All Hail The Silence is “something we’ve done with absolutely zero compromises”
All Hail The Silence, made up of BT and Christian Burns, is a powerful duo and project that is currently opening up for Howard Jones on tour.
Their debut album, Daggers, is out now and has captured fans around the world with its individualistic approach to music. In an exclusive interview with United by Pop, BT of All Hail The Silence opens up about the beginning of the project, being on tour, and more.
How is the tour going?
We actually just arrived two hours ago in Connecticut and I survived my first night on a tour bus with 12 guys and my wife and Howard’s wife, so I guess some girls too. We’re doing great! We had such a fantastic show last night and we’re just absolutely thrilled to be out here with Howard. It’s really exciting.
How did All Hail The Silence come together?
The genesis of this project and my friendship with Christian dates back to a tour we did in the early 2010s with Tiesto. Actually, it predates that, so right before that. Christian and I have been friends for about ten years now and we immediately had this musical connection, which was interesting because Christian was raised in suburban Manchester and I was raised in the suburbs of Maryland. Interestingly enough, we grew up on the same sort of music.
I had been studying classical music. I went to the Washington Conservatory of Music and studied harmony and theory and discovered synthesis and, at the same time, English music…[such as] early new wave stuff in the early 80s and absolutely fell in love with it. I had a friend who used to go to Canada and she would come home in the summers with mixtapes with bands like Depeche Mode and New Order and I was completely blown away. Christian and I grew up on quite literally the same music and we were on two [separate] continents.
When we first met on tour, we were immediately talking about all of these bands and the other guys had no idea what we were talking about. We were like, “We should really write some music together,” and we started writing music and had this instant kind of sympatico. Christian’s one of my best friends. It was completely effortless.
We wrote a couple of songs for my album, which was nominated for a GRAMMY, and during that process, we wrote a lot of material and started saying we could get these songs to other artists or we could put them on our own records. At one point, I texted him and was like, “I think this is a band,” and he was like, “I think you’re right,” and that started the process.
All Hail The Silence is a passion project and something we’ve done with absolutely zero compromises, from mastering directly to vinyl to self-releasing. We wanted to make it have the aesthetic and feel of the music that we fell in love with as kids and [that] made us want to make music.
What was the process of making the record like?
We made this record in a friend’s brownstone walk-up in Baltimore, Maryland. He was a synth-tech from my childhood and never allowed anyone inside his studio, [which had] more synthesizers than I’ve ever seen. Way more than me, and I have a lot!
He doesn’t let anyone record there, but I reached out to him and said — his name is Jeff Koperm and it’s called Analog Land — and I said, “Jeff, will you please let us record there?” and he goes, “No, nobody comes to my house.” Finally, I played him some of the songs and he was like, “Oh my god, man. This sounds great.” He’s like, “Ok cool. You can come in and record.”
So we went to Jeff’s house to record this record the way our heroes made records, so we used no computers. That’s not some kind of press gimmick either. We were literally sweating over consoles in a room and we had to finish a track because when you [would] shut the gear down, the synth patches were lost. It was a really special experience and absolutely timeless.
One of the coolest things is being out, performing for Howard [Jones]’s crowd; this crowd is older than our demographic and certainly different than my fanbase, but it’s so cool to see his audience, who wouldn’t necessarily know [much about us], freaking out over these songs. They don’t know Christian, BBMAK, or all of the things he’s done, and they’re just enthralled with the music. That’s just brilliant for us.
What can you tell us about the new remix of “The Alarm” from Daggers?
These kind of full-circle kind of things… every time they happen, I’m just completely blown away and humbled. Getting to meet one of my childhood heroes, much less work with them — or in extreme cases, sitting in a chair where I’m quite literally rubbing shoulders with Peter Gabriel and talking about the music we’re making.
In the last four or five years, I’ve become friendly with Vince Clark, and we did some shows with Erasure. Vince and I became friendly and he said, “I love this record. I’d love to remix one of these songs.” We asked which one, and he’s very British, so he sent back an email that said, “Duh. The Alarm.”
I actually did a remix for him and Andy as a return favor for the new Erasure single. So yeah! That was the start of a really cool musical friendship. We’ve been really precious about the people that are doing [our] remixes. Both modern guys whose stuff we love and the forbearers to everything that’s happening now.
One of your favorite tracks on Daggers is “Diamonds In The Snow.” Why does that one stand out to you in particular?
I love the lyrics that Christian writes so much, and he’s certainly one of the best lyricists I’ve ever worked with — which is saying something, because I’ve worked with some pretty amazing people. Christian’s lyrics are so subtle, but so poignant and profound when he’s really on fire, and I think that’s a great example of Christian. He just gets me every time.
“Diamond in the Snow” is a powerful metaphor and expression for wanting to acknowledge things that are of significance in a sea of insignificance. I think it’s a really poignant metaphor. I love the lyrics to the song and so many people reference that song as our fans. Many of our fans say that’s one of their favorites too because they love the lyrics so much.
For me, also, I would say the music part. I really hit a stride in terms of different sorts of syntheses of what is going on in the song. It’s kind of shockingly complex [although] it sounds really simple. One of the things that’s crazy about that is in the environment we were recording in, unlike a modern studio, had no automation. There was no, “Let’s slowly bring the vocal up for the verse and move into more reverb.” All of that stuff had to happen manually.
Me and Christian and Jeff — this is going to sound like an exaggeration, but I have pictures — were using our hands and feet to literally change the filter knobs, and it was literally all hands on deck. It would be 4 AM, and we would all be looking at each other knowing that we made a little piece of actual magic. That’s why it’s definitely a favorite for me.
I’m guessing you took the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” quite literally then with this record?
We definitely did. This is an absolutely true story, and I wish that I had Christian or Jeff on the phone to validate this one. When we were making “Broken Satellite,” there was an approaching storm, and I had my little field recorder, and I went in a hammock in Jeff’s backyard to record the thunder and lightning. I was going to use the thunder claps almost like a crash cymbal in the chorus, and they were like, “You’re crazy. This sounds like a really bad storm.”
Anyway, I went out there and laid down in the hammock and it was just lightly raining. Then, an actual bolt of lightning hit the other side of the fence quite literally three feet away from me and I smelled the lightning. I could have died. I couldn’t hear for an hour, but I recorded it and used it in the chorus of that song. We had so many magical experiences like that making this record, so yes, quite literal blood sweat and tears.
Lastly, what is one message that you have for fans of All Hail The Silence?
One of the things that I’ve really noticed is that a lot of people who are interested in All Hail The Silence, and with our personal projects, are a lot of guys who like synthesizers. But I noticed that we have a lot of people who are also musicians themselves who are blown away with the aesthetic of All Hail The Silence and the synth stuff. One of the kind of givebacks that we’re going to be doing are these things that we’re calling Coffee Conversation with All Hail The Silence, which is going to be an interactive meet and greet.
One of the things that we are going to do is, I’m going to give the stems of three of the songs to our über, über fans, and I’ve never done that. That’s something I think people will be really excited about, because if you’re a musician or into music production, you’ll be able to take two or three of these songs and actually be able to pick them apart and see what makes them tick.
In general, I’m thrilled with the response to all of this, and we appreciate all of the interest and support in the project. It’s so exciting to see people when we’re out on the road, and we’re so excited to meet everyone and to share our music with the people that it resonates with.
Check them out on tour with Howard Jones at a location near you!