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ON THE SCENE: EMPIRE OF THE SUN

Music

Nov 4, 2015

A drone is making me a cocktail. A vodka cocktail to be precise. A light-up white energy band pulses blue on my arm as the shiny, insect-like robot rises into the air, clutching a silver shaker to its chest and gyrating in time with a cloud of other mini-bartenders. The storm of noise that whirrs around their mixology is a portent of another massive, musical guest who will take the still-hidden stage in another section of the Absolut Electrik House tonight. But for now, I’m sipping on the drink the drones procured–Neon Nights–watching my energy band continue to pulse blue.

After a whirlwind cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles, I’m in the midst of Absolut’s Electrik House Party, and things are only going to escalate as the night goes on. The biometric band around my wrist will fuel the party off each guest’s collective energy, unlocking subsequent doors until the night’s final attraction is unveiled: a secret live show by the Australian madcap electronic music project Empire of the Sun.

Anyone familiar with the group’s future positivism find the setting to be a logical continuation of Nick Littlemore and Luke Steele’s music. In fact, the duo launched their first new single “Welcome To My Life,” off their untitled third album, via the vodka brand’s new commercial series “Absolut Nights.”

Speaking to Steele that night before he takes the stage, he reflects on the fluid nature of their partnership–how Absolut’s work is an extension of the artistry that drives Empire Of The Sun.

“It’s so imaginative,” Steele notes. “This band up here designed by this German guy, they’re all robots and they play a set! Then the drones, and some surprises out here that you’ll see, this is really cutting-edge artists that we’re working with here.”

For Steele, live shows have always been a defining feature of Empire Of The Sun’s music, and the Absolut party was no exception. When the party’s energy does reach its highest peak, Steele takes the stage in front of a huge, electrified Absolut Electrik bottle that was designed by Tesla Motors. This is the kind of interactive elements that fans have come to expect at Empire Of The Sun shows, and an element that Steele cites as central to his creative experience.

“We’re going deeper into dimension now for the live show,” he says. “It’s like I’m more addicted to aftereffects and cinema 4D than anything now. I’m so into breaking that fourth wall or even that fifth wall, moving past the eyes, which goes leads directly into interaction with digital imagery. So that combined with moving bodies and frequencies, it’s kind of pulled the curtains back into this whole new land for us.”

There’s something special for a listener, too, to be pulled into a one-of-a-kind performance that can’t be recreated anywhere else–or even through the passing lens of social media. In a world where everything is available at the push of the button, the intimate and highly-curated atmosphere of this event wasn’t the laissez-faire atmosphere of a typical house party, but reflected the same care and detail that artists like Empire Of The Sun put into their art.

And no matter how many house parties I go to where Empire Of The Sun make their way onto the playlist, I’ll probably never have another opportunity to drink a cocktail made by a drone.

Empire Of The Sun’s as-yet untilted third album will be out sometime in 2016. Watch the Absolut Nights commercial for “Welcome To Your Life” below.