Home truths about a hollow world
The Truth is out there.
Christchurch dubstep outfit Truth have been thrilling dance floors around the world, gaining a huge following along the way and that is only set to rise with the release of their latest album Hollow World.
Released by Datsik's Firepower Records, the album has been No 1 on Beatport for over a week.
"It's been No 1 over a number of different genres for over a week, I was hoping for maybe a day but it's been eight days in a row," says Tristan Roake.
Roake is currently based in Christchurch with his young family while the other half of Truth, Andre Fernandez, is in San Francisco. But Roake says they make it work.
"Dre loves San Francisco. He sends me tunes he has started, I open them and work on them straight away, I can send him feedback and vice versa. We can bounce down the audio of the track, that stuff is straightforward," Roake says.
"Management decisions. . . our decisions are more well thought out because we have time to think about it."
The pair met through mutual friends when they were 16, later they hung out at Christchurch nightclub Ministry and eventually started a club night together.
"At Ministry we had the same spot where it sounded good, that's how it all began."
Last year Truth released a 12in via Tempa and an EP via Deep Medi and played shows around the globe, from Europe to the United States, including the influential SxSW festival in Austin, Texas.
"We've been touring a lot, all over the place. We played a lot of places in the American mid-west which had never really had a deep dubstep night before, there are San Francisco, Denver, LA, New York, cities with big music scenes, then there were places like Nebraska and Kansas city where the scene is not quite so developed. We also did heaps of gigs in Canada."
But the main focus has been the album.
"In January, Dre and I got together in Christchurch and spent every day for a month working in the studio. The idea was to make it cohesive."
While the bulk of it was recorded in Christchurch, two tracks were compiled in San Francisco and another two were created in Denver.
"The vocalists are a wide range, from well-known MC Flowdan, Bijou is from Iceland but Dre met her in Canada. TaLabun from Uzbekistan, his second language is Russian, his third language is English which he rhymes in. He has a crazy unique voice, kind of a rasta voice with an Eastern accent but in English."
A request for another vocalist to their more than 70,000 Facebook fans resulted in an avalanche of emails.
"We got about 100 in just a few minutes. We listened to all of them, it took a long time. Our favourite was this chick Phoebe, Lelijveld, we were like ‘sweet, let's get a vocal sorted out' and she said she lived in Christchurch, it was amazing because she was the best and she lived here."
The album is "deep, dark and minimal" and spans across tempos. It's not "just" dubstep, or drum ‘n bass which is actually dubstep sped up.
"We made a conscious decision that we wanted the whole album to be the Truth sound, one way to break that out is to change the tempos.
"The word dubstep is slightly tarnished, depending on who you talk to."
The pair then found themselves with an album but no label to put it on.
They met up with Datsik who said he wanted to release it via his label Firepower.
"We thought about it a lot. Firepower is a massive label but it is well known as a mid-range, some call it bro-step, label. Whereas we are known for being on British labels like Tempa and Deep Medi who are more headsy, deeper. That is our niche, I guess. After thinking about it for a long time, we decided to go with Firepower for the same reason we moved to the US, to break outside of the thing we are known for because the potential is massive.
"Firepower is the biggest platform. All the reviews so far express surprise that it's on the label but say the music is the best thing so it's been really good."
For his part, Datsik, who released the album, has said: "Truth is the best thing that's happened to dubstep in North America."
Roake says he used to feel as if he could be anonymous in Christchurch but the word about Truth has spread.
"People come up to me when I'm walking around. I felt that I was anonymous but I can't go out without people coming up to me.
"I rang the bank the other day to ask a question and I told the guy my account name and he was like ‘Tristan from Truth?' and I was like ‘what?' It was crazy."
While he's had his head in the studio since he returned to Christchurch, he admits their online presence has grown steadily.
"It is interesting, we have a lot of online followers but they are spread out around the world, we have lots from London and San Francisco."
Because of their name, Roake says they often attract people wanting to share their conspiracy theories.
"I guess it goes with the name.
"For us Hollow World is to reflect the concept that our lives are full of illusion. The world as we know it has been constructed of facades by those in power. The "hollow" concept relates to a world, a life, that has no real meaning to it. The question is, what is behind this hollow exterior?"
While Roake does a Christchurch gig this weekend and then a few shows around New Zealand and Australia in August, Fernandez will be doing the same thing in the United States.
"Then, in September, we go to Europe for a festival and a tour of about 20 shows," Roake says. "It's positive."
Ain't that the Truth.
Truth Hollow World album release party, with support from IllFigz, Arkotypes, Hendi and Lightly Toasted at Dux Live, Saturday from 9pm. Tickets $29 plus booking fee available from Cosmic.