Violens | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Openly, Warmly, Wickedly Amoral

Mar 14, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

“The Dawn of Your Happiness is Rising,” the lead-off track from Violens’ debut full-length album, sets up their aesthetic perfectly. Around the moment that one might have the New York-based trio pegged purely as light-hearted Britpop devotees, the song is shot through with an unexpected lightning bolt of guitar before everything ends in a squall of feedback. The album’s title, Amoral, begins to make sense.

Amoral, more than a nothing-as-it-seems exercise, plays as a showcase for the restless interests of producer/multi-instrumentalist Jorge Elbrecht (also a member of the art company Lansing-Dreiden), keyboard player Iddo Arad, and guitarist Myles Matheny. Following the release of an EP in 2008, the band hit the road and shared stages with Deerhunter, Bat for Lashes, and Grizzly Bear before settling in to focus on the album. As Amoral meshes gorgeous pop with moments of guitar-rock extremes, Violens saw fit to create accompanying images that are, by turns, unsettling, erotic, and funny. The videos, along with free mixtapes offered by these studio stalwarts, can be found at

Hays Davis: Tell me how you three came together as Violens.

Jorge Elbrecht: Iddo and I are old friends I’ve known him since we were both “Miami bros” in Florida. Myles is also from Florida, but from a more swampy part of it that starts with a big “G.” We met Myles about a year ago and decided it would be good if we three played together.

There’s a lot of stylistic freedom from song to song on Amoral. At its root this is a pop album, though the songs can move toward some unexpected extremes. By the time the album was finished, did you end up seeing the band as a different vehicle than you originally expected?

As I’m in it, I can never really get a clear picture of what the band is, to be honest. I guess we just go song by song and idea by idea. I do agree that at its heart it’s a pop record, or at least that was the intention.

For Jorge, what do you think your experience with Lansing-Dreiden brings to Violens?

Nothing very fun to talk about, mostly just experience working with the backwards mess that is the music industry.

The video clips for Amoral are a treat. There are interesting juxtapositions of humor and menace, with ideas relating to realization or awakening, all of which take their cue from the album’s title. Do you see mixed media, or at least ongoing visual work, being an important part of the band along with your recordings?

I think so, and I wish we could do more of it. But this band is definitely about the music first.

I had to laugh at how you took a sunny track like “Violent Sensation Descends” and, in the video, made it seem like the soundtrack to a wickedly nasty acid trip that played out like an exorcism gone horribly wrong. I guess this is apt, however considering the song’s title. How did you put this one together? There must have been a really interesting conversation over a few drinks.

Alejandro Cardenas [director of the video], the band and I had a bunch of conversations about what to do and what feelings the video should evoke and it just rose from that. It was mostly Alejandro’s idea, incorporating my initial thought for something beautiful but horrifying at the same time.

Your website offers free downloads of a “Summer Mixtape” and a “Winter Mixtape.” Are these tracks that came together over time that hadn’t otherwise found a home? That’s pretty generous, whatever the case.

They are a pretty varied blend of things, from covers to mash-ups to remixes, to straight-up songs off records we love. They were very fun to make and done pretty quickly. Most of the stuff was made specifically for the mixtape releases.

There’s enough non-album material between the two mixtapes to give the impression that you guys are working on recordings in all of your spare time. Do you usually keep one or more recording projects going?

Yes, that’s exactly what we are doing at the moment.

What’s planned for 2011?

We plan to be releasing more music all year. If you go to now you can see the very beginnings of what will be our next record. We’re releasing the songs one by one as we produce them, and including fragments of the album artwork with each MP3 as they are put out. The song “When to Let Go” is up there right now. More to come by SXSW time. A guy named T.J. who works at a karaoke bar in Minnesota already did a sing-along MIDI version which is pretty phenomenal and also featured on our site.

(Violens are playing Under the Radar‘s SXSW party on Thursday, March 17, at 12:00 p.m. Details are found here.)



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