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10 Questions With Empire of the Sun's Luke Steele

Their larger-than-life productions may be intimidating for new listeners, but Empire of the Sun actually sounds close to home. Their music is for the heart, the head, the feet, and the soul. Head-dress optional.

We recently chatted with frontman Luke Steele about the duo's music and the creative process that goes with it. Surprising discovery? What they wear when they're in the studio recording an album! Read on to know more about this Sydney-based electronic music duo.

Empire of the Sun is like a huge dream that’s brought to life onstage. What does it feel like to actualize this dream?

It feels pretty good! It’s a big production. I’ve dreamed as a child to be performing to a lot of people. You have dancers and costumes and you know, it’s like you’re famous. It feels great to make sure we try and get it right.

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Aside from your music, you are also known for your headdresses and costumes? Why do you wear them when performing?

You know, this music’s important to me... It’s very special when it’s majestic, kind of like renowned. A lot of people still hear [music] with their eyes. Thank God [He] gave us these eyes to give us some color to look at.

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Where do you get your costume ideas?

Anywhere, you know. You got where your eyes can take you to see. I’m kind of fascinated by the zoo. When you go to the zoo and you discover all these animals that God’s created and all their different colors. Some have scales, some have eight legs. And then you go to the beach and there’s like a sea lion walking around. You can get a lot of different ideas for an outfit. Then you also have architecture. I just came from the airport here and there’s so much color , kind of excitement on the street. Then all of that kinda swims around in my brain and ends up with a jacket. There.

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Do you dress the same way when recording your songs?

Of course!

What inspires you to write songs?

Oh, I don’t know. We just put lyrics on the wall. Eventually, the puzzle comes together and then we have a song. And then we go shopping.

What’s the most personal song you’ve ever written?

Probably “I’ll Be Around” on the latest record. I guess it’s kind of like whatever happens I’ll be around for a while. Like a confirmation to a loved one, to a friend. Prayers.

How long did it take you and Nick Littlemore to get comfortable with each other?

Pretty much straight away. We got introduced and we were…inseparable. Nick’s really amazing at slicing up guitars, and collaborating is kind of like painting. So, we began with playing guitars—him on an old editing machine [like] the ones old hip hop guys use, and is cutting up guitars and vocals and creates this painting.

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How do you know when a song you wrote makes it to the record?

There’s always a point we hit, when we kind of get “aaahh”. It’s like when you open the door in the morning and the sun comes through and you just…you know it hits the table. 

Do you guys start with an image? Is there a theme that you guys really work on?

Nah, love is just trying to teach you all the good stuff. Imagination and liberation and, you know, inspiration and dreams—all that good stuff that gets all pushed to the side a bit in this world. We want to bring [out] that stuff.

A lot of artists say they have a different persona onstage. How about you? Is it about showing who you are inside or just another part of you?

It’s still you; but you become a performer. I become an emperor. 

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Ice On the Dune by Empire of the Sun is now available in CDs at Astroplus and Odyssey Music & Video or online via iTunes exclusively under MCA Music in cooperation with SMART, Live More! and LINE – a new communication app which allows you to make FREE voice calls and send FREE messages whenever and wherever you are, 24 hours a day!

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