This hyped music duo from Sydney, Empire of the Sun, has been making it big in the industry and introduced the world to their intergalactic dance vibe with their debut album, Walking On A Dream, in 2008. Comprising of Luke Steele from folk-rockers The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore from electronic act Pnau, the duo surprisingly makes a very good combo even though they come from vastly different musical backgrounds. With a very flamboyant, fantasy-like and sci-fi façade, Empire of the Sun is known for the band’s inventive performances and tracks like “Walking On A Dream”, “We Are The People”, and “Alive”, just to name a few.
Over the weekend, Empire of the Sun was down here in Kuala Lumpur to headline the Good Vibes Festival 2014, which was held at the Sepang International Go-kart Circuit on Saturday, 23rd of August. Unfortunately, Luke went on with the show without Nick, but the performance was phenomenal nonetheless. The whole set up was amazing and it is by far one of the best shows we’ve ever witnessed. With mega headgears, over the top costume changes and very trippy lights as well as sound effects, it was dramatic, super creative, fancy and was just extraordinary. Empire of the Sun sure got the crowd going wild!
Guess what?! We had the chance to meet Luke Steele one on one hours before his epic show, so find out what went down when we spoke to the superstar! 😉
Q: Firstly, let’s talk about the performance for tonight. What can your fans expect from you?
Luke: We’re doing the Ice on the Dune show. It’s going to be a mix of the two records. We have our dancers from Miss Uganda, Lightning, Megatron and Verizon as well as the band.
Q: How many tracks will you be doing tonight?
Luke: I think it’s about 15.
Q: Do you have a special set up for the performance tonight? Maybe your wardrobe or any special effects?
Luke: Yeah, it’s always special, you know. It’s kind of been designed to look like a journey through the different ages kind of thing. All the girls have a lot of costume changes and we’re trying to make it like a real life movie.
Q: Where do you usually get your inspiration from?
Luke: From anything really. Inspiration is always hard to come by. So, you got to be like a hungry fisherman, you know? Always having your line out and be ready for you to catch something.
Q: What’s in store for you for the rest of 2014 as well as 2015?
Luke: We just finished the score for Dumb and Dumber To, which is a new Farrelly brothers movie, the sequel to Dumb and Dumber. It’s coming out in November. It’s going to be great but we’re kind of still touring, you know? It’s going to be continuing about eight months down the road and we’ll probably finish touring this record in February. But, writing that film, we wrote so much material and we’re planning to have a new record out next year.
Q: How do you cope with touring and doing everything else in between?
Luke: Yeah, it’s not really a full-on touring schedule which is good. It’s kind of spaced out which is always good for touring, as opposed to being on a bus and going around night after night.
Q: Every musician has their own struggles. So, do you have a story to share?
Luke: I think I work too much as my struggle. I’m kind of like the anxious farmer or like a fanatic farmer who plants too many seeds and doesn’t have enough time to water them all or check the crops. I’m still now in my thirties so I’m still trying to figure out how to rest, because a real important part of every human being is learning to find a balance between work and rest to make sure you don’t burn out. That’s my biggest struggle. Relaxing my mind I guess.
Q: So, do you actually have time to rest and what do you like doing during time of leisure?
Luke: I guess I go surfing. It’s awesome. When I get time off it’s like my favourite relaxation because you can’t work in the studio or check emails, but it also depends where I am. If I’m in the middle of a dessert or something, I’d be surfing in my dreams, you know?
Q: With all your success, how do you keep your feet on the ground and stay humble?
Luke: I think you got to realize that you’re not as good as your last show or you’re not as good as your last painting. You have to set the bar but you got to be sharp and have your ears as well as your mind in the right position. It’s kind of like you have to tune in to the right station. There are some songs that I’ve written, if I weren’t open to it I would have missed it, you know?
The richest people in the world are in the cemeteries. They died and they’ve taken all their dreams together with them to their grave. I think that comes in to play with me working too much to make sure that I’m diligent and prolific. I always keep my ears open to whoever it may be. For instance, I learn so much from kids. Maybe they’ll say a line and it gets me thinking. It could also be someone who’s just started playing the guitar. That’s what humbles me. You got to listen.
I remember there was a time in New York city, at the front of the hotel there was a church and there was a signboard that said, “Always show hospitality to a stranger for you may be entertaining an angel.” You got to give respect and be ready.
Q: What gets you in the mood when you’re making your music?
Luke: Haha! I think my new favourite thing is driving in a convertible, having my Perrier, listening to some Fleetwood Mac. A view of the ocean, yeah.
Q: When you’re making music, do you take bits and pieces from what’s hot at the moment?
Luke: Not so much anymore. Maybe with other bands I do, but with Empire of the Sun, not really. Everyone kind of has their own heritage. Like, Nick grew up with dance music. He’s kind of like a painter, a poet. It’s like he grew up in Shakespeare’s time. It’s sort of like a strange combination. It’s like we’re old guys in young bodies who work together.
Q: Tell us something about yourself that your fans don’t know. It might be a weird fetish or something.
Luke: Yeah, right! Haha. Hmmm, I don’t know. I like the air conditioning really cold until the point where people are about to turn into ice cubes. I don’t know what it is, it’s like I’m a warm husky mammal or something, haha.
Q: What other stuff are you currently doing?
Luke: I just have like heaps of different projects going on. Like, I’m in the process of designing a character that’s going to be bigger than Mickey Mouse. Like all of its cast members with it. I’ve got into writing screenplays and started to write video treatments for acts around the world. I write pop songs for artists around the world. I just finished writing one for Girls Generation in Korea. I’m also doing this photobook which is a series of 24 photographs. Before I go surfing, I’d always sit in meditation and I’d always get a vision of a photo. Then there’s producing other records and making films, and bringing back my other band The Sleepy Jackson, doing another record with Daniel Johns of Silverchair. I’ve just got different projects going on in the arts.
Q: Do you ever get nervous when you perform? What helps you?
Luke: Yeah. It just gets less nerve-wrecking when you know a little bit more what you’re doing. You know, you got to do those things that you got to do. Have a warm tea so your voice is ready and it’s not as nervous as your body. You can get those calming things like you put eucalyptus on your sleeve, haha! Now, we have like flowers and neck jumpers. Also, we get a masseus backstage at every show now so we get a massage and we’d walk on stage like mm hmm, it’s pretty good! Also, air conditioning real cold. Convertible outside the dressing room, haha.
Here are some of the band’s most popular songs, so enjoy!
He’s such a humble man and the talented star was also extremely down to earth when we met him. It was such an honour! 😉