meet these days is by touring. Collide tend to not tour. It’s one of the reasons your Like The Hunted DVD is such a special thing – it captures a rare Collide show filmed with multiple angles. Can you talk a bit about your decisions to not tour, how that affects your bottom line, and what you do to get around this lack of income for Collide?
kaRIN: The short answer is I feel like more of an artist rather than an entertainer. Mostly, I want to make things and then move on to the next thing…everything else is getting in my way.
Statik: I think it’s a bit of a misconception that bands make a lot of money on tour. I know a lot of big bands, who play large venues, make a lot of money on tour, but for a smaller, or medium-sized bands, it takes most of the money that you get from a show just to cover the costs of the tour. We enjoyed the tour that we did for that DVD, but it wasn’t a big money maker. We thought at the time that it might be the last time we played live for a while, so it was the time to make the DVD happen.
Can you discuss your creative process? How you tend to write? Whether it differs from album to album?
Statik: I don’t think it’s really changed from album to album. I come up with something that’s like 50% of a song…it’s kind of there, but not really totally structured, and there is a lot of room to still do stuff. At that point I give it to kaRIN, and she goes off in her own studio and works on words and vocals. At the point she thinks she has something, she lets me listen, and we’ll work together on finalizing the structure, and the rest of the song. Once I have vocals done, I can get to work and fine tune everything… which to me is when it really gets fun.
kaRIN: I could sing forever and make a billion tracks that would never go anywhere… it is really Statik who takes everything to the next level with his skills. He is the patient one… I am just escaping into the sounds. Hearing music for the first time and just diving in vocally is my absolute favorite thing to do… it feels like flying! Making a song that you would want someone else to hear is the hard part.
Like many bands are doing now, you’ve used Pledge Music for the lead up to releasing Color of Nothing. Can you talk a bit about your Pledge Music experience? The fan interaction? The creation of some of your updates keeping your audience updated? Did you enjoy the experience? And would you do it again?
Statik: We just liked how it worked, as opposed to Kickstarter. I think it gave fans more of a reason to pledge, to see behind the scene stuff. I really liked the idea. I pledged for the new Gary Numan album, and I really enjoyed hearing and seeing the updates, and he worked on the album. It doesn’t cost the listener any extra, and it probably makes people appreciate the album a little more by the time they get to hear the whole thing. The hardest part for us was doing the video that you have to do in the beginning… it was a lot of talking and trying to remember lines. It made us appreciate actors all the more I think. I think we’d do it again. It’s amazing how many bands are using it lately… I just saw where OMD is using it, as is Ohgr, and Tear Garden is just finishing their album.
kaRIN: These days as a band you really need to do some sort of crowd funding. It is nice to know that your core people want to support your music and that feels really inspiring. Pledge really sort of pushes you to do some updates and behind the scenes stuff… which was hard for us because we never think anything is ever good enough. Now in retrospect, it was cool as we have video of me singing on a few songs in the studio session which is something that surprisingly we have never filmed before. I suppose we should do a lot more of that sort of stuff.
Is there a song on Color Of Nothing that you both can talk about – one that has a story behind it you might share? It could be that it changed significantly from demo to final version, and maybe discuss that progress? This could be the most challenging song on the album if you like? That last track that you just couldn’t put to bed? Anything like that, really.
Statik: For me, the most challenging song on the album was “Will Not be Destroyed”. We were working on it for a long time, and it was one of the few songs that I felt I needed some programming help with, so I got Wade Alin (who has done a bunch of remixes for us in the past) to help out. I think it helped me to really get the song back on track, so I was glad I did that. We usually have guest guitar players or bass players, but programming like that for a song in progress is new.
kaRIN: My favorite track that I wrote on this one is called “Blurring the Edges” and talks about how people need to see each other on an equal level as humans. For me, they are very important lyrics and it really captures what I wanted to say.
I’m not a particularly politically minded individual. But I am asking bands about the here-and-now. Trump’s America. Brexit. The world is starting to feel like Dave Mustaine and Trent Reznor are more prophets than storytellers, I must say. How about you two? Are you worried about the next three years Trump’s in office, and how his reign might affect independent artists like yourselves?
kaRIN: I am so disturbed with what is going on with humanity right now… I feel that money, greed and power are so corrupt and that we are in very dangerous times. We must all live together on a small planet. Those feelings could not help but come out in what I was singing. I can not just be someone who talks about fluff, I have to figure out what I have to say and this time there was no getting around what has been going on. The first song is called “Wake Up”. After it was done I wanted to re-write it to make it more abstract and not so obvious, but Statik was not having it, so it blatantly tells people to “Wake Up” and that the collective “We” are being sold out for corporate interest. I really feel that people have to speak up and take actions at this time. I am sad for what is going on and I can’t pretend that I am not.
