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The MK ULTRA Magazine Interview: Brandon Robert of ‘Night Nail’

Interview by John Wisniewski Photo by Olivia Van der Will

Night Nail is Brandon Robert, an American expat living in Berlin, who recently released their haunting and memorable new album on Metropolis Records entitled ‘Fates Explained.’ This new album features quite a cast of contributors-including Pete Burns of Edinburgh, Scotland-based Kill Shelter who mixed, mastered and co-produced the album along with an appearance by Valentina Veil of VV & the Void. ‘Fates Explained’ has understandably received excellent reviews and is considered by many tastemakers to be a masterpiece of modern Post-Punk and Darkwave. With each passing listen, I am beginning to agree. I was able to chat recently with Brandon to tell us all about Night Nail from their birth in Los Angeles to their present in Berlin.

John Wisniewski: Tell us about the recording of ‘Fates Explained’ and what it was like to work with Pete Burns of Kill Shelter.

Brandon Robert: Intense! Working with Pete Burns was a crash course in my musical self-awareness. As “Fates Explained” is officially our second record made with Pete Burns, I felt somewhat confident going into the process that the final product would be solid and worthy of the Night Nail sound. But, as I listened to the first mixes from the demos, that confidence disappeared. I became nervous that the songs were just not strong enough. I wanted to give up. I felt that everyone around was also giving up on these new songs. I knew I wasn’t “chasing the demo,” exactly, but, I didn’t feel like I was shedding my old skin, either. I was in the middle of a personal transition. This was in part due to my insecurity and inability to see things through a different lens. Pete recognized this. He was patient, conceptually open-minded, and pushed me to let go of that insecurity. I needed to quit holding onto an older impression of a Night Nail. He urged me to move into the future of Night Nail and let myself change along with it. I can hear it clearly on this album.

JW: Was there a theme or central concept behind ‘Fates Explained’?

BR: Dreams are everything. I try to keep a record of them. The theme for “Fates Explained” came to me in a dream marked by visions of androids in a futuristic Berlin. Berlin is a mixture of old and new things. Techno music is at the heart of Berlin, like it or not. In the dream, I was a street vendor selling potions of musical tones to people who lost their humanity. But, I was lost too and nothing could cure the disassociation. The sick were trying to cure the sick. This album is the genesis of that ‘dreamed’ theme. The theme is both myopic and transcendent but born from illness.

JW: What inspires you to write your music?

BR: We write music because of the small freedoms it affords from the daily, banal, humdrum and because we know we have something important to contribute to the musical dialectic conversation happening in the past, present, and future. We don’t write music to please our followers or ourselves. We hope it causes you to think, feel weird, feel new, feel broken, feel uncomfortable, feel extremely comfortable, remember the past, feel the myriad and complexity of all feelings, and mostly to connect with us.

JW: Any current favorite Post-Punk, Goth/Darkwave bands that you want to recommend to our audience?

BR: Bedless Bones, Bestial Mouths, VV & the Void, Korine, Iamnoone, Chemical Waves, Twin Tribes, Astari Nite, Antipole, Kill Shelter, etc.

JW: What do you think of the current Goth/Darkwave scene in Berlin? Is it different than years gone by?

BR: It is slowly getting better like an iceberg moving through the ocean.

JW: Are you making plans to release new material in the near future? Any future projects planned?

BR: We are about to announce our upcoming shows in Europe. We are putting together a remix album of “Fates Explained” as we speak with our friends’ bands doing remixes of the songs. Expect spontaneous and uncontrollable dancing. Also, there are rumors that we may release a 10th Anniversary edition of an earlier Night
Nail release. Anything is possible. We will let you guess which one. Finally, the next full-length Night Nail record is already being planned.

JW: Are you touring or playing live soon?

BR: Yes and yes. See answer in Question 6.

JW: Any final words or thoughts for our audience?

BR: Thank you for your dedication and support throughout the years. We remain nothing without you.


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