June 26, 2017
1. The Empire Line
The Empire Line is an industrial-rooted techno project with a glossy edge, founded by highly experimental Shape artist Varg a.k.a. Jonas Rönnberg and Danish counterpoint Christian Stadsgaard (half Damien Dubrovnik) who co-runs the offbeat underground label Posh Isolation.
At the beginning of 2017 they debuted on Shifted´ AVIAN Records with the EP ‘Syndicat de la Couture’, which introduced the band’s haute couture inspired concept.
We discussed the idea of the project with Varg and Christian Stadsgaard, looking further into the provocative mixture of heavy sounds and style awareness.
Could we coin the term fashion techno to describe The Empire Line?
Varg: I would say we’re like a modern day Scooter. You know the band Scooter? Like Thunderdome and Scooter together. That’s at least my opinion of it. Like Prodigy as well – you can definitely hear some Prodigy in that.
I did have the occasion to see some of that, considering your Berghain premiere at the Avian records showcase. It was this Swedish Black Metal influenced glamour techno, with a very harsh industrial edge. How did you come up with the idea of having a person do the screaming part as added up vocal layer? First time I remember hearing a (proto) Empire Line track was during Atonal 2015 during an Abdulla Rashim set, and it was strictly instrumental.
Varg: That track is on the Avian EP as well.
You also played that at the Berghain, if I remember right, and it was a completely different take on it – it featured the live Black Metal vocals and a strong performance side to it.
Varg: I think Isaac doing the vocals for The Empire Line just happened, because that’s what we want to do. We want to do something that’s even more pushy than any other techno things. You can push a lot around making it much more physical, with someone being able to perform. He’s in the band now.
Is this a live show line up only, or should we expect to hear, say, screaming on the studio recording as well?
Christian: Not screaming necessarily, it can be all kinds of vocal stuff. There aren’t vocals on everything that we do, but there are so many techno acts out there, that there is no point for us in being just another techno act, especially since we come from different backgrounds. So we wanted to do something that actually took into account what we came out of, like power electronics and punk rock and that kind of stuff. So that’s basically the idea of the band now.
Are you fashion victims or fashion skeptics?
Varg: We’re trendsetters in fashion.
“People say I’m a techno producer, and that I belong to a techno scene, but I most often shut them down and say that I don’t like techno, I don’t listen to techno, and I don’t belong to a techno scene. But I make techno, and I try to sound-wise push the edges a little bit and see what you can get away with in the techno scene.”