Turntable Interview: Empire Of The Sun
Australia’s Empire of the Sun dropped their debut album Walking On A Dream in 2008, introducing the world to their intergalactic dance vibe. The music, created by members Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, was imaginative and fantastical and led them to tour for three years before finally heading back to the studio to record this year’s Ice On The Dune. Recently, Littlemore beamed himself up — or perhaps down — from whatever transcendental plane he resides in to join me for a quick Turntable Interview chat before appearing on Kimmel. In the brief time allotted, we talked about Punky Brewster, tigers and a prequel album that may be in the works.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Hey it’s Nick, is that you Melissa ??
STEREOGUM: Hi, It’s Melissa. Welcome!
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Hi
STEREOGUM: Ready to start this Turntable Interview?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN started playing “Polaroïd/Roman/Photo” by Ruth
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Ya
STEREOGUM: Thanks for jumping right in! How long are you in the US for?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: For ever
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: On the engagement? Thanks
STEREOGUM: While I appreciate you meeting me in cyberspace, I am disappointed in that I can’t see if you’re in costume
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I am
STEREOGUM: Can you describe that for the readers?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I am wearing a black and gold jacket, long thin black pants with a gold scarf tied just under the knee fashioned after Punky Brewster
STEREOGUM: That’s funny, I’m dressed just like Henry from Punky Brewster
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Awww cute
STEREOGUM: Where did the idea come from to wear costumes?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: From the deep recesses of our minds mind
STEREOGUM: They are memorable, for sure. And no one would mistake your band for any other. As your band gets more famous, is it nice to wear a costume on stage and maintain some degree of anonymity in public?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Well my costume isn’t so far removed from my usual garb. I am the “other guy” so I don’t ever get mobbed
STEREOGUM: Do you mind that?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN started playing “The Paperwork Explosion” by Raymond Scott
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: No not at all
STEREOGUM: I was listening to your new album earlier and I was wondering if there was a story behind it
Melissa Locker started playing “Slow It Down” by The-Dream (feat. Fabolous)
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: ummm yeah there are many. Wow you are loving your hip hop
STEREOGUM: Yeah, I forgot to update my song queue before we started. As for the album, though, I meant is the album telling like a fiction story? It seems like the songs are telling some sort of story
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Yes
STEREOGUM: Please tell
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: We explore the world through the personnage’s we have created, but sometimes it feels they are exploring us
STEREOGUM: Is that like ultra Method acting?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: The story begins in the kingdom where all is peaceful , the emperor is busy in meditation. I don’t think its like acting so much as an out of body experience
STEREOGUM: So when people come to your shows are you astral projecting?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN started playing “Polaroïd/Roman/Photo” by Ruth
STEREOGUM: Oh, you already played this! You should add more more songs in your queue
Melissa Locker started playing “Pocket Calculator” by Kraftwerk
STEREOGUM: So what’s it like having an out of body experience in the recording studio?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Well to me it’s quite natural, but I guess it’s similar to having a really great dream
EMPIRE OF THE SUN playing “Vapour Trail” by Ride
STEREOGUM: What’s the best dream you’ve ever had?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I usually have nightmares. Umm they can be great but a little scary too
STEREOGUM: Recurring ones? Or different ones? I haven’t heard Ride in SO long
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I do have one that keeps coming back , its a trapping , I am unable to move I feel like my body is made of stone
STEREOGUM: That is a little scary! Have you ever talked to a shaman about it? Or a therapist?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I am fascinated by shamans though I’ve never met one
STEREOGUM: I haven’t either, but it seems like a good idea. So can you tell me what it was like the first time you stepped on stage in costume?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I never did
Melissa Locker started playing “Nemesis” by Shriekback
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Not till tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel
STEREOGUM: You really dress the same on and off stage?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: No I am never on stage
STEREOGUM: Okay then. What are you wearing on Kimmel?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: You will have to tune in
STEREOGUM: I guess so!
