“Your lives are measured in years and decades. You wither and die.”
So says the solicitation on female-fronted synthwave duo, Reapers. Since their formation in early 2013, the band, featuring Randi Hubler on vocals/synth and Onslaught Six on guitar/vocoder, they have dealt in the mysterious and the dark. Fusing pounding synth and heavy guitar with emotive vocal, Reapers are a unique band on the retrowave scene.
Each release promises the listener an experience – I’ve previously discussed the importance of the ‘journey’ in retrowave, and it’s something Reapers excel at. Continuing to draw heavily on the musical themes of games and other visual media like Mass Effect, Alien and Interstellar, the band’s upcoming second album drops on September 30, Visions of Mercury. Their previous efforts include the 80s space-pop escapade Noveria and impressive debut, Turbine.
The group kindly agreed to an exclusive interview with Weapons for Chai. Previews are available here from their sophomore album. My personal favourite so far, Husk, is a deep, atmospheric track with a wonderful solemn, churchlike beat kicking in around the 1:45 mark.
However, the band have generously offered us a fantastic exclusive track, Not Of This Earth. Follow the link below to enjoy the music while reading this intriguing insight into Reapers’ creative process.
1. Your band concept is heavily influenced by Mass Effect, would you say that your work is more influenced by the audio (such as the OST or SFX) or the visual (cutscenes, locations and artwork) side of the series?
A little from column A and a little from column B! Some songs are influenced by both (our song Noveria is more or less the music that plays on that planet and the lyrics are deliberately related to the snowy atmosphere), while others directly take minor sounds from the game and re-use them in other contexts.
2. Reapers are the (really) bad guys in Mass Effect, right? Why them?
Well, bad guys are cool, right? Plus, the sound we were going for would be a colder, more mechanical or industrial aesthetic, mixed with outer space, and a race of intelligent space robots seems to work!
3. Did Mass Effect inspire you to start the Reapers project? Or influence an existing one?
We had been trying to start a band almost as soon as we met, but we could never agree on a direction. Somewhere there’s a demo of ‘Floorshow’ by Sisters of Mercy with vocals, bass guitar and piano that sounds terrible. Then in January of 2013 I was bequeathed a Korg Poly-800 and we were playing through Mass Effect 2; the combination of the two gave gross chestburster birth to the track ‘Reapers’ and the rest was history.
4. What makes Visions of Mercury so different from previous releases?
While our previous releases were dark to begin with, the new album can seem very depressing and creepy at first. We definitely were working through some personal stuff on these songs. We also (unconciously) started to move away from some of the more traditional ‘synthwave’ or ‘retrowave’ elements by including lots of 80s goth guitar and more realistic string accompanyment (all still synthetic, of course). In addition, we experimented with a lot more ambient drones in parts than we did before. Still, there are definitely anthemic synthwave songs still in there, like ‘Noveria’ or ‘Your Lights,’ inspired by the Netflix show Stranger Things.
5. How do you want your listeners to feel when they hear your music?
“We’re here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff!” We want you to feel the same way you might if you were travelling on a lone vessel in the emptiness of space. That’s part of our message; the space in the galaxy is a metaphor for the spaces inbetween people and interpersonal relationships. Everybody is alone at some point, and everybody needs music to listen to during those times so we don’t think about being alone and depressed and crushed by student loans and the economy and our existential dread or whatever.
Visions of Mercury is shaping up to be something really special – watch this space.
Please support this wonderful project and pre-order the album (releasing September 30 2016) on Bandcamp! Follow Reapers on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest information on upcoming releases and exclusives. If you’re in the area, be sure to catch them at MAGFest Presents: Game Over Richmond on October 1, 2016 for their release event – more details here!