Luke Steele of the Australian duo, Empire Of The Sun, is no novice to the music industry. As a matter of fact, his diverse musical background ranges from his involvement in the alt-rock band Sleepy Jackson to a hip-hop laced cameo on JAY Z’s The Blueprint 3. He along with his fellow EOTS bandmate, Nick Littlemore, is set to release their sophomore album entitled Ice on the Dune on June 14th. Last week, the pair premiered the latest album in its entirety live from the Sydney Opera House. Although the album is unique to 2008’s acclaimed Walking on a Dream, one main component remains the same – the sound. The ‘60s psychedelic vibe that glazes the tracks never overwhelms the band’s signature electronica harmony. Not to go unmentioned is Ice on the Dune’s abundance of soulful vocals and rhythms reminiscent to Prince and The Revolution’s 1984 release of Purple Rain. Love it or hate it, Luke and Nick’s empire is here to stay.
Life+Times: When you first decided to join creative forces back in ‘07, did you originally plan to release only one album? Did you ever expect you would focus solely on Empire of the Sun versus Sleepy Jackson and Pnau?
Luke Steele: You can’t have plans in music. It’s a day-by-day run thing. It’s almost always the opposite of what you plan. You have to stay spontaneous. We did it because it was what we needed to do. The rest decides itself.
L+T: Tell me about the overall artistic theme behind the new album.
LS: The ocean is getting deeper, we have swam below the bends – we are into the unknown.
L+T: Peter Mayes co-wrote some of the songs on Walking on a Dream. Did you work with him again?
LS: It was the same team as last time – Nick (Littlemore), Pete (Peter Mayes), Donnie Sloan [and] me.
L+T: I felt like I was watching an intro to an action film when I watched the trailer for Ice on the Dune. Then, voila! I found out it was produced by Kelvin Optical, Inc. and directed by JD Dillard. How did you all get introduced?
LS: We were invited to the factory! Then, we began sketching, storming the brain together, [and] then we ended up there.
L+T: From the music videos to the stage performances, you both have some over-the-top, yet beautifully designed costumes. Do you guys personally work with the designer on your costume ideas?
LS: Yes, it’s…A-Rock, Snappy Dolphin (Steele’s wife), Dragon Dronet and Wanda Piety, alongside Nick and myself. We have our imagineering team. We have some pretty wild creative meetings!
L+T: You’re now on tour globally. Budweiser Made in America is at the end of summer. It’s exciting to have you both on the line-up. What acts do you look forward to seeing live at the festival?
LS: I’ve always wanted to see Beyoncé live – hear your voice through a giant PA, see a pop superstar. Queens of the Stone Age – they sound tough. Nine Inch Nails – boom!