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A Short Conversation with Siamese Youth

18 February 2021

Firstly, a bit of background. Could you tell us how you came to form Siamese Youth and what musical paths led you to that point?

Siamese Youth: Hello! We are from different places in the world, but always felt the same love for the same music. Mark is from Ukraine, Hadl is from Germany, our manager Rich is English and we are signed to New Retro Wave Records, a New York based label. We all met in Berlin where we live, write and produce. Berlin is very much about techno and all of its forms due to the vibrant club culture, but we always felt like having our sonic home somewhere else. We all grew up with rock music, listened to indie and pop-punk and have been heart-deep into the emo scene.

Mark played in Marakesh, -quite a known band in Russia and Ukraine. Hadl played in different bands and toured all over Europe. When we both met in Berlin we started writing and producing together and experimenting with all kinds of different styles. Next to rock, love to the 80s music was very present in us and is our common ground. It’s deep into our DNA and it’s like that first love that stays for a lifetime. It sort of was boiling under the surface and when the synthwave movement hit, it was exploding again and bringing this love into a nowadays context. And the fact that we formed a real band and we play live shows with drums, guitars and synths keep our rock sides satisfied.

There are a lot of 80’s sonic references, certainly on the first album, are these a conscious nod to the past or do those sounds find their way into the music more subliminally?

Siamese Youth: This is a very emotional thing in the end and not too much thinking or planning. The whole genre feels like an assortment of pleasant flashbacks and there is so much nostalgia involved that feels like this weird mixture of melancholy, hope and belonging. So the decision to go with certain synthesizers and sound sets is conscious to some extent, but then how the exact choices are made comes from the heart.

We always have some easter eggs on the albums. One of the more obvious ones is a track like “Take On Me Too” – a little less obvious is that we use the same intervals in the chorus melody as A-ha did. But if you listen closely you’ll find all kinds of hints to the 80s music and other artists we adore.

How do you think that the sound has evolved between Electric Dreams and Echoes Of Tomorrow and what new themes and subjects does it explore?

Siamese Youth: I think our sound has developed a lot. Our approach was to make Echoes Of Tomorrow more mature, stronger and a bit rockier than Electric Dreams. You can definitely hear our pop-punk influences on “United States Of Mind”. “Hey Now” and “Young Nights” you could even call Emo-Wave. “Making Me High” and “Let’s Love” have quite strong funk influences. But synthwave is always the roof for all our tracks. “Can I Be Me” has a very unique sound. It started as an experiment and in the end, we loved it so much, that we even emphasized the rock feeling of it. In many tunes, it was like writing a synthwave song and producing it nearly as a rock song. While our first album was more dreamy and we would even say a bit shy, this one is more of a clear sonic statement.

Our first album was very introverted, dreamy and nostalgic. But on Echoes Of Tomorrow we extended the topics we write about a lot. It is still dealing with the search for yourself and some of the strongest feelings you could go through, but it also gives a lot of attention to topics like connection, the feeling of belonging and taking care of each other. It may have been a result of the time it was written in, but it felt like the right thing to do now.

And given that this is the “difficult second album,” how difficult was it, and where such concerns ever part of the creative process?

Siamese Youth: Well… the thing is, we didn’t really expect our first album to gain so much attention in the first place. So when we wrote Electric Dreams nobody knew about us at all and we had no expectations whatsoever. Of course, now it’s a bit different and we definitely felt some pressure to follow up in the best way possible. But not really in an anxious, fearful way. Because our main principles are still there – we just make music from the heart and that is the main thing about Siamese Youth. So at the moment, our gut feeling is that those who liked our first album will understand and dig this new one. At least, we hope for that.

Given the isolation and lack of live gigging that the pandemic has ushered in, how hard has it been to stay creative and write music over the last year?

Siamese Youth: Being isolated, not seeing daylight and not meeting anyone – sounds like a normal day in the life of a producer! But jokes aside… This is a horrible situation for so many people and if you are an empathic human being it is clear that it touches you and you feel sorry for your fellow human beings. We miss playing live like crazy and we’d love to connect with the scene again in real life and meet all these beautiful people but after all, these are luxury problems. For our own creativity, these times offered some benumbing moments. But writing about it and going on with music had also a healing effect. On some of the tracks, you can definitely hear the influence of the pandemic.

Also, I think that we’re not alone when I recall how much you start questioning your life and your values in general. This introspection is surely a part of being an artist, but we as a band and human beings felt stronger and stronger during the last months.

And beyond the release of the album, what is next for Siamese Youth and for you as individuals?

Siamese Youth: Since you mentioned the concerts… we wanna play live! Very, very urgent! We didn’t even really have a chance to go touring with our first album and now we’re already bringing out a second one. That feels a bit weird to us and we cannot wait to go on stage again and perform. In our imagination, it must be such a strong relief and we bet the atmosphere at the shows will be just magical – at least that’s how we imagine it.

Thanks very much for your time and good luck with the new album release.