Simon Collins and Kelly Nordstrom were part of the classic Dimensionaut debut from Sound of Contact. While that band never released a follow-up, the two are back with a new project called eMolecule. Their debut, The Architect, is out now, Simon and Kelly recently took some time to talk about this exciting new project.
Please press the PLAY icon now for the MisplacesdStraws Conversation with Simon Collins and Kelly Norstrom –
On how they first began working together – Simon – We first met back in 2005, so we’ve been working together for 18-plus years. I was in the process of putting together a live band to promote my second solo album called Time for Truth, and we met at my recording studio, along with a bunch of other musicians, and we were all just getting to know each other, and Kelly and I hit it off right away. Right off the bat, it wasn’t too long before we were rehearsing for the Time for Truth tour, so Kelly and I worked together for that amount of time, mainly on my solo records, he’s played on Time for Truth as well. But he also played on U-catastrophe, we co-wrote on that as well, and Becoming Human as well, which is actually where eMolecule kicked off, where it was on those sessions. But of course, we did Sound of Contact and that was a success, to our surprise. We didn’t know what to expect from that, but we thought it was the best thing we’ve ever done at the time, but we’ve taken that up a notch. So yeah, so that’s how we first met. 1:00
On creating a new band rather than a solo project – Kelly – This was really for me, kind of a bucket list opportunity almost, to really dig into the core of who I am and get my best material out, and in some cases, this is material it’s been kicking around and in a way too good to be used on anything else thus far. It’s just like, “Oh, finally I get a chance to use this reference and some of these other ideas”. Really, I think it was that we were looking at this as an opportunity to elevate beyond anything we had the opportunity to do before. We were inspired and connected, and in a way that just led us to be on our game. 2:48
On who makes up eMolecule – We’ve made a distinct point of it actually being just the both of us, as opposed to having cameos and the likes of that kind of stuff. We’re both multi-instrumentalists. I’m playing the drums, and I’m obviously the lead vocalist in the band, but Kelly shares some vocal duties too, I play the drums and the keys, I do some programming, some sound design. Kelly plays up the guitars, beautifully, also plays the bass and some keys as well, and as I said, some vocal. So between the two of us, we didn’t really need much else or anyone else for that matter. I think it would have been great to have gone to this point earlier in our careers, but we’ve been staring at each other in the face for years, and this feels right to us as far as having a musical relationship and co-writing as well. The material on the album really, it’s a combination of material that I’ve written, a combination of material that Kelly’s written. For Kelly, there is a mountain of material there for sure because we’re digging back to decades back. There’s a song that he wrote when he was 18 that’s on the album. Just like there’s a song on the Becoming Human album that I wrote when I was 15. So sometimes as Kelly said, you save certain material or certain songs for the right time and for the best vehicle. So I think between the two of us, we really did that and we helped each other finish each other’s songs off, I guess you could say. Because we originally got together on the trip where we wrote the album, or the core of the album and the concept, originally, Kelly came out to help, or not to help but to co-write some material for my next solo album, and it wasn’t long after Kelly arrived that I realized that that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something different and collaboratively speaking, more exciting so we decided to put together the band.
I should also say, add a couple of things to that, but there’s a lot of new material, like brand new, fresh material as well on the album that we set ourselves up for success there, I think with bringing some of these, in some cases, vintage ideas to the table. It led itself to this more new material coming out really kind of organically as well. Also, I should mention Frederik Thorendal of Meshuggah did do a surprise guest appearance on “Beyond Belief”. He happened to be in the studio, he actually, I believe, owns the studio that we mixed the album, and he was kicking around with Daniel Bergstrand as Daniel was working on the song, and they just decided to try a couple of things to accentuate the mix, and we loved what Frederick did and decided to keep it on there, so it wasn’t a planned to guest appearance, more like a happy bonus. For the record, Daniel Bergstrand mixed the album. So that’s who he is. 3:57
On the theme of The Architect – Okay. In my mind, the way I look at it is it’s a story of darkness to light. So it is a concept album in that regard, and that can be looked at a few different ways. I think it’s in a way we tried our best to write the “one story”, the human story, that has been rewritten through history many times. So this is our offering in that respect. “eMolecule”, specifically the song for me originally was a transmission from Deep Space, from some ancient civilization. What that led to was us working with that to begin our story and leading to the story of what this message could bring the world and how it might be used.
