Austin-via-Gothenburg project Routine Death talk debut album, making music when separated by 7000 miles, being influenced by everyone from Trent Reznor to RZA and why cheap, horrible-sounding equipment is the way to go.

Separated by 7000 miles, Routine Death is the husband and wife duo of Lisa (Gothenburg) and Dustin Zozaya (Austin), the latter also playing in Fuzz Club favourites Holy Wave. On May 25th the duo will be releasing their debut album, Parallel Universes – comprised of ten tracks that offer the perfect introduction into their world of dark, lo-fi pop that channels an ethereal darkwave sound with bewitching lo-fi vocals and the glitchy electronics of Broadcast, or even Stereolab.

Born out of this distance is a certain kind of intimacy, the use of cheap equipment and a creative process that involves constantly sending tracks forwards and backwards over the internet results in a minimalist noise-pop sound that shuns the overbearing sonic-excess that most new shoegaze bands fall victim to, instead stripping things down to the absolute fundamentals. Lisa’s sublimely entrancing vocals float over repetitive midi drumbeats (made using an app on Dustin’s phone), glitched-out loops, droning organs and fuzzy lo-fi guitars.

Ahead of the release of their debut album, we sit down with Dustin to get to know the project…

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How did you two meet and come to form the band?

“We met on tour in America and we ended up starting the band because we just wanted something to do together. Even though we were living in two separate countries, we figured we could still make it work…”

How would you describe your sound?

“It sounds like really, really cheap gear [laughs]. I wanted it to be dark and obviously the whole shoegaze thing was in there but I really wanted an electronic element. I was trying to be – and this is a loaded statement I guess –  the Trent Reznor of shoegaze. I’m not always a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails but I just think that he makes really wise choices sometimes. He does things in very interesting ways.”

What would you say were your key influences and sources of inspiration for the new album?

“Obviously the method of making the music itself is a big part of that record. There’s that separation between us the whole time and that’s a big influence. We don’t work on anything together, I send her songs, or she sends me ideas for something, and then she’ll do the vocals and we’ll just keep sending them back and forth. The song matures that way.”

So there are 7000 miles between you and Lisa, how exactly does that creative process work?

“What happens is I write stuff and I send it to her over WeTransfer. She puts in into Garageband and sings over it, sends it back to me and then I tweak the song according to her vocal parts. RZA from Wu-Tang Clan was actually a big influence. I was reading this book that he wrote and what he would do was he’d make this basic beat and then he’d have all the members of Wu-Tang come in and rap on it. Then he would sit there, listen to it and cut it apart and move everything around. So, that way the vocals aren’t just a layer on top, it’s another ingredient. Then yeah, we just keep sending it to eachother and reworking it. We are on our own completely, but also collaborating, it’s very weird.”

How are you going to translate all of that into a live set-up? What’s the plan there?

“There’s gonna have to be magic! I think the best record that came out last year was Drab Majesty’s record, it’s fucking awesome. It’s just him and then he brings a guy with him on tour I think. But they have a lot of backing tracks so I initially figured that was what we were gonna have to do. But it’s just about feeling and intimacy, right? Lisa sings whenever she feels like the time is right to start the song but if we’re using backing tracks and she doesn’t come in at the ‘right’ time then the computer’s not gonna know that, it’s a machine so it’ll just keep going. We had to completely reinvent the way everything went, and try to eliminate as many backing tracks as we can. Now there’s maybe like a drone sample or something that allows the songs to move through each other without hard stops, but there are no backing tracks.”

You’ve said about how using cheap equipment was a big part of creating Parallel Universes, did you use anything particularly interesting or unusual?

“Yeah, my phone actually, I make a lot of the beats on my phone on this little five dollar programme I have. It’s called Funk Box Vintage Drum Machine. I just put delay on it and run it through an amp. I also found this organ in the practice space and it was just wrecked. So in ‘Parallel Universe’, the song, there’s this really harsh drone key and it’s that! There’s a lot of that shit going on. I’ve started to learn a lot more out of it. It forces me to be creative.”

Parallel Universes is out on vinyl and digital on May 25th via Fuzz Club and Black Hair Records. Pre-order can be found below.