Heartbreak turn in an hour-plus mix of Italo, electro and more on this week's RA podcast.
We'd call it cheesy, but then Ali Renault and Sebastian Muravchik, the duo behind Heartbreak, might just come and beat us up. Nonetheless, Heartbreak's debut album is a compendium of Italo disco and disco disco sounds and vocals that celebrates a style of music still all too often derided for its vapidity.
Like much of the music that appears on their RA podcast, though, Hearbreak's album is unrelentingly sincere, full of the same sorts of emotions that any pop music tries to get across: Love, regret, why robots have feelings too. However you feel about the perceived cheesiness is your problem: These guys certainly don't have time for your issues with synthetic horns and less-than-perfect vocalists. Instead, they're moving on to showcase tracks from their solo projects on Dissident ("Lacrimal," "Tropical Warrior") or old school techno and house. As Muravchik writes in the answers below, this is one group that thinks "music has a strong impact on our society, and if we manage to encourage people to go deeper and try to understand the true power of music, then a lot of other positive things will ensue." Amen.
What have you been working on recently?
We've been working on our debut album, Lies, which is out on Lex Records on September 22. We've also been doing quite a few remixes and production for other acts, such as Neon Neon and Little Boots (and others which we can't talk about yet). We've also produced a cover version of David Bowie's "Loving the Alien," for the compilation Life Beyond Mars, released by !K7's sub-label Rapster Records.
Where and how was the mix recorded?
It was recorded at Fantasy Studios, our own production space. We mixed all tracks on vinyl, except for the movie soundtrack excerpts and the a cappellas from our upcoming album, which we edited in on Ableton.
Can you tell us a little about the idea behind the mix?
We wanted to show the different styles and genres that have influenced Heartbreak's sound, so we structured the mix in different sections, from classic Italo disco and hi-NRG, to a quick section on Detroit techno and old school Chicago house. We also aimed to take the listener on a journey through our world, of which late '70s and early '80s Italian horror films and John Carpenter's classic work are an important part. This reinforces the feeling of a narrative that is crucial to our understanding of music production and DJing.
You've said that the political significance of awakening the ignored voices of disco in the UK in 2008 is huge. Can you expand on that?
Well, from the political point of view, 2008 in the UK could hardly be more disappointing. We think music has a strong impact on our society, and if we manage to encourage people to go deeper and try to understand the true power of music, then a lot of other positive things will ensue. We believe disco has always suffered from prejudice, which is the consequence of it being the one music genre that was truly aiming to push a stronger sense of an integrated community.
The ethnic origin of the performers, the singer's accent, all of these things are what the critics of this music have always feared and rejected, in 1979 as much as 2008 (a recent review of our single described my Argentinean accent as "a fake French accent"—and barely mentioned anything about the MUSIC itself!) . To call disco music "cheesy" or "empty of meaning," is a tired fallacy that hides prejudice and a weak attempt to stop the best cultural developments in our world. Disco is the only music genre at this point in time that can effectively confront and remind people that to see a dead "foreign" body is as bad as seeing a "national" one.
How do you get from Sabbath to Moroder?
Think riff, think emotion, think energy. Think about the core of what makes music powerful, and you'll find what unites them: the shameless strive to reach this musical essence. Both Moroder and Sabbath are focusing on the very specificity of music that makes it a unique form of art. This is not the case many times, when artists need to justify their lack of musicality with, either rationalisation gone astray, or worse, a certain feel of "cool" which, really, only hides the hierarchical power structures that underlie what's worst in our world.
What are you up to next?
We're on the last phase before the release of our album, so we're doing all the promotional work for it and the touring. Hopefully we'll have very interesting news about this soon!