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Palm Trees and Fog: The Tropical Gothtronica of Élan Vital

The Dunedin band’s new video ‘Janina’ is like Suicide appearing on an episode of ‘Gilligan’s Island’.
June 2, 2016, 12:13am

Élan Vital is a Dunedin three piece of Renee Barrance, Danny Brady and Nikolai Sim. They play a music that they have likened to gothtronica. A genre of music that we can guarantee is loads better than gothabilly or gothtrap.

Taking two keyboards, synths, a drum machine, bass and a whole lot of darkness, they produce a sound that reminds us of something that Mute records would have been all over in the late 80s.


The video for their first single “Janina” is a collaborative effort between the band and director Erica Sklenars aka Lady Lazer Light which they say is, “Kind of tongue in cheek Hollywood styles on zero budget.” Imagine if Suicide appeared on an episode of Gillgian’s Island and you will get some idea.

Watch the video below and read a brief chat we had with Renee before the band head off on their first tour of New Zealand.

Noisey: Who is Janina?
Renee Barrance: Janina is Berlin for me.

The band was formed in Berlin. How much of German darkwave has influenced you?
Danny and I jammed a couple of times in Berlin when we were both living there but it wasn't until four years later when I moved to Dunedin we picked up where we left off and became fully formed with Nikolai joining us. I listen to a lot of German post punk and dark wave music especially from the 80s and love the brooding yet still dance driven mood of bands like Grauzone and Maleria so that among many other things have influenced our sound.

Palm trees in fog are an interesting visual. Was Erica briefed as to what you wanted from the video?
The palm trees and fog were Erica's idea for the video who we trusted with all creative direction. Erica said she imagined a gothtropical paradise with EV while on tour in Asia with Nikolai, gazing at palm trees and planning to move to Port Chalmers/Dunedin when she returned. I feel like they fit the mood of the song which is about longing to be somewhere else and the dream like quality of reminiscing and romancing the past.

Catch Élan Vital at these shows:

June 2 - Christchurch at The Darkroom

June 3 - Wellington at Caroline

June 5 - Auckland at Wine Cellar

June 8 - Auckland at Wine Cellar

June 9 - Dunedin at Winter Solstice, Waiora Scout Camp