Empire Of The Sun

Empire Of The Sun

Empire of the Sun (band)

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Empire of the Sun (band)

Empire of the Sun is an Australian electronic music duo that formed in 2008.[1] The duo is composed of long-time collaborators Luke Steele of alternative rock act The Sleepy Jackson, and Nick Littlemore of electronic dance outfit Pnau.[2][3]

Their award-winning, 2008 debut album Walking on a Dream shot the duo to international success and to date has been certified double platinum in Australia and gold in United Kingdom.[4] The album has sparked a number of internationally charting singles including "Walking on a Dream" which peaked at number ten on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart and reached number sixty four on the UK Singles Chart, and the "We Are the People"[5], which peaked at number 14 on the UK Singles Chart. They are currently signed to EMI Australia and Virgin UK.[6]



Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore met in 2000 after being introduced by Steele's A&R executive, Simon Moor,[7] in a bar in Sydney.[8] Both were at the time signed to EMI and had already been working on their own independent projects.[1] Although they did not initially capitalize on their instant creative chemistry, the two consistently collaborated over the years. Littlemore helped write the song "Tell the Girls That I'm Not Hangin' Out"[9], which appeared on The Sleepy Jackson's 2003 debut album, Lovers,[7] and Steele had artistic input in Littlemore's 2006 art-rock project Teenager.[10]

The two officially reunited together for two songs on Pnau's self-titled album Pnau in 2007 - "Freedom" and the opener "With You Forever". Littlemore commented "when [Peter Mayes and I] wrote 'With You Forever', I knew straight away I had to send it to Luke. A day later, he called me up and sang the whole thing over the phone to me." Luke Steele's contribution to the track was so influential to Nick and Pete that they scrapped over 200 songs worth of material for the album, and began to craft a work more vocally-centered than they ever had before.[11] A track-by-track analysis of the album Pnau by Nick and Pete reveals that writing "With You Forever" with Luke Steele was such an exciting experience that it directly inspired the two to begin work on another project together.[12] Littlemore said, "We fell in love with music again with [With You Forever]; I think this is [Pnau's] first great song." The release of Pnau unexpectedly brought acclaim from music icon Elton John[13][14][15], who, after befriending Littlemore, became involved in some of the early planning of Nick and Luke's new project.[16]

The new project began to develop into what would later become Empire of the Sun (under the working title of Steelemore).[17] As Steele was living in Perth at the time and Littlemore was in Sydney for the next few months the pair independently continued to write songs for the project and organized meetings in Sydney where they decided on the album's musical direction and style.[8] Eventually the pair went into the studio with Peter Mayes to record the final material, all of which was entirely produced by themselves.[1]

Although the name of the project has been attributed to the 1984 novel of the same name by J. G. Ballard,[4] Littlemore denies this and offers an explanation, saying, "the name comes more from the idea of (and you'll see this in the ongoing videos) the fact that we're traveling around the world going to all the places of empires of the civilization where the sun has been a theme of worship. It's not based on the Ballard novel nor the Spielberg film of the same name."[8]

Walking on a Dream

After several months of consulting on the material for the album, Littlemore and Steele went into the studio to record their debut album. Titled Walking on a Dream, the album was released on 4 October 2008. Prior to its release six tracks were put up on the social networking site MySpace for fans to listen to.[18]

The album debuted at number eight on the ARIA charts and eventually peaked at number six.[19] Their first single titled "Walking on a Dream" was released digitally on 30 August 2008.[20] The single received airtime from many Australian radio stations and has since reached #10 on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart, breaking the record for the longest time taken for a single to reach the top 10.[21] It has as well been released as a free single on 21 April 2009. The second single released off the album, entitled "We Are the People", peaked at number twenty-four on the ARIA Charts. In September 2009 this song was used in an American advertising campaign for Vizio televisions. The third single, "Standing on the Shore" was released on iTunes on 12 June and for general release on 23 June. The video was filmed in Lancelin in April 2009.[22] After an article released lately, it was announced that "Without You" will be the 4th single for Empire of the Sun. The video was filmed in FOX Studios in Sydney, Australia and has gained positive responses due to its changed tempo and strong emotion. The single is due to be released in late September.

