This past week I had the chance to catch up with my old friends David “R:ΞJΞCt” Bowman and John “J SYИTΔX” Edwards, formerly from the popular cyber/industrial group Mystic Syntax. We got to talking and the boys told me about their newest project, entitled Zero Signal, so I figured I would sit down and do a little Q & A with them…
It’s been six or seven years, but the last time I saw you guys you were doing Mystic Syntax. What have you been up to since then?
R: I have been bouncing around the music scene mostly. I’ve played with Syntax off and on as needed, whether it be as the singer, the drummer, and of course the keyboardist. I’ve also played with a few other local bands. Most recently, I’ve been playing in the Rammstein tribute band FleischGewehr.
J: Over the past few years I’ve been in a couple of cover bands as a guitarist at the suggestion of the former Mystic Syntax guitarist Zen. The most recent one featured metal covers of pop hits. However, I’ve been writing new material for Mystic Syntax the whole time and decided to dip out of those projects to focus full-time on writing and recording. I’m motivated more by recording a solid song than I am lugging gear out of an empty club at 2 a.m.
With that being said, tell us more about Zero Signal?
R: We are trying to treat this project unlike anything else. We are filming music videos and involving the fan base, instead of playing empty local showcases. The goal is to invent a fun party scene and build it around us. The goal is 50 percent metal, 50 percent dance, in a meld we call “Death Trance”. We have three songs currently up on our Bandcamp page, and we plan to release an EP late this summer.
What made you come up with a concept like this?
J: There are two areas where I’ve run into walls while producing music. The first is over thinking everything, which creates artistic hesitation. The other is getting people excited about what you’re creating. This is essentially an open collaboration project where anything is on the table for R:ΞJΞCt and I, but we also want to include fans in the process, such as getting involved in the music videos or coming to exclusive music parties we host.
R: This project is mostly the product of us just wanting to have FUN making music! We decided early on that with the Zero Signal project, having fun was the number one goal. Our aim is to just write what we like and put it out there and see what happens.
Excellent! Where did you guys draw your inspiration for such an ambitious and unique project?
R: Quite a few places, actually. I have always been a huge fan of bands that put on a great visual show. I recently saw a performance by a St. Louis band called Quixotic that blew me away. The Ludovico Technique put out a CD recently that I haven’t been able to put down. Seeing these other bands do their thing, and do it so well, drives me to get up and make my own mark on the world.
J: I’ve been a fan of EDM for a long time. But more recently, I’ve been going to more “rave” style events and have been amazed at how inclusive the people are. The music lends itself to being yourself and living in the moment, which is a significant change to the scene I’ve been in for so long. I have been wanting to produce dance music for some time now, so when we started this project I knew it had to focus on a dance beat and build around that.
Along those lines, who would you say your biggest musical influences are?
J: It’s always evolving, but while making this project I’ve been listening to bands like Combichrist, Rotersand, and even Deadmau5. At the same time, I also listen to largely guitar-based bands like Meshuggah, Northlane, and TesseracT. That’s always been a challenge because I want those musical landscapes to blend, which isn’t always possible. Give me a few more years and we’ll see if I can make polyrhythmic dance music.
Ed. – The mental imagery initially made us chuckle, but the idea of a Tomas Haake-led EDM sound might just be what music needs to further evolve.
R: I come from a mostly heavy metal background. Bands like In Flames and We Butter the Bread with Butter. I have always liked electronic music as well, but J SYИTΔX recently pulled me into the EDM scene, and I am loving it so far. Bands like Kill the Noise and Gesaffelstein are new and fresh to me, and it’s driving me to create music in a way I never had the opportunity to create before. With this project, we are aiming to be a 50/50 mix of metal and dance. We want to create something that gets people up and moving in a way that they choose.
That’s awesome. So, the burning question now would be are you planning on playing any shows? Or, will you just be going forward with making music videos and parties?
J: Right now, we’re looking to push for as much internet-based content as possible and get a feel for the reaction. I’m always open to playing the right gig, especially if it’s with a band we enjoy or work well with, but playing live for the sake of playing live isn’t the goal at this moment. We’re going to spend as much time creating the sound I’ve always wanted to produce but didn’t necessarily work with Mystic Syntax. Once that’s finished, I’m sure we’ll start surfing for specific shows where we could fit the bill and contact promoters.
R: We have recently started talking about the possibility of playing shows. This project wasn’t conceived with a live element in mind but I wouldn’t rule it out. The main thing is it has to be on our terms. We want any show we put on to be a true spectacle. An assault on your visual and aural senses. Rather than just standing on stage playing the music, we want it to stand out visually and I would love to find ways to get the audience involved as well.
Where do you see Zero Signal going in the future?
R: For the immediate future I see us filming a few music videos and putting out an EP by the end of summer. We haven’t discussed our future past that we are highly motivated and focused on getting the EP and videos done. Once those are finished, I imagine we will take a step back and examine what we have done so far and determine where to go from there!
J: Best case scenario, I would expect an independent foreign label to offer us a small distribution deal in their country where this type of sound and image does well. Worst case scenario though, we end up having a lot of fun and making a few new friends along the way, which really should be the goal of any band.
Zero Signal – Falling Apart (demo)