As the Monstercat massive prepares for a big collaborative release from Varien and 7 Minutes Dead, titled Mirai Sekai, we got a chance to pick the brain of the two guys behind the post-EDM, cyberpunk inspired work. While the rest of the world checks out Porter Robinson's orientalist obsession with all things Kawaii, these two have taken ahold of things a little bit darker in the east. Check out the album stream below and see what all the fuss is about.
This is the first time that you two have collaborated on a release. Tell us a little bit about how Mirai Sekai came to be?
Nick (Varien): I was in a cyberpunk/80s band with Celldweller called Scandroid, and wrote a lot of really fantastic melodies and ideas, since this was a realm I had never explored. Klay (Celldweller) is a really busy guy, so nothing really happened with these tunes and I sat on them for a year. Mike Darlington linked Alex and I together as Alex was working on some cyberpunk-y stuff. I bounced out all the Scandroid ideas and songs I had, gave them to him and said, "have fun!" -- what came to be exceeded my expectations.
Its quite clear from listening to this EP, that this is not a typical EDM release. What goals did you set for yourself when creating this musical experience?
Alex: That's pretty much it. We wanted something that was very real to the both of us. A real experience. The fact that we were creatively aligned in that way was luck.
Nick: I've been veering more towards "freeform" electronic music anyways, disregarding drops and just making good music that happens to be made on a computer. As with all of my releases, there was a story involved. This one was just more refined and we were able to say a lot more since the experience is 14 minutes long, as opposed to a 3-4 minute long single. To answer your question though, our only goal was to create a universe that felt real, and to make sure it was a cohesive experience.
What did each of you bring to the table on this collaborative effort that allowed the EP to gel together?
Alex: Nick is able to lay a foundation to a song so incredibly well, something I always struggle with. But once I see a foundation, it's easy for me to expand and help connect the dots, to fill out sounds. We were also lucky there as it allowed for extremely smooth workflow. Not to mention, I seriously had no ear for a lead element or lead melody before Nick came along.
Nick: I think I brought what I usually bring to collabs - melody and atmosphere. Alex is incredible with basslines and drum grooves, so we complimented each other very much for this release. I like to think if Alex and I were playing piano, he'd be the left hand and I'd be the right hand.
If this EP could be the soundtrack to any movie or TV series, what would it be?
Nick: A lot of people jump at the usual: Tron, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Akira. For me, I don't see these fitting anywhere, as they were written for a specific story; a film that doesn't exist. I would want to create an anime series that this fits in just right. Definitely would place "Goodnight_Sequence" in Blade Runner though.
Alex: I want to say Blade Runner because that's all I was watching on my 2nd screen while working on Mirai Sekai for several months, but I love the original soundtrack so much that I would never want it to be something else.
which tells the story of runaway cyborg children, is one of the more conceptually high-brow releases in the Monstercatalogue (