John Edwards and Richard van Kruysdijk are long time friends and musical collaborators, but it’s only in the last few years that they have again worked together on a joint musical project. PALAIS IDEAL’s music – as captured on their recent No Signal album – caught our attention with its modern twist on some classic 80s sounds, so we decided to ask the duo about their music and more.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What’s the story behind PALAIS IDEAL and how would you describe your sound?

Although PALAIS IDEAL has only existed since December 2016, we (John and Richard) go way back! We were in our first band (1986-1991) when we were 17 years old, creating a kind of theatrical mix of post-punk and prog rock. Genesis meets Christian Death, Van Der Graaf Generator meets The Virgin Prunes. And that was in a time when interest in music of the darker variety was very low and the mention of for instance Joy Division was met with a smirking reaction by ‘the music industry’ in The Netherlands.

Over the past couple of years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in eighties electronica, new wave and post punk, which inspired us to go back to our own musical roots. Two years ago, we saw Tuxedomoon perform their 1980 debut album, Half Mute. We started talking about writing new material in that style, but more contemporary.

What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?

We’re very strongly inspired by early electronic pop – particularly the Sheffield acts of the early 1980s, by Factory Records and Peter Saville’s designs, J.G. Ballard’s books, Futurist art, Brutalist architecture, Bowie’s Berlin-era work … I suppose we like anything that mix a sort of gloomy romanticism with a very stark aesthetic.

How did the band get together?

After our first band stopped, we both continued to play in other bands and work on projects, and always remained in touch. Two years ago, we finally found the time to work on some music together. So, we dusted off a load of creaky old synths, drum machines and effects pedals and recorded a few demos. Based on those, we signed with a label and booking agency a few weeks later.

Are there any particular bands or artists you identify with musically? Who would you rate as influences, compatriots?

Some of our biggest influences are Ultravox, The Sound, New Order, Magazine and the Sisters of Mercy. There are a few 80s-inspired bands with a contemporary twist that we really like: Lithics, She Past Away and Lebanon Hanover, to name a few.

Regardless of genre, we just like solid song writing, creative experimentation, solid melodies and arrangements, and artists that do their own thing.

You recently released the No Signal album and it’s been very well received. How did you find the recording process, moving the music from the live arena into the studio setting and vice versa? 

The tracks on the album were written with live performance in mind, so they transfer to the stage very well. We’re not overly keen on acts that stand on stage looking as if they’re checking emails or playing Tetris, so we definitely wanted to do something with lots of live guitars and synths and vocals. In the studio, we really zoom in on the details of the sounds and arrangement, but when we take it to the stage, it’s the energy that counts.

Recording the album went pretty smoothly. Sometimes we’ll sit down and work together, sometimes we’ll send each other ideas to expand on. We’re both lucky to have decent studios and can record separately. It’s important to have a clearly defined idea of where you want to go with a song and since we very much speak the same musical language, it makes writing and recording fast and smooth.

We’ve just started working with an external producer and that’s interesting.

What’s up next for PALAIS IDEAL? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?

We’ll be playing in several countries Western and Eastern Europe and the UK in the coming months, releasing a new single and video (to be released later this year) and recording our second album. We’ve been working with John Fryer, who’s produced bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Wire and Cocteau Twins, and the results so far have been amazing. We’ve also made a few remixes for other bands. Basically, we’ll just be trying to reach as many people as possible, aiming to get them interested in this particular style of music!