It was a fateful meeting three years ago in an old Paris bar that brought Jon Dark and Julie Chance together. Dark, originally from Sydney, Australia, was DJing, and Chance, living in Berlin by way of Dublin, was visiting Paris. After striking up a conversation, the pair discovered that their musical tastes strongly overlapped, The Knife and Morrissey being just some of their mutual influences.
A mad back-and-forth record-swapping flurry ensued—“Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas, Bill Callahan’s Rock Bottom Riser, The Stone Roses’ I Wanna Be Adored, Prince’s Sign o’ the Times, and I think some of my favourite classical pieces,” says Dark of that initial meeting. “Probably Arvo Pärt by Fratres.” A month later, Dark ditched Paris, moved to Berlin, and Kool Thing—a nod to Sonic Youth and the feminist “substance over style” message both also admired—was born.
The partnership felt right from the beginning says Chance, a documentary photographer whose starkly daring visuals are used for their single covers. Chance, like Dark, had been involved with various bands over the years, including spending time as a drummer in London grunge bands. The artist-driven city of Berlin was the perfect incubator for the band to craft their DIY ideology into a cohesive sound.
“We conceive our songs together,” says Dark, a classically trained composer whose experience with commercial film music composition adds a cinematic element to their sound. “We sit together and think about what we want to create, sound world, mood, or story, and throw around ideas. Once we think we have something we then go off on our own, to opposite ends of the room,” continues Dark. “I work on shaping and developing the music. It’s all about layering and balance and space. Julie is the lyricist, so she works on the narrative and the lyrics. Then we come back and weave it all together.”
After releasing the praised Light Games EP and twelve-inch single “Plan.Life.Go,” a growing fan base and tours with Austra, MEN, Light Asylum, and Maria Minerva quickly followed. Their self-titled full-length album landed this spring.
The duo’s new wave, grunge, and synthpop create desolate nocturnal soundscapes, heightened by persistent layered vocals. Standout tracks like “Low Love,” “Stories by The Bay,” and “TV Tower” reach out and ask, how do we escape? Where are we going? Do you want to come with me?
And after one listen, it’s impossible to say anything but yes.
Note: Full piece made available on TWM 26/05/2014
This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of AUX Magazine.