Critical response to the album was generally positive, generating a score of 60 on the review aggregator Metacritic.[23] Martin Robinson in his review for NME described their debut as "silly but their songs demand to be taken seriously, just like Prince, Ultravox and Bowie. And yes, they're like MGMT in that they're great."[24] Under the Radar also rated it favourably describing it as "a highly visual experience".[25] Rolling Stone Australia awarded the album a positive 3.5 out of 5, describing it as "gorgeously plaintive electro-pop", but noted "the gold is harder to find in the records hazy second half".[26]

Critics with mixed reactions largely expressed their discontent with the album's second half, particularly marked by the unsettling introduction of the fifth track, Delta Bay. Mike Orme of Pitchfork Media claimed that "few buzzes die so abruptly as in the transition of the complex, ethereal melodies of "We Are the People" into the following cut "Delta Bay", which sounds like "Thriller" sung by cats."[27] Popmatters made a similar comment that We Are the People "proves the duo's talent for making great music... it's just unfortunate the song bleeds into 'Delta Bay'... why would you want to do that?"[28] Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian rated Walking on A Dream 3 out of 5 stars, explaining "the slick, pastel-wardrobed MOR of the title track and We Are the People demonstrate melodic agility and sun-dazzled charmh" but that the album as a whole is "a ripe cheese, best not consumed whole."[29]

In the media

In the UK, they gained fourth position on the BBC News website's Sound of 2009 poll.[30]

Empire of the Sun appeared for the first time in a Triple J Hottest 100 with two entries in the 2008 countdown: "We Are the People" at number 68 and "Walking on a Dream" at number 4.[31] On 22 July 2009, Empire of the Sun made a special broadcast in conjunction with the solar eclipse that occurred on that day, which included a sneak preview of their forthcoming performance at the Parklife Festival in Australia. Luke Steele performed "Breakdown" and "Swordfish Hotkiss Night".[32]

Contrary to previous suggestions that they would remain a studio band, Empire of the Sun performed live, alongside Lady Sovereign and La Roux, at Australia's Parklife Festival during September/October 2009.[33]

In September 2009 Luke Steele revealed that his Empire of the Sun bandmate Nick Littlemore had been missing for five months and that he would also be performing a series of upcoming shows in the duo's native Australia solo. Asked whether Littlemore was still a member of the band, Steele said: "I really don't know, hey, he's just left me with the baby."[7] However on 26 November 2010, Littlemore, in an interview with internet music site The Music Network, said, "I talked to Luke (Steele) the other day; were doing a new record. Weve already written a couple of tunes. You know when its right I guess."[34]

In July 2011 Nick Littlemore announced that Empire of the Sun had gone into the studio at the end of June to begin working on a second Empire of the Sun album. In an interview with Confidential, he explained that he and Steele had not, as reported, fallen out, but that Littlemore had been heavily involved in writing music for Cirque du Soleil and was therefore unable to tour. However, while playing a track from the new album to the interviewer, Littlemore confirmed he would "come on board this time, actually come together and tour."[35]

"Walking on a Dream" had been nominated as Song of the Year at the 2009 Australian Performing Rights Association awards.

Empire of the Sun were nominated for 6 awards at the 2009 ARIA Awards. They were nominated for Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Best Group, Best Pop Release, Best Selling Single and Best Selling Album, winning all but the Best Selling awards. Luke Steele also performed "Walking on a Dream" at the event. Empire of the Sun also received an additional 5 nominations (for Producer of the Year, Engineer of the Year, Best Video and Best Cover Art) as part of the Artisan Awards section of the 2009 ARIA Awards, the winners of which were announced on 10 November, prior to the official ceremony. They won all but 2 of these awards, one nomination of which (for "We Are the People") was in the same category (Best Video) they won in for "Walking on a Dream".

In October 2010, "We Are the People" was used as the soundtrack for a Vodafone TV commercial in Germany and went to No. 1 on the Official Media Control Charts.[36]

The group played their first American show at Lollapalooza in Chicago's Grant Park on 6 August 2010 and are set to play their first South American show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"We Are the People" is included on the soundtrack for the 2011 film The Roommate and "Walking on a Dream" is included on the soundtrack for the 2011 film Hall Pass.

