Emerging Talent Month: Q&A With The New Division

Emerging Talent Month is officially underway! This month, we here at Buzznet are committed to bringing you the best in new music, fashion, pop culture and everything in between.

When I heard about Emerging Talent Month, I was ecstatic! I immediately went into action and snagged a few interviews with bands that you’ll be buzzing about within the coming year. There’s something about fresh new talent that I can identify with. We all start somewhere, and with the right people behind us we can do amazing things.

This week we get to dive into 80’s new wave bliss with The New Division.

The New Division was founded in the fall of 2005 as a college dorm room project for singer John Kunkel. He started experimenting with synthesizers after being heavily influenced by the sounds of 80’s legends Joy Division, New Order, and Depeche Mode. Within a few months Kunkel developed a series of songs that attracted other fellow college students and by the end of 2007, the one man project had transformed into a four piece along with a brand new perspective on the classics.

I had the pleasure of interviewing vocalist John Kunkel on what seperates The New Division from other bands in their genre, dream collaborations and the pros and cons of being an emerging artist.

Tell us how The New Division came about. What was the dynamic between all of you at the time?

– We all met in college and started playing shows shortly thereafter. I think the first show we did was in 2008 for this battle of the bands. After winning, we got a little bit confident and decided to start playing real shows, and little by little our fan base started growing, although at the time it seemed like everyone that knew about us was in Europe.

Our dynamic back then was pretty laid back. We really just wanted to play gigs and hope for the best. We didn’t really have a plan, we didn’t know it would go very far, but we were all hoping it would deep down inside.

You’ve stated that your influences are a lot of 80’s new wave greats such as Joy Division, Depeche Mode and New Order, which are all duly noted in your music but with a fresh spin. What artists of today are you inspired by?

– Currently I’m really inspired by James Zabiela, Mat Zo, Ferry Corsten, and The National. It’s weird but a lot of what I listen to these days is inspired by the dance music scene. I’m obsessed with the sounds and textures they use to create music. I don’t particularly love everything I hear from that realm, but I love progressive house and trance, and it’s incredibly inspiring music since it allows me to write for The New Division from a completely different angle. Lyrically, The National is possibly the best band out there that I’m aware of.

Being an emerging artist is a very distinctive time in a band’s life. What are some pros and cons of being at this stage in your careers? What have you learned since the band’s formation?

– The pros are that we can basically do whatever we want with no strings attached. I mean, we really do have complete freedom and no one can tell us how to write our albums, or what they need to sound like. That’s priceless.

The cons are that you’re basically the starving artist, and since that’s no real way to live, you have to find a day job that will help pay the bills. The downside of that is you can’t dedicate your full attention to making music, which is why we’re taking almost 2 years to release a follow up to Shadows. When you work from 8 to 5, get home around 6 or 7, eat dinner, and take care of business, you really only have about an hour or two to actually dedicate to music… and that only works if you’re not married or dating.

We’ve learned a lot since the band’s formation, like don’t get your hopes up! A lot of offers and deals can come your way, but at the end of the day very few actually pan out. On the positive side, we’ve learned that we can’t do this ourselves, and because of that we have an amazing team of people that support us, from our manager, to our creative director, friends, lawyer, etc, we wouldn’t be here without their help.

The electronic/synthpop genre seems to be growing with the masses in the last few years. What would you say makes The New Division different from other bands in your genre?

– What makes us different is the fact that we’re very forward thinking. While we may admire the past, we’re always looking into the future in terms of what we sound like. I think a lot of the arrangements and ideas that TND has are influenced by nostalgia, but it is my hope that we always approach our tones and sounds from a progressive angle.

The title track to your recent EP, Night Escape, features another emerging artist, Keep Shelly in Athens. How did that collaboration come about?

– It was really a surprise for us, but we just simply asked if they would be willing to collaborate with us and they accepted. I had struggled for a long time to write vocals for that song, and eventually I figured maybe female vocals would sound better on this track.

Just throwing it out there, who would you like to collaborate/and or tour with in the future?

– I think it would be really fun to collaborate with an artist from the EDM realm, someone like Mat Zo comes to mind. In terms of touring, I think it would be amazing to tour with our obvious influences, but aside from them, bands like MEW, or Digitalism would be great.

Everybody needs some uplifting inspiration every now and then. What are some words that you live by?

– “A great restaurant doesn’t just happen.”

Name 3 reasons why our readers should buy Night Escape.

1)    It’s got Keep Shelly in Athens on track #3.

2)    If you love electronic music, this album should sooth your soul.

3)    You’ll love it.

Check out The New Division on Facebook.

Stay tuned next week for more interviews!

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