An Interview with Ronan Harris of VNV Nation: Automatic Empire Tour, Minimalist Approaches, and Inti
Photography: Juan Betancourt
In support of their Automatic Empire tour, Futurepop veterans VNV Nation made a stop in Dallas on Sunday, August 27 at the Curtain Club to offer fans the rarity of seeing them in an intimate setting. The act, since its inception almost 30 years ago, has gone on to fill massive venues all across the world and continues to incite its audience with its classic catalog of songs, as was apparent on Sunday night. Opening for the main act was Mr. Kitty, an Austin-based project of musician Forrest LeMaire, who describes his music as 'self-destructive synthpop'. The amount of strobe lights that flickered through their set definitely captured visual destruction--but more external than internal. Musically, Mr. Kitty's electronic sounds emanate a sense of experimentation through noise while still keeping a club beat. It set a mood that complemented the lowly-lit atmosphere of the venue.
After warming up the crowd, people began to fill the open spots in the front section of the audience while everyone waited for VNV Nation to hit the stage. The band was to perform two albums VNV Nation's Ronan Harris considered as their classics: 1999's Empires and 2011's Automatic. When they started with Empires' closer song, the crowd intensified in vibrancy and energy. Harris' dictatorial demands stoked fans even more to dance and revel in each song's penetrating spirit.
One could see how the crowd felt the zest and transformed it into a fervent form of catharsis. VNV Nation's use of explosive synth melodies, club-oriented percussion and forceful vocals reverberated through the room, stimulating each body with acclamation and movement. Powering through songs from both albums brought out the best in both the band and its audience, embedding a dynamic interplay between each other's vigor. VNV Nation's performance illustrated how stripping down a show to its core values of lights and music can push the focus in audience reception and, in turn, amplify its own liveliness. After the show, the band hung out with fans for brief meet-and-greets, only to encourage everyone to head to the Church--the dance club for Dallas' goth community--where the official afterparty was hosted. The throbbing, infectious music would continue on to the AM, ending a weekend off with seemingly endless festivities. We met up with Ronan Harris prior to the show to talk about the tour, how VNV Nation's music has evolved since starting out, and the ambiance of a live performance. Watch the interview below.
A big thank you to Ronan Harris for making time with us. The second leg of VNV Nation's North American Automatic Empire tour will soon be underway, so be sure to get your tickets if they come to a city near you. Check out some more photos from their Dallas show below.