How did Velvet Kills duo born?
H- We first met on the dance floor at Boom Festival. At this time I was living in Los Angeles running a music studio and Su Eko had recently moved from Paris and was working in a project called ‘LikeWolf’. We got to talking and realised that we both played music. The conversation turned towards instruments and we quickly found that we both also played rare guitars from the 80’s called Steinberger... and beyond that they were both white, which is even more uncommon. This seemed too good to be true so we decided that we should try playing together.
S- I flew to Los Angeles a month later and we started composing music together. A sparkle came off. From that point on we never let go of each other. Harris moved to Lisbon and we named Velvet Kills while seated at the beach talking about traits of our personalities. The “velvet” and the “killer” side of each individual.
We released our first Ep titled ‘Memory’ in 2015 and since then it has been getting better and better to experience and play music together.
Has music always been evidence?
H- Yes definitely! From a young age I wanted to play music, so when I was five I started taking piano lessons and then trumpet for a few years with my middle school band. I knew that I really wanted was to play guitar though and when I was 13 my mother gave me my first electric guitar… I was hooked. I had a few bands and we won a few competitions… including one of the first where we played for 10,000 people. After that I knew music would be my life so I applied to Berklee College of Music and got accepted and while I was there found my love for synthesisers and music production.
S - Yes, it has always been present, when i was five i found a record of Dire Straits in my father's collection, i was completely blown away with the music, still remember how my body felt with the song “Private Investigations'' firstly it completely paralized me, then i didn’t know what to feel any more until my body started reacting by itself. Years later while living and working as a makeup Artist in New York I had the chance to interact with more artists and got to try some music equipment. I taught myself to compose music and sing and a year later I moved to Paris where I finalised the first 4 songs.
Working as a makeup artist opened many doors for me to meet incredible people and gave me so much experience with image and video. During this time I met the movie director Bruno Ferreira (Casper Films) and showed him the demos. We produced 2 music videos and later led me to a casting to find musicians. In one week I put a band together and 3 months later I was stepping for the first time on a stage in Paris. It was an amazing experience and a pure state of trance, time didn’t exist.
I never stopped playing music since then, years later joined the project Likewolf where I started playing bass and taking my learning to the next level. Music has become a full time job at this point and an unstoppable fulfilling passion, it’s very rewarding to be able to combine all your different skills and knowledge to create the Velvet Kills universe.
Did the merger between the two confirm this?
We came from different backgrounds, Harris was into Psychedelic Rock and obscure synth music and Su Eko was into Rock n’ Roll, but we met inside the electronic music scene which was a common point of communication for both. In the beginning it wasn’t easy to fuse, we played music we couldn’t even understand if we liked or not (laughs) but later it revealed to be the gathering of an original music concept.
After the release of our cover of Joy Division’s ‘Shadowplay’ the post-punk and Darkwave scene embraced us. The music video was a success, with almost 32.000 views on youtube. It merged the quality of our skills with image and audio that defined us as a band in the social media/public view.
Nowadays and due to the large number of offers, it is difficult for artists to succeed in the music industry. Can you find your space in the electro rock/synth-punk mix?
VK - It has always been difficult to exist and succeed in the music industry. Before, as an independent artist, it was harder to reach people, travel and more expensive to record an album. The digital era simplifies a lot of that process but of course with the number of artists these days and the fusion of the DJ scene into pop culture there are less venues supporting bands and live music. Still what stands out is the authenticity and expression of honest emotions, especially in the underground music culture, so in this sense there will always be space for artists to exist.
Photo: Korrosive Photography
Three years after Mischievous Urges, considered by Radio Radar among the best albums of 2017, "Bodhi Labyrinth" premiered in digital pre-sale in January and official release on March 7th. What message do you intend to transmit with this record?
VK - This album brings us to the reality of our society today. The messages come encoded in sarcasm, euphemism, hyperbole and irony, where we dig through the archives of a lonely civilization and question the purpose of life versus governmental structures, where money is a priority and where love is forgotten. Within the noise of a present-day selfish society, VK passes on the message and appeals to the universe to elevate humans to a higher state of positive vibration. The Key is Love.
Cover by: Philippe Calandre
The tracks "In The Gold Mine" and "Bitch Face" debut with video clips. "In The Gold Mine" produced and directed by Art Mistake and image of Antonio Colombini (Sonoplasta) and "Bitch Face" produced by Art Mistake directed by Alan Deprez with image of Nicolaos Zafiriou and David Patel. Tell us more about this experience.
VK- It's an incredible experience to produce and act in a video clip, but the challenge becomes even greater when it’s a low cost production. Art Mistake enters and combines a group of friends and artists, and together we create fantasy, often beyond our expectations.
Photo: Flavio Andrade
We had some great support, "In The Gold Mine" was filmed at Nada Temple, the recently opened underground venue in Lisbon, and "Bitch Face" was filmed at the artistic space Adão, in Barreiro. We also had the support of some of the makeup artists from Moda Lisboa, Antonia Rosa Atelier’s team, the designer StoryTailors, the Trash Circus group, the Come’On and many friends who joined the production and made the filming day a truly amazing and memorable experience.
The Making off of "Bitch Face" will be projected on Bodhi Labyrinth's release party, which will take place on the afternoon of April 11th in Adão together with the Velvet Kills concert.
Does the visual part perfect what the music wants to express?
VK - The visuals gathered with the music create a wider map for sensorial stimulation. It’s a complement to expand the mind of the audience and also an amazing way to express and expand our own. It polishes the message that music and lyrics don’t express. The fun part, when we create videos and collaborate with other artists, is the merge of different ideas and emotions expressed into one song.
What are your main references?
S - Musicians Iggy pop, Alan Vega, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Janis Joplin...so many more, but these ones always have been present during my musical education and career. Also artists like Peter Lindbergh, Helmut newton, David Lynch.
H - Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson, Magma, Gong, David Byrne, Steve Hillage, Simon Posford.
What inspires you?
S - Life itself inspires me the most, people, peoples minds, my own mind, places, smells, sound, artists, performances, images, dreams, a nice talk...etc. We can collect inspirations through many sources, there is no perfect recipe, that’s the challenge of getting inspired.
H - Su Eko! (smiles)
What to expect from Velvet Kills in the future?
VK - We have an insatiable appetite to create, that is the destination of Velvet Kills, we will continue that journey. We’ll be returning to the road by March for the Bodhi Labyrinth tour, the first dates have already been confirmed in Adão on April 11th, in Paris at Supersonic on June 3rd, at the Mini Cave Festival September 24th in Munster and at North Shadows Festival November 8th in Auchel. We will also perform in Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium in 2020 dates yet to be revealed.
( Interview made in 2019...Unfortunately covid19 changed our plans...)
Cover by Su Eko @ Art Mistake