When people talk about synthwave artists GUNSHIP, it’s not uncommon to hear what some might think is hyperbole. “Blistering” (Vanyaland), “absolutely incredible” (Everything Is Noise) and “gorgeous” (Sputnik Music) are just some of the adjectives that have been showered on them. But for the men behind the curtain – Dan Haigh, Alex Westaway and Alex Gingell, these plaudits don’t allow them to rest on their laurels… they just make them work harder.
Taken from their second full-length Dark All Day, GUNSHIP’s latest single, “Black Blood Red Kiss” takes the “cyberpunk noir” (Xpress Mag) band into a seductive and sensual dreamlike realm, exploring the intriguing relationship between pain and pleasure. The song features musician, tattoo artist and entrepreneur KAT VON D who brings a warm and atmospheric vocal performance to the chorus as well as a hair-raising build up on the song’s central breakdown. Coupled with GUNSHIP’s cold, ethereal synthesizers and Alex’s intimate vocals on the verses, this dynamic combination creates a steady mood that is inevitably corrupted by industrial timbres, building pressure until the song breaks into its warm symphonic chorus. The song reaches its end with a pair of emotional and ominous vocal builds which, in turn, culminate in a pile-driver-heavy conclusion.
“I’ve always been a fan of dark wave and synth heavy bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure and IAMX, so when I heard Gunship for the first time, it was all the things I loved rolled into one band,” says Kat. “Gunship is by far my favorite synth wave band because they always marry nostalgic synth sounds with dark and melancholy lyrics that strikes me at my core. I think it’s safe to say that I’m probably the biggest Gunship fan out there, so when they asked me to sing on “Black Blood Red Kiss” I was half excited and half intimidated! But once I heard the demo, it felt like a perfect match made in heaven… or hell.”
Having never met face-to-face even to this day, Kat and GUNSHIP’s ultimate collaboration transpired through the internet. Posting social media entries listening to GUNSHIP’s self-titled debut, Kat’s love for the band’s music spurred conversations that only strengthened their connection through a similar love for the same bands. Still essentially strangers in the physical world, Kat and GUNSHIP assembled “Black Blood Red Kiss” virtually through email by exchanging vocal and music files. (GUNSHIP have also provided a remix for Kat’s upcoming album release).
The accompanying dark and moody video was directed by acclaimed director Polygon (Bring Me The Horizon, Grimes) who made heavy use of glitch art (processing video signals through analog circuit bent processing units to produce interesting visual textures). Like discovering an old, unlabelled VHS tape in the back of a drawer, the visual cues draw unmistakable inspiration from Cronenberg’s Videodrome, which merged the lines between captured reality and accidental analog / digital artifacts in a surreal and visceral fashion.
“I had such a blast working on the video,” she smiles. “I mean, who doesn’t enjoy bathing in a fully body nylon catsuit in a bathtub full of black water for hours?! The only downside to making the video, aside from getting black gunk stuck in every part of my body, was not being able to film it in the same room with the band. I think fans are going to love having the beautiful dark imagery to go with the song, and can’t wait to work with GUNSHIP again soon, whether it’s on music or eventually getting to play Live together.”