Introducing Interview: Warriors Of The Dystotheque

Warriors Of The Dystotheque are a band with a difference: meeting as a whole only via social media, they are located across the globe and create their unique ‘Gloomtronica’ by communicating online.

With a new EP out today, Warriors Of The Dystotheque are rapidly catching the attention of many in the industry. Find out more about this out-of-the-ordinary group of creatives below…

Hi Warriors Of The Dystotheque, who are we speaking to?
Jonny Mac in my studio in Derry, Ireland. I’d imagine Mike and Nick Rufulo in New York are sleeping, and I think Sean is in France.

How did you all meet?
The band was formed through Facebook in 2014, but started in my studio in Derry, Ireland. I picked up on Mike and Nick’s music through a friends post, and asked if they wanted to collaborate on a track. Mike and Nick are based in New York, so stems were sent back and forth through a file sharing service and then arranged in Jonny’s studio. Jonny then got Sean Graham involved to add some extra elements and do a mix down. Sean splits his time between UK and France, so is constantly making music on the move.

From that initial EP, The Future is Ours, we decided to form a band, even though we’ve never set foot in the same room together, or all met in person for that matter. Social media has been the backbone to our inception. We’ve also managed to hook up with new and old friends to feature guest vocalists. Jonny came across Ella Joy on YouTube, the vocalist that appears on ‘Return to Coney’, and all the guys have been able to extend interest to old friends, like Melissa Graham (Atom Vibe), Tony Jarvis (Hashtag) and Pop Will Eat Itself front man Graham Crabb, who features on the forthcoming track ‘Weirdoes’. And we’ve just finished up a new track which will feature vocals from EMF front man James Atkin.

Your music has a very interesting sound to it, how would you describe it?
Experimental Electronica Lo-Fi Dystopic Edible Jazzy Gloomtronica Technoodles.

Due to all being based in different places around the world and all having different musical upbringings, do you think this brings something extra/different to your music?
Yeah undoubtedly, every studio turns out a different sound – so the more trip-hop elements and dubby jazz breaks are from my studio here in Ireland, Mike & Nick tend to funk it up Zappa style, while Sean adds a whole manner of lofi electronica to the mix.

We read that there is a story behind both your name and the name of your new release Return to Coney – can you elaborate on this?
The idea behind the word Dystotheque (pronounced dist-o-tech) is a play on words – Dystopia and discotheque. The band name evolved out of this; Sean came up with the idea, but I was pretty keen to get Warriors in there too as The Warriors is a film that’s followed me through my life, so I suggested Warriors of the Dystotheque. Sean’s also big on his dystopian b-movie, and the name struck a chord as it sounded like it could have come straight from the grindhouse. Warriors of the Dystotheque really seems to sum up how we feel at the moment. Things haven’t been the same for many years: you can blame it on austerity, the global financial crisis, or the escalating tensions in society and the politicians who feed off that (both sides of the Atlantic) -whatever, it’s a drag.

Gloomtronica was a term pinned on Return to Coney. We didn’t set out to create a new style of music, we didn’t even come up with that name, but you have to admit, it’s pretty fitting for the moment. The name for the EP is a nod back to the movie The Warriors and the final scene when they eventually after fighting their way through NYC and make it back to their home patch of Coney Island and, as it goes, the remaining cast members made the same subway trip last year and visited Coney which is a bit spooky as we had named the EP Return To Coney a few months before this happened – so a good omen we reckon.

Obviously the film has had a big impact on this project, where else do you tend to get inspiration for you music? 
The band consists of four people, and the whole point of the project is to pass our ideas back and forth between each other. There is a ton of musical inspiration in our band, and many of the tracks sound quite different. Although we think we also have a hallmark sound.

Mid to late 90s trip-hop and downtempo seems to emerge quite heavily, with elements of Portishead, Massive Attack, Air and Unkle springing up in most of our songs. We also take influence from the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Death in Vegas, Chemical Brothers and other rock/dance crossover acts, as well as those specific to each scene, such as Carl Craig, Apex Twin, Rennie Pilgrim, or Link Wray, The Cramps, and The Clash. When the brothers in New York get ahold of our ‘seed tracks’, you’ll hear notes of Ennio Morricone and Lalo Schifrin Frank Zappa and Shaun Lee taking over. So our influence is pretty diverse. As we grow, even if you may hear a club track here and there, we’re aiming to apply the Warriors sound to film, as this is where the root of our influence comes from.

I understand you (Jonny) have already been playing music for a long time. Where has your career taken you up to now?
As a DJ I have spent 15 years on the DJ scene all across the globe. 2000 & 2001 V-Festival, 2001 to 2003 worldwide DJ tour alongside Leeroy Thornhill (Prodigy) with residencies in several Ibiza venues during the summer of ’03. A 2003 12 weeks Support DJ alongside Shaun Ryder & Bez (Happy Mondays) Groove Harder/Get Loaded Tour and 2003 to 2006 worldwide DJ tour with Phil Hartnoll (Orbital). From 2000 to 06 I ran my Breaks night Frequency in Coventry, Birmingham and Leicester which saw pretty much every major breaks act make a visit or two, with fellow band member Sean as a resident. So lots of DJ gigs but nothing live for a long time though I did study Music Production back in 2001 with Sean in Coventry so it’s been a long time coming.

What are your plans for 2016 apart from the release of Return to Coney?
We are busy recording at the moment and have just got the vocals back for the next release which was actually picked up a few weeks back by BBC Radio Ulsters Across The Line show as an instrumental and they made it track of the day. You can check that online, though you will have to wait till June to hear the vocal version. Besides that we are working out what tracks we are going to put on the album, which we hope to release by the end of the Autumn.

Do you have any plans to all DJ together live at some point?
We are more than ready to DJ as it’s in our blood with Sean & myself having spent over a decade DJing with major guests and headlining many clubs and festivals across the globe.

As for live, well it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare right now, but with the support we’ve had on 6 Music and all the other stations we are hoping that after the next few releases the demand for a live tour is there and we will be sure to make that happen.

Huge thanks to Jonny from Warriors Of The Dystotheque for answering our questions!

Return To Coney, the upcoming EP from Warriors Of The Dystotheque, is out today. Find out more here.


Mari Lane

Mari Lane

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