Introducing Interview: Architects Of Grace

Headed by Duncan Robert, Architects Of Grace have made a welcome return to our eardrums after their 2011 debut album Moments In Time. Having previously received acclaim from the likes of Classic Rock Magazine and Artrocker, Architects Of Grace release a brand new EP next month.

Title track ‘Outsiders’ exudes rich, emotion-strewn musical layers with a dark cinematic intensity; a beautifully haunting slice of modern gothgaze.

We caught up with Duncan Robert to talk inspirations, plans for the future and Iggy Pop…

You’ve been away for a while, why did you decide to take a break from Architects of Grace?
I didn’t consciously plan to take a break from Architects Of Grace, work continued, but nothing was released. After the last shows Architects Of Grace did I focused on writing a lot of new material – from that I’ve focused on the best songs for new releases. I’m now focused on the follow up to the Outsiders EP, a song called ‘Change’, which may be the best song so far.  

How is your new material different from the old?
I feel I’m a better songwriter now. I’m still proud of the first album though. The music always comes first, then from that the lyrics to fit the atmosphere, mood or feel of the music. The new material is perhaps more about looking forward to the horizon than looking back, the last album was a little more introspective perhaps, but we’ll see what songs make the album next year.

There’s a modern gothic feel to your style, is this intentional?
The feel of the songs just comes from within me, what I might be feeling, thinking or observing, there is nothing intentionally planned, it just happens. I’ve said before that sometimes a song’s meaning only comes clearer some considerable time after it’s finished. Songs comes from the head and the heart, so thinking this needs a bigger chorus but the underlying feeling comes from within. Generally there are a few things deemed “goth” that inspire me or have an influence to some degree.

The project is fronted by you but do you have other players come in for the recording process?
Generally I perform everything apart from playing drums – apart from when I sometimes use programmed drums, but well recorded live drums are best. Sometimes a friend may come in to play a part on the odd occasion too. Drums on the forthcoming material were played by Joe from Hell Is For Heroes and Symposium, drums on the new EP were played by Pelle, who’s a great drummer as well as a producer and mixer.

As an independent artist, what do you feel you have to say that’s different from the rest of the scene right now?
I think it’s an extremely tough existence for any independent artist who hasn’t the luxury of a former sponsored career via a huge label through which they have built a large profile. Independent artists need to multi task and in many cases work an extra job to pay the bills and fund recording. Touring is very expensive too. Labels no longer invest in artist development even when you have one. I used to pay more attention to scenes, but I don’t take as much notice now. I have a camaraderie with musicians, but don’t have anything radically different to say, though I can share my opinion on a wide range of topics. There is so much music out there now, many great records, but it’s overwhelming at the same time. Iggy Pop on 6 Music is my favourite radio show at the moment.

Is there a theme or story running through your EP Outsiders you’d like to share?
Basically the theme is about the freaks and misfits who eventually shape art and innovation to some degree, because essentially many of the best poets are outsiders. To add to that, those socially excluded from the mainstream because of their appearance or interests usually find each other. That’s how many bands are formed actually. Then as soon as they have a little of the limelight, everyone wants to be their friend. So whether it’s friends, lovers, artists or bandmates, outsiders eventually find each other – freaks on the outside of the mainstream and being comfortable with that.

The video for the track ‘Stay To Say’ is interesting, what is the meaning behind the imagery?
There is a guitar line that features a few times on ‘Stay To Say’, that for me, sounded slightly Japanese. When I hear music I sometimes get visuals running through my head. I was lucky enough to visit Japan, so I started playing around with all this weird and wonderful footage I had taken in Tokyo and Kyoto. It manifested from there. I make many of the videos. The song is about not holding on to something you need to tell someone or having regrets. You might make your own interpretation.

Finally, what are your plans for 2017?
First the Outsiders EP comes out in December, a video for ‘Outsiders’ will be available very soon. A follow up single in early 2017, most likely a song called ‘Change’ will be released. Then more to follow, including an album later in 2017. If that all works out then perhaps some shows too, if I can find some recruits for the live band. I’d like the idea of some collaborations with other musicians. Plus, I’m also thinking about film scores too; I’ve always dabbled in that area, writing music that would fit with film. But the key focus is the next single for now.

Huge thanks for Architects Of Grace for answering our questions!

Outsiders, the forthcoming EP from Architects Of Grace, is out 9 December via Out Of Nowhere.

Mari Lane

Mari Lane

Editor, London. Likes: Kathleen Hanna, 6Music, live music in the sunshine. Dislikes: Sexism, pineapples, the misuse of apostrophes.