interview. The cinematic and immersive quality that defines Astrels and their ‘Metropolis Psychosis’ EP

“I've always been a bit of a geek when it comes to things like cult sci-fi, graphic comics, Afrofuturism and literature by authors like George Orwell and HG Wells”
11 December 2023

Emerging from the industrial landscape of Sheffield, UK, amid the global lockdown of 2020, two friends, renowned singer/songwriter Steve Edwards (known for his work on Sound of ViolenceCassius, World, Hold On – Bob Sinclar, and Watch the Sunrise – Axwell) and versatile multi-instrumentalist Joe Newman (associated with Reverend & the Makers, Mongrel, and Lee Scratch Perry), explore the musical direction that could alleviate the dullness of their monochrome, insidious, post-apocalyptic-like reality.

In a collision of influences ranging from cult sci-fi to Orwellian literature, Astrels, born amid the global upheaval of 2020, has crafted a unique sonic realm with their Metropolis Psychosis EP. An exclusive interview with singer/songwriter Steve Edwards sheds light on the origins, creative process, and the cinematic, immersive quality that defines Astrels.

Metropolis Psychosis EP was born from the collective consciousness of Astrels, combining influences like cult sci-fi movies, Stranger Things, and the dystopian aesthetic of Blade Runner. In our interview, Steve Edwards unveils the unconventional process of creating a soundtrack for a movie or TV series that exists only in their minds—a process that involved video calls, file sharing, and the melding of diverse inspirations.

The worldwide lockdown of 2020 birthed Astrels, and in our conversation, Steve Edwards reflects on the impact of this surreal period. From the post-apocalyptic atmosphere to the paradoxical beauty and quietude, the themes of faith, love, betrayal, and death emerged as Astrels’ response to a world in flux. The EP, according to Edwards, became a sonic escape plan, allowing minds to traverse unexplored dimensions of enlightenment.

We created a soundscape concerned with us escaping planet earth by letting our minds take us to unexplored dimensions of enlightenment

Metropolis Psychosis EP has a unique blend of influences, including cult sci-fi movies, Stranger Things, Blade Runner, and more. How did these diverse inspirations come together during the creation process, and how do they shape the overall sound of Astrels?

I’ve always been a bit of a geek when it comes to things like cult sci-fi, graphic comics, Afro futurism and literature by authors like George Orwell and HG Wells. We had the idea of creating a soundtrack to the kind of movie or TV series that we’d like to see but before it has even been made. It’s kind of back to front really. We threw all these varied influences up into the air and this is how they landed musically and lyrically over video calls, file sharing and smoke signals.

The formation of Astrels took place during the worldwide lockdown of 2020. How did this unusual period impact the creative process, and in what ways did it influence the themes explored in the Metropolis Psychosis EP?

Covid was such a surreal time. It felt post apocalyptic at times but paradoxically felt beautiful and quiet yet sinister at the same time. I’m a bit of conspiracy theorist and began creating an alternate world where there was a central, anti hero character who was battling against the people in the shadows who were pulling the strings, telling us lies to hide a dark secret that was being kept from us, that could threaten the existence of mankind. So, we created a soundscape concerned with us escaping planet earth by letting our minds take us to unexplored dimensions of enlightenment. Faith, love, betrayal and death were the key themes at play during this period.

You have been gaining a growing fanbase with your incendiary live shows. How do you approach translating the cinematic and immersive quality of your recorded music into a captivating live performance, and what can fans expect from an Astrels live show?

When we play live we dress head to toe in black. Onstage we have drums, guitar and a huge vintage keyboard set up. We play in front of a backdrop of ‘Tron like’ live visuals which gives the show a real cinematic, futuristic, dark edge. Our sound is big and is for the feet as well as for the head. People can expect an immersive, far out, journey like experience like you’re being transported somewhere to a galaxy far, far away.

What do you do to get into the creative zone?

Joe and I will sit in the studio, plug in, turn the lights down low, blaze one up and jam until something interesting appears.

What is your favourite sound in the world?

The sound of inevitability.

If you could have a super power what would it be?

The telepathic power to stop all wars before anyone thinks about starting one.

What are you afraid of?

Not finishing.

What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?

God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

What can we anticipate from you in the future?

Our debut album The Velvet Sea and the Afterglow is out now and we’ve already started on our follow up album. Also lots of live gigs and hopefully a movie soundtrack or two.