If you search the name Elenor Rayner, you can be quite overcome with the amount of musical acts and bands she is involved in. Most recently, she released two singles for her project, Robots In Love as well as a remix of the JA/VI track, “Good Cocaine“. We were fortunate enough to be able to speak to the delightful Elenor about the music she has been involved in, what she is up to now and ….oops we may have created a monster. If you want to know how then read on!!
Welcome Elenor Rayner, the creative mind behind Robots in Love, to the Onyx mainframe, which is far dodgier than the holodeck in Star Trek and tinged with the macabre.
You started your musical career in Melbourne, Australia, but you now live in Dunedin, New Zealand. Are you a Kiwi or an Aussie, as inquiring minds want to know?
I was born in Australia but I now have New Zealand citizenship. I adore Dunedin. It’s a creative, eccentric place with more musicians per capita than anywhere else in the country. Everyone plays in 3 different bands and they’ll put on gigs anywhere. I do keep a keyboard at a friend’s place in Melbourne though, so I can pop over and play shows.
Elenor, you have had a varied and successful music career, which we’d like to touch on. Soulscraper was the first industrial band you were in, starting in 1991. That must have been a really exciting time to be getting into the scene?
The technology at the time was so exciting. To be able to sample anything and change it however you like was mind-blowing. We sampled a lot from movies, especially sci-fi, and playing those mangled cinematic sounds live through huge PA systems was really satisfying.
In fact, I met up with the other Soulscrapers last week and we talked about playing shows later this year. We’re all keen to play those songs again.
The next big thing was The Crystalline Effect with Pete Crane, which started in 2002. Pete definitely has a darker take on electronic music, so how do you think working with him affected the way you write music and is there a chance we might hear from The Crystalline Effect in the future?
The Crystalline Effect released 6 albums I think, so it was a prolific period for us. We wrote two songs before we even met. We used to send cds through the mail because we both disliked the sound of mp3s. I really enjoyed the subtlety of Pete’s programming, it was amazingly delicate and there was room for me to experiment with vocal melodies and harmonies. Some of those songs are incredibly beautiful. I still listen to them. Maybe one day I’ll do a show with all my bands on the line-up.That would be a rollercoaster of emotions.
Recording for yourself as Sobriquet and Sobriquet Nation, how different was this for you as opposed to writing and making decisions with a band?
In a band there’s a lot of compromising. Probably most bands do this, but I remember developing a theory that the singer should have the ultimate say because they’re the ones who have to really believe it. With Sobriquet, being on my own I learnt a lot, delving into the tiniest detail of a song and tweaking it until it’s perfect. Nowadays on about a quarter of tracks I am the producer, on a quarter I am the vocalist and on half I do both. On the ones where I do both I do tend to talk to myself. Vocalist-Elenor says to Producer-Elenor: “we need a dropout there”.
In 2019 you released the haunting album, July, under your Sobriquet moniker and before that, in 2018, another album, My Very Essence. You are very prolific, as each album has around 15 tracks, so do you find the process of creating music easy?
Yes, I do find it easy, and it is essential to me. I’m not very good at talking about feelings so I tend to pour everything into songs instead. It’s like: “I can’t say this to you, so here, listen to this song”. All the main events of my life, and my friends’ lives are there for anyone to hear.
This brings us to your project Robots In Love. 2017 saw you drop the 5-track self-titled release followed by various singles, including two new tracks in March of this year, the slower ‘Wish’ and the bass heavy hitter ‘The Raven’ (which actually made think of Paul Raven Killing Joke/Ministry). Can you tell us a little about these tracks?
Usually, I produce the music first and then when I listen to the song, I figure out what it’s about and the words come into my head. The Ravens is stompy and quite upset. It is about dementia. Wish is sad and resigned and it’s about inequality.
There was also the rip snorting dancefloor remix of the JA/VI song, ‘Good Cocaine’, that you recently let loose. What was it about this track that spoke to you?
As soon as I heard it, I could relate to the feeling of love lost. It’s a universal thing but I loved the melody and the sadness in JA/VI’s vocal. I kept the vocal as it was and added the music. I think smashing your emotions out on the dancefloor is a healthy thing to do. I really enjoy playing that song live, it definitely gets everyone moving. I’m glad it’s getting airplay.
Is creating remixes under the Robots In Love name a new thing for you and how much fun do you have reimagining someone else’s music?
I do quite a few remixes each year. The next ones coming up are for Tiny Fighter, a Swedish band, and IKON.
I never have a pre-determined idea of what I’m going to do, I just start and see what happens. One cheeky thing I like to do is alter the melody of the vocal somewhere in the song and add harmonies. Cellmod added harmonies to one of my vocals in a remix of “How I Get Out” and I thought it was great and wished I’d come up with it.
Sometimes I do remixes of remixes. For instance, I remixed the first Human Confusion single, ‘Overwhelmed’, then I decided I liked it as an instrumental then I accidentally found myself singing new words and melodies to it so now there’s a completely new song.
Will there be an album coming out soon?
Yes, and there’ll be a variety of styles on it. I’ve written a few Goth Trap songs lately.
You describe your sound as ‘darkly beautiful, emotional, melodic electronic music’. What is it about this style of music you love?
The emotion is the main thing for me. Songs are like little capsules of things you need. If I’m sad I will listen to a song like “Equilibrium” and by the end I’ll be back to equilibrium. Magic.
You are involved with David Thrussell’s Snog as a live member. Please tell us what that is like, and is it utter insanity?
I’ve been playing live in Snog for 23 years. Even though the song topics are as serious as you can get, David loves humour and so do I, so being on tour with him is great fun.
I’m looking forward to the Snog shows in Melbourne and Sydney supporting PWEI.
When you were young, what bands and people inspired you to get into industrial/electronic music?
I remember going a lot to a club called Thrash and Treasure in Richmond, Melbourne and jumping around to music there like Nitzer Ebb and Young Gods. I liked the dual bass guitars of Denial and Pre Shrunk and I remember being very happy when I discovered bands who had both bass guitar and electronic bass.
Who inspires you or makes you happy now in musical terms?
I have a few other projects which I really enjoy. My band Human Confusion consists of me doing all the programming and Miriam Leslie the vocals. Her voice is like warm salted caramel sauce and her lyrics have a twist to them. Our first single “Overwhelmed” has a line in it – “I tried setting fire to it, but it burned too bright and took the bridges with it”. We’ve almost finished an album.
I like doing vocals for DevilMonkey. Our collaboration “Deluxe” is my favourite song. Live, I play a combination of the original track and my remix. It’s a powerful way to end a show.
An artist called Dead Caldera released their first single last year which I listen to all the time. I keep asking them to release more. The intricate programming of Sirus excites me. And anything Ehsan Gels creates is always satisfying.
What sort of robot would you want to be, if you could choose between a replicant as seen in Blade Runner or a cyborg, with your memories and personality downloaded into it, like Ghost In The Shell?
That is a good question. I always thought I’d be the little sad boy in A.I. but now you’ve got me thinking – I could be something really innovative. I will ponder that. You may have created a monster 🙂
What do you see in your electronic dreams for the future of Robots In Love and Elenor Rayner?
I always just feel a need to create more music. I have three new band members of Robots In Love and that’s been great. We can play live some of my older songs like “July” now, and they bring their own interpretations. Also, it’s fun to have others on stage to jump around and interact with.
So I just see more songs, more releases, more gigs and endless moving around of sounds on a computer screen to make sure they make me feel.
Thank you, Elenor, for joining us in this electric dream.