Airlock – Esra Tasasiz

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Interview by Mark Bayross

Airlock have yet to cause a big splash here in the UK, but their first two releases, the FACE DOWN EP and DYSTAR album, both impressed with their haunting beauty and trip-hop soundtrack vibe. Fronted by Scottish-born (and of Turkish heritage, I found out later) Esra Tasasiz, the rest of Airlock’s sonic palette is provided by Belgian programmers Pierre Mussche, Renauld Charlier and Ernst Meinwrath.

I had a quick chat with Esra about the band, their plans for the future and how she ended up with a trio of Belgians.

You are in the studio at the moment. Are you recording new material?

Writing, actually. I’m writing some new stuff for the second album, you know, just mucking around with melodies and lyrics.

Are you following the same process as you did for the last album?

No, I wrote for that one while I was at home. I had a full time job at the time, so I had to write in my spare time. But I left my job four months ago, so it’s different now. They’ve given me a little room to work in, so I just sit in it surrounded by lots of hi-tech equipment.

Could you give me a quick synopsis of how you came to be working with three Belgian musicians?

Yes, I was working in another studio in Brussels, making house music. It wasn’t particularly fulfilling. I mentioned to a few people that I was looking for something a bit more substantial and someone put me in touch with Pierre [Mussche]. What he was doing was much more down my road. I took a backing track home, added my parts, sent it back and the boys loved it. I really enjoyed the whole process of writing and we had come up with a really good mixture of sounds.

Did that song go into the album?

Yes, that was AWAKENING – the first song we did. Then we did DRAMA in the same way, working by sending it back and forth. After that we realised that we had come up with something good and we decided we should really do something serious, so we recorded four or five tracks and sent them to UK record companies.

Did you have a feeling you were onto a winner?

I don’t know about that, but we agreed there was something happening there. There was a real chemistry at work, with good melodies and original arrangements. But we are talking about a while ago here…we wrote the first album three and a half years ago!

Has the music progressed?

Definitely. It’s a bit more upbeat. There are still chilled-out moments, though. Some say the first album is a bit macabre or a bit sad, which may be true…I guess it’s a bit melancholic. There’s more of a joyful side to this new music.

I actually quite like those melancholic moments on DRYSTAR though…I’m a bit of a sucker for strings…

Oh, there’s still lots of strings, lots of minor chords. There’s still lots of intense emotion and passion.

I guess the Airlock I have heard has two sides to it – there’s also the scratching on the record.

The scratching thing was more of an experiment. The boys had written the music for PARABELLUM – they had done the soundtrack – and DJ Risk came in to do the music for the helicopter action scene in the film. Everyone liked it so it was put on the album. The film version is faster – it’s a bit slower on the album. He joins us when we play live, scratching on different songs.
Do you find you have more room to experiment with the songs when you play them live?

Oh yes. We have a drummer and a bass player joining us on stage, and even the keyboard parts get varied. We don’t just play the songs as they sound on the album. That would just be boring. We go along with our feelings.

Have you played much in the UK?

We haven’t played in the UK at all – we’re hoping to. We’ve only done one album, so it would be hard to play a full show. We could maybe play some support slots or festivals.

If you had the opportunity, who would you like to support?

Morcheeba, or Massive Attack, or Zero Seven…their album’s really good.

When will your new album be ready?

We only have a very tentative idea of when that will be. It depends on so much – studios, record company, and so on… We are hoping it will be ready to come out in a year. Maybe then we’ll come over to the UK and play some festivals in the summer.