It’s interesting because we feel like, yeah, I’m just gonna speak for you here, Kelly as well, that we feel the universe plays a big part in what we do. I think when you help yourself, eventually, you feel like the universe has given you a little tap, a little poke, a little bit of help along the way, and synchronicity takes place. The lyrics to eMolecule and the actual song itself were written during the Becoming Human sessions. So we hadn’t formed the band eMolecule, even though there was a song called “eMolecule”. The lyrics are actually saying, “We are eMolecule”, so we’re actually introducing ourselves as well as a band through that song as well, which just happens to be an interesting, kooky fact. But yeah, it is part of the concept, but I think the story to the album really starts with the second song, “The Architect”, where we introduced the character, but “the m”eMolecule”, of course, has an overbearing presence on the album. 8:34
On the importance of song sequence on The Architect – It was one of the first things we did, actually. Before writing it. We started off with writing a concept, and I think the third draft, we nailed it. All three concepts were quite different, but we nailed it on the third time and we realized that when you do a concept album, the running order has got to be dead on spot on, dead on ball’s accurate. So you can’t just think about, “Okay, well, this track back to back is in the same key, we can’t use that”, or, “It’s the same tempo, we can’t use that”, or same subject matter, it’s got to be in sync with the storyline chronologically as well as being not back-to-back in, same tuning. All that kind of stuff. So we spent a lot of time while we were writing the album, going through and adjusting this running order, so it’s picture-perfect. So that was a really big part of the initial stages of our production. Lyrically as well, right to the better end, where we were just making sure the lyrics were fitting properly and just going along with the master plan. 12:00
On the musical textures of the album – We wanted to set out to create a journey, that was the whole point. I think for us, concept albums are The Holy Grail of albums. We love telling a story. It is so important for certain parts of the story, or all parts of the story to be represented mood-wise in the music and the mental atmosphere that you create for those songs that represent a certain part of the story. “The Turn” is part of the story where our character loses the will to live and you can hear it, you can hear that melancholy in there, that brooding melancholy. Absolutely, I think we’ve paid attention to every single little corner, and aspect of making a concept album. I think writing it in its essential form in one month, it’s amazing. It’s an amazing form of output as well. We were so motivated and inspired from one another’s work and just being together and writing together that every time we sat down and then picked up the instrument something new was born. We had to cut the album down because right now it sits at about 76 minutes, Kelly? It’s maybe 74, 73, or something like that. It’s up there though. It’s a whopper. But we had it about one hour and 14 minutes or something. So we had a lot of tracks, we had to cut. It all worked out. It all worked out in the end. 13:51
On the musical influences of the record – I think we really approach this as authentically and organically as possible and without too much or really any pretenses to what we wanted except for it to be true to our heart. This is what’s come out. So for me, it’s been inspired by a lot of some heavier riff-oriented music in the past, I’ve got into jazz fusion and things like that. For me, all those important elements to me were allowed to come through and we’ve ended up with something I believe as well. is quite original.
Absolutely, there’s no doubt about it. Also, I think we couldn’t get any more illuminated in the sense that we’re very, very dynamic, and there’s that word again “dynamic” in our songwriting. There’s songs like “Awaken”, which shows our fragility to writing a good ballad and more of an accessible kind of direction. And then you got a song like “eMolecule” which is like, “What? You’ve been doing acid?”. As Kelly said, absolutely a genuine, authentic offering from us. 16:32
On touring plans – We’ve already got a live band in mind, and we’d love to get on the road probably at some point next year if the opportunity arises then definitely, we’d love to play live. 18:34
On if they see eMolecule continuing – I think if I understand it correctly, we feel like eMolecule is what it is as it is now, we’ve already started working on our second album. We’re about halfway through, we’ve got enough material for about half an album already. Some of those songs were songs that we saved specifically, on purpose for the second album. Then we also wanna save some time and some space for us to collaborate on the spot, Kelly and I are a guitar-drum duo, so when we jam out, we come up with some pretty great stuff. We signed a three-album deal with InsideOut and this, I feel, is just the beginning, really, isn’t it? We definitely wanna build on the momentum and as Kelly said, we’re already starting on our second album, so definitely picking up the pace. We’re at the right spot in the right time in our lives to do this, if not now, then when?
I believe we will remain a duo because the formula we’ve got has been magic. There’s no need to change. Oh, absolutely, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is our second band, and we’ve learned a lot from past experiences what to do, what not to do, how to do it, how not to do it. It wasn’t such a cerebral process for us really, because a lot of it’s coming from the heart. We’ve been through an emotional journey writing the album, it’s an emotional album, very emotional. Just in a nutshell, it’s a concept album, a very human story about redemption and the classic good versus evil storyline that takes you through the last two weeks of a man’s life. A man that’s crazy with power, and a globalist, an elite psychopathic globalist. He finds out he’s got two weeks left to live, and we take you on that spiritual journey. So it’s a spiritual album with the message, a very strong message. But we wanna leave it open to interpretation with our listeners. We don’t wanna go into details about the story, we want people to discover that themselves, and we did that with Dimensionaut, and I think in one case, a fan wrote his idea or his synopsis on the concept, and it turned out to be cooler than ours. 19:11