“Our 14-year-old selves are totally dying,” BT says about All Hail the Silence, his new duo with BBMAK’s Christian Burns. Their first single “Diamonds in the Snow,” whose video premieres exclusively below, is just out, ahead the debut album, Daggers, which comes Jan. 18.
The excitement is about both the music — drawn from childhood heroes such as Depeche Mode, Erasure, the Blue Nile, Cabaret Voltaire, Human League and more of the ’80s synth-pop ilk — and the reception from those peers. Depeche Mode and Erasure co-founder Vince Clarke, in fact, has done a remix for one of the other Daggers tracks (the likely next single), while Howard Jones will be taking AHTS on the road next summer for a package tour with Alphaville.
“So many of our heroes have come out of the woodwork, saying, ‘I hear you’re working on something we’re gonna like,'” BT tells Billboard. “Literally heroes of ours from being kids, people I listened to riding around on a BMX bike in suburban Maryland, are telling me, ‘You’re onto something great here.'” Christian adds that, “It’s just so amazing for us to get a nod of appreciation from these people. It’s nice, and they’re reaching out and wanting to work with us, which is so exciting.”
The seeds of AHTS were planted when BT and Christian toured Europe with Tiesto “many moons ago.” They began trading musical ideas and hatching plans, ultimately starting to record about five years ago, independently and without a label deal, in the basement Baltimore studio of a reclusive friend of BT’s who owns an extensive collection of analog synthesizers — “Cooler than any of the other synthesizer museums out there,” BT says. They shoehorned work in when their schedules allowed, cooking up an estimated 18 tracks under arduous conditions. “There was not a computer used on this record,” BT reports. “I was there with patch cables around my neck. Every single sound was done live, straight to tape, sometimes up to two days recording a song. It was truly a labor of love. I’m more proud of it than any other project I’ve done — and that’s saying something.”
The “Diamonds in the Snow” video, meanwhile, was helmed by Ukrainian director Histibe, who put together a series of impressionistic images to complement what Christian calls “a hopeful song…about someone who’s a bit lost and actually doing something about that and turning things around.” BT felt that the director’s “languid art videos” worked well with the track. “A lot of the lyrics Christian writes are kind of cloaked, but these are so poignant and literal we thought it would be really beautiful for us to make something that was more of dreamy type of experience,” he notes.
BT says AHTS plans to make a video for every track 14 tracks on Daggers, including some directed by he and Burns. And by the time the duo hits the road, they’re hoping the music will be well-ingrained in fans. “This is just a great artistic expression for both of us,” BT says. “It’s outside of what we’re known for, but near and dear to our hearts, the music that made us fall in love with music in the first place. And it’s kind of timely because of all the synthesizer focus in pop music again right now. We’re just friggin’ excited to share it with the world.”