Soaring skyward from the UK shores comes the new release from Vallenfyre founding member Ian Mullinger, with his project Electric Dragon. The reign of fire comes in the form of Communion, a dark and barren wasteland of hard style darksynth to feed your dark soul. After a first listen and feeling like my skin was blistering from my bones, I sat down for a chat with Ian about his 3 major food groups, electronica, metal and guitars.
Hi Ian, thanks for having a chat to me about “Communion”. Coming from a metal background as a guitarist, how did you transcend into synth music?
I was a founder member of Vallenfyre which also featured Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost), Hamish Glencross (My Dying Bride), Scoot (Doom) and Adrian Erlandsson (At The Gates, The Haunted). Yep I was the only ‘unknown’ in this band – but living in the same town as Greg, our paths crossed. Next we were having drinking sessions blasting out old Celtic Frost albums… It was difficult balancing this with the day job and I left for reasons of financial stability. Had a real blast doing the big European festivals with those guys, but something had to give. I’ve been into electronica since I was a kid listening to Rob Hubbard’s awesome C64 soundtracks in the ’80s. I think I started making electronic music in around 1994 (on an Amiga!) So having left the band I chose to pursue something I could work on alone, on my own terms. So I returned to electronica, with no real intentions of following a particular genre.
You obviously have a strong influence of hard style dark synth, who in particular are your influences?
To be honest most of my influence comes from outside the synth scene. I’m more influenced by Goblin and Fabio Frizzi than by any current synth artists. I’ve always loved the ‘French touch’ stuff since the ’90s – stuff like Daft Punk, Justice, SebastiAn, Vitalic. I was actually surprised the synthwave scene existed as I had bought vinyls by Kavinsky and Danger etc. in the mid-2000s. That’s not to say I don’t admire guys like Dan Terminus, Perturbator etc. The directions these guys are taking now is refreshing and a bit more daring than the majority. I like music to be at least a little challenging, and I’m not that keen on the ‘play it safe – keep it 80s’ thing. I can see more synth artists moving away from this. Also my favourite band of all time is Voivod – not sure if and how that figures in, but there’s a lot of metal influence in my stuff.
What synths do you use, and what workflow structure do you employ in the studio?
My favourite has to be the Korg Minilogue. After supporting Dan Terminus and seeing him use one I went out and bought one. Awesome piece of gear, really intuitive. And like Dan, I call it ‘Kylie’. I’ve also got a Microkorg which I used on Wolf’s Blood and a few other tracks, and an Arturia Microbrute. I use VSTs (Softsynths) too, mainly those from Synapse, U-he, and FabFilter fx. The usual routine is to have a near-overdose of nuclear strength coffee, and set to work.
Is your style of music embraced in your local area, and do you play live ?
I live in the a**hole of nowhere in Yorkshire, England. So I don’t really do anything locally. Sheep, cows and farmers generally don’t give a sh*t about darksynth.
I have done a few shows, alongside Carpenter Brut, Dan Terminus, Das Mortal, Surgeryhead, The Van Dammage and others and am working on bringing more into my live shows. At the moment it’s really the Minilogue, DAW, and projections, but I’ve started working with a live drummer (using my drum sounds through his electronic kit) and will probably start playing live guitar as well. Guitar seems to be a trademark, which is odd because I played guitar riffs on the ‘Covenant’ track and that’s pretty much all. The new LP has some lead guitar on a couple of tracks, but I only see it as a minor part of the project.
What guitars do you use in the studio, and do you use a real structured amp, or a simulation, and if so, what ?
For this project I use my beloved Charvel 375 Deluxe which I’ve had since 1991. I managed to destroy my Line6 interface, during the recording of Covenant there was a ‘pop’ and a burning smell…hahaha. Into the bin. I’ve had some nice results from Logic’s built in fx actually. I also wrecked a violin recording atmosphere sounds for new track ‘Communion’. Let’s say I was being experimental!!!!
Les Paul or Strat?
I’ll say Strat, since I own one, but I’ve played some real nice Les Pauls…
The real favourite was my ESP M-II which I regrettably had to sell to buy a 7-string when we started Vallenfyre. But the aforementioned Charvel is my go-to guitar.
Finally the most important question, 80’s metal. whats more important, hairspray or tattoos ?
I grew up as an 80s thrasher, so it ain’t hairspray!
“Communion” is released today and is available on Electric Dragon’s Bandcamp page. Its a heavy dark pulsing beast that will get you hungry for more. If you’re near Yorkshire in England, keep an eye out for Electric Dragon playing live, if the footage i’ve seen is anything to go by, the shows look amazing, and I would expect many more soul-wrenching treats from Electric Dragon in the future.
* Live performance photos courtesy of Stephen Dewar.