The other night I had a great and friendly chat with a person whose voice I have known for a long time. Finally, I heard through Skype that voice talking, not singing. It was the voice of Michael Aliani, the original singer of popular cult gothic band Ikon discussing his current project Chiron. Even though it was 11am in Melbourne and 2am in the UK, I was very much awake to do this interview.
1. Who is Chiron and who are the band members?
Michael: At the moment just Michael Aliani and Robert Anthony, but we have a group of friends and musicians who we work with from time to time such as Dino Molinaro on bass guitar, several guitarists and a couple of good female vocalists.
2. People still remember you as the original singer of the legendary gothic band Ikon. You recorded the first two albums with the band. How do you feel about that part of your music career today?
Michael: Really positive! All that material has been re-released in the past couple of years and some new people discovered Ikon and that is a nice thing. I feel that we wrote some good material and I appreciate it even today. Despite being written a long time ago, it can still be relevant today. A lot has been re-released on vinyl.
3. How much did your work with Ikon influence the work of Chiron, since the original voice (yours), and bass guitar player were in the first Ikon line up?
Michael: It probably did have an influence as it is my background, but when you add different guitarists and other people in, it comes out as something new. New people add to the diversity and directions change. I like to be free flowing when writing music; it has to be a natural process.
4. The first two Chiron albums can be described as dark wave. Would you add anything more to that label?
Michael: Dark wave with electronic influences and dark rock elements. People can label it differently, but it’s not music for the masses, it certainly has a dark vibe to it.
5. What is your relationship to Melbourne producer and DJ Robert Anthony and how did he contribute to your sound evolution?
Michael: When we were recording “Slipping Away” we had Anthony doing some scratching and as soon as he started doing some work in the studio, we started working together. “Distorted” and “Losing you” were influenced by Anthony. Over time we started expanding our collaboration. At the time we liked some Portishead music and as he came to do some scratching and we started working together.
6. What can you say about your debut album “Eve”? I quite enjoyed it as you have an excellent sense for melody and some tracks have a real hit quality, such as “Point of No Return”, “Close my Eyes”, “Ascent”, “Night in Cairo”. It is an excellent album overall.
Michael: It was definitely a good album, with a lot of influence from Shura, a Russian guitarist who played at that time. He had quite a melodic way of playing so those songs were in a way his contribution to the album.
7. “Slipping Away” was released six years later in 2005. It is still very much true to the sound and feel of the first album, just a bit sharper. What song do you consider the flagship of the album and what changes were brought with this release?
Michael: At that time people were coming and going, there was a lot of tension in the band. Robert and I ended up finishing that 15 tracks epic album on our own. We were open minded and experimented deliberately; we tried things we haven’t tried before, even vocally. We went for a more dramatic effect, for example on “Distorted” that was written by Robert and I. Our producer Ernie was quite an influence as well. In the end things happened quite naturally.
8. The “Breaking point” EP from 2009 brings something completely new. You went for the electronic sound. Is that a product of your collaboration with Robert Anthony?
Michael: It is Robert and I doing things together alone and calling it Chiron. It was different stuff, techno and hard trance, but still dark and pretty much original music with dark vocals.
9. This year you released your “The Best Of” CD. What can you tell us about that release and what was the criteria for choosing the tracks?
Michael: Alex from Wave Records label picked the tracks he liked and I agreed with his choices. He suggested “The Best Of” as a good way to be reintroduced.
10. “We Own the Night” has just been digitally released. I felt that it was a new page in Chiron music making, a lot of experimenting with the electronic sound of trance and house roots. You introduced female vocals on tracks to diversify from early Chiron’s work. Can you introduce us a bit more to that material and to the wonderful voice of Tanya Lee?
Michael: It was released digitally about a month ago, so it is pretty much fresh. Tanya is a friend who we recorded with together in a studio, and her contribution made the album even more diverse. I quite like the combination of the male and female voice. The album has a lot of up tempo tracks but we had to introduce some slow tempo ones to break the monotony of such an album and to make it more interesting.
11. How about “The Sun Goes Down”? It hasn’t yet been released, so what can we expect from the album?
Michael: It started as a solo album and probably the darkest experimental one so far. I’ve done it all by myself, but I’m bringing in Dino with the bass guitar, and he will surely make the album even more interesting since he’s an excellent bass player. There will be guitars on some tracks as well, but overall a slower tempo and darker experimental album. Robert and I will do some remixes, as we play remixes live to keep the tempo up.
12. You have also appeared on some compilations and charts, so how do you feel about your achievements in general and what are your future goals?
Michael: We are happy with the music we’ve made. We expect some shows in Europe, South America and we’ll be working on our promotion.
13. How do you feel about the Australian alternative music scene and the alternative music scene in general?
Michael: We are conservative. There is a little bit of support, but not a big market and the average person here is into mainstream music. However, things are constantly changing; some new markets are opening up. I see South America as a potential growing market for the alternative music scene.
14. Do you have some words for your fans or for those yet to become fans? Where are your releases available?
Michael: Keep an open mind! All our music is released digitally and you can find it on iTunes, even Amazon, and “The Best Of” was released through Wave Records Brazil.