You might have seen them open for the Prodigy or caught them at EXIT fest in Serbia. Ape Men released their debut EP ZERO last month and it really took me back – their music is a bit of a time warp for anyone who grew up with mainstream 1990s rock. Now, we live in a time where electronic music dominates the charts and this trio has managed to combine gritty guitars with moody synths and minimal beats. We spoke with Boris, the singer, about EDM and the freedom of being indie.
LSD: Combining electronica and guitars is so 1990s, why did you decide to bring it back? Correct me if I’m wrong, if you disagree.
A lot of our influences are driven from the 1990s guitar scene, and we’re basically three guitar players that formed an indietronica band. Ivo and I play guitar live, but he does it like no one else and that individuality really defines our sound. Petar was a technically proficient guitar player before devoting himself to programming and computer soundscaping. We don’t have a drummer, or a bass player. The only reason why I’m singing is that someone needed to vocalize my lyrics. APE|MEN are a gang of guitarists.
Our second lineage comes from Chemical Brothers, Orbital, Crystal Method, and Nine Inch Nails. That’s the sound that blew us away and made us realize – “Whoa you can have so many textures and polyphony!” it’s not just about crying onstage or breaking stuff. It’s still exciting twenty years later.
I don’t think we really dwell on our sound; it just kind of makes sense to us without having to define it. And most of what we listen to now is from the current indie scene, we try to dig deep to find new music. New music excites us.
LSD: What do you feel is the current state of electronic music?
It’s obvious that EDM is dominating and from our perspective it’s increasingly DJ driven and that is where it falls apart for us. We’re more into the marriage of production and live performance. That’s why it’s great to see acts like CHVRCHES, FKA Twigs, and Years and Years making a riot, even if we sound nothing alike. It’s evidence that Alternative Pop and Electronica are going to dominate very soon. There’s an opening for us, if we can get heard and there’s a need for more bands.
LSD: What’s your new, debut EP about, “ZERO?”
It’s a collection of songs fitted in a mini-album, it certainly isn’t a concept album. The songs are so different and it’s really APE|MEN finding their sound. Danceable and introspective; dark and upbeat at the same time. Every time I listen to UP IS THE NEW BOTTOM, I can’t help thinking “Man, it’s gut-wrenching with a happy face.” It’s also a reflection of who we were for two years by February 2015. Because we self-produce and self-manage, it’s a complete artistic journey of a band of three.
LSD: What’s the song “Pictionary” about? It almost has a chill sense of humor about it.
It’s about being intimate without being open. People are hypocrites, but being honest is actually more fun. Our social lives are bottoming out and traditional relationships feel dated, but that new and old coexistence can be thrilling. We’ve never been as capable as being self-sufficient as we are now and that is an irreversible trend, but being alone only works if there are others around to sympathize. I have very strong opinions about technology and isolation. Most of our lyrics are sarcastic and revolve around urban social lives. We’ve taken the easy way out – we comment rather than philosophize.
LSD: What do you have upcoming next?
Playing our music for living, breathing people. We really want to get a foot in the door of the European festival scene. We also want to travel and meet likeminded individuals. Although we hail from the post-socialist South East, we’re really drawn to the sound of Berlin and Stockholm. So, a venture North if the opportunity arises.
As for recording, we need to get ZERO out of our system before we enter the studio again. But when we do – probably sooner than we care to admit – it’ll be for a second EP. We’re not venturing into LP territory before having the support a label and someone harassing us to follow deadlines. While we’re self-contained we’ll be upgrading our songs to the point that a full length album takes years. For now, we’re enjoying the freedom of being indie.