Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck have been musical partners for 13+ years. During their time together they have weaved in and out of mainstream music like a constantly evolving musical fashion house. In the late 90’s they were responsible for massive radio and sales hits such as “Blind” (Korn), “Blue Monday”,” Stitches”, and “Fiction” (Orgy), and recently “Crawl Back In” and “Let Down” (Dead By Sunrise with their long time pal Chester Bennington), and of course many major movie soundtracks and video games. After enjoying years of traditional music business success, the duo have spent the last 6 years methodically moving away from the mainstream success that put them on the map, instead opting to carefully steer their fans in a new direction, towards their new independent alternative electro rock project Julien-K – which sounds more at home with the likes of modern acts such as M83 (who they recently battled with for the #1 spot on iTunes), The Presets, The Kills, LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Passion Pit, Naked and Famous, Empire of the Sun, and even the Black Keys (see Derakh’s sleazy electro-blues guitar playing on the bands newest record “We’re Here With You”).
It is very difficult to put Julien-K in a specific category, and indeed it appears they may be creating a new movement of their own. Rather than court the audiences of their prior associated projects, Julien-K seem to be intent on continuing to reinvent themselves in the most difficult way possible. Touring for years with no label support, slowly building the band up from nothing, to being able to debut at #2 on the US iTunes electronic charts, and top 10 on corresponding international charts without spending one dollar marketing the band.
On the bands newest record, “Were Here With You“, It is obvious that the band is drawing from deep early “modern rock” movements and bands, such as U2 and the Clash, while mixing it with Depeche Mode, Roxy Music, and Kraftwerk, in a decidedly modern way. I’ve heard Julien-K described by one fan as “Soulwax meets HIM”. Admittedly an odd combination, but it seems to work and is surprisingly descriptive. Shucks vocals are decidedly dark, melodic, and sexy – while the music is certainly dancy, clangy, dirty, electro. You can almost hear this music being played late night in the Sahara tent at Coachella – but do these guys even give enough of a shit to show up at Coachella? Or would you see them playing one of the “cool” parties that are often the brightest spots on Coachella weekend? Again, Julien-K is decidedly difficult to define, and where and what Shuck and Derakh’s true plans are for this project remain to be seen.