According to an 25 October 2011 article in Prefixmag.com, Luke Steele confirmed that work is already underway on a new Empire of the Sun album with Nick Littlemore and Donnie Sloan.[37]


Empire of the Sun discography
Studio albums 1
Singles 5
Music videos 5
B-sides 1
Other releases 4

Studio albums

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
2008 Walking on a Dream

Released: 4 October 2008
Label: EMI (2354032)
Format: CD, digital download

6 37 19 60 31 70 15 31 27 25 17
  • AUS: 2× Platinum[49]
  • IRE: Gold[50]
  • UK: Gold[51]
  • GER: Gold[52]


Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
2008 "Walking on a Dream" 10 14 64 8 8 16 21 30 52 55 13
  • AUS: 2× Platinum[49]
Walking on a Dream
"We Are the People" 24 14 23 20 19 22 12 40 1[36] 33 20 17 2
  • GER: Platinum[52]
  • SWI: Gold[53]
2009 "Standing on the Shore"
"Without You"
2010 "Half Mast (Slight Return)"

Music videos

Year Title Notes
2008 "Walking on a Dream" Filmed in Shanghai, China. Directed by Josh Logue.
"We Are the People" Filmed at Real de Catorce, and Xilitla, San Luis Potosí in Mexico. Directed by Josh Logue.
2009 "Standing on the Shore" Filmed at Lancelin, north of Perth, Australia.[1] Directed by Josh Logue.
"Without You" Filmed at FOX Studios, Sydney, Australia. Directed by Josh Logue.
2010 "Half Mast" Filmed in New York City, USA. Directed by Nash Edgerton.


Year Title Notes A-side
2009 "The Art of Driving" Cover of the song originally performed by Black Box Recorder, for use in advertising for the BMW Z4. Released in June 2009.[54] "Standing on the Shore"

Other releases

Year Title Notes
2009 "Romance to Me" Available as a free download for members of the official Empire of the Sun forum.[55]
"Breakdown" Available on iTunes Australia as an exclusive bonus album track.[56]
"Etude" Available on Nokia Music Australia as an exclusive bonus album track.
"Girl" Available on the deluxe 2-disc edition of Walking on a Dream, released on 20 November 2009.

Awards and nominations

ARIA Awards

The ARIA Music Awards of 2009 nominations were announced on 8 October 2009.[57] Empire of the Sun received the most nominations of any artist,[58] with a total of eleven. The winners were announced on 26 November 2009 with Empire of the Sun winning in seven categories.

Year Nominated work Award Result
2009 Walking on a Dream Album of the Year Won
Highest Selling Album Nominated
"Walking on a Dream" Single of the Year Won
Highest Selling Single Nominated
Best Video (directed by Josh Logue for Mathematics www.xy-1.com) Won
"We Are the People" Nominated
Empire of the Sun Best Group Won
Best Pop Release Won
Empire of the Sun and Donnie Sloan with Peter Mayes Producer of the Year Won
Aaron Hayward & David Homer from Debaser Best Cover Art Won
Peter Mayes Engineer of the Year Nominated

ARIA AWARDS 2010 The Aria Awards 2010 nominations were announced on 28 September 2010. The winners are announced on November Sunday 7 November 2010.[59]

Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 Half Mast Best Pop Release Nominated
"Walking on a Dream" Most Popular Australian Album (Fan Voted) Nominated
Accidents Happen Soundtrack - Luke Steele, Empire of the Sun and The Middle East Best Original Soundtrack/cast/show album (Fine Arts Award) Nominated

APRA Awards

The APRA Awards are presented annually from 1982 by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA).[60]

Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 "We Are the People" Song of the Year[61] Nominated
Luke Steele, Jonathon Sloan, Nick Littlemore Empire of the Sun Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year[62] Won
"Walking on a Dream" Dance Work of the Year[62] Won

