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Hercules & Love Affair's Andy Butler on His Queer New Sex Anthem 'Controller'


OUT caught up with the artist to discuss his BDSM-imbued single, featuring The Horrors' Faris Badwan.

Today marks the release of Hercules & Love Affair's music video for "Controller," a dark, sexual tune evocative of BDSM and sub-dom culture.

"I felt attracted to the track straight away," said video director Rei Nadal. "It was the mix of the club feel with the obvious dark vibe that made the song complex and pushed me to create layers to the images, merging the explicit and the abstract."

The alt-electro single, which features Faris Badwan of post-punk group The Horrors, is the first single off Hercules & Love Affair's forthcoming fourth studio album, due out July.

OUT caught up with Andy Butler, who helmed the band, to chat about all things "Controller" and how it fits into queer culture. Take a look at the video and interview, below.

OUT: Faris Badwan sounds so creepy and fantastic on the track. Why did you choose him to be featured?

Andy Butler: I was scratching my head trying to identify a brooding, dark and dangerous male character in rock 'n' roll, as I have always loved them historically (i.e. Joy Division, The Cult, Bauhaus). It was hard to find one--there are not as many people daring to inhabit that space anymore. It seems rock 'n' roll singers are more often presenting a "normalcy" or playing it much safer.

Anyhow, I was doing the music for designer James Long's runway show in London, who is now the designer at Iceberg, and he played a version of an old Frankie Knuckles/Jamie Principle classic, "Your Love," saying how much he loved it and wanted it in the show. The version was so spot on, it sounded like an unearthed demo, but then I heard the voice and it was a dreamy British one. It turned out to be The Horrors doing a live cover of the song.

The fact that a kind of gothy, psychedelic, very good band did such a solid cover of a house music classic--which is always risky business--peaked my interest and a lightbulb went off. "Faris would be perfect," I thought. He gets dance music and likes the dark side of life.

With lyrics like, "Show me who's on top," and, "Use me," is the core meaning of the song realizing a sub-dom fantasy?

The song actually started off as an exploration of faith, or being carried, directed or "controlled" through life via some divine presence--kind of like the body being used as a vessel. Leave it to Faris to impart double meanings across the song a la S&M depictions.

Are there any other artists who inspired "Controller"?

The stiff bass lines of great Klein and Mbo's italo disco tracks, the kind of tinny sounds from John Foxx productions, the spirited backing vocals of many great '80s jams, the off kilter jazziness of Stiff Records, which frequently informs my songs.

How you intend people to listen to the song?

Dancing, probably--it's a good "getting ready to go out" or "applying make up" song.

Would you describe "Controller" as "queer?"

Yes, I would. It's definitely queer in its slightly twisted spin on spirituality. I feel we kind of waded into the waters the way that queer artists over the years have, acknowledging the ecstatic and sensual in the divine. While Faris is the first "non-LGBTQ identifying" singer to appear on a Hercules song, he is so free-spirited and playful. It was so fun to have an "ally" involved and the forthcoming record explores this dynamic quite a bit.

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