Razor Blade Kisses
New to the scene, but establishing themselves quickly, Razor Blade Kisses only have a handful of tracks to their credit so far.
But we all have to start somewhere, so Keith Elcombe chats to the band to find out more about them. (January 2004)

1. So, care to tell us who goes to make up the band, “Razor Blade Kisses”?
Fronting RBK we have our lovely Persian sisters Layla and Azadeh, with Andi and James providing the Rock/Metal side of things on Guitar and Bass respectively and Elie providing the classical edge to the proceedings with her flute. Phil is our violinist and has been part of RBK for a long time, but has a number of commitments which can cause long periods of absence from the band.
Most of the music is written by Elie and Andi with lyrics coming from Layla.

2. Where are you all from?
Layla and Azadeh are originally from Iran and Elie comes from Malta.
The rest of us are from England. Andi hails from Liverpool originally tho has been living in Surrey most of his life, whereas James adds an authentic east-end gangster element to our personnel.

3. What brought you together as a band?
RazorBladeKisses was formed at the end of 1999 by Layla and Andy for a short gig in February 2000. Shortly After Azadeh joined to double up Layla’s vocals and we started looking for more band members in earnest. After a number of line-up changes Layla chanced upon our then violinist Phil in an online chat, which helped to push the band in a more classical direction than before. With this in mind we met up with Elie, balancing the classical side of the band. Finally we have recently been joined by James playing bass to help flesh out the guitar work and add the all important bottom end kick to things.

4. What sort of musical training, if any, had any of you had prior to the forming of RBK?
Layla: I started classical piano training a the age of 18 and played it for 2 years. At the same time I also was trained for classical opera singing for 3 years. I’ve been a member of music bands at school as a pianist and also choirs at the school and am currently a member of University of Southampton Philharmonic Choir.
Andi: Nothing and proud of it.
Elie: I started piano lessons at the age of 3 and after a sequence of distinctions and prizes graduated into a concert pianist, also picking up guitar at the age of 12. She started singing lessons at the age of 9 and carried them on till the age of 13, when teenage rebellion kicked in. She picked up flute at the age of 21 and after a few distinctions in that had to give up regular lessons when she moved to the UK ages 23.

5. I find that a lot of new bands are usually trying to emulate other recognised bands. Would you say this is true of yourselves, and if not, why not?
Not specifically. Maybe we might hear another band from time to time and think “hey, maybe we should do a track like that”, but this is more influence than emulation. We always end up sounding like us, which I guess is a good thing. It shows a definite style showing through. Basically we all have different musical tastes and styles and we all do it all together and the end result is RBK.

6. Who inspires and influences you musically?
Layla: I love the eastern theme in Lisa Gerard’s voice because of my Persian background and Danny Elfman because of the dark fairytale type music he writes!
Andi: Everything. For instance Illusions was influenced by Massive Attack, whereas Parthian Chant, for my part in it, was influenced mostly by Rammstein. I guess overall it’d have to be a mish-mash of Radiohead, The Prodigy, Delerium, Switchblade Symphony, Massive Attack, Front Line Assembly, Linkin Park, Shakespears Sister and Tori Amos.
I think you can hear it all in there if you listen close enough. I tend to draw inspiration out of anything that grab my attention, regardless of genre. It may seem strange to many to list bands like The Prodigy and Linkin Park as influences for what I do in RBK, but truly creative music has to draw upon as wide a range of influences as possible. I just don’t believe that listening solely to goth music you can ever hope to bring anything new to the genre.
Elie: Where do I start? I was raised on classical music and opera, since my grandfather was an opera singer and my mother sang in choirs. I do love a lot of ethereal stuff as well, but I’m also into a wide variety of electronica, industrial and even latin jazz. It’s pretty eclectic. I’m better off telling you what DOESN’T influence me. I love music. If it’s good I will listen to it.

7. What else inspires you to produce the music you do?
Layla: Some of the lyrics I write are inspired by ancient Persian myths and legends (Parthian Chant, Aesma Daevas) and some are inspired by fairy tales. I also have a great passion for dolls!
Andi: I wish I could come up with some fancy, mystical, stuff about what drives and influences me on a spiritual level, but for me it’s simple. I get a kick from music. It’s not often I come up with stuff I’m truly happy with, but the feeling when you do finally write a track you simply can’t stop listening to yourself is hard to beat and incredibly addictive.
Elie: I guess I am also inspired by myths and legends and Layla’s stories and my own homesickness inspired me to write the verse lyrics for Parthian Chant. I also wrote half the lyrics for Death in the Dollhouse, as all of Layla’s dolls made me think of dolls going slowly mad (?). I don’t plan any music I write, it just comes to me, depending on my mood. It’s often not even planned. I pick an instrument and it seems to do the work itself.

8. How would you describe your music?
Different. It’s a bit like Marmite you either love it or hate it!
We write music that interests us, which does tend to lead to us having a rather eclectic style, something that will become clearer the more tracks we release.
The best we have come up with is “neo-classical goth”.
Elie: I have absolutely no idea. I don’t like labels anyway but the others don’t like me saying that J

9. From the two-track demo I have heard, your musical style seems quite varied, switching between light-and-dreamy Goth, and more heavier guitar based (almost sleazy, but in a good way) material. Is this the way you plan to go with the band, or will you chose one style and stick to it?
I don’t think we would ever want to stick rigidly to a style. Lure Of The Temptress is our most “seductively punky” track, and I guess it’s the bass-line that drags it into that bracket.
It’s fun to write stuff like that, stuff you can get your teeth into, but sometimes you just wanna “come home and kick back” and melt into something altogether more welcoming.
The is always a risk in not sticking to one style, but we belive part of our charm is in our diversity and we believe this is something that will help endear RBK to our audiences.
Elie: I leave the planning well alone. I just write what comes to me, that’s why both those tracks sound so different. I was in vastly different moods when I wrote them.

10. How important is diversity in the music your produce, to you?

11. What do you hope to achieve with the band over the next year or so?
In the next couple of years we would hope to have released a full length album and hopefully do worldwide or European tours. That means we’d like to expand the fan base beyond UK.

12. Do you see RBK as a band that is here for the long haul, or will it sink without trace if it doesn’t take off as much as you want it to?
We all have a great passion for the music we do, therefore, it’s unlikely that it sinks without a trace.

13. If you were not part of RBK, what would you be doing (if anything) in the Goth scene today?
Layla – Modelling, Dress Designer
Andi: Djing, Writing EBM/industrial music or possibly fronting an intentionally shite punk/goth band.
Elie: The odd dj-ing. Otherwise I would probably be somewhere else.

14. What is your view of the UK Goth scene today?
Layla – Which goth scene? Didn’t know there was one!
Andi: It’s very small and desparate for a new direction since the recent decline in EBM in the scene. It would be nice to see something fresh come along an invigorate it.
Elie: Well it definitely needs to widen out and not be so insular.

15. When can we expect the first full album from RBK?
Time will tell. Recording and mixing/mastering the combination of vocals classical instruments and conventional instruments is incredibly difficult, especially for an unsigned band with limited resources.
We are making progress, and hopefully it shouldn’t be too long.