Ego Likeness & The Trinity Project

Steve Archer and Donna Lynch began Ego Likeness as a duo in 1999. The current album release “Dragonfly” has achieved masses of praise not only throughout the US but throughout Europe as well, and this success has resulted in the line up expanding at one point up to eight personnel, now giving them a completely live sound. Their musical style crosses more in the regions of dark electronica and Gothic rock, but they still find the space to incorporate elements of the hip hop and Industrial roots they originally started out with, not only broadening their sound but also opening their sights to an even wider audience... We can soon witness some of their more finely tuned work, as their next album “Water to the dead” nears its completion stages with some of the new tracks already being performed live…
The Trinity Project is the side project of Ego Likeness, which produces a more experimental music that varies its style from spoken word to noise to ambient instrumentals to progressive techno… Their latest album “The Subtle Movements of the Entropy Engine” was released earlier this year…
After earlier CD-R releases from both of these projects, “Dragonfly” and “Entropy” were to become the first official albums on Steve and Donna’s own record label Angelfall Music (see Angelfall Studios feature in the label interviews!!).
Steve and Donna take a breather from the busy promotion of their recently opened art gallery, for a Q&A session with Richard Hobbs to discuss the finer details behind the rise of these two interesting bands …
(October 2002(

1. What is the story behind the bands Ego Likeness and The Trinity Project?
SA: Both bands started out as side projects. Ego was the side project of our then goth-rock band Seraphim Gate. Trinity still is the side project for Ego.
DL: We keep coming up with band names that we like.

2. I must ask you about the name Ego Likeness, are you both really that similar?
SA: Yeah, we are, but that isn’t where the name came from. It’s from the book “Dune” by James Herbert.

3. Ego Likeness has now expanded from being a two-piece to eight-piece. How advantageous has this been for you… it must get rather cramped in the studio and on stage now?
SA: Actually we are down to 7 people now; our violinist had to leave to pursue real life. She will hopefully be recording with us. The big advantage of the live band is just that. We are completely live, no backing tracks, no mini-disk-dat-sing-alongs that a lot of “live” bands are doing these days. It is pretty cramped on stage, but we don’t mind spilling off of it and going out into the audience.

4. Both the bands Trinity Project and Ego Likeness appear quite different with varying styles throughout… The Trinity Project especially being the most experimental. Are you toying with this to find the most suitable style for you, or do you prefer to dabble and keep your options open for a wider interest level?
SA: We love all forms of music. Just wait till we do our death-country album. Ego and Trinity are equally important and valid to us. They are just different sides of a whole. Live they are very different, so it wouldn’t be practical to perform them as one project.

5. Where do you find the influences for these projects?
SA: Everything. Musically the cd that is in my painting studio most these days is the latest Waterboys album. But that’s just one influence. For Ego, there’s a lot of old death rock, and older electronica, as well as a healthy dosing of good old rock and roll. Trinity bounces all over the place. A lot of ethnic and experimental music. I think I am often influenced more by books and films than music.

6. How do you go about constructing your music, and at what point do you decide which project that piece will be dedicated to?
SA: The music dictates that. But you usually know pretty much right away where it’s going to end up. There is some cross over in the live set. We have done some variations of Ego songs with Trinity live. We do a version of “Aurora” from Dragonfly, and have performed a very stripped down version of “The Ocean Beside Us” from the same album. It’s always nice to explore different ideas of the same song.

7. The current Ego Likeness title is “Dragonfly”, how does this tie in as the albums theme?
DL: Actually, it doesn’t. I wish I could tell you something more profound, but Steve had finished the cover art before we titled the album. It seemed like the obvious way to go.

8. On studying your lyrics, I found that on nearly every track at least one of these words...I……appears several times. Do you find it easier to write lyrics if it is based around yourself as the main subject?
DL: We are extremely self-involved people…no, really, some of the songs are very personal and it was difficult for me to imagine using another character in place of myself.

9. I notice there are some film samples incorporated within your music. Have there been any films you’ve watched recently with a good storyline idea or potential samples that might sometime work its way into a song of yours?
SA: We are actually trying to get away from movie samples. 1. Because they are so ubiquitous in electronic based music and 2. Because of the legal problems that arise due to their usage. We use a lot of non-copyrighted samples as part of the Trinity live show; they pop up at random, running off of an mp3 player. They are mostly taken from news broadcasts, and other weird dialog samples. Aleister Crowley’s poetry pops up a lot.

10. What was the thinking behind the track “Aurora”, it has the dark ambience of a film score, and for a change, very limited vocals?
DL: That’s an accurate observation about “Aurora”. There is a definite visual story behind it, only it hasn’t been filmed yet.
SA: We actually perform a version of that song with Trinity, sans vocals. We may start playing it with Ego soon since we have a cellist with more free time on her hands, due to a line-up change.