Live Performance Band Members

Luke Steele - Lead Vocal, Guitar and Keys. Surahn Sidhu - Guitar, Backing Vocal and Percussion. Tony Mitolo - Drums.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Empire Of The Sun: Interview. Prefix Magazine (8 April 2009). Retrieved on 15 April 2009.
  2. http://www.nme.com/photos/50-albums-you-need-to-hear-in-2010/162718/51/1
  3. The Sleepy Jackson's Luke Steele Returns With New Band. NME (12 July 2009). Retrieved on 12 July 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 [Empire of the Sun (band) at All Music Guide Empire of the Sun Biography]. Allmusic (12 July 2009). Retrieved on 12 July 2009.
  5. Chart Stats for We are the People. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 14 July 2009.
  6. Empire of the Sun Myspace Page Info (12 July 2009). Retrieved on 12 July 2009.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Collins, Simon, Man of Steele, The West Australian, West Australian Newspapers Ltd, 26 September 2009. URL accessed on 27 September 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 McGee, Linda (8 April 2009). Empire of the Sun interview. RTE. Retrieved on 27 November 2009.
  9. Sleepy Jackson, The - Lovers at Discogs. Discogs. Retrieved on 24 Dec 2011.
  10. Teenager Bound and Gagged Press Release Copy at Discogs. Retrieved on 24 Dec 2011.
  11. PNAU - Behind The Scenes. Ministry of Sound. Retrieved on 26 August 2010.
  12. Pnau.net Track by Track Analysis at Web Archive.org. Web Archive.org. Retrieved on 25 Dec 2011.
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  14. Elton John Joins The PNAU Fan Club. Undercover. Retrieved on 26 August 2010.
  15. Rolling Stone: Pnau interview. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 26 August 2010.
  16. Elton John's Growing Empire. The Sun. Retrieved on 25 Dec 2011.
  17. Treuen, Jason. Pnau interview. Rolling Stone Australia. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  18. Kachor, Kate (29 September 2008). Empire Of The Sun Release Tracks Online. elevenmagazine.com.au. Retrieved on 13 October 2008.
  19. Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream. acharts.us (2008). Retrieved on 13 October 2008.
  20. Empire Of The Sun Biography. musichead.com.au (2008). Retrieved on 13 October 2008.
  21. Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream. acharts.us (2008). Retrieved on 13 October 2008.
  22. Standing On The Shore video now in HD.
  23. Reviews for Walking on a Dream - Metacritic.
  24. Review for Walking on a Dream. NME.
  25. Review for Walking on a Dream on Metacritic.
  26. Treuen, Jason. Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream review. Rolling Stone Australia. Retrieved on 2009-11-05.
  27. Review for Walking on a Dream. Pitchfork.
  28. Review for Walking on a Dream. popmatters.com.
  29. Lynskey, Dorian, Review for Walking on a Dream, The Guardian, 13 February 2009. URL accessed on 2 May 2010.
  30. Youngs, Ian, BBC Sound of 2008: Empire of the Sun, BBC News website, 5 December 2008. URL accessed on 1 January 2009.
  31. Kings of Leon top Triple J's Hottest 100, 25 January 2009.
  32. http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/video/video.php?v=1066999167065&oid=100041705090
  33. Empire of the Sun's total eclipse of the brain. InTheMix.com.au (21 July 2009). Retrieved on 29 July 2009.
  34. McNamara, Tim. Littlemore discusses Empire sequel and Pnau's "emotional" new album. The Music Network. Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
  35. http://www.perthnow.com.au/entertainment/perth-confidential/empire-of-the-sun-get-busy-on-second-album/story-e6frg30l-1226095834895
  36. 36.0 36.1 Chartverfolgung / Empire Of The Sun / Single Retrieved 7 December 2010
  37. Luke Steele Reflects On Success And The Future (Empire Of The Sun Interview).
  38. Australian-Charts. ARIA. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  39. New Zealand Charts. RIANZ. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  40. UK Top 40 Hit Database. Every hit. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  41. France Albums Chart Archive (from 1996 to date). Les Charts. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  42. German Longplay Chart Archive. Musicline. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  43. Dutch Charts. GFK. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  44. Swiss Charts. IFPI Switzerland. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  45. Austria Albums Top 75.
  46. Belgian Charts. IFPI Belgium. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  47. Italian Charts. IFPI Italy. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  48. Irish Charts. IFPI Italy. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  49. 49.0 49.1 ARIA Searchable database - Gold and Platinum. ARIA. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  50. http://irishcharts.ie/awards/gold09.htm
  51. BPI Searchable database - Gold and Platinum. BPI. Retrieved on 2009-08-27.
  52. 52.0 52.1
  53. http://swisscharts.com/awards.asp?year=2011
  54. Empire of the Sun creates art of a different kind with the new BMW Z4 Official Empire of the Sun website
  55. Romance To Me free mp3 Official Empire of the Sun website
  56. "Breakdown" exclusive bonus album track iTunes store, retrieved 2009-09-13.
  57. ARIA Music Awards of 2009 - Winners & Nominees
  59. ARIA Music Awards of 2010 - Winners & Nominees
  60. APRA History. Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved on 28 May 2010.
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  62. 62.0 62.1 2010 Winners - APRA Music Awards. Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved on 24 June 2010.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Empire of the Sun

  • Official website

This page was last modified 25.12.2011 10:12:34

This article uses material from the article Empire of the Sun (band) from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.