Deadbots are a Dublin-based electronic band comprised of couple Paul Kelly and Nina Knezevic (originally from Vancouver). As huge fans of analog synthesizers and other vintage gear, Deadbots have an extremely varied sound that brings together such influences as house, techno, disco, and video games. On November 5, 2018, they released their debut album, “Love Unlimited” exclusively through their website.
How did Deadbots get started?
Paul Kelly: “Basically, Nina and I met about 13 ½ years ago. Since we met, we’ve been kind of toying with music. Nina comes from a singing background. I come from a DJ background; I used to play in techno and house clubs all over Europe before we formed the band. Nina was always a singer/songwriter/lyricist/guitar player. When we got together, we started writing stuff. Basically, that’s how Deadbots formed. We did a couple of remixes for friends to test the waters. Then we started to produce and compose and write our own stuff and release EPs and singles.”
Did you have a clear sense of what you wanted to do musically, or did it just evolve out of your collaboration?
Paul Kelly: “It evolved out of our collaboration; that’s exactly what happened. We never really followed trends or anything like that.”
Are there particular ways you think your sound has evolved from when you started to what we hear on your “Love Unlimited” album?
Paul Kelly: “Well yeah, you get a little bit older and your tastes start to change. I suppose you start to pull influences from different kinds of eras in your life. We definitely looked back; Nina and myself are both 80s kids. I for one definitely love 80s technology, and Nina loves the old Nintendo games, Super Mario and stuff like that. So, we’re definitely 80s kids and grew up with that kind of soundtrack as well. I think that came across with the album. We started off being influenced more by what we were doing at the time in terms of my DJing and Nina’s songwriting, but slowly, we started to dig a little bit deeper into our history for the album. In the beginning, it focused more on what was happening at the time, whereas we’ve drawn a bit of inspiration from when we were growing up for the album.”
What equipment do you feel is most important to your sound?
Paul Kelly: “The Prophet 5 was definitely a big thing on the album. It’s probably my favorite synth of all time; it’s so versatile. That featured quite heavily throughout the album. At lot of the main chords and melodies and some of the bass lines were written using the Prophet 5. Of course, the SH101 was also a big thing; the Oberheim DX was one of my favorite drum machines. With more technology, the Roland TR8 is an absolutely wonderful piece of equipment. It’s like an 808 and a 909, a 707, a 606 and a 626 as well. So, you’ve got a whole range of drum machines there and you can mix and match the various sound banks. You can create your own kits from these great machines. And then Ian McFarlane is an amazing bass player. He plays live with us and he also kind of plays as a session bassist with us as well when we’re recording. He plays a Fender Precision Bass, which is an absolutely beautiful instrument. He’s got some incredible pedals that were made locally here in Ireland, so the sound Ian can create is quite unique as well. And of course, Nina’s beautiful voice and all her effects and all her beautiful raspiness and amazing songwriting abilities come into obvious play there as well.”
What is the creative process like within the band?
Paul Kelly: “I suppose there is not a normal way that it happens. Sometimes, Nina comes up with a vocal or some kind of lyrics. She’s either singing it to me and I start to get an idea of what a bassline should sound like from that, or some chords and stuff like that. Sometimes, I have a piece of music and Nina just starts writing stuff down or humming a melody or something like that and from that the vocal is made. It kind of happens all different kinds of ways, really, which is a great thing. It’s not really a set process. Sometimes, we sit down in the studio together and come up with something, sometimes I have something pre-written or sometimes Nina as some vocals written and I’m inspired by that.”
Do you see Deadbots as a live band?
Paul Kelly: “We definitely feel we’re a live band above everything else. For this album, we will definitely see something more along the lines of an actual stage performance as opposed to something you might see slotted in between two DJs at festivals. We are hoping that people catch onto the album. Hopefully, they hear it on the radio and start to recognize the tracks, and then we start rolling out a live show to take out on the road. That’s how we hope to see things going.”
Making the album, were you considering how the material would be performed live?
Paul Kelly: “Everything was basically made on analog instruments, tracked in either Logic or Ableton Live. Either MIDI or CV was being triggered back to the machines. That’s basically how we write. We don’t really have a choice but to make everything as live as possible if we were to perform. There are basically 3 people in the band [live], so the bits that obviously can’t be performed by one of us I suppose would be pre-sequenced. But everything will be as live as possible. At the moment, we’re looking into a visual show with lights and visuals. If there’s a good reaction, we’re going to try to think big on this.”
Are you looking to have your music used further for commercial purposes, and if so, where would you ideally like to see it?
Paul Kelly: “I think it’s always good to value the output of your music, so I don’t think it’s arrogant or negative to think big about where your music goes. We do think it has commercial value, so TV commercials, radio commercials, larger online campaigns and stuff like that is where we would hope to see ourselves being placed. That’s what we’re hoping. We have yet to see the impact the album has, so to expect anything more than just hope at the moment would be unrealistic.”
Was self-releasing “Love Unlimited” planned from the start, or were you considering pursuing a label deal?
Paul Kelly: “Basically, we just wanted to own the music. We felt the album had commercial value. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for the artist to do what a label does, without really having a label to tell them what to do. I think really that’s the future for musicians. There is no reason why musicians can’t promote, produce, handle videos and photographs, and organize tours amongst themselves and their friends these days via online means or similar way. I think that’s a wonderful tool to use for absolutely every musician, especially those who are starting off. I think it’s a wonderful thing. That’s really what inspired us to do it. Not only do you have control over your music, but you don’t have someone else who’s listening to the top 10 or who’s hot on the Beatport charts or iTunes charts and producing like that. It happens quite a lot in dance music and in other kinds of music. So, it is really kind of raw. I think if people follow that path, you’ll hear a lot more real music as opposed to the kind of churned out stuff that’s on the radio at the moment.”
Some artists who release on their own, especially online, are forgoing the album format entirely. Was it obvious to you that you wanted to put out an album?
Paul Kelly: “We just felt that after such a long time, it was only right to release some kind of body of work that reflected us as a band, really. We’re not one sound; the album is a bit all over the place. There’s weird 80s stuff; there’s slow kind of out-of-tune wobbling synth kind of hip-hop stuff; there’s kind of techno and weird Italo Disco stuff as well. That’s who we are as a band, and I think that’s why we’re suited to the live show format as well, because it’s a little bit of everything. We’re more kind of Chemical Brothers-y in that sense then we are like a techno outfit. We’re more like a ‘band’ band. We wanted to release a body of work that reflected who we are as a band, more so than a series of EPs. If you release stuff in EP format all the time, people expect to hear a similar thing, so it’s going to be interesting to hear people’s feedback when they hear the scope of the album”
As the album is quite varied, did you put extra care into the track order?
Paul Kelly: “We had the intention for the album to have a flow, but we also wanted to jaunt the listener a bit as well. Being an 80s/90s kid, I remember when Nirvana released an album, you sat down and listened to the whole thing, and it was the highlight of your month to be able to sit down and listen to that thing over and over again. When we put ourselves in the listener’s seat, we felt that we wanted to have that journey that we enjoyed when we were younger come through on the album.”
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Paul Kelly: “The album is coming out exclusively on the website. There’s going to be no Spotify, no iTunes, nothing like that. We might do Bandcamp. We’re going to play the whole process by ear because we’re self-releasing. I suppose the approach we’re taking is to just release exclusively through our website. But if we don’t get as much of a reaction from it, or if for some reason our reach is stunted by that decision, we might reach a little bit further in the field and do other platforms where we can promote ourselves. But for now, the intention is to release exclusively through our website.”
For more info, and to purchase the album, visit deadbotsmusic.com.