11. The Latin vocal excerpts work well on “Hydra”. How did this come to feature as a part of the song?
DL: “Sicut Cervus” was a piece I had performed more than 10 years ago when I was involved with classical recitals and such. I always loved the song and decided to write an arrangement for “Hydra”. We felt the song needed something like that to balance out the electronic elements.

12. The ballad “The Ocean Beside Us” stood out to me as one of the albums highlights with some beautifully passionate vocals and an enchanting piano melody. What personal meaning does this song have for you?
DL: Well, it was my attempt at a love song that hopefully didn’t turn out too sappy. It just expresses some of my spiritual beliefs (reincarnation) and how I interpret that in my marriage.

13. I liked the idea of documenting the influences behind the tracks on The Trinity Project’s album. “50° longitude, 85° latitude” and “Tornado” are stemmed from true-life experiences during childhood. Do you feel that seeing these through a child’s eyes has allowed you to give a greater emotional descriptiveness?
DL: I have no choice but to see those experiences through a child’s eyes. That is where they were born and where parts of those feelings are frozen. Especially with “Tornado”. Steve recorded me during an informal interview, so I was just answering questions about the whole ordeal in the simplest terms. It’s had a much greater impact on me than I thought. Situations like that force you to come to terms with how little control you truly have in life.
SA: D didn’t want to put this song on the album, but I kinda railroaded her into it. It was one of those songs that we did and forgot about it, but it is definitely one of my favourites.

14. If the story behind “If I’m not careful, I’ll start to get scared of the walls…” is also true, has this convinced you there really is some form of life after death?
DL: Well, I’ve always believed in the afterlife. But in stating that it was a true story, I’ve left it open to interpretation. It’s true that we would hear the click each night. And it’s true that it disturbed me to no end and led me to some of the behaviours I describe. Whether or not there was really something otherworldly in the walls, I don’t know. It could just as easily be true that I was not emotionally grounded at that point or have an overactive imagination!

15. Before the first official releases “Dragonfly” and “Entropy” there were a couple of CD-R albums made available. Can you tell us a bit about these?
SA: The first actual Ego disk was a CDR called “Songs From a Dead City”, that we did back in 99. It’s mostly trip hop influenced, very dark, very muddy music. A lot of Portishead and Skinny Puppy influences.
The first Trinity CDR was originally going to be a second Ego disk, but it was so different that we didn’t want people to get confused as to what was what. So we called it The Trinity Project, and that stuck. It’s a bit noisier than Entropy, it has some revamped versions of some of the Dead City stuff. I am very fond of both of those disks, I still go back and listen to them from time to time. All things considered they still hold up, which is cool.

16. How close is the forthcoming Ego Likeness album “Water to the dead” from being completed?
SA: Most of the songs are written, and we have been playing them out for the past year or so. We spend a lot of time working with our live band, playing the songs over and over to get them just right. It should be a pretty quick process once we get back in the studio again, which should be soon. We have been kind of busy getting the Angelfall Studios art gallery (in Baltimore) off the ground so we haven’t been able to focus on it as much as we would like to. But it is coming along, and we have very high hopes for it from the response from playing the songs live.

17. What do you feel this album will provide the listener with that “Dragonfly” maybe lacked?
SA: It’s a very different process. Dragonfly was written and recorded over a couple of months in our living room. There are songs on there that were literally finished in a day. The songs on “Water” have been played and fine-tuned over and over allowing us to work out all of the kinks. We feel it is much richer work. There will also be a much more live feel to it. The electronics will still be a big part of it, but you can expect more live guitars, and strings.
DL: The songs are moving in a more aggressive direction as well.

18. I guess that from your artistic backgrounds, the visual aspects of your live shows are very essential for you?
SA: Oh absolutely. When we can we have a video backdrop that we play in front of for both bands. Ego live is a show in and of itself though. Just having 7 bodies live onstage tends to lend itself to that. Trinity live is exactly the opposite, its just the 4 of us bent over whatever piece of gear we happen to be playing for any given song. The only visual aspect of Trinity is the video, no bouncing around or swinging guitars.

19. I have not noticed any remixes yet, is this a grey area for you?
SA: Due to the way Dragonfly was recorded we don’t have the parts available to remix. There are some alternate versions of the songs floating around, versions we did with Trinity or live, but no remixes. We may rerecord some of the songs at some point just for fun, but no, probably no remixes. We are actually compiling remixes for some future Trinity release, it may be an actual disk, or just internet only, I guess we will burn that bridge when we get to it. I expect there will be a decent number for “Water” though.

20. Cover versions also seem to be a current trend for many bands, has the thought crossed your minds at all?
SA: Actually we do several covers. We actually have a recording of “Drive” by the Cars that we just never got around to releasing, and live we do “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks. We are working on some other ones just for fun, but we will keep those a secret as we will probably only do them live.

21. Any comments for our readers?
SA: We are very lucky to live in a time when we have access to inexpensive technology; don’t just sit around and listen to music, get out there and make your own. If we can do it, anyone can.