Collide: Thriving In The Underworld

Collide: Top of the underground.
(Photo credit: Dave Keffer.)

For over 15 years, the atmospheric duo known as Collide (kaRIN the vocalist, Statik the sound shaper) have produced deliciously dark sounds that blend the ethereal with the edgy, the dreamy with the gritty and the sensual with the sinister. Their latest album Counting To Zero continues that tradition. On top of their seven studio albums and various releases, Collide’s music has reached mainstream television viewers on shows like Vampire Diaries and NCIS and the movies Resident Evil: Extinction and Evil Bong. They also have a new song called “Intruder” appearing on the Underworld: Awakening soundtrack, which promises to deliver their music to fresh ears. Indeed music licensing has helped give Collide a full-time career that post of their dark music peers have not achieved, and they are very aware of how fortunate they are. By the same token, they are pretty smart about their business, which was one aspect of their 20-year career that kaRIN and Statik chatted about exclusively with A.D.D.

Collide has managed to license music to many well-known TV shows, including NCIS. What is your strategy in getting your music placed?
Statik:  I would like to say that it’s all strategy and planning. We do try to send out CDs to as many music supervisors as we can, but we get quite a few placements out of the blue.
kaRIN:  We have been very fortunate in that area. I think our music is a good audio backdrop for visuals. I feel like I am a visual writer and can see the pictures in my head when I write, so hopefully other people hear that too.  We have been in a lot of vampire related movies and TV shows — zombies, club scenes, sex scenes and in Abby’s lab.

Ultimately how lucrative is it?
Statik:  To be honest, without it, it would be tough to keep going as a band. There has been a lot of talk about downloads making up for CD sales going down, but it hasn’t evened out.  Overall sales continue to go down. How lucrative is it? Well, we aren’t buying a second house in France or anything, but if I need to buy an extra hard drive, or fix a broken keyboard, it really helps out.
kaRIN:  I suppose like Statik said, it definitely helps. It is really tough to survive on music these days, and without the licensing aspect making music would be a very expensive hobby.

How did you get involved with the Underworld: Awakening soundtrack? Have you seen the film?
Statik:  When we heard that the soundtrack was coming out, I made it one of my goals for 2011 to get on it. I don’t know exactly why, other than the fact that I quite like the Underworld franchise, and the past Underworld soundtracks have been good. The record company putting out the soundtrack put up a poll on Facebook and asked bands and their fans to write in, which we did.  We had a respectable number of votes. Anyway, we hadn’t heard anything in a while, so we contacted the record company directly, and they basically said, if you want to get on it, we need an unreleased song, and even then we can’t guarantee anything. So we did the song from start to finish in two weeks, and turned it in. That was that. And no, we have not seen the new film. I would have liked to have gone to the premiere, but that didn’t happen.
kaRIN:  We crossed our fingers and wished really hard, and we’re pleased to be included. There are quite a few very cool bands on there including The Cure and Ministry. Maybe some of those Evanescence fans might possibly have something new to discover.

Unlike a majority of independent music artists, you make a living at what you do. What advice could you offer other musicians who aspire to be like you?
Statik:  That’s a tough one. If I was a band just starting out, I think it would be tougher than ever. One of the things we’ve kept in mind is learn lots of things. There is a lot that goes into making an album. The more you can do, the less you have to pay other people to do for you. We had to learn graphics stuff and everything that goes into making artwork for an album. We record and mix all of our songs. We also run our own online store and website. We didn’t do all of the programming in the beginning, but we made them so that we can run them and be self sufficient. Have your own website. Don’t rely on other sites, like Facebook or whatever, because eventually things change, and you’ll be out of luck.
kaRIN:  We make a living doing art, but it is not solely music. I am also a designer, and we make all sorts of handmade high-end accessories. I work with a lot of stores and galleries and have my own website ( That helps make the ball spin, and Statik helps me to keep that ball spinning. So between those two things we are busy — literally, never 30 seconds without something to do. I am hoping to slow things down just a squish this year, so that I take time to do other things. That is why we don’t tour. There is just not enough time in the day when you are doing everything yourself.

“Streaming sites are kind of a joke as far as revenue. Just recently we surpassed two million plays on Last FM. I think maybe we get $.007 per play?”

The cuts I enjoyed most on Counting To Zero were the more rocking ones near the end. Any chance we might get a heavier release like your debut Beneath The Skin in the future?
Statik:  I don’t really think of Beneath the Skin as being very heavy. It’s certainly not as guitar-y as Two Headed Monster was. We’ve gotten a lot of comments [from fans] that Counting to Zero was their favorite Collide release to date, which makes us pretty happy after making music for so long. We’ll see what happens in the future, but our main goal is always to try to keep things fresh and not repeat ourselves.
kaRIN:  That [Skin] was what we felt at the time, but I don’t think it would be the same music that attracted us then that would be attractive to us now. Never say never though. I don’t think we ever really plan — we just let it unfold.

Could you talk about the fan funding process that got your last album financed? Would you do it again?
Statik:  We kicked around some of the established sites that people have been using, such as Kickstarter, but there were a few things that I really didn’t like about it: They take a percentage, 5%, and you have to pick an amount to raise when you start, and you don’t get anything unless you reach your total amount. Both things just seemed wrong and bad. We set it up on our store where if you donated, you would get an unreleased song, and also depending on how much you donated, you could get your name in a list of thanks in the CD artwork. It actually worked out very well, and it seems like everyone involved was very happy. I think we would do it again. We had our store already set up, so it wasn’t too hard to get going.
kaRIN:  That was Statik’s idea really. I don’t really like to ask people for anything, but really it was too depressing to work for years to know how few copies would sell. Having people donate kicked us into high gear to get the album done, and it also really touched our hearts that people really came forward and let us know through their actions that our music was important to them. It really meant a lot to us. I am eternally grateful to those people.

The beguiling kaRIN.
(Photo credit: Dave Keffer.)

How have digital sales of your songs been doing? Do you foresee a day when you will only release music digitally?
Statik:  Digital sales have been okay. I wouldn’t say great. Streaming sites are kind of a joke as far as revenue. Just recently we surpassed two million plays on Last FM. I think maybe we get $.007 per play? I don’t know, I’ve forgotten exactly what the figure is. I would be surprised if we’ve made more than a few hundred bucks total for all of the streaming services. We go back and forth on if we should pull our songs off of them. I do think that if I were a music supervisor, it would be an easy way to listen to music and find songs for something, and I’ve heard that is something that happens, so for the time being, we’ll stay there. We have done a few things as digital only releases — smaller things, odd singles, that sort of thing. I can’t see the day where it’s the only thing we do for major releases. I still like to hold onto something when I buy music, like a CD, but that’s just me. I don’t think that’s the way it is for a lot of younger people.
kaRIN: Someone brought up the point that in the future people won’t even have CD players, so CDs will seem pointless at some point.

“Having people donate kicked us into high gear to get the album done, and it also really touched our hearts that people really came forward and let us know through their actions that our music was important to them. I am eternally grateful to those people.”

After years of making albums, what lyrical and musical motifs have you found yourself coming back to and why?
Statik:  That’s a hard question. I don’t know if we do come back to any particular motifs, music-wise anyway. For me, the best thing I can do for myself is to have a bunch of new sounds lined up when I start an album, whether it’s a few new synths, sound banks, samples, or whatever.  That’s where my inspiration starts.
kaRIN:  That is hard for me as I like the same ideas and the same sort of words, so I have to try to figure out new ways to say things. I would say lyrically I am usually digging up stuff inside of myself and letting go of it in a way that I want to expose it. I think of it like evolving self-therapy.

You did a well-received collaboration with Dean Garcia a few years back called The Secret Meeting. Any chance of a repeat, or are there other collaborations you’d like to undertake?
Statik:  We’ve actually just started to work on a new Secret Meeting album with Dean, so hopefully that will come out this year, if we get it together. I really liked the remix that Charlie Clouser did for us on Vortex, so I’d like to work with him again at some point. He’s usually very busy getting paid better than we can afford doing TV and movie things, so I don’t know how possible it would be. I guess that’s one of those things that would be possible if sales were better.
kaRIN:  Yes, we are starting on new Secret Meeting with Dean so that is cool. As far as any other collaborations, yes lots. I love the energy of other people creating and working with other people’s music. I would love to guest vocal for Massive Attack, Delerium and Conjure One, to name a few.

Earth tones are the new black.
(Photo credit: Dan Santoni.)

When we had lunch last fall, I noticed many turtles swimming in the pond on your property. Have you kept track of how many there are? Does it get expensive to feed all of them?
Statik:  I don’t have an exact count, but I think there are around 20? Some turtles have had babies, and so you get a few more. Then some raccoon comes in and there are a few less. (Stupid raccoons!) It doesn’t really get expensive to feed them. It’s not like we have to buy turtle chow by the case or anything. They eat fish food, and we give them some leftover greens. They seem to do alright.
kaRIN:  We are truly the turtle sanctuary. We are always taking new ones in, and then some have babies and some don’t last through the winter.  Turtles are very cool though. It is relaxing to watch them as they stick their feet in the air worshiping the sun. We like to sit and have lunch outside in the summer, and then the older turtles come up and expect to be fed. They eat a lot of healthy table scraps.

How many other animals are roaming about your property?
Statik:  At the moment, it’s just the turtles and our two dogs, Luna and Zeus. Zeus is now 13, so he’s getting up in there in age, especially for a German Shepherd. This January it’s been two years since he had to have one of his front legs amputated due to cancer, but he seems to be happy and is doing as well as can be expected, and still goes for two small walks a day.
kaRIN:  We also have lots of fish and some birds who fly in to visit.

Getting back to Underworld: Who do you side with, Lycans or Vampires?
Statik:  Well, everyone probably always chooses the Vampires, so I’ll take the underdogs, the Lycans.
kaRIN:  I have no pick, but I am glad to see strong female roles where females are kicking some butt.

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