Artisan Loyalist’s new album is a modern, wistful twist on ‘80s synth

Monday 23rd, February 2015 / 19:22
By Brittany Rudyck
Photo: Zach Ayotte

Photo: Zach Ayotte

EDMONTON — Some would consider having a laptop destroyed a piece of bad luck, but for Rob Batke, the mastermind behind Artisan Loyalist, it was the one of the catalysts for his new record.

Artisan Loyalist’s first full-length Lonely Ghost features some of Batke’s older creations, birthed before the death of his laptop, plus several fresh tracks.

“My laptop had crashed, which had mountains of MP3 files on it, so I started from scratch. I found a new space to work in, took some of the old songs, worked in some new ideas, and added about six new songs,” he says, reminiscing over the process of starting anew.

Based out of Edmonton, Batke grew the Artisan Loyalist project while still part of electronic act Faunts, writing his own material and beginning to play electronic shows under his new moniker. After Faunts went on hiatus around 2011, he had the space necessary to develop his vision.

Artisan’s first EP, 2013’s You’re Glory, proved Batke’s prowess as an architect of dreamy, sweet mood music one might expect to hear in a restorative yoga class. For the LP, Batke kept the dreamy synth element, but added more shape and dynamism with inspiring guitars and winding, melodic vocals.

“On You’re Glory, a lot of the sounds are more improvised. The songs and textures are to create more of a mood. Lonely Ghost is far more structured and focused. Some of the synth sounds have the same kind of ambience to them, but with guitars, drums and vocals. More of a pop structure to this album,” Batke explains.

The new album is a gorgeous blend of the first EP’s sleepy synth but with edgy guitar harmonies, inspired in part by Johnny Marr of The Smiths, as well as melodically warm vocal charm, likely to induce nostalgia. Batke describes the feeling of releasing new material as cathartic, saying, “putting out a new record is being able to let go of the songs, let them escape and be someone else’s and not mine anymore.”

“Emotionally, it’s this gestational period of creating and then it’s time to send it out to the world. That can be a scary thing, because you make yourself vulnerable and hope that people like it. It’s time to get it out there.”

For the live experience, Batke is enlisting the help of his full band including guitarist Jordan Yeo, Nathan Marshall on drums and bassist Paul Fuellbrandt.

Batke seeks to create a full experience for audiences when playing a show.

“There has to be a real element to it, where the artist isn’t just trying to recreate the album, but letting the music be its own thing and have its own life.”

Artisan Loyalist will be hosting a release party on March 7th at SPACE in Edmonton, followed by a gig at Wunderbar supporting Vancouver artist Dada Plan on March 20th. Lonely Ghost is available for purchase at Blackbyrd Myzooik or online.

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