Statik: Yes, I can say I’m not particularly happy with how things are going. I think people are a bit apathetic in general. There’s a lot not to like about either party, but people need to wake up and start being involved and not just complain. There’s a lot going wrong right now. With only a little more than half the people voting in the last presidential election, I just feel like people would rather complain than do anything. I don’t know how Trump will affect independent artist like ourselves, but if the country as a whole has problems, we have problems. If you don’t have money for food or healthcare, you probably aren’t out there buying music.
On a lighter tone, when is the last time you laughed out loud, and what made you do so?
kaRIN: We laugh all the time, we do not really take ourselves too seriously. Today, our turtle Blossom was hanging half way on, and halfway off of a little bridge over our pond… it was funny looking as she was so precariously balanced… we laughed and took a picture.
Statik: I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy, and there were some pretty funny moments in that. I read where someone wrote why Marvel movies like that do better than DC action movies, and they said, “that’s because the DC movies aren’t action movies, they’re comedies.” I thought that was pretty fitting… comedies with action. Not an action movie with comedy.
I don’t think I’m over-reaching here by suggesting that you might continue in the studio and remix the material that is on Color Of Nothing. Are there any plans for that? Have you ever put the stems of your songs out to fans to see how they might interpret some of your material as a remix.
kaRIN: We have not even discussed that yet… so not sure. We may see how it goes after the release? I am already ready to start something new.
Statik: We’ve always had remix contests for all of our remix albums, besides having people that we know, or hire to do a remix. There are a lot of talented people out there. In a perfect world, we’d already have that on the go, but we still haven’t had a few second to do anything else, other than to get this album done. We’ll probably do that again… I’m not totally sure. Let’s get this album out and see how we feel.
I think that many people don’t know that Statik is a highly sought after programmer and that he has worked on material with Leonard Cohen, Prince, Michael Jackson, Spice Girls, Tina Turner, Christina Aguilera, Tool, Love And Rockets, System Of A Down, Powerman 5000, and Skinny Puppy. Would he possibly share a story with one of the collaborations he’s been involved with?
Statik: It’s been a sad past couple of years where so many people that I worked with have died. I would have liked to work with Prince some more on something, even though he was probably the most difficult to work for. There was a lot of cool stories, and some not good ones, it bugs me that I can’t remember everything. When I was in the studio, I was always trying to be at the top of my game, and it could be stressful with Prince standing over your shoulder, while you were working.
A funny story with The Spice Girls… I think it must have been for a remix or something that involved with for their first single… no one had ever heard of them before, but I was working on something with mixer Dave Way, and I was in the studio and I thinking to myself, “what IS this??” I mean, I just didn’t think it was very good, but they had a huge budget, I guess. You know… so much for just hair, and clothing, and make-up… stuff like that. It was “Tell you what I want, what I really really want”… I think I brought home a cassette of it and I played it for kaRIN, and we were both like “What the hell is this??!!” And I think we both kind of laughed at it. Then a few months later, on MTV, we hear this song, and just couldn’t believe it. It was pretty funny how huge it ended up being.
I also think that your forays into Saints and Sinners isn’t particularly well known outside of your LA region, kaRIN? Can you talk about your line of jewellery and clothing? How you got into making your own things, and some of the pieces you are most proud of?
kaRIN: I have been an accessories designer and run my own business all of my working life. I sell my accessories to hundreds of stores and galleries all across the country. I was just a creative child with the need to make things. I truly feel that it is an addiction that drives me. I would not say that I have any one item that I am particularly proud of. When you work with stores like I do… they just want to know what’s next… so you have to figure out a way to stay current and relevant and know when to change. I remember one of the first times that I ever made something that the thought crossed my mind… “how will I ever think of another design?” And that was thousands of designs ago. I feel like it is a muscle that you just keep working and like in music, sometimes you have to get the ugly ones out to get to the good ones.
Can you share who some of your favourite artists are? Bands/artists you like for reasons of talents, like-mindedness, and creativity?
Statik: One of my favorite bands since forever ago was Queen. I just liked the big vocal arrangements, and how different a lot of their songs were. It still blows me away to this day how they were able to write, record and tour on such a grand scale… and it was like, every year they’d have a new album. I think in the mid-80’s the whole industrial scene really was what got me going into music. Adrian Sherwood, and his remixes were just mind-blowing at the time. I’d never heard anything like that before. He had his hands into a lot… with his own label, and producing Ministry, and mixing Cabaret Voltaire. I think in a way, that’s who I wanted to be. It’s tough for a non-musician to really see how important a producer and even a mixer can be, but I was always interested the whole behind the scenes of how music was made, and the whole studio aspect of it all.
kaRIN: My personal favorites are David Bowie, Kate Bush, and Pink Floyd. I am so word and vocal oriented… I love how their music stands the test of time. I am truly awed by their brilliance! Kate Bush never, or very rarely toured, a few years ago she was doing some live shows in London. Statik ended up getting us tickets, so we planned a trip to Europe to see her. It was like having a religious experience really – you could feel the love between her and her audience and it was so amazing! She requested that everyone be there in-the-moment and no one use their phones. It was amazing to see that not one person took out their phone! It was magical… total love and respect.