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: We are sworn to secrecy
STEREOGUM: I understand. Are you sworn to secrecy about your songwriting process? Can you tell me about how you crafted the album?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: No, but it’s always different
STEREOGUM: How long did it take you to write the album?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN started playing “Birthday” by the Sugarcubes
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: We start from different places, we are always searching for the elixir of human life
STEREOGUM: That explains the hiatus between albums
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Y’know running from the thrill of it
STEREOGUM: As you do
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Ya. So you like this song?
STEREOGUM: Who doesn’t like this song?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Bjork
STEREOGUM: How could Bjork not like this song?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: That’s Bjork’s arch nemesis
STEREOGUM: Ha! The evil doppelganger. How has your tour been going?
Melissa Locker started playing “Take Me Over” by Cut Copy
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I ain’t on the tour. It’s been great
STEREOGUM: Are you astral projecting on the tour?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Yes, from my humidicrib
STEREOGUM: I want to hear more about this humidicrib.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: It’s a humidicrib.
STEREOGUM: Gotcha. Is that in your tour rider?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Most of our rider is for the animals. They need fresh kills 4 times a day. It’s a full time job
STEREOGUM: The live tigers?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Yes live we wouldn’t feed dead ones
STEREOGUM: With you it seems anything is possible, so I didn’t want to rule it out
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: We are limitless
STEREOGUM: You guys are wildly popular in Australia and the UK, do you have a plan for global domination?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Umm not to dominate just to educate people to light levity and divinity
EMPIRE OF THE SUN started playing “SOAK – Sea creatures” by SOAK (Bridie Monds-Watson)
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: The state of things that come from a supernatural power, like this song
STEREOGUM: I don’t know this song
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: It’s beyond the years but not the ears
STEREOGUM: Are you trying to start a cult?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: No ma’am
STEREOGUM: I think I am disappointed to hear that
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Cults have a bad name. What we are is closer to a circus
STEREOGUM: Hence the animals
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Well yes and the magical within mystery in the fray.
STEREOGUM: Of course. Are you working on a new album at all or just enjoying this one for now?
Melissa Locker started playing “Brave Motion” by Hands
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: There are sooo many songs this database doesn’t have!!
STEREOGUM: Very true.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Umm we just started the new one. It’s going to be a prequel but keep it quiet.
STEREOGUM: A prequel to Ice on the Dune?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: To Walking on a Dream
STEREOGUM: Sounds intriguing.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: I know!
EMPIRE OF THE SUN started playing “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine
STEREOGUM: I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an album prequel before.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: There is always a first
STEREOGUM: Only right that it’s you and the more Empire of the Sun the merrier
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: That’s kind
STEREOGUM: You guys took a bit of a break between your last two albums, think the next one will be out sooner?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: We are trying to finish it by Christmas. Here’s hoping
STEREOGUM: Something to look forward to!
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Skip your next song mine is better.
STEREOGUM: Alright. Your song choices are very diverse. Is there any genre you don’t listen to?
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: They seem to be telling me I got to go to the tower
STEREOGUM: Is that a divine message or from your PR rep? Now I want to know what your next song is
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Same difference really. Let’s keep going till its over
STEREOGUM: Then I’ll skip my song.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN started playing “Toby dammit tre passi nel delirio (Toby Dammit theme swing organ)” by Nino Rota
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Yeeeeeaaaah
STEREOGUM: That is not what I was expecting. Kind of reminds of the roller rink
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Where did YOU grow up ???
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: My local roller rink played ACDC and KISS, not Nino rota
STEREOGUM: Ah, yes. We had a live organist in the middle. we would skate around
STEREOGUM: Anyway, thanks for chatting. Hope you aren’t eaten by your tigesr like Siegfried or Roy.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: It’s been fun. Stay choice.
STEREOGUM: You too
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: Will try
Ice on the Dune is out now via Astralwerks.