Electronica: When dark sonic US punk band AFI feel like chilling out, they combine as Blaqk Audio to produce Bjork-tinged electronica with hints of nineties synth…
Are you familiar with AFI? AFI (short for ‘A Fire Inside’) were at their most popular in the late nineties. Their early sound was a sort of Misfits-inspired punk, with EPs called “Answer that and stay fashionable” and “Very proud of ya”. The AFI lyrics grew darker throughout their career (“All Hallows”, “The Art of Drowning”. And AFI got bigger – their EP “Sing the Sorrow” was produced by Butch Vig (Garbage, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth).
AFI are still going strong – punk never dies – but when they want to break off from the sonic punk and indulge in synths and electronica, they release work under the name Blaqk Audio.
So what’s Blaqk Audio all about?
Blaqk Audio is an electronic band formed by current AFI members Davey Havok (lyricist, vocals) and Jade Puget (programmer, composer, etc.). It started out as a side project around the 2001-2002 period. Puget synthesized the music on the AFI tour during his free time. On the bus, in the hotel, or even at his house. He then went to Havok for the lyrics to begin. It wasn’t until the CexCells recording of 2007 that Puget had even heard all the melodies.
What did CexCells sound like? It had a lot in common with signature AFI sounds – melodic chants and anthemic sounds with Havok’s distinctive voice soaring over the top. But the ‘Stiff Kittens’ track had a guitar riff that echoed ‘Personal Jesus’ by Depeche Mode, and the AFI sound was filtered and merged with dance-influenced electro synth.
CexSells captured the dance industry’s imagination and did well in the electronica charts. “It’s really fun that way, actually,” says Havok about the album ranking #18 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on Dance/Electronic Albums. “It’s not really nerve-wracking – it’s interesting, it’s exciting. We love the record. I’m so very, very happy with CexCells and I can’t wait for it to get out. So it’s a matter of just waiting and seeing what happens with it. We’re not really sure who’s going to be into it, who’s going to come to the shows, and who’s going to buy the record. Being that it’s our first project, we put no expectations or limitations on it. It’s just kind of fun.”
It’s recently been confirmed that the latest Blaqk Audio album, Bright Black Heaven, will be released soon. Despite the news, Puget exclaims that he’s written about another 70 songs for the band. “We’ll be the first band to put out a box set for our second record!”
Together, Blaqk Audio sound almost like t.A.T.u. or Bjork, due to their electronica/pop styles. It’s all about ‘creative experimentation and the development of new forms’. Havok talks about the electronica genre and how their music relates to it.
“There’s such great electronic music, and there has been for years – at certain moments, it kind of peeks its head out into the mainstream. But it hasn’t been recognized in quite some time, and having a little bit of mainstream exposure for the genre could help that scene. A few of our friends, different electronic artists, have already said that they’re super excited that we’re bringing focus to some of the genres. So… I hope so. It would be great if people found more great music through us. There’s a lot of stuff out there, depending on what you’re into.’