Sydney Punks Aurateque On How Aphex Twin Influenced Their Music

23 June 2023 | 3:53 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

"My first exposure to Aphex Twin came when I scrolled past a video that read something like ‘Scariest Music Video Ever’"...


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Sydney trio Aurateque, who pull from punk-rock and metalcore scenes, have just unleashed the powerful new banger, Renegade.

The band sounds fired up by the said renegade who features in the track but found it helped vocalist Lauren Coleman find the opportunity to heal from past traumas.

Produced by Steve Balbi (Little River Band, Noiseworks) and mixed by Chris Blancato (Northlane, Reliqa), Aurateque sound irresistible with their bright yet crushing guitars, frenetic drum work, and biting sung and screamed vocals.

"Renegade is about violence, anger and the pain behind the violent masque,” the band said about their newest single. “Lauren grew up in a very hostile environment as a child, and although she left quite young, she didn't leave completely unscathed.

“As she grew older, it was a harder pill to swallow to see a human being behind the abuser and to understand that the violence only came from a deep sadness that her family could never escape. The only way to escape these cycles of pain is to truly face yourself. Renegade, much like every Aurateque song, has helped heal these scars." 

You can check out the fiery music video filmed, directed and edited by Jack Fontes of Dunelabs below.

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To celebrate Aurateque’s latest release, we caught up with guitarist Matthew Bortolin, who generously shared how the Irish-born, English-raised electronic music legend Aphex Twin influenced their music.

How Aphex Twin Came To Influence A Punk/Metalcore Band Like Aurateque

It would have been maybe about eight or so years ago - I was in the middle of high school and at the tail-end of a long, unbreakable thrash metal elitism phase. I attained a newfound love of more alternative heavy bands like Northlane and Deftones, and this era encouraged me to expand my palate beyond metal. As is par for the course when you’re a kid during the ‘golden age’ of the internet, I spent way too much of my spare time on YouTube watching YTPs and Horror Game ‘Let’s Plays’ - and through this, I often found myself plunged into the uncanny depths of the algorithm, and this is where I discovered Aphex Twin.

My first exposure to Aphex Twin came when I scrolled past a video that read something like ‘Scariest Music Video Ever’ - it honestly must have been WatchMojo surely; I mean, they were pretty much inescapable at the time. The video in question was (obviously, iykyk) Come To Daddy. Now, my internet-poisoned brain had some pretty messed up stuff on the web as a kid, so I tempted fate and gave the video a spin, and man, right from those establishing shots of a rundown, Half-Life 2-esque backdrop accompanied by ominous, pounding synths I knew I was in for something. 

My eyes were met with images of warped faces, children running around in uncanny, menacing masks, and a hulking creature screaming in the face of a terrified elderly woman, which was made all the more terrifying by the perceivable tangibility of these images, a striking lack of CGI due to the era from which this came. Man, it left a mark on me - those images latched themselves onto my brain, and inside, that song was instantly stuck. The distorted, uncanny refrain “I want your soul, I’ll eat your soul” atop that frenetic Drum and Bass beat and a menacing synth bass that almost sounded like a super saturated, low-tuned guitar going through a fuzz pedal, it was kind of just everything I was into at the time, pure heavy chaos, only… just delivered to me through the medium of an entirely new genre. It was that video that affirmed I’d have it stuck in my head for a while.

I went back to that song quite a bit, mainly as background noise for study during the HSC (chill lo-fi beats just didn’t cut it for me). I threw it on my angsty YouTube playlist that mostly consisted of nu-metal bangers, but aside from that, I went quite a while without experiencing any of Aphex Twin’s other tracks. Once I got Spotify, I came across the rest of the EP, which shared the name of the song. I really was not expecting what I got with the second track, Flim - it’s an immediate juxtaposition that swaps out those gargantuan synths and horror-esque idiosyncrasies for inviting subtleness across a dreamy soundscape, something way more like what you’d expect to see on someone’s study playlist. 

I return to this song a lot, and nowadays, I think I actually listen to it a lot more - it’s a staple in my walking/jogging playlist. Another cut further down the track list is the aptly titled Bucephalus Bouncing Ball, and it literally sounds like music being made with metallic bouncing balls moving around you to make beats; it’s especially insane with headphones on, a real sonic trip. The whole EP adventures between juxtaposing moods and sonic aesthetics and has moments of both experimentation and palatability, something that would mould my tastes and inspirations in the coming years.

In orchestrating Aurateque’s self-proclaimed Nu-Punk sound, Aphex Twin and their Come To Daddy EP, I had influences in both direct and indirect ways. My interest in electronic music was piqued, amongst other styles and artists that I was absolutely rinsing at the time - such as math rock (Cleft, Alpha Male Tea Party, VASQUEZ). In tandem with this, my excitement skyrocketed for projects that experimented with a wide juxtaposition of aesthetics rather than records that stuck to a uniform direction (which most of my early teen thrash-head picks could be classed as) - and this just kind of became my taste in music regardless of genre, from Björk’s Post to Outkast’s Stankonia to Ocean Grove's Rhapsody Tapes, the gates had been opened. 

The direct influences can be felt in the details of more specific moments across our soon-to-be-revealed debut EP, with one of our more experimental cuts inheriting a deep synthy soundscape with a retro electronic aesthetic that is blended with heavily modulated guitars for an experience that’s quite unique. Another cut on the EP, and our mathiest song yet, concludes with a quirky little Aphex Twin-inspired drum and bass groove that I made while working on a film score assignment during my time at JMC Academy - the beat was too weird for the assignment, but it was perfect for Aurateque. 

One of the coolest things about working with Steve Balbi to produce our music is that he saw these details and sought to push them to their full potential, making these details into more of a stylistic statement. This can be felt the most in none other than our second single - Hurricane, which puts this influence on full display, juxtaposing eclectic drum and bass verses with massive punk choruses atop a whimsical synthy soundscape.

It’s wild what one deep dive down the internet rabbit-hole can do, and the discovery of Aphex Twin was an unintended spark that set me upon one of many musical journeys that converged in the construct of Aurateque's eclectic Nu-Punk sound. We’ve got some big things coming soon, and we can’t wait to show you what’s in store.

Renegade is out now. Stay tuned for news about Aurateque